The cause of our environmental problems, aka “the addiction speaking”

November 16, 2020 by Joshua
in Nature, Perception

We were born into a world with systems and practices that pollute. I don’t see how we can blame past generations for decisions they couldn’t have expected to result in our world.

Who could have believed when coal first boiled water to steam and that steam created mechanical motion that we could choke the sky with fossil fuel smoke and heat the whole damned planet?

Who could have imagined when cars cleared the roads of horse manure that lead in the gasoline powering them would lower your intelligence and mine?

Who could have imagined when plastic replaced cruel ivory for making billiard balls that we would fill the whole Pacific Ocean with it, replacing the fish to where they couldn’t replace themselves?

Yet they did. We inherited their decisions—poisoned air, land, and water. Even if they knew the consequences of their actions, we could stop ourselves, yet we don’t.

Why don’t we stop ourselves?

Why don’t we stop ourselves? We let our addictions speak. Carbon dioxide doesn’t cause climate change any more then chain saws clear rain forests. CO2 has no volition. It reacts to our behavior. Our behavior results from our beliefs, images, stories, and such—what we might call our culture.

Thus our culture warms the globe and poisons us. We can change it. Identifying it helps us change it. Here are the causes of our environmental problems laid out in black and white. Do you see many of yours? Have I missed any?

Our addiction speaking

“You’re so extreme.”

“What one person does doesn’t matter.”

“Only government and corporations can make a difference.”

“The plane will fly anyway. You should just go.”

aviation airplane pollution

“Why do you deprive yourself so much? Just get some takeout.”“I use disposable plastic, but I recycle it.”

“I try to use less, but I don’t know what to do about toothbrushes.”

“We’re not hurting anyone. We’re just living and letting live.”

“I support you not flying, but I have to fly for my job.”

“I support you not flying, but my family lives on the other coast.”

“I’m all for the environment, but in a crash an SUV is safer. I’m not going to risk my child’s life.”

“Al Gore says not to fly, but he flies all the time. If he believed what he said, he wouldn’t, so he obviously doesn’t. Why is he saying it, than? That’s easy, follow the money. Look at how much money he makes saying it. Look at how much control he and his pals get.”

“They’ve been saying we’re all going to die for years. We keep not dying.”

“You’re like a preacher, telling us we’ll feel better if we just see the light.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t but this one time won’t make a difference.”

“No one will notice.”

“Malthus was wrong.”

“In every period of history, someone or some group has said the end is near. It never was. What are the odds that for ten thousand years they were all wrong and I just happen to be alive when one is right?”

“BP talks personal responsibility to allay their responsibility. They have to change, not us. You’re playing into the corporations’ hands by saying we should change.”

“The young people are finally taking the lead. They’ll fix the problems of our generation.”

“If we don’t use the oil, the Chinese or Russians will. If someone’s going to profit, it might as well be us.”

“Nuclear is the perfect green energy. It will solve everything.”

“The prices of renewables are dropping so fast, the market will lead consumers and energy producers to abandon fossil fuels inevitably.”

“I’m with you. I bought an electric car and installed solar on my home.”

Traffic: when will we learn
When will we learn?

“I agree with you but I don’t only think of one thing. I balance the environment with my love for my family.”

“The population is already leveling off.”

“Western nations are already below replacement levels.”

“The last thing we want is government in the bedroom. The One Child Policy led to forced abortions, forced sterilizations, and tearing down people’s homes who had two children. Is that what you want?”

“You can’t tell people how many children to have.”

“It’s just human nature.”

“You could fit the population of the Earth in Texas.”

“Population doesn’t matter, consumption does.”

“Consumption doesn’t matter, population does.”

“Do you know the racism and sexism that governments practiced in the name of population control? It was among the darkest stains of history.”

“To solve our problems, we need more geniuses. That means more babies.”

“I can’t figure it all out. It’s too complicated. I just want to live my life.”

“I can’t afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.”

“You’re lucky enough to shop at a farmers market. You don’t know what it’s like to be a single mom in a food desert with three kids and three jobs.”

“Poor people can’t afford to eat how you do. They can feed their whole family at a fast food place for half the price of one salad.”

“I don’t have time to cook.” “I don’t have time to sit down to drink my coffee.” “. . . to shop for eco stuff.”

starbucks garbage
Starbucks garbage: it’s what they make

“You don’t understand. People outside of cities have no choice to shop at Amazon and Walmart.”

“Do you know how privileged you sound? You don’t know what it’s like for the rest of us.”

“Straight white men have had their chance. The best you can do is shut up and listen.”

“You don’t have kids. If you did, you’d understand that you can’t avoid acquiring stuff. It just accumulates.”

“I’m not the one causing problems over there. I can’t fix everything.”

“The bible tells us to be fruitful and multiply.”

“The best way is to educate women. You should focus on that.”

“People in developing countries deserve to live like us.”

“We can’t tell Africans what to do.”

“We developed through fossil fuels. The best solution is for them to go through a demographic shift too. We can’t tell them they can’t do what we did.”

“A rising tide lifts all boats. Raising the GDP will create jobs and economic equality.”

“Poor people today live like kings from before.”

“Regulations take people’s jobs away.”

“If everyone buys less, how will people make a living?”

“Everyone else is doing it. What else am I supposed to do?”

“Do you want to return to the stone age? Back then 30 years old was old age and half the mothers died in childbirth.”

“Without growth, there will be too many old people for young people to support. The economy will collapse.”

“Without growth, we won’t invest in the future. The economy will collapse.”

“Regulations are a path to socialism and communism. We saw how they turned out.”

“Personal freedom is the best defense against tyranny.”

“Renewables only work because of subsidies.”

“The Earth will be fine. It’s us that won’t make it, but humans have had our chance. Maybe it will be cockroaches next.”

earth from space

“People have to feel it themselves before they act. When they get affected, they’ll act.”

“I’d like to but I have to work on getting a job.”

“I have to focus on this paying client for now.”

“Mars will give us a place to grow.”

“If we don’t get off Earth, an asteroid might destroy humanity. We have to focus on reaching Mars.”

“We can’t be as perfect as you.”

“We’ll get there. We just have to take baby steps.”

“If you don’t travel the world, you don’t learn about other cultures. Without it we’re ignorant and don’t learn about humanity.”

“You traveled the world. Maybe you needed to to become who you are. How can you deprive others of a necessary part of growing up?”

“Planes will be electric one day.”

“I did my part, I separated my trash.”

“Seven rivers in Asia cause most of the world’s plastic, not us.”

“The problem with waste is that we don’t manage it properly. We just have to collect it better.”

“Most ocean plastic comes from fishing equipment, not us.”

“I pay my taxes. The government should clean it.

“I can’t ride a bike or walk. My knees.”

“I can’t ride a bike or walk. I’m too old.”

“I can’t pick up other people’s litter. I’m a germophobe.”

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