How not to save the world

Even more important than solving problems is identifying error. This Appropedia article is a work in progress, but is important.


Food miles

Rejecting Vaccinations


Antibacterial Soap

Hybrid Vehicles

Carbon offsets and planting trees

Appropedia: How not to save the world

I think it’s worth pointing out that sustainability is not just about the environment, but about social and economic impacts too. There are non-environmental reasons to support to local food and recycling initiatives, for instance.

See also:

5 Ways People Are Trying to Save the World (That Don’t Work)

Wired’s “environmental heresies” examined


  1. While I agree with some of the article, other part of it are overly simplistic, IMO. A couple points to critique:

    –The author didn’t take into account not only the massive amount of chemical pollution created by the development and manufacture of chemical pesticides, but also the immense runoff into waterways. When I worked for Clean Water Action and got sent out to Sioux Falls, SD back in 2002, part of what we did was explain to people that they had measurable amounts of chemical pesticides–in their *tap water*. The Big Sioux River, their water source, was worse. Also, e. coli in manure can be taken care of by more thorough composting of said manure.

    –The author doesn’t mention that when logging companies replant trees, they’re replanting quick-growing conifers, and not the general mix of trees found in old-growth forest. This has a long-term adverse effect on the ecosystems. Also, the less-than-a-century that logging companies wait to clearcut an area again is nowhere near enough time for it to regenerate the fertile soil lost in erosion after a clearcut.

  2. william umbra

    May 9, 2009 at 6:47 am

    When I went to the website and saw that it was cracked it immediately became impossible for me to take seriously. Pick a random article from their site and see if you can really take them seriously.

    That being said I tend to agree with the above post. I live in Portland as well Klint, and I’ve seen the planting of lots of non native trees to supplant the firs that have been cut down. I don’t think this helps at all. The Water in S. Dakota has some serious issues I might add. I don’t know about the “tap” water because most people I know are on wells that live there and man that water is so hard it can stop bullets no problem.

  3. Klintron: “Even more important than solving problems is identifying error.”

    This is correct and important. Any solution that is ammendable to being tinkered with is better than a solution that is Right The First Time. Because how many solutions are really Right The First Time, be they from left / right / center / religion / tradition / etc.?

  4. Not mentioned in the above article: Genetically Modified food and it’s potential health effects. It’s not only chemicals that make “conventional” (industrial) farming more efficient than organics.

    Now I know there isn’t an overwhelming amount of solid data on GMO’s and their impact on our health. But it is something that needs to be considered.

    Also I’d refuse vaccines out of principle. I just like to be medically natural and allow my immune system to sink or swim on its own. Thats how I get stronger. At least thats how I feel about it, I’m sure medical professionals would disagree.

    But it is true about the recycling and carbon offsets. I think only metals should be recycled, the amount of energy needed to recycle paper is not efficient enough at this point. Although I agree with the above posters about native trees being replaced with conifers. It’s quite apparent here in Michigan that we took basically clear cut the forests and replanted what we wanted to cut down again, not what would be best for the environment.

  5. while i think it’s important not to be ignorant of the *idea* of green practices vs. the *reality* of green practices, i hope that people take the opportunity to improve them instead of saying fuckit. and like lupa mentioned, there are a lot of different sides to the chemical and medical industries, and i’m not about to start trusting their “benevolence” any time soon…

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