Ethical Gravity 3: Circular Economy Does Not Orbit Us, Tiger

Environmental Ethics Revolves Around Generations Yet To Be Born.

Primum Non Nocere to the future.

Long theme of this blog is how human behavior can be explained, or motivated by, Darwin's theory of evolution. Steven Pinker's psychology books owe a lot more to Darwin than to Freud.

We can see an animal - rat, beaver, guinea fowl, tiger - knows something is "about them".  Our brains are mapped the same way.
- Greed, Desire. 
- Fear, Revulsion. 
- Anger, Rage- Caring, Nurture.
The first three are called "Aversion Reactions".

I suffer everything - desire, fear, and anger - for the Tiger.

Greed, Fear, and Nurture.  We care about what improves us, what threatens us, and to the extent our children or herd is threatened, we care about the future.  Put a deposit on a bottle to harness "greed", put a fine on disposal to harness "fear", but most of us in the environmental community care about the planet the way we care about babies. If it's rooted in (or absent from) our brain, then the psychological explanation may be that species who care about the young - or future generations yet to be born - thrive while those that do no, suffer.

Some person in the past cared about a baby who became my great-great-great-great-great grandparent.  And I care about great-great-great-grandchildren yet to be born.

How does this evolutionary history of our species' brain development predict the waste-centric or fetishism of waste policy? (See 2013 paper by Graham Pickren et. al. for waste fetishism reference)

While "caring" is excellent, and may provide the best hope to preserve our planet from the impending mass extinction event, we men and women have finite intelligence.  We are confused in nature by things like camouflage, false positives.  Objects in our convex resolution rear view mirror are definitely closer than they appear.

Everything in my business life is about postponing extinction.  I am motivated by nurture of future generations, yet to be born, who will decry my generation's failure to save elephants and tigers. 

(I loved dinosaurs as a small child, and so understood extinction. My mother showed me "animal cards" of other yaks, wildebeests, gorillas, etc, and some of them were becoming extinct. That was most probably what seeded my life and career).

Many of us chose to try to live a life that would hopefully make a positive net impact on the planet (offsetting more harm than we create), and short of that, be considered an honorable attempt from theoretical human descendants with postulated knowledge of my behavior. I made that decision as a teenager, still influenced heavily by teenage guy stuff, and in retrospect can see how positive social opinion - even among "woke" peers - is often a conflict of interest with truth.  But 500 or 5,000 years in the future, I assumed (using postulated experience and hindsight for "Higher Power") any difference I made could be judged as I myself, in my best self heart of hearts, would judge it.

My personal western civilization consumption was incompatible with avoiding the extinction apocalypse (is it too off-putting to call it a habitat holocaust? Probably not a frictionless analogy). Offset would be easier to achieve while in society, leveraging other behaviors (by making good choices -like recycling - easier and convenient), but I was probably already aware of the "moral licensing" (excusing greater consumption, 'spending my own offsets', and failing to set a less impactful example). But we must also have a healthy suspicion of "good examples" as they are held up in pop media... like boycotting electronics technicians in Africa (or putting Joe Benson in a UK prison, an injustice 100% on the hands and conscience of the environmental movement).

Offsetting may not be enough, but it buys time. And time is leaking like a firehose.

So acting out of care and nurture is a "good instinct". But prescribing the steps to achieve the goals of that caring requires pure scientific method, and has nothing to do with popular opinion. Babies were dying in Africa because diarrhea was seen as fluid loss and contaminated water was being fed to the babies as a waste-centric-response "treatment" or solution. (Longtime pals get the reference to Infant Formula action network, where I first took on changing society in an organized way, via a Nestle candy boycott).

One person may express their nurture by paying for a family burial plot at a church that promises an "in" with heaven. Price is cheap for a guarantee of eternal salvation.  When the "interests" of greed and fear are projected externally, we tend to prioritize things we know about, which are things we see, which become within our "Ethical Orbit".

The ethics of environmentalism need to be scientifically based. Gathering our personal wokeness and calling out older people is not going to cut it. Throw yourself into a solution, like I did.

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