Ask the grumpies: how to prevent the Earth from dying

omdg asks:

Is the earth dying? What’s the best way to prevent this from happening?

The BEST way to protect the environment is to get governments to legislate governmental protection.   Companies need to be competing on an even playing field in which they all have to be good stewards of the environment.  Otherwise firms have an incentive to cut corners in the interest of profit maximization.  Government regulation can take away the ability to cut corners.

All the little environmentally friendly things you can do (reduce/reuse/recycle) are great, but they alone are not enough.  Voting and contacting your legislators to support climate-friendly initiatives are really the only way to make big dents.  Think of it as the latte factor vs. large fixed expenses– the stuff we do individually is like cutting out your latte factor, but the stuff big organizations do makes a bigger difference faster.

Here’s a good article from business insider that breaks down the benefits by thing we can do.

In terms of “is the earth dying”… no, but we are having a mass extinction.  The more immediate problem is that climate change is moving climate around bringing drought and floods where there were none.  This will increase costs and cause mass migrations which will cause political/social/etc. problems like, I dunno, war, famine, death… standard apocalypse stuff.

So yeah, if this is something you care about (and we all should), make sure you vote for science believers, and keep contacting your elected officials on the topic.  They won’t know it’s important if we don’t tell them.

16 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: how to prevent the Earth from dying”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    As an engineer who works with product developers for a living, I can 100% agree that government legislation, research grants and subsidies drive innovation in the electrical sector. These are low margin businesses with not a lot of spare cash for R&D cash. It’s not til they are forced do do something, that it happens. The most significant recent example is the phase out of incandescent light bulbs and subsidies of LEDs. When incandescents were first phased out, many states had subsidies that made lights more affordable to the consumer. LEDs have been around forever at $50/bulb but it wasn’t til the ban til significant stuff started happening. If you agree with the ban but not the subsidies, then please realize that part of what drives cost down is unit build. The subsidies helped companies build infrastructure and demand to get to the unit build to where the product was affordable.

    There are many other examples in the energy sector too like solar and even fracking even though it has its own environmental risks if not managed well. Say what you will about horizontal drilling but it did give this country access to huge reserves of fuel that we couldn’t get to before. It was a huge innovation in my lifetime. (This is now the chemical engineer talking). Not having to be dependent on foreign oil is a good thing for many reasons but the safe management of our natural resources does require a lot of oversight. That’s why a lot of these recent appointments To agencies like the EPA seem like a massive conflict of interest. Yes fox, you can guard the henhouse.

    PS. I am 100% confident that the earth will survive and repair itself. However we may not. It will go back into balance one way or another. Either we do it our way or it will happen some other more tragic way…disease, famine, etc.

    • becca Says:

      Well “the earth” does fine, as it is a planet and doesn’t care what temperature it is. There is no inherent “balance” to being a planet. I suspect “life on earth” similarly does ok, in the sense that most life is microbial and perfectly competent to evolve to the changes.
      But “animals” are screwed. If you ever wished you could have met a dinosaur, or a giant sloth, that is how future generations will feel about lions/tigers/bears, and moreover they will have us (not some astroid or blissfully ignorant hunters) to blame for it. Assuming there are future generations of humans, which is not a given by any means.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

      The blue LED that makes white LED lights possible was invented in the 1990s—not “forever” even in engineering years. Fluorescent lights have been around as long as incandescent ones, but white LED lights are definitely new.

      • First Gen American Says:

        We can agree to disagree on time horizon. Back in the early 90’s most people had giant CRT TVs and
        everyone still had VCRs. DVD development was still ongoing. My work had a DVD R&D lab optimizing the data density. Netflix sent you movies in the mail and amazon mostly sold books. Cell phones weren’t owned by all and there wasn’t anything smart about them.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Remember pagers? Only doctors and drug dealers had them! And dos was still a thing in the early 90s… Amazon and Netflix? We still had bulletin boards and IRC. Altavista was a new thing. And mosaic.

    • Debbie M Says:

      I am a huge fan of these kinds of subsidies. That phase out as they are no longer needed.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says: Has several environmental issues you can call about, but also consider calling to say No Wall since that is a pressing issue right now.

    • Sophia Says:

      I agree with all of this. Also trying to make good decisions about what we buy as individuals who have a lot of choices. Eliminating single use plastics when possible (would be nice if since use plastics became illegal), eating more plants, buying less and buying used when possible etc.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We spent a year in a city where you had to pay some amount per plastic bag (something like 5 or 10 cents), and that rule just makes everything so different– so much less plastic everywhere (house, parking lots, streets, trees, waterways…). It was kind of a shock to come back here with plastic bags everywhere. And take-out made of styrofoam instead of compostable cardboard.

        I don’t know that we even need to make things illegal so much as put in a small hurdle to nudge people to stop. (I do understand that there are disabilities that make, for example, take-away single use plastic straws important. But if the price on those is raised, then single-use paper straw technology gets improved.)

  3. rose Says:

    AGAIN: Thank you for this posting (and every other one for years). You talk about really important things, and life things, and share information that gets shared and shared and shared. This takes time and work on your side. I really appreciate this gift that you make to the world.
    My December advice to the world is to stop preparing for holidays at least 24 hours before it happens E.g.: stop at midnight on 12/23 if Christmas is your holiday. Then begin to rest, relax, enjoy your holiday. Remember: the 26th will happen even if something isn’t wrapped, decorated, cooked or whatever. What is important and what is remembered is the LOVE of self and others, the peace and centering, joy, laughter, and kindness.
    Huge thanks to all who read and write and share and make this a better world and future.

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  5. Debbie M Says:

    “Companies need to be competing on an even playing field in which they all have to be good stewards of the environment. Otherwise firms have an incentive to cut corners in the interest of profit maximization.” You say this so much more politely than I do. In my letters to Congress, I say that otherwise unethical companies are at an advantage.

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