Every society throughout history has had something to say about the end of the world. Hell will open. Christ will return. A large wolf will swallow the sun. Most have pointed to corruption and sin; some have promised redemption. Now, in search of salvation as the apocalypse looms, we’ve laced up our bane-busting boots, braved Room 101, and pulled out nine of the planet’s biggest perpetrators of pollution. Because it turns out we’re the cause and prayers won’t help: conversion is our only hope. So turn off your phone, light a candle, and take these vices to heart, wretch.
1. Drink Coffee
The UK chucks almost 7 million disposable cups a day.
Coffee. Do stupid things faster. But hey-ho, we’re in the midst of a bean boom. With a barista booth on every street corner, and the cultural phenomenon of the perpetual working day (thanks smartphones), caffeine has become our go-to drug of least resistance. The problem is that worshippers attending morning Pret-mass don’t have time to wait around drinking out of mugs. Meaning we’re all gonna be up to our necks in Styrofoam and shame come Judgement Day. Sure, you could just get yourself a reusable coffee mug, but then you’d look like one of those save the planet wankers that never flush the toilet. Take up gin instead; an alcoholic only does emotional damage.
The world’s oceans contain 5.25 trillion particles of plastic.
Do you have a face? Is it greasy? Then you need new hydromaxicleansing orbs. Everyone knows that the marketers behind our favourite beauty brands are about as honest as a Brexit battle bus. But like Trump’s economic policy, their lies herald environmental disaster. We’re talking microbeads! Our toothpastes and scrubs are laced with the stuff, meaning they’re washed down the drain to join in the north Pacific plastic merry-go-round. These sea-bound balls are near invisible to the eyes of humans, but not of fish, which gobble them up like Skittles, mistaking them for food. But what about my exfoliation regime? We suggest a good flannel, though if that doesn’t work why not try a good, hearty slap instead?
3. Eat meat
Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gases.
Yeah, cows, those fat fools that lounge round in fields all day, farting. Between their big eyes, their plodding disposition, and the fact their asses taste good with ketchup, it’s easy to forget that Bos taurus’ contribution to global warming is more significant than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together. In fact, rearing these bovine beasts for food is a major factor behind deforestation through ranching, the creation of deserts through overgrazing, and acid rain through the emission of ammonia, too. Holy cow. So that’s why Clint Eastwood always played the antihero… Anyone else fancy a burger?
4. Get dressed
The fashion industry is the second most polluting on Earth.
One of my neighbours threw a shirt in the bin. Its crime? A button had fallen off. See, the fashion industry has a problem. The problem is that its customers are the biggest bunch of spoiled assholes since the court of Versailles was a thing. Only, its customers aren’t soon-to-be-decapitated European royals, they’re anyone who wears clothes. Which scale things up somewhat. Customers want to buy lots of clothes and pay next to nothing for them. And the fashion industry, like someone with low self-esteem, will do anything to please them. In fact, everyone in this dirty cycle has low self-esteem: the customer who constantly needs new rags to feel contentment, the fashion industry because they know they could do better, and the people stitching the clothes because they’re working 18 hours a day in 40 degree heat and haven’t seen their family in six months.
5. Go on holiday
Brits take more than 65 million trips abroad every year.
Man, it’s funny, but crawling in servitude to a self-serving tyrant for 40 hours a week every week, really makes you want to leave the country. Thank goodness for allotted vacation time and Ryanair! The problem with every fucker in the Western world being able to afford a holiday abroad is that every fucker in the Western world feels entitled to take a holiday abroad. Well I’ve got news for you, bud: the Earth is not your stress ball. You’ve swapped burning a hole in your pockets for burning a hole in the ozone layer. And for what? Some obnoxiously derivative photograph in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? I don’t care how skilled your granny is with a needle she can’t darn the atmosphere. Plus, unlike good, old-fashioned ocean liners, when tragedy strikes on a commercial flight there’s no time for romance. How’s James Cameron supposed to make any money?
6. Make noise
Background noise is okay up to 40 decibels; many european cities exceed 50.
Pollution comes in many forms, though noise is perhaps the most insidious. iPhones on buses, knobheads on scooters, New Zealanders in the flat upstairs, the never-ending thrum of the national grid – silence is a thing of the past. Something you’ll only be able to read about in books. Like rainforests, or monogamy. The scientists that be suggest there’s a correlation between inner city noise pollution and hearing loss. Others think we’re only a hipster’s-brainwave away from a Yeezy/Beats collaboration that sees creps hollering, “I don’t care about your personal space!” with every single step. Either way, unless you’re a hearing aid manufacturer, Silicon Valley’s need to stick a speaker on everything is definitely a sound for sore ears. Also, shut up!
7. Live in the city
66 per cent of people are expected to live in urban areas by 2050.
From ears to eyes, humanity’s gift for technical innovation has the astounding effect of assaulting all of our senses simultaneously. Whether it’s tarmac, asphalt or our phallic metropolitan skylines, the world we create is rarely beautiful. Untouched woodland? Cake it in concrete. Quiet lake? Great place for a waterside casino. Rolling hills? Dry ski slope, bitches. So relentlessly brutalising are urban landscapes that we must now turn to escapist pursuits to fulfil our idyllic fantasies, like roleplaying gender-fluid virtual dragons or taking heroin. Presumably, those that roam the earth in our wake will assume we enjoyed an unyielding surface to smash our knees onto when we tripped. And also that we worshipped the Dark Lord Starbucks. What do we want? Less ‘crete! When do we want it? Now! What do we need? More trees! When do we need them? Well, yesterday, actually.
8. Not care
The 3,000 largest companies cause £1.4 trillion worth of environmental damage every year.
You know we’re all screwed when the world’s most powerful comb-over doesn’t believe in climate change. His cronies get gold to hoard, he gets to show off his considerable skill in rhetoric and espionage – so what if a few polar bears melt in the process? Of course, corporate greed goes further than Trump. From roguish oil companies to manufacturers dumping toxic waste, pretty much every company ever doesn’t give a flying squirrel about the environment. Mostly, because it doesn’t pay to care. We could ask what the use mountains of diamonds are in the face of 50 degree summers, or even question why our society is geared towards the pursuit of ostentation, or we could just say fuck it and let dithering diplomats wither at the annual G minus 20 tea party. And yes, that sentence did just link politicians, oligarchs, extortion and bribery.
The population of the world could reach 11.2 billion by 2100.
If you’ve read this far then you’ll know by now that humanity is an insufferable plague that must be exterminated. It follows, then, that the final culprit facing our detox squad is the pernicious human child. You see, choosing to have a baby is like sticking a middle finger up to the future. Your genes are not superior. You are not Genghis Khan. Your legacy either ends with you or with all terrestrial life. (You’re Genghis Khan’t.) Whether it’s the annihilation of rainforest, the obliteration of ozone, the devastation of habitat, or the extinction of wildlife, everything humans do to preserve the pointless, pestilent existence of convenient excess has a consequence. So strap on a johnny, cast aside your ego, and stop feeding the inferno incinerating the planet, you dirty, dirty parasites.