Am I an environmentalist?

As an adult I was never a litterbug, but I used to sort of hand-wave away humanity’s energy usage and our impact on the environment. The planet, I figured, is a big and complex system and so therefore (something, something) it can mostly absorb all our trash, and will support our energy needs indefinitely.

Since then I learned more about how our waste actually gets processed, and about how energy is actually generated and distributed, and my attitude and behaviors have changed.

Now I like thinking about the energy conversions required to produce me and the stuff around me. How many joules will I burn if I get up and walk across the room to throw away some trash? How many calories will I need to eat to make up that energy? How many kilowatts will be spent producing that food? Going the other way, where will that trash go? How much power will be required to turn it into recyclable materials, or to bury it in a landfill? Where will all this power come from? How much energy is spent just to produce it and get it where it needs to go in the right form?

It’s an interesting and honest way to look at the world, though I don’t know if it’s always the most useful. So much of human activity is artifice, disconnected from the truth of how we exist. And we must choose the artifice or be insane.

PS. Wow, this post really didn’t land where I aimed it. Good thing nobody reads this blog!


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