- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Like I said, technofixes don't solve the problem.

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on December 15, 1999 at 13:44:54:

In Reply to: Environmental Science, Infallible, Invincible, Incredible.... posted by Frenchy on December 15, 1999 at 13:20:12:

: Methyl tertiary butyl ether, MTBE, the environmentalist gurus told us, would lead to cleaner air. So they managed to hoodwink the Ca. legislature to force the oil companies to add MTBE to gasoline. Fine. That was 5 or 6 years ago.

: Turns out that MTBE causes cancerous tumors in mice and rats and is believed to be a carcinogen in humans.

: Turns out that 43 tons of the chemical enters Californias air daily from vehicle exhaust fumes.

: Thousands of gallons of MTBE are leaking from underground gas storage tanks, threatining the nation's water supply. (0ooops, already said that, so sorry...)

: Question; when environmentalists goof, does anyone take note?

Frenchy, I've said repeatedly on this board that technofixes don't solve problems; and you've come up with a prime example.

The basic problem here is not that gas production is polluting; it is that gas is being overconsumed in the name of consumer disposables and cheap energy. This requires inflated levels of gas production, which stretches the Earth's capability to deal with pollution beyond breaking point.

If humanity actually paid a price for their utilities that was proportional to the amount of environmental damage those products did, you'd see far less in the way of electrical luxury goods and car usage; the fact remains that natural resource consumption is kept artificially low by governments and corporations (although the distinction is somewhat blurred).

Look at my smoking analogy again; do Nicorette patches cure the basic cause of smoking; viz nicotine addiction? - no, they merely reduce some of the harmful side-effects; they don't actually solve the problem; which is an addiction to a stimulant drug. As such, Nicorette patches are only a partial fix, not a complete cure.

Similarly, refining our production and consumption doesn't alter the basic fact that we are stuck in a pattern of resource overconsumption; there's no benefit in making cars 3 times less polluting if you then sell 3 times as many cars...

I don't know which environmentalists said that MTBE would be a cure; or which organisation they were being paid by, but they were disregarding the base cause of the problem and merely trying to treat the symptoms; they never challenged the basic assumption that levels of consumption will always increase.

No surprise if they failed, then.

Like I said to you before, technofixes don't work. The most they can do is treat a few symptoms on a temporary basis. It doesn't matter how many Clean Air Acts you pass if you continue to depend on the process that causes the pollution in the first place.


Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup