How ever-more-impressive technologies enable us to be crazy on a global scale
As people slowly become aware of the drawbacks associated with massive over-use of plastics, we’re encouraged to recycle — even though nearly everything put into recycling bins is either dumped in Western landfills or sent to poor countries where it’s dumped on landfills. We could cut back on the amount of plastic wrapping that’s generated, but companies know that consumers love receiving their purchases swathed in layers of “protective” plastic. So instead of doing the sane thing (reducing plastic use) we do the idiotic thing (pretend that recycling is the answer).
As people become more aware of the realities of climate change (regardless of the probable causes), we see halfwit egomaniacs declaring their “solutions” to the problem: electric vehicles and billionaires’ panic rooms on Mars. We could spend more on insulating houses, cut back even further on pointless commutes to energy-wasteful offices, and impose higher taxes on hydrocarbons to encourage far more fuel-efficient vehicles, but companies know we’d rather buy energy-intensive EVs that don’t actually reduce CO2 outputs (where do you think the electricity comes from?) and dream of sci-fi fantasies; governments meanwhile know we’d vote against increased taxation on hydrocarbon use (US citizens in particular imagine that they have a divine right to cheap petrol).
The list of crazy policies is nearly endless, but it seems we have an insatiable appetite for doing the wrong thing whenever possible. It is therefore not surprising that the latest example of global insanity is the notion that the obesity epidemic can be “solved” by ingesting drugs.
There’s significant history here. Ever since the discovery of antibiotics, people have become accustomed to imagining that the magic cure for whatever ails them is some sort of pill. Nearly twenty years ago I happened to be working at an NIH-funded research institution that studied the causes of ageing and the roots of age-related diseases. One of the researchers gave a public lecture on how exercise plays a significant role in metabolic regulation, showing that (i) it’s never too late to begin, and (ii) attempting to lose weight merely by calorie restriction alone was futile but…