Getting relationships wrong hurts – and when it’s our relationship with the world we live in it hurts more than just us.

Everything we do affects our world. Smile, don’t smile. Praise, criticise. Vote, stay at home. Buy fair trade, buy the cheapest. Think profit, think it through.

Personal or planet-wide, decisions and actions have consequences.

For example… too many sheep means higher insurance premiums, buying a fur coat costs you more than the price on the ticket, and driving your car increases the cost of bread.

Deforestation and over grazing by sheep in rural areas robs the land of its ability to absorb and retain rainwater. The water’s got to go somewhere … that’ll be rivers. Add too much rainwater going into rivers and you’ve got towns and villages becoming more prone to flooding. After Hue Edwards has slipped off his wellies and returned to the dry safety of Television Centre the less photogenic headline is higher insurance premiums.

In the 1930’s a South American mammal called the Coypu was introduced into the UK in fur farms. A few escaped from a farm in Norfolk and within a year they were destroying crops, digging into river banks and damaging drainage systems and flood defences. It took 50 years of hard work and many millions of pounds to eradicate the Coypu.

When you jump in your car to go to the shops you know that you’re adding the price of the petrol to your shopping bill. But did you also know that you’re increasing the cost of the food you’re buying? Cars release CO2 into the atmosphere and this changes our climate. A changed climate has lead to wheat crops failing in many countries. In particular Australia, one of the world’s largest producers of wheat, is suffering from the worst droughts in a century. The failed crops have lead to a global shortage, affecting wheat prices and ultimately putting up the price of a loaf in supermarkets in the UK.

Every action we take can have a negative or positive affect on our relationship with the planet we live on. And just like relationships between humans, when we make a mistake and hurt a friend we rely on, we try to make amends, and so it is with the planet. We rely on the Earth and could not survive without it. So let’s consider our relationship with it and make amends for the hurt we’ve caused.

About the Author: Chantal Cooke is a professional journalist and author, an environmental campaigner and a London Leader in Sustainability.

You can hear lots of interviews with leading environmental experts by clicking on the “environment” category on the left hand side of this page.

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