NASA’s discovery of evidence of flowing water on Mars is an “astonishing achievement,” author and activist George Monbiot wrote last week. “Meanwhile, Martian scientists continue their search for intelligent life on Earth.”
Monbiot inventories humanity’s neglect of the natural world, leading to the loss of 50% of vertebrate wildlife in the last four decades and rapid squandering of global water resources—including the salt water we seem to find so fascinating on Mars. “All this drilling and digging and trawling and dumping and poisoning—what is it for, anyway?” he writes. “Does it enrich human experience, or stifle it?”
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After creating the hashtag #extremecivilisation to test that question, Monbiot received these pointers to actual products:
- An egg tray that syncs your fridge to your phone to let you know how many eggs are left
- A gadget for scrambling eggs in the shell
- A wig that offers “baby girls with little or no hair at all the opportunity to have a beautifully realistic hair style”
- An iPotty that lets toddlers keep playing on their iPads while toilet training
- An automatic watch rotator “that saves you the bother of winding your luxury wrist-candy”
- A smartphone for dogs
- Pre-peeled bananas, in polystyrene trays covered with plastic wrap.
“Every year, clever new ways of wasting stuff are devised, and every year we become more inured to the pointless consumption of the world’s precious resources,” Monbiot writes. “With each subtle intensification, the baseline of normality shifts. It should not be surprising to discover that the richer a country becomes, the less its people care about their impacts on the living planet.”