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Point of view: The mountains do not grow to heaven

Claire Simon is Executive Director of CIPRA International. © Martin Walser

Mountains and valleys do not grow bigger - at least not in the human timescale. Yet our appetites grow from day to day. Sooner or later we will have to adapt our consumption of natural resources to their availability. We had better decide freely for a more modest life before we are forced to do so, demands Claire Simon.
Not so long ago, we humans, in particular those in the mountains, lived within the limits that the environment imposed upon us. Then we came to believe we could free ourselves from these constraints through science and technology. The growth paradigm had us dream of an Earth and of Alps without limits. The conflicts between our lifestyle and the balance of the natural environment where we live are however increasing in their number and complexity. CIPRA is casting its gaze around the Alps and seeking ways to better comprehend and master the challenges we face. We are convinced: another way of life is possible.
Representatives of science, including economists, repeatedly confirm that we are living beyond our means. The concept of the ecological footprint shows that the Earth is simply insufficient to meet our demands. Many people are aware of this problem, but solutions are not easy to put into practice. In politics in particular, the demand that we live a more modest life is hardly an attractive campaign slogan. But some municipalities and institutions are now showing that this is possible and have decided to make the necessary changes. Ten towns in Switzerland, Germany and Austria have announced a campaign called "We live 2000 watt". It is based on calculations by the ETH Zurich that show that each person on Earth must get by on 2000 watt in order to maintain the ecological balance. Today in the Alpine countries we consume over 6000 watt per person.
CIPRA counts on an extensive community of associations, institutions, political representatives, researchers, enterprises and young people that are together endeavouring to find ways to live better and consume less. In 2013 in Bolzano, Lucerne and Brig, participants in CIPRA-organised seminars and conferences addressed the need to find and implement creative solutions. We will pursue this topic in 2014 in order to maintain the quality of life up on our mountains and in our valleys - even they do not grow to heaven.
Further information:
www.cipra.org/en/climate-projects , www.cipra.org/de/presse/medienmitteilungen (de)