Health Lifestyle Society

Society and environment sets the baseline for your health

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We like to blame others for making choices that cause their woes but it’s easy to fall into some logical fallacies — turns out the whole every individual for themselves thing doesn’t really reflect reality, or help improve outcomes.

See also: Stress response — finding / achieving health as a community

Future Building Political Commentary Society

Public spending needs context

Replied to

It’s easy to scoff at big projects and think they’re wasting tons of money, but there are valid reasons public projects cost a lot.

People are not good at thinking at scale. Even small roads through neighborhoods are like 25 feet wide, yeah it’s going to cost a bit to maintain an entire city’s roads. It’s also overwhelming how many people live near you who are sharing those costs — my city doesn’t feel that big, but 90,000 people live here, over 40,000 households.

I saw an article recently complaining that it takes way longer to build things now than in the past. Some of that is staffing limitations causing permitting delays, yes. *cough* I don’t hear the same people calling for higher development fees to cover increased staffing *cough* But some delays come from public process requirements. It’s important to give people a chance to hear about and comment on projects that will affect them — as much as I hate NIMBYs, in the past a lack of public process has allowed racist development decisions, so public process is important for equity. There are also environmental permitting requirements — so many impacts are externalities that the community will bear the costs of rather than the developer, so it seems fair to ask developers to evaluate and limit those impacts upfront. Inspections and plan review are also needed, because whatever gets built now, people will have to use for decades to come, and shortcuts can have bad long-term impacts, and cost-cutting can increase a building’s carbon footprint for its lifespan.

Government is concerned with protecting the public good, whereas developers are focused on the bottom line. Yes, if we let developers do whatever they wanted they’d make more money — and we’d get a city with no trees, mostly paved so rain runoff is terrible and streams become unlivable for fish, built using the cheapest (and likely most carbon-intensive) materials.

The bigger issue is that people seem to have lost touch with doing things for the common good — back to our society’s toxic individualism. The same attitude that makes people reluctant to pay for programs they don’t use also makes them reluctant to do things that benefit others at little cost to themselves, like wearing masks on public transportation.

Environment Learning Work

Outreach and Social Marketing Webinars

Research, Campaigns and More – Oregon’s Work to Prevent the Wasting of Food

Understanding Environmental Justice through two EPA tools: EJScreen and EnviroAtlas Webinar Archive

International Social Marketing Association Webinar Series

Environment Future Building Society

Re-doing the Industrial Revolution

Replied to The industrial re-revolution by Ed ConwayEd Conway (Ed Conway)

But here’s the thing. Every one of the discoveries I’ve mentioned above has a dark side. Because each of these revolutions entails the creation of greenhouse gases. There is carbon dioxide created in the manufacture of Portland cement, of steel, of glass, in the making of most chemicals, in the production of nitrogen-based fertilisers, in the electrolytic reaction at the heart of the Hall–Héroult process that creates aluminium, in the refining of most metals, in the minting of silicon chips and solar panels and the making of lithium ion batteries. I could go on.

The point here is that if we want a truly zero carbon world we don’t just have to replace power stations. We have to re-imagine how to do all of those processes above that comprise centuries of innovation. We have to re-do the industrial revolution all over again. And, as you can see above, that means far more than just working out a way of making green steel.

I would also add, reinventing what we do along with how we do it. The electric car, for example, has lower emissions (after production) (assuming electricity is from a green source), but roads and sprawl are part of our challenge. Simply updating our cars and the concrete we use to build roads won’t fix the stupid way we’ve designed communities and work that forces lots of time traveling to and from distant job centers, which requires us all to have cars that take a lot of energy and materials to produce in the first place. We have to change, which is perhaps even harder than reinventing green forms of existing technology, because everyone wants things to stay just as they are, simply greener.

That’s a big hurdle in my professional work: people want to recycle more, not buy less. To keep doing what they’re doing instead of adopting new ways. (I get it, change is hard, and when you’re barely keeping your head above water you can’t even think about doing things differently, especially when it might be just the little bit harder to drag you under the waves.) Convenience produces lots of waste, and we can’t always have it both ways. I’m not going to argue against convenience products given the lack of support structure for caregivers (usually women) – I’m not going to fault anyone for doing what they need to make their lives manageable.

Again, we must rethink how we do things to stop climate change from getting any worse than it is already going to be. The more I see how all pieces of society fit together, the more I realize that environmental justice and feminism and racial equity underpin our success in reducing emissions, because those shape how our society runs. The nuclear family, often run and fed and cared for by mom, isn’t working. We need to support caregivers. We probably should rethink single generation / single family households and embrace cohousing and broader concepts of family groups. We need a technological re-revolution on one side, and a social revolution on the other.