For decades, I was a subscriber to the National Geographic Magazine (NGM). In the December 1988
issue with a holographic cover, the main topic was “Can Man Save This Fragile Earth?” Some readers
complained to the publisher about the content of this article. They said that “they have the right
for a better life, their car and the air-conditioning. Who would you deny to the right to better
The “Right” For A Better Life
In the NGM June 2004 issue, the cover story was “The End of Cheap Oil.” However, there were
always single- and double-page advertisments from the big oil companies. A few issues later, the
main subject was “Global Warming.” The reply from the readers came instantly: “Please don’t do
politics. Of course, it’s getting warmer, but when the Earth cools again — and it will — you’ll
look very foolish blaming that on man too.”
Another stunning reader feedback was again political: “I was very disappointed to see NGM
take an overtly political position. Environmental alarmists have promised disaster right around the
corner for decades. What these gloom-and-doom predictions never consider are the miracles of
technological innovation and man’s almost limitless adaptability.”
So today, where are “the miracles of technological innovation and man’s almost limitless
adaptability?” Twenty years later, the answer to “Can man save this fragile earth?” is, “no, not at
all.” The question should be the other way round: “How can the earth be saved from mankind?” Twenty
years ago, on a bike ride through the Alps, one could see many glaciers. Today, they’re all gone.
In the Arctic Ocean, the ice is constantly melting and — subject to an error — the Northwest
Passage is ice-free and can be crossed. The sea level is rising, and the temperature, too.
Hurricane names like Katrina, Gustav, Ike and many more are synonyms for human ignorance. Airlines
are offering flights cheaper than the price of taking a taxi from one end to the other of your
hometown. The list is endless of how we bite the hand that feeds us.
Cooperation Is Better Than Confrontation
Today, some Western countries are blaming the East for using too much energy. The East just
started its industrial development a short time ago. For example, one-third or even more of the
world population lives in China and India. And now? Who would deny that these people also have the
right to a better life? I presume it would be more helpful for the whole world to support new
environmental technologies and share the knowledge.
Don’t take me wrong: I’m anything but green and don’t belong to any radical political party,
nor am I an activist for environmental groups. However, as a father of two children, I’m scared for
Mother Earth and the blunted survival of mankind.
Ecology: An Economical Way To Success
On top of that, ecology is also an economical way to save not only energy and natural
resources, but also a lot of money. According to a recent study in Switzerland, polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) recycling saves a lot of money and is reducing the output of CO2 quite
significantly: every kilogram of recycled PET reduces the output of greenhouse gases by 3
kilograms. If new products would be produced with recycled PET only, 50 percent of energy or 42
billion liters of oil could be saved. Apart from protecting the environment, it would save a lot of
Sustainability is no longer just a slogan for a clever marketing campaign, but a prerequisite
for long-term business and even survival. Some big European retailers are already asking for a
certificate stating how the products were produced. And the European customer is ready to pay more
money for “clean” products.
The textile industry is requested to play its ever so progressive role for environmental
friendly technologies and processes.
already started this year publishing articles referring to sustainability under the “Energy
Plus” label. Let us know your latest inventions and product developments, from fiber to finished
fabrics in hopes that the following prophesy will not come true:
− Only after the last tree has been cut down,
− Only after the last river has been poisoned,
− Only after the last fish has been caught,
− Then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
Do you know these words — maybe they ring a bell? Probably you think this is a slogan from a “
green” political party. Not at all. It was said to be the prophecy of the Cree Indians, but these
are the famous words that Seattle, the chief from the Suquamish tribe said to I. Stevens, governor
of the Washington Territories, and that was in 1854. More than ever, all of us are called upon to
do our part so that this will not come true. For the sake of the world, our children and their
children. And last, but not least, for ourselves.
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