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MLA Full: "Some Reasons why Humans are Such a Mess." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 14 June 2024,
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APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2024, June 14). Some Reasons why Humans are Such a Mess [Video]. YouTube.
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If you can believe it this video is cut down significantly from its original length. I have been feeling a lot of frustration lately at our inability to forgive ourselves at all. Like, we're good at forgiving friends, bad at forgiving strangers, but worst of all at forgiving humanity in total, and I think that is in part because the price of admission to modern society seems to involve pointing a firehose of despair directly at your face.

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Good morning John.

If you had asked me when I started writing my "Eco Geek" blog back in 2005 when I thought CO2 emissions in the U.S. would start falling, I would have said "I don't know, probably freaking never"

But in fact, the year I started writing that blog, is the year CO2 emissions started to go down. 

"Eco Geek" was about environmental technologies, and on that front, the progress has been kind of remarkable. Like the graphs of the cost of solar panels and wind turbines and batteries are mind-blowing to me. And there's every signal that those costs will keep going lower.

The amount of like work and thought and engineering and just genius brains that have been necessary to make that happen is mind-blowing, and it's very good news!

But, by every measure, shouldn't it have been easier to achieve a similar reduction in greenhouse emissions by just not using cows for meat anymore? Like, that doesn't require any genius thought, no engineering. You don't need expensive equipment or new power lines or mining or material science. 

We have the technology to do it in 2005, we have the technology today.

It just requires people making one different choice, and if we all did it, we would decrease future warming by 10% with absolutely no new technology at all.

Why can't we stop eating beef? It is an obvious choice, and it's obviously easier than making a solar panel for 400 times less money, right? Right?! No! Wrong! Obviously wrong! Like that is not a true sentence! If it were true, we would have done it! 

If it were easier to stop eating beef than making cheap solar panels, it would have happened. It's harder! And why is it harder? I think because we don't have the technology.

This is one thing that I think we most get wrong about ourselves. Making different choices is really hard, especially when they require some amount of sacrifice.

But we do do that, sometimes. But when we do, we are using technologies. 

And I don't mean technologies the way that we usually talk about them. I mean social technologies. For a long time, we had a technology called Church! That helped people make specific decisions. And some people still have that technology! And it's a very powerful technology for them. For other people, it has become a less powerful technology.

We are so unused to thinking about social technologies that we forget that they are the thing that holds society together.

Marriage is a technology that benefits people and society. Fashion is a technology that signals gender and age and social status and cultural affiliations. Christmas is a technology! It's a technology that helps you give presents to other people, and take a little break! Soccer is a technology. The idea of a border is a technology. The word vegan is a technology. 

These are human-created things, that result in changes in human behavior. The reason these things don't feel like technologies to us is because we don't feel like we create them. And oftentimes like we don't but somebody did.

Like I inherited the technology of hockey. And it seems kind of frozen to me. Though actually as a hockey fan I have watched as changes in that technology have changed the game and how people respond to it. And every one of those changes people were mad about them!

Changing our behavior, changing our social technologies, it's so hard. We think that we are individuals but we are possessed by our societies. 

When I think about why I still eat meat, the like honest answer isn't even that I like it? I mean I do, but like a bigger reason is that I am too aligned to cultural norms. I find it too unpleasant and difficult to deviate from what my culture tells me is normal.

That's not a thing that I've ever heard anybody else say. But I think if more people looked harder that would be their answer. 

And I think that plenty of vegans and vegetarians will tell you that the harder part of their diet isn't the diet it's dealing with other people's responses to it. 

And I think it's really important to say that there are lots of reasons why we align ourselves to the norms of our culture. Like if we blew it all up and started from scratch, I think that would be really unpleasant, and a lot of people would fall through the cracks and it would be overall net negative.

But also on the other hand, I think that many people don't even recognize that culture is a malleable thing and instead believe that the one way of doing it that they have known their whole life is somehow the only right way to do things, and should never change.

But obviously like culture does change. Like we've witnessed it change in our lifetime.