Almost everything we buy in the supermarket is wrapped in plastic. We have a lot of energy consuming machines in our houses, running all day long. Most of the people travel everywhere by car, and take a holiday by airplane every year. And most of us eat meat or fish every day. There are so many ways in which we harm our environment and deplete the resources we have on this planet, but for what? Is it really necessary to drive to work? Is it really necessary to eat meat? I think not, we’re just following everybody else without stopping to think for a minute. In our hunger for a luxurious lifestyle, we harm planet earth in maybe every possible way. In the near future a tipping point will be reached, where the carrying capacity of the earth just can’t take it anymore, and then everybody on the planet will have to live with the consequences of our unsustainable way of living. The frequency and intensity of thunderstorms, floodings, landslides, avalanches, mudslides, droughts and hurricanes will become increasingly dramatic (Garvey, 2008). And this is just one example of what can go wrong. The consequences of our lifestyle for the planet are very severe and visible, if you dare to look. It is well known that the concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are becoming significantly bigger since the industrial revolution. Visit any big city in the world and you will see the smog hanging right above it. Tropical rainforests, the lungs of this planet, are cut down in a dramatic speed. Other beautiful ecosystems like the poles and coral reefs are also being destroyed in no time. With the destruction of these ecosystems the biodiversity decreases dramatically, but also because of the enormous amount of fish and other marine life we take from the seas. Our factory farms are not only very unethical considering animals, but are also a huge source of pollution, and a possible source for very dangerous viruses. And to finish it, the sea levels are rising and will continue to rise, threatening billions of people on earth in the (near) future. So why is this important? There’s a reasonable chance that we will not witness these consequences in our lifetimes, and that we can live our lives the way we do now without any problems. But what about our children? And their children? We have to expand our moral circle: stop thinking only about yourself, your family and friends. But try to include more people, everyone deserves the same, also the generations that come after us. Our descendants have just as much right to live on this planet and to us its resources as we do. But they can’t because we have already depleted them when they’re born. They also got just as much right as we do to enjoy all the benefits nature gives us. They’ve got the right to breathe fresh air without getting serious lung disease, they’ve got the right to watch animals in the wild before they’re all extinct, and so on. Besides the fact that the generations after us have rights of which we need to think about, we can also approach this from a utilitarian view. To find out whether actions are right or wrong, good or bad, utilitarianism weighs the suffering against the happiness, where the decrease of suffering is always more important than the increase of happiness (Blackburn, 2002). So let’s find out whether or not our lifestyle is wrong according to utilitarianism. We gain a lot of benefits from our current lifestyle, at least in the western world, we can eat almost everything we want whenever we want. Actually we can do whatever we want, whenever we want as long as we have the money for it. Assuming that these things make you happy, we can say that our current lifestyle gives us a big amount of happiness. But what about the suffering? Our current lifestyle already causes suffering to a lot of animals that we use for our pleasure. But also to many poor people in third world countries, because our wealth is not distributed equally at all. Besides that, future generations will suffer a lot if all the horrors described earlier will become truth. So, considering that decreasing harm is most important, our lifestyle is very, very wrong! So it is wrong, but what about technology? Many people think that there will be breakthroughs in technology that will clean up our mess so that everyone can live comfortably. But I’m afraid this is wrong, technology can certainly help delaying or softening the consequences of global warming but it will not prevent it. So instead of finding technological solutions for our energy needs, we have to find ways of needing less energy (Garvey, 2008). The solution to our problems is living a life with voluntary simplicity. Voluntary simplicity describes a lifestyle of low consumption, ecological responsibility, and self-sufficiency (Shama and Wisenbelt, 1984). So when you live according to this lifestyle, you try to do anything you can to prevent yourself doing harm to the environment. You have to become a vegan, because the use of animals is not only wrong but also very bad for the environment. You have to live close to where you work because you will have to take the bike. And instead of watching television or playing the computer all night, you can actually socialize or play games with friends in real life, isn’t that a nice extra! So there’s a big chance that when you decide to change your lifestyle to a more simplistic one, you actually get a lot happier because of improvements in your social life. Many people think that a simplistic lifestyle is boring, and the ones who live in such a way are sometimes regarded as a bit weird. But this is a very big misconception, those people should be seen as role models, because their lifestyle is the only right one. I hope other people will think more critically in the future and try to expand their moral circle. It is important that we will minimize our ecological footprint, and living a more simple life is the best way to do it.

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