This green and pleasant land…

In my state of being absolutely skint, worrying 24/7 about how to cover my own rent and wondering what kind of good fortune I’d need to be reborn in a dynasty of hotel magnates or football club owners, last weekend I decided the best thing to do with all the money I haven’t got would be to buy a Lovebox festival ticket. I mean, it’s definitely not the least logical thing I could do, right?

It’s a two day long festival centred mainly around dance and urban music, in our very own Victoria Park, where I’m assuming most of you have frequented. Maybe or maybe not in lecture time, I’m not judging. It was really fun: festivals tend to bring out the most animalistic behaviour in all of us – I’ve seen stuff at festivals that I know I’d never see on a Saturday night in Spoons.

The subject of this column, and the thing that I find the most worrying about our unexplainable urge to let loose (well, I think it could be explained by the 9-5 lifestyle but that’s for another day) is the sheer amount of litter. Stepping over the remains of dirt-covered chicken wings and half a can of either Budweiser or something even worse to get to the front of the stage kind of does ruin the mood, and it also leaves me asking – why do none of us seem to care about our environment?

The celebrated – and controversial – writer George Monbiot wrote a column on this in the Guardian that I found myself thinking about as I saw burger patties turning a massive chunk of what’s been voted the most popular park in the UK into a post-apocalyptic meaty wasteland. Entitled ‘Why we couldn’t care less about the natural world’ and dating from over a year ago, he raises a very important point about a whole barrage of western countries – we don’t see the point in doing anything unless every other country on the geopolitical landscape acts alongside our martyred, flawless and saintly land.

It’s this paradox, plus the fact that we can’t see the major effects of climate change in the hyper-visible way that countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia do, that creates such a barrier of apathy towards us acting in a way that’s more sustainable for our future. Add that to the fact that only 48% Brits who agree that climate change is a ‘major threat’ and we have high season for the Jeremy Clarksons of the world who keep on denying the inevitable.

I wouldn’t be reading a George Monbiot column if it wasn’t for the critiques of the neoliberal world order that he’s so known for – but his blaming of mass consumption for lack of guilt towards what we’re doing to the world rings true to me, at least. Consumption-heavy, emissions-heavy and population-heavy USA has been found to feel the least guilty about their country’s impact on global warming, and I feel personally like some of this can be attributed to the consumer mindset – yes, this top was made by a sweatshop worker in Cambodia living off less than an hour’s wage for a week, but it’s cute and I can’t see it so I don’t care. Cognitive dissonance in action fuels global capitalism and global warming.

It’s hard to make changes if you feel like you’re the only one, but next time you think about not recycling your Coke can – remember, if everyone thought like that, there’d never be any change at all. *drops mic…into recycling bin, obviously*

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