The Climate Cancer

A man is diagnosed with cancer and the oncologist orders treatment. The patient waits and waits and waits. He is not suicidal but thinks “What does this doctor really know?” Over the next few weeks, he gets a second opinion and then a third opinion…they are all the same: a chemotherapeutic cocktail. Meanwhile, the cancer is spreading. Begrudgingly, the man begins taking the medicine. But pride mixes with fear and he takes just one third of the prescribed dose. What does the oncologist say? If depends on the personality of the oncologist. A hopeful one will urge the patient to follow the full regime. A discouraged one will level with the man “either you follow the full regime or don’t bother taking anything”. The dishonest one says “those side-effects aren’t all that bad…”. [Joseph Henry Vogel, The Economics of the Yasuní Initiative: Climate Change as If Thermodynamics Mattered, p.78]

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Who Should Pay for Waste Management?

Waste is one of the largest environmental problems of modern economically advanced societies (and, since a part is dumped in the developing world, also there). On the one hand, recycling rates are relatively high in many countries (some 80% for most kinds of waste in Germany). On the other, this effect is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of trash society produces: both consumer waste (aluminium cans, plastic wrappers, printed advertisement, electronics with a lifetime of hardly more than a few months etc.) and production wastes. The latter is being better controlled and therefore, better managed in most cases. Furthermore, its amount depends directly on the amount of consumer products. So, the question emerges: how can we lower the production of the latter? And, at the same time, how can we lower the waste generation across the whole life-cycle? Continue reading