Among what I read and watched this week:
The Life You Can Save, by Peter Singer: I confess I hadn’t read the book before recording our podcast episode (not yet edited, but will update when posted), but I wrote about his drowning child analogy recently. This book blew me away. I expected dry philosophy I would argue against, but found it compelling. I will donate more to charity with enthusiasm.
I highly recommend this book.
(I’m still not a fan of the Effective Altruism movement.)
World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler: I ask a lot of people if they can imagine a world where no one pollutes. Nearly no one can, despite nearly all of our ancestors doing so. Recording a podcast episode with Chris Bystroff (not yet edited, but will update when posted, but I mention him in this post), Chris and I speculated about a future where no one pollutes. He mentioned Kunstler, whom I hadn’t heard of. He’s written about suburban sprawl and other horrors of our polluting, depleting culture. He posts about his decaying urban environment, crumbling infrastructure, and soul-sucking architecture. He also posts about his garden. He also podcasts what sounds like a mix of well-grounded research into politics and unverified conspiracy theories. Intriguing. I wasn’t sure where to start, but this novel seemed the most relevant to my conversation with Chris.
He builds in the book a future based on no fossil fuels, a population reduced about seventy-five percent when the old culture collapsed, everything hyper local, nobody knowing what’s happening beyond about a hundred miles, various forms of community forming, and nearly everyone involved with agriculture, cooking, brewing, and food. Making music is important too. Lots of germ-based disease.
I think the world would be a lot more polluted than he shows. People have trouble conceiving, suggesting health problems. I would expect more pollution-based disease like birth defects and cancer.
Not a bad book.
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