The Environmental Movement

I had a good discussion the other day that stemmed from a comment about hybrid and fuel cell car technology. My point was that, for good or ill, change will pretty much have to come from economic forces. In a world where so much is dictated by economics, capitalism is a strong evolutionary driver. Certainly it isn’t always true, but let’s face it, if recycled printer paper costs twice as much as regular paper, which are most people going to buy? And if a third world country can get more money and food by fishing with gill nets or hunting whales, are they going to opt for starvation?

Another driving factor is that people seem to generally be short sighted. Hey, they say, we can make lots of money by chopping down these trees and selling them! But they don’t think about what happens when the trees are all gone. Or maybe they do and plan to farm cattle? Why worry about alternate fuel sources or increased gas milage when we can drill oil here at home?

Ok, enough ranting. I’m just trying to say thats how people will behave unless there is some outside influence (e.g. oil embargo forcing folks to get more efficient cars). I’m not trying to say whats good or evil. Well, ok, maybe a little. But the point is that to help preserve the environment, maybe our efforts are better spent by making the more environmentally safe alternative also the more economic choice. Education is important and helps a lot, at least here in the States (I’m sure some will argue one way or the other), but how much does that affect the rest of the world? Me not buying shark fin soup in California won’t ever stop fisherman from other countries from shark finning. No matter how many friends I get to stop eating it.

But what does this all have to do with science and writing. Well, it makes a great setting for a techno-thriller.

  • Maybe genetically modified foods provide a better source of income for farmers in Columbia, so they stop growing drug percursor plants. It could be a secret CIA funded plan.
  • Or a high tech “organ farm” is used to grow shark fins and bear testicles or whatever other weird thing people like to eat or do whatever with for “non-traditional” medicine.
  • Perhaps a natural (or terrorist driven) disaster forces us off of oil as a fuel source, and an alternative has to be found quickly before the world society degenerates to a pre-industrial era.

I think there are lots of ideas here, beyond Tom Clancy’s take on it in Rainbow Six (enviromentalists are evil).

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