"...when an environmental problem has been identified, no matter how complex the underlying ecological factors, it’s often packaged as a morality lesson highlighting the impact of a single, human-driven environmental sin."I totally agree. But it seems unfair to limit this critique to environmental groups. Every think tank (liberal or conservative) seems to fire off a volley of facile conclusions when something happens that touches their issues. Food and medical companies are quick to trumpet any shred of junk science supporting their products. It's how people work: We to try to make meaning from the seemingly random events occurring around us, to make theories about how the world functions, and then look for evidence (for, and even against if we're smart) in everything that comes up. And, it's worth noting, it's exactly what McWilliams did in his blog post.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
James McWilliams cited this piece, which I wrote for Conservation Magazine, in his Freakonomics blogpost today on the NYT website. McWilliams was making the point that environmentalists often turn each environmental disaster into a cautionary parable (about some form of human folly) long before it's clear that the disaster was caused by said folly.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The big new thing for the food industry in 2010? Not being big, or new - but instead being natural and old-feeling. Which is tough for the industry, because usually the way food businesses make money is offering something new. It's hard to persuade buyers to try your product if you are offering more of the same. And its even harder to grow your market (imagine this pitch: this year eat more! We need your help.) All this may account for the slightly rueful tenor of the FoodProcessing.com's write up of new trends for 2010. Witness:
At the risk of upsetting manufacturers of artificial preservatives, colorings and flavorings, Jane and Joe Sixpack simply cannot be more clear in their growing distaste for “chemicals” in their food. And yes, this trend is on track to grow.That seems like it might be a positive indicator until we get to the next sentence: