Let’s imagine we live in a beautiful world without pollution, with plenty of fruit to eat and clean running water in beautiful streams. Everyone is happy in this beautiful place. Now, enter an evil mastermind who wants to ruin everything. What plans could he hatch to pollute the world and ruin it? Well, pretty much what humans have been doing for the last 100 years would work. Sounds like a plot for a 007 movie, and it would be amusing if it didn’t feel so true.
The plot to pollute the world
The evil mastermind hatched a plot to pollute the world. He wanted to bring the world to an end and have everyone else in the world help him do it without knowing. His first plan was to dig up enormous amounts of coal from under the ground and start burning it in large furnaces all over the world, and have people pay for it! He started industrial and technological revolutions and convinced people that all this new technology will make their lives easier (it won’t! – he loves it when he can fool people). The real reason he wants them to desire new technology is because it requires extra energy and they’ll need more and more coal-fired power plants.
Next he invents the “steam” engine. This is brilliant marketing because “steam” sounds clean but, in reality, this is an engine that burns more coal. In every possible situation, people all over the world are now wanting steam engines so they can be part of the industrial and technological revolution. More and more coal is being burnt and the skies are getting more polluted.
The evil mastermind is happy. But he wants more.
His next major step is to convince everyone to burn toxic liquids all over the world and create even more noxious fumes to further pollute the atmosphere. A masterstroke was to invent the automobile and convince everyone that they need one (or more than one). Now, people all over the world are driving his pollution machines everywhere and he’s even managed to convince most people that the independence of driving is a fundamental right of theirs and that driving is fun and cars are beautiful. Another amazing piece of marketing! Even better, the people buy the automobiles and the toxic liquids with their own money!
The evil mastermind is even happier. Everything is going so well. The pollution being pumped into the atmosphere is growing exponentially and it’s really starting to have a visible effect. One concern of his is that some people are starting to notice, so he has to release some counter-measures like hiding scientific studies that might expose the pollution, ensuring people focus on economic growth rather than the environment, discrediting reputable scientists and releasing misleading and erroneous publicity to hide what he’s doing. All these measures are working pretty well, but it’s difficult work. People are becoming suspicious, but he’s managing to keep it under control (just!).
His plan to the pollute the world is going well, but he notices that the trees are doing a reasonable job of soaking up his pollution. He needs to get rid of trees! Again he has some brilliant ideas. First, convince everyone that it’s difficult to produce enough food for the growing population of the world and that we need to start farming differently. This means clearing large parcels of forests and woodlands for the introduction of large areas of single crops. Great, less trees! Even better, convince people that they really need to base their diets on meat and clear more areas of forests and woodlands to raising cattle and sheep. Next, tell people that grain-fed beef is the best and clear even more land for growing more grain to feed to the animals. Wow, the forests and woodlands are disappearing quickly now!
Eventually all the people have been so well brainwashed that they believe that a beautiful country view is that of cleared fields, without many trees. The evil mastermind is so happy as the tree coverage of the world is getting less and less and his pollution is beginning to concentrate in the atmosphere more rapidly towards dangerous levels.
The evil mastermind is never satisfied and he wonders how can he ramp this up even more? He decides to develop a global marketplace and convince everyone that all their products need to be shipped long distances. In fact, he wants companies to open manufacturing sites on the other side of the world and then bring the products back for sale locally. He convinces them that this is better economically, without telling them that his master plan is to pollute the world until it dies.
To make this global marketplace work he needs a fast way to move people and things around the world, but not just fast, he needs it to be as polluting as possible. He invents air travel that requires planes that carry and burn tons and tons of his toxic liquids and spread noxious fumes all over the world as they fly. Brilliant! Then he sees that he can make all the people of the world want to fly in these planes as well. He develops the holiday industry and convinces everyone that they can only have a happy holiday if they fly to some remote part of the planet. The air travel industry takes off. He puts in a lot of effort to ensure governments are kind to his new air travel industry and keeps conditions and taxes under control so air travel can appear very cheap. Everyone wants to fly and the pollution levels continue to rise exponentially. This is his best move yet. The planes are so efficient at getting pollution all over the world.
But now the evil mastermind has some problems. More and more people are really noticing the pollution and are trying to do something about it. Now it becomes a race. The evil mastermind knows that if he can get pollution levels high enough, across a critical threshold, then there’ll be nothing anybody can do to reverse it and his plan to pollute the world until it dies will succeed. He knows he needs about 10-15 years more pollution at the current (growing) levels and the ecosystem of the world will be irreparably damaged and most life on the planet will die. But scientists are noticing this now too.
It turns out that the evil mastermind made one big mistake, and that was plastic. One of the by-products of the production of his toxic liquids was the possibility to make plastics. He thought this would be a good way to increase the technological revolution and spread plastics all over the world. If people burnt the plastics to get rid of them, then they’d just be releasing the toxic gases in a new way. What he didn’t expect is that these plastics wouldn’t all be burnt and that they end up in land-fills and the sewerage system and then eventually appear in the oceans. Now the common person is aware of the problem of plastics in the ocean, and becoming environmentally aware. This is a disaster for the evil mastermind.
He has to keep things under control until we’re at the point of no return, and then he bask in his glory. Then he’ll be able to explain to the world how he hatched his plan to pollute the world, and he’ll feel great. So he ramps up his control on the world’s politicians, continues to debunk scientists, and puts all the spin he can into all forms of media. This is now the most difficult phase of his plan. It’s really hard. He’s even trying to incite nationalism, racism and religious hatred to try to get peoples minds off pollution.
How does this story end?
How does this story end? Well, that’s up to us. Are we happy to continue to be brainwashed and led towards ecological doom? Or can we see the evil mastermind’s plan to pollute the world? Can we realise that we don’t need all the things we think we do? Can we see we can eat more simply? Can we see we can get what we need more locally? Can we see don’t need to move around the world so much? Can we see that we can use natural products more than plastic?
If we act together, the evil mastermind has no chance.
- Plane Pollution – a huge problem
- Ban New Plastic
- A Brief History of How Plastic Straws Took Over the World – from National Geographic
- Plastic: A Toxic Love Story – by Susan Freinkel
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