The problem of plenty

Cardboard boxes and paper bags, in good condition, are thrown away in bins, more so with online shopping and home deliveries that use a lot of packaging. So many wrappers and bags, made from so many felled trees, in a hardly-used-throw-away American culture. Lights are ablaze all night in offices despite the staff having left for the day; buildings are alight like perennial Christmas trees, and the stars turn invisible in the night sky.

With problems of plenty – so much energy, food, drinks, appliances and whatnot available to most people in the developed world – you tend to lose touch with ground realities. In freezing weather, centrally heated homes and offices obviate the need to bundle up, but energy consumption is high. The UN COP27 climate change talks didn’t address such issues that are perhaps deemed trivial for high table discussions, but the delegates debate at length about setting up a corpus fund for loss and damage.

Waste not, want not, is an old saying that spoke eloquently in just four words. In Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 5:1-2), Jesus Christ said, ‘Do not cast pearls before swine’ – one could translate this in the context of the energy and forest cover crises to mean, ‘Do not waste valuable things on those who do not appreciate its value.’ Natural resources belong to all of creation, living and non-living. To appropriate a chunk of it and then waste it is being insensitive and selfish – even stupid, if done without a thought.

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