Examples of cultural reversals: We can stop destroying the environment

October 14, 2017 by Joshua
in Nature

Do you consider acting on the environment hopeless?

Even if you don’t consciously, many people don’t bother trying, feeling that if they change but industries don’t or billions of other people don’t then what’s the point?

Success stories

Several other large social changes have happened in my lifetime that suggest that change of the scale in time frame that addressing various climate issues needs is possible. Remember that climate change, pollution, litter, ocean acidification, extinctions, resource depletion, overpopulation, and so on are different issues. I’ll list a few examples that encourage me.

Before you tell me how different the examples are, I know. No two cases are identical. Each takes different strategies, motivations, and so on. My point isn’t to say these things are identical.

  • Smoking: when I was a kid, smoking was close to Humphrey Bogart. Now people associate it with cancer.
  • Drinking and driving: When I was a kid, people asked for “one for the road”—that is, a drink before driving.
  • California emissions: Los Angeles smog used to rank among the world’s worst. The cap-and-trade policy has improved air quality beyond many expectations.
  • Seat belts: When I was a kid, people opposed mandatory seat belt rules. Now everyone wears them automatically.
  • The ozone hole: United Nations and science led agreements have led to the ozone hole recovering.
  • Gay rights: We haven’t reached equality, but we’re approaching it faster than I think anyone would have imagined a decade ago or more.

Potential success on the horizon

  • Nutrition: Views on added sugar and fat look like they may follow smoking, even as the United States’ population passes 80% overweight and obese, or because of it.

We’re creating this, and we can prevent it too:



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