Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Non-Post About A Missing Question: What We Talk About When We Don't Talk About The Environment

Because of the end of term crunch and a million other things, I didn't have time to write something this week. If I had written something, it was going to be about the following question: why do you never see considerations of environmental issues when seemingly smart and well-meaning people are writing about other things?

For example, why does Farhad Manjoo's column about the death-of-gadgets not consider the perspective that yeah, thank god for the death of gadgets, because the endless pile-up of formerly useful gadgets is destroying the environment?

Generally, I like and enjoy Manjoo's tech column. He seems like an intelligent, informed guy. Probably he's heard about the mountains of garbage clogging up the oceans and the way minerals from electronics create toxic environmental waste. So why write about how sad it is that there are fewer gadgets? Why complain that meta-gadget are replacing what used to be a multiplicity of gadgets? Or, at least, why not just pause to consider that alongside the mourning for gadgets, we might pause to remember that gadgets are actually a problem?

I feel like this is a general thing. You almost never read about environmental impact when you're reading about home decor, or landscaping ideas, or gardening, or travel, or restaurants, or anything like that. In fact, you almost always read about environmental impact only when you're reading something directly about the environment.

Why is this? It is that environmental issues just aren't on people's minds? Is it that the news industry categorizes one thing one way and one thing another and they can't bring themselves to put it together? Is it that thinking about environmental impact is considered a buzz-kill, and so has no place in "fun" journalism pieces -- like pieces about tech? Is it that everyone is so overwhelmed and freaked out that they can't bring themselves to think about it?

Usually here at TKIN we have a lot of theories on these kinds of questions. But with this one, I really don't know. What is the deal with the missing environmental talk?


Janet said...

This is a really good question. I wonder if it has anything to do with writers or newspapers wanting to allude to a problem without being an expert.

Janet Vickers said...

not wanting to allude.

Deborah Kuo said...

i personally feel like people have stopped considering the effects of their actions; there is a gap in our decisions. and i suppose, when you're writing a specific article about a particular subject, you're probably not thinking about all the sucky stuff that may or may not be connected downstream... look at all the hipsters who head over to get coffee or whatever daily and don't consider the impact of their actions of the cups and lids and cup sleeves that they will consume with their consumption (guilty). but they feel good because they are supporting a local coffee shop or they're consuming local and "sustainable" ingredients. additionally, i think the emphasis on recycle far exceeds that of reuse or reduce... which would actually be more impactful to dealing with the issue at a preventive measure than resolving a problem that has been created should one have employed the other two schools of thought. kind of sad, actually....

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