Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Want something new to bash your right-wing relatives with? Try "planet abuse?


As we head toward a new year -- even a new decade, if you don't count your years so good -- of environmental ravagement, colleague Jim Gilliam, who describes himself as "a geeky activist building Internet tools to shake up a broken political system," says he "thought this was a simple idea worth throwing out there." -- Ken

Jim Gilliam

Planet Abuse

Published on December 30, 2009

One of the big problems in building a movement is trying to get people to do “less” of something. If it’s morally wrong, you shouldn’t just do less of it, you shouldn’t do it at all! Without the moral clarity of “murder is wrong,” people just keep doing what they’re doing.

This is a big problem for issues like climate change, rampant consumerism, pollution, trash, etc. “Pollute less” or “buy less” simply isn’t cutting it.

These issues need to be framed into one thing that eventually everyone can agree is bad. Planet abuse.

This has been done before. Child abuse. It wasn’t always a bad thing, but today many things, like striking a child in anger are widely regarded as wrong. Very few think kids should be forced to work. However, there is controversy on spanking children, and the age line of what constitutes molesting a child keeps moving. But if you ask someone “is child abuse wrong?” 100% will say yes.

If we started to talk about “planet abuse” we could eventually get a lot of people to agree that it is wrong, and then we can fight to define exactly what planet abuse is. Some things will be clear, and others will be murky and change over time. “You can’t do that, it’s planet abuse!”

I just googled this phrase, and apparently it’s never been used before. Let’s change that.

This came out of a discussion with Aaron Swartz.



At 11:58 AM, Blogger Lex Alexander said...

Well, the fact of the matter is that we can do a certain amount of a lot of things to the planet without causing significant long-term damage. And there ARE economic tradeoffs (although they're more complicated, and beneficial, than the extraction industries want you to believe). So it's neither admirable nor practical to just decide that anything you do a lot of that's bad is just as bad as if you do a little. If you follow me.

That said, I suspect that we passed a sustainable global population level some time ago.


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