Environment and Society Part 2

It seems that much of the second half of the book deals with some of the same problems; namely, the environmental cost of luxury. This is reflected in the sections discussing plastic water bottles, french fries, green lawns, and e-waste. Much of the time, human pollution is something that can be morally controversial; we may be endangering animals or deforesting, but we only do so because we need to support a growing population; what is more important, the lives of humans, or the lives of animals? But in these couple of chapters, the focus was on things that are not important to life; junk food, disposable water bottles and electronics are all things that are absolute luxuries. It would seem, then, that it is something of a no-brainer when it comes to balancing the negative impacts of these unsustainable choices against the environmental damage they cause, but despite this these things are still a staple of American consumerist culture, as well as in many other consumerist lifestyles around the world. Fortunately, in recent years there seems to be not only a growing interest but also a technological boost when it comes to environmental sustainability and being “green”. Not only have we seen a boost in clean energy such as solar power and use of less plastic, but we have also seen a greater overall movement towards trying to keep the earth more clean, and consuming in a more sustainable way, whether that means buying less meat, more energy-efficient products, less plastic, or whatever it may be.

Unfortunately, I’m a little skeptical about how effective this whole movement is in the first place. Despite trying to consume more sustainably, most people in first countries still probably end up consuming more than than is environmentaly sustainable, especially considering all of the pollution that has built up over the years before ‘being green’ has become a trend. People are still producing absurd amounts of garbage and plastic waste, and it certainly doesn’t help that the decision to try and be more environmentally conscious is one that is shared by only a small percent of the population; I imagine that a very large amount of Americans still couldn’t care less about the environment. This is even the case on a much larger scale; major companies, although they might occasionally try to may a big show about how ‘green’ they are becoming, still have making profit at the bottom line, and will likely care very little about the environment, especially in countries where regulations aren’t as strict as the U.S. Many countries, most notably China, also seem to show almost no care for the environment. In the game of “Prisoner’s Dillema”, they have chosen to throw everyone else who chose the “care about the environment” option under the bus, and are reaping the rewards for it, sort of. It does certainly seem unfair for the efforts of those who are environmentally conscious to be counteracted by those who want to reap the rewards of modern consumerism without caring about the negative consequences. And it is. But honestly, at this point pollution seems to be such a serious issue that I don’t think small efforts like using less plastic bags or bottles will cause a serous change. Don’t get me wrong, its important to do still; otherwise any environmental efforts would have been pointless. But if we hope to try and undo the damage already done, I think that people need to look at this on a larger scale, whether that means more sweeping, powerful regulations on countries and companies polluting practices, or more investment in alternative scientific breakthroughs, such as the “plastic eating bacteria” that was reported on a while back. Overall, I think “big picture” ideas and their appellation will ultimately make the biggest difference; we can only hope that the people in power recognize this as well.


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