Mesothelioma Information   SUBMIT

In HI 108 this topic comes up and Grey argues that it is more impactful to change the system so that the humans are incentivized to do the more "correct" action and uses the recycling bin scenario as an example of this working to correct his own behavior. Brady also brought up the scenario of waiting to see where humans walked on a college campus and then paving those paths instead of trying to force them to walk where the designers felt they *should* walk. I agree with both of these examples, but I can't help but wonder if such a solution even *EXISTS* for every problem that we need to solve. What if the structural solution to the problem involved doing something that directly opposed the reason that people were doing the thing that caused the problem? For a contrived example, consider the case where people were choosing paths through a college campus based on wanting to walk on the grass rather as opposed to the pavement? If you pave wherever people choose to walk, that itself will cause people to choose a different path. The airplane example is almost a perfect case of this and Grey even admits that a solution that involves stopping air travel "has no chance of ever happening" because "the modern world depends on it". Now I'm not saying that I believe we can singlehandedly save the environment by eliminating air travel, or even that it is something that we should strive for. I'm just saying that it is an example of something where the structural solution is "not a feasible solution" because it involves people electing politicians to do a thing that they so very clearly do not want them to do. It could only happen in a non democratic system... UNLESS we convince people that it is a cause worth caring for. IMO, that is where SHOULD plays its role. I believe that the role SHOULD plays in this is that it stimulates discourse on the topic and debates whether or not it is something that we should value or not. There is a theoretical possibility where we might have to choose between continuing to do something that defines our "modern world" and severe negative consequences in the long term, and if we just dismiss anything that isn't a structural solution and also dismiss structural solutions that "have no chance of actually happening", I believe we risk just ignoring problems that would ultimately cost us much more in the long term. Take asbestos as insulation as an example. When we first started using it, it was practically magical in it's properties, basically better than alternatives in just about every way.. except that pesky mesothelioma. If it had been more ingrained and a staple of "modern society" by that point and something that seemed impossible to get rid of, we would just be accepting long term detrimental health costs of workers and living conditions because of information we didn't know when it became ingrained in our society. That one was a bit easier to convince people that they SHOULD not deal with asbestos because of the personal health risks, but when you abstract it out to externalized environmental costs, I think it tends to be a lot less compelling for most people. Finally to my last point, I think the value of discussing what we SHOULD do, as well as actually doing things that have a lot smaller impact than the structural solutions is to reinforce in ourselves and society the ideal that solving this problem is important. It's important enough to warrant making significant changes to my convenience and comfort even for the relatively small impact. If we convince people that we SHOULD introduce a pain in our asses to solve a bigger problem, it is that much easier to convince people to vote for politicians who will tackle those structural problems. Do you know why politicians don't tackle the structural issues like almond farmers using more water in California? Either because it's more of a risk to them politically to tackle that issue if they're not sure people care about it, or because the almond farmers know they SHOULD support politicians who won't stop them from continuing their operations if they value their almond farming operations more than the perceived cost. How do we change this? By convincing people that they SHOULD care, and showing that they care by being willing to give something up to make it happen. Final note, because I think in the case of straws it is (at least to my knowledge) the case that plastic straws are less environmentally detrimental than paper straws (Cody Johnston has a good video on it on youtube, or at least that was my source if it wasn't good). In this situation, it's fine to decide that maybe we SHOULD not show our care for the issue by doing something not just "meaningless" but also directly opposite to our goal. But don't transfer that to not caring about ALL environmental issues just because some of them don't make logical sense.