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The problem with the continuing pollution of the environment is hard to isolate.

On the contrary...

The underlying problem is:

From what I can figure there are two ways to approach this problem: Alter the context of wanting the functionality AND/OR minimize the impact of the infrastructure.

Example of altering the context:

Examples of minimizing impact:

In general, I don't want to reduce functionality. I want to decrease impact or manipulate the context so that the inefficient functionality is obsolete.

I don't think you're identifying the underlying problem

Care to elaborate? I didn't want to say "stop driving your car" because that has been tried again and again. So I ask myself -- why doesn't anybody listen? And I get replies like 1. it takes too long to go by train, 2. so many places unreachable by public transport. Economical reasons (on of my points: "impracticable alternatives"). So what next: New laws, increase the price of oil. Ah, but then somebody says that it'll damage your national economy. Another economic reason. In all of that -- what is the underlying problem in your opinion? I'm genuinely interested, just add them to the list, or write a second list with counterpoints. --AlexSchroeder

Remove oil and gas subsidies and all of a sudden solar and wind power becomes competitive.

I recommend the book NaturalCapitalism for an interestingly different view. (I liked it so much I bought the book after reading the full text online.) One of the major messages of the book is that large savings of energy and pollution are often available, and are even economical, but are rejected because they don't fit the way business is usually done.

For example, a builder might be able to save $10,000 per month in energy costs for a building, at a cost of only $100,000 during initial construction. Plans like this might be rejected by a business manager, because the building's initial cost might come out of his department's budget while the energy cost is paid from a maintenance budget. One recommendation is to allow the builder to share some of the energy efficiency gains. The builder might submit the bid at the ordinary building's cost, but be repaid half of the energy savings compared to a conventional building. This would allow the buyer to keep the low initial cost and half of the energy savings, while the builder has the opportunity to earn more money by saving more energy. Consider the first 5 years: the owner saves $300,000 in energy costs, while the builder gets $200,000 more profit after subtracting the extra cost.

The book is sometimes annoyingly over-optimistic (especially about near-future technologies), but it also has many real examples of companies and communities. --CliffordAdams

Some thoughts:

Electric cars seem to be heading toward a dead end. The future are fuel cells, the near future are hybrids.


Just trying to understand the ramifications of that: I conclude from what you said the following points. Not sure whether you actually meant that or not, please correct me.

Generally, though, and much more interesting than the particular problems and the particular solutions, I'd like to focus on what cultural or economical pressures prevent humanity from just doing the right thing, or alternatively, what cultural and sociological causes result in the bad press some of our technological advances are getting. Is there EmergingBehaviour? in technology using cultures? (Even the ancient Greeks hat problems with errosion due to large scale deforestation.) What is the correct approach to prevent pollution? What are the obstacles we as a society are facing? Can we just discard the discussion? (Why?) Legal, economical, social aspects are more interesting than the physical, chemical or biological aspects because these we might be able to influence. The others we can only study. --AlexSchroeder

Trying to do this in DocumentMode when the conversational aspects scream ThreadMode. Hopefully this helps refactoring.

That depends. (At all points in this, I speak with USA examples, except when noted. Your Mileage May Vary, especially when computed in Kilometers per Liter.) My example is more of a social/cultural data point than anything else. "Choice Choice Choice for Me! The bus and the train for you!" Just a bit of irony.

That being said, I've few complaints about the local public transportation in most of the places I've dealt with it. On a national level, there's problems. Such as, it doesn't go everywhere. If you want to go from Washington DC to Philidelphia to New York to Boston, you have a fine train system. If you want to go between northern and southern California, you have a slightly less quality train system, like a subway-style on steroids. But if you want to go to Colorado, you better like Denver, and if you want to go to South Dakota, you better like walking, because there's no passenger rail service to there.

Solar and wind haven't generated enough bang for the buck yet, that I've heard. The only things that seem to come close are fossil fuels and nuclear, and and we know those problems. So the only solutions that can fix it start "we must change society from the ground up" and that's guaranteed to fail.

That's not quite the point I was making, although it is something to consider. I think I was saying that some technologies require infrastructure, and if that infrastructure breaks down, the elements that rely on it break down. But that gets into FailureModes? rather than Pollution, at least directly. Also, some technologies work on a lower common denominator than others, and the higher the common denominator, the more practical limits to trade, and the more limits on what is available to you.



I heartily recommend the book "the sceptical environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World" by Bjørn Lomborg. He says that yes, the situation is bad when comparing it to an ideal world. However, looking at the real data, things have been getting better all the time. There is no reason for pessimism, despair, or panic. He cites thousands of examples where statistics have been misused -- including references. An amazing book: ISBN 0-521-80447-7 (alternate, search). -- AlexSchroeder


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