The dead-end road of materialism

I am Wei Yi from South-West Weiyu Middle School, and this is what I think about the conference.

In the film “The Matrix”, Agent Smith tells Morpheus that humans are “not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern … a virus.”

Humanity is indeed greedy when faced with nature for the taking. Fortunately, we finally realised this fact, and called together 140 nations in Kyoto to develop green energy sources, of great symbolic value. But this binding agreement only called for countries to reduce CO2 growth fractionally over 50 years — of limited actual importance. And the EU, which was awarded excessive CO2 emission rights, produced an emissions trading system that might achieve the overall aim of reducing CO2 emissions, but still leaves us unhappy. And anyway, one nation with 3 or 4% of the world’s population, responsible for one quarter of its emissions, refused to sign. That is truly regrettable.

We hope all these issues will be solved in at Copenhagen. But there are some issues that perhaps no meeting can solve – making people who have not yet suffered understand the horror of environmental degradation; how to make people leave the dead-end road of materialism.

The movie “Fight Club” includes a statement I have never forgotten: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war … our Great Depression is our lives.”

Nowadays, too many things are being pointlessly copied and consumed. Perhaps the current economic crisis has allowed some to understand what is important, but how many can actually part company with that lifestyle?

The Copenhagen Climate Summit is essential, but this “last chance to save humanity” is overstated. If the majority of people will not change the way they think, what hope is there? But we can make changes. Fur used to be popular, but the environmental movement changed that.

In this age, I prefer to believe the Mayan prophesies about 2012 were not about the end of the world, but that, at a turning point of the ages, our thinking will also turn around.