Leadership and the Environment
234: A shift, not a crisis
Here are the notes I read from to make this episode, sometimes diverging from them.
Why I don't call our environmental situation a crisis. People think scientists will solve something or engineers will create a solution and we can go back to before. We will never return to this lifestyle, which, by the way, is a tremendous advance if you value happiness, stewardship, enjoying what you have, and compassion over craving what you don't have and not caring how you affect others.
Within your lifetime, planes will never fly you without severely hurting others. Same with having more than one child, eating meat, eating to being overweight especially eating factory farmed or industrial farmed food, and you know the top things. Some rich people will be able to do what they want because edge cases always exist, but for most people, today's way of life is nearly over. I repeat, you'll be glad after the transition for the same reason cocaine users are glad to kick their habits even if it meant the end of partying like they used to.
The sooner we get this shift into our thick skulls, the sooner we'll stop trying to retain what is resulting in opiates, sugar, alcohol, other addiction, poverty, dissatisfaction with our communities where everyone feels like they have to get thousands of miles away several times a year, etc. Never in human history could we get far from home without major effort. Now we feel entitled to it. And the result is dispersing what would be community into I don't know what to call the opposite of community. Loneliness? Why are we surprised at all the addiction?
I'm familiar with Steven Pinker's work that we're living in the best time ever, but I'm not comparing to a past including two world wars and dropping atomic bombs on each other but a future in which we steward the land, air, and water based on cultural values and practices currently talked about but actually practiced by nearly no one.
When we get it through our thick skulls and actually practice them, we will replace growth, meaning always wanting more never content with what you have, with enjoying what you have. Plenty of human societies have lasted far longer than since the industrial revolution without growth, whereas ours is destroying the Earth's ability to sustain wildlife and human society in a couple centuries. Economists removed from regular life don't get this.
We will also replace externalizing costs, which means dishing off your waste to others, generally who are helpless to defend themselves, with stewardship, or taking responsibility for how your behavior affects others. Any parent knows that taking responsibility means that yes, you can't party and travel like you used to, but the joys and rewards are greater. It's hard to start, but when you say, "I'm going to do whatever it takes to make this baby healthy" you overcome every challenge that comes, no matter how prepared you felt. In fact, the bigger the challenge, the greater your feeling of reward. The challenges of environmental stewardship is nothing compared to parenthood.
Today polluting pollutes not only defenseless, but ourselves. We have filled the world withs that much garbage, greenhouse gases, and poison and we have so filled the world with ourselves that we can't escape it.
The result of that shift will be a world with abundance for all, with a stable population well below carrying capacity, for reasons I described in episode ?. That means for several generations we'll have on average below 2 babies per couple and our economies will shift to a steady state economy, as other, more enduring and stable cultures have done for longer than we've been around and without the opiate addiction.
There will be problems. There will be wars, but not threatening all of human society or millions of species.
Anyway, I wanted to share why I think of the environmental situation as a shift or transition, not a crisis.