What is right amount to pollute? Zero is the only answer that sustains human life.

August 25, 2022 by Joshua
in Leadership, Nature

For an informal survey, I went to a supermarket to observe the items in at least 100 shoppers’ carts. I didn’t make it all in one trip and lost count, but have passed 100 carts.

Every item in every cart was packaged. Even fresh produce was put in plastic bags (plus all the ones I saw in the produce aisle had stickers). I’m sure some shoppers buy produce without packaging, but all the ones I saw put theirs in plastic bags.

Polluting culture = Hurting others culture

We have created a culture where the absolute basics of life require hurting other people. It bears repeating: We have created a culture where the absolute basics of life require hurting other people.

Think about it: if simply living requires hurting other people, if every day 330 million Americans and billions of people around the world simply to live must create pollution: what amount of pollution per person can work—that is, won’t lower Earth’s ability to sustain life?

Remember, plastic pollution poisons for at least five centuries, on top of the extraction, polluting in making, displacing people and wildlife from where they live, and the other poisonous chemicals created and released in the process.

How much pollution per person can work?

I think you have to conclude that if we pollute with every meal and increasingly more sips of liquid, no amount can work. The only amount of pollution that can sustain human life in the long term is zero, as best I can tell.

Not a little bit less, nor a lot less. Zero, how humans lived for hundreds of thousands of years, healthily, with a modal lifetime of 72 years, not 30, which was a short blip on an evolutionary time scale caused by human society.

Can you imagine a world without pollution?

I’ve been asking people since if they can imagine a world without pollution. I’ll admit I had trouble at first, but increasingly I see it as possible and desirable, especially as I learn more about San, Hadza, Tsimane, Kogi, and others living traditionally, as well as see the miserable, deadly results of our culture.

Many people can’t imagine a world without pollution. I’m increasingly describing our unsustainable culture as a failure of imagination and of leadership. Of those who can imagine a world without pollution, many envision a Mad Max-type dystopia. They think it can only come with a breakdown of civilization.

If you suggest polluting less to someone whose vision of no pollution is a hellish dystopia, many will hear you suggesting making life worse. They may comply in the moment, but will likely reinforce their beliefs that it’s a bad idea.

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1 response to “What is right amount to pollute? Zero is the only answer that sustains human life.

  1. Pingback: Goal isn’t to pollute “a little bit” less or even “a lot” less. It’s zero if you want to sustain human life and civilization. » Joshua Spodek

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