The right language to protect the natural world | Letters

Photo of The right language to protect the natural world | Letters

Readers respond to George Monbiot’s recent article and news that the US Department of Agriculture is censoring use of term ‘climate change’

George Monbiot’s call to reconsider how we name things (Forget ‘the environment’. Fight for our living planet, 9 August) is a timely contribution to a confusing world. But one word that both he and the majority of online contributors have ignored is “prosperity”. That, after all, is why humans engage in economic activity: they believe it will make things better. There is, however, a fundamental problem with the way we have arranged our economic affairs. By treating the natural world as an infinite thing, “external” to the economy (except as a never-ending supply of resources) we have built a massive endeavour to take natural resources and make them into things that are then disposed of, generally after a fairly brief period of human enjoyment.

Everyone I speak to readily accepts that under this system the planet must eventually “run out”, but they cannot see an alternative to “prosperity”. The conversation we need to have is not how we name things but how we do things.

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