Environment and Society


It is so nice to have a book that presents its ideas in such an easily understood way! It makes realization of what the author is trying to convey so much easier. Even though it is very simple to understand I was still presented with ideas that I had not heard before. Or it presented ideas I had heard before in a different prospective.

Jevons’ Paradox: I have never heard of this before. But after reading about it it totally makes sense! Here is the theory: any technology that increases the efficiency of some resource, inevitably, increases the use of the resource by increasing the quantity available. In the end this will decrease the total amount of that resource.

This was originally observed by British economist William Stanley Jevons in the mid 1800’s. The fact that this was seen that far back makes me think. Why did we not do anything to stop this?! This seems like a stupid question, but if we were about to see this pattern a long time ago we were also able to see the effects it would have. The fact that more recent economists have been studying this peaks my curiosity even more. At this time we are able to make so many forms of alternative energy, and we have know we would eventually come to this problem. So it only makes sense that we would have started to find a solution to this problem a long time ago. But we have not.

Cap and Trade: I have heard of it, but I never knew what it was. Its Brilliant! The fact that our society has found a way to put a price on something we can’t hold is a testimony to our ingenuity.

So it’s very similar to a stock system. We have made a maximum amount of emissions that can be introduced into the air. Then we put a price on each share of the maximum amount. businesses and individual people can then buy however many shares they would like. If the business finds a way to reduce its pollutant output they can sell off their share to other people who need it. This keep the amount of pollutants at a constant. The government can then regulate how many shares are in circulation to decrease the pollution output as well.

This tells me that we are able to change things in our world for the better, it will just take time to figure out how. But my gut tells me we are too late for that.

Just for point of interest I found chapters five and six rather pointless and lacking information that I found informative.

Despite my desire to see our world find logical answers to our problems, We wont. And here is why.We don’t try to find the solution that will help us in the long run, we look for the solution that will fix the problem now. For example, the beginning of chapter seven talks about the economic advisor to Barack Obama, Lawrence Summers, sending a memo in 1991 talking about how they should begin their production of products that release pollutants in poor countries. The reason being that wages in those countries would be much lower in the US. Also the countries that are of lower wages do not produce much pollution, thus in his eyes they are not sharing an equal load with other countries.

This is such a stupid solution. This will not decrease our pollutant output, ours will stay the same, it will, in the end, increase the total world output. which will inevitably cause a huge problem in the end. This is not the kind of thinking we need. This type of thought was the thought that powered the industrial age, we are no longer in that era. We have to change out train of thought in order for us to save our planet.

Final thought.

“Wilderness today is prized. It is mapped, sought out, hiked through, and protected in reserves. But you don’t have to go far back in history to find quite different meanings.”

This is right on the money. This is a perfect example of something I was thinking about last week. In the past all we wanted to do was expand. We wanted to take away nature for our profit. But now, now we want to save it. We have seen how valuable nature is to our world. We want to protect it and nurture it. But have we realized this to late?


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