The greenhouse effect was front page news in the 1980s and known long before. Plus plastic, mercury, deforestation, extinctions, and you’ve read the front page. You know the problems.
We don’t just not act. We tell ourselves lies that we’ll solve the problem. We’ve told ourselves lie after lie, scam after scam, to keep from changing our behavior.
The following are all scams that delay acting. None of them will solve our environmental problems. When you hear them, someone or some industry is benefiting from the current polluting system and wants to maintain it. Only changing the system will change the system, not changing parts.
- The hydrogen economy
- Telling ourselves “Future generations will solve what we messed up”
- The closed loop economy
- “Here’s how we’ll feed 10 billion people by 2050”
- Net zero
- Carbon neutral
- Electrify everything
- Demographic transition
- Carbon offsets
They all sound like they’ll work. Asbestos worked. So did leaded gasoline and marketing cigarettes to children. Then we learned they killed people and we stopped them. To clarify: several of these actions could work as tactics within a strategy of lowering birth rate and consumption, but not as strategies themselves.
You knew that carbon offsets were too good to be true. When you look at the systemic effects, they increase the problem. Same with fusion and all the others. I have a PhD in physics, an MBA, and I’ve studied this stuff. Nobody wishes they worked more than I. I expected they would work as much as anyone. But they all accelerate the problems.
Nature doesn’t react to our fantasies of electric planes and decoupling. It reacts to our behavior.
Here’s what works:
- Buy less
- Don’t do what causes pollution
- Have fewer kids
- Lead others
- Teach people to lead others
Worried life will be nasty and short without doing polluting activities? Think of role models like Jesus, Buddha, Laozi, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Aurelius, Marco Polo, and billions of others who lived without plastic, flying, or factory farming.
What nobody tells you
Nobody tells you that you’ll prefer living more simply. Activities that don’t pollute bring people together and create community. Polluting activities separate us.
What works more
One person’s one-time actions don’t add up to much. The point is not to act once and stop.
Act, find the joy, act more, and lead others. Then your effect multiplies.
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