Four plus two

Posted by Ken Campbell October 27, 2012 1 Comment 966 views
There are links between smoking and cancer, between overeating and obesity, between greenhouse gases and global climate change. The elementary math involved in determining basic cause and effect is something that most of us might know by the phrase, “Two plus two equals four.” In computer-speak, IFTTT (If this, then that), is a concept that everyone is familiar with. We like to pride ourselves about being good at it, being able to put two-and-two together.
It’s a simple task, and even so, whether we as a society are truly proficient at doing the math is actually an open question. But it’s not even the most important question. The real hard decisions come with the next level of ciphering where, once we have established the sum of two-plus-two, we take it to the next level.
Four plus two. 
If smoking gives you cancer, what are you going to do about it? If eating too many Big Macs makes you fat, what comes next? If pumping more than 30 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year is changing the climate, is there something we should be doing about it? I ask these questions because I’ve been thinking a lot about plastic this past year, and I believe that, as a global society, our addiction to plastic (especially single-use, “disposable” plastic items), is choking our marine ecosystems. As the ocean goes, so goes everything else. It’s no longer the two-plus-two kind of questioning that matters; the number four has clearly emerged as the answer to that one. The question now has become a matter of four-plus-two… what do I do about it?
It’s a hard question, which is to say that any answer will involve some level of change on my part. Change is hardly ever comfortable and like most people, I like me my comfort zones. I know going in that, if I’m being honest about myself and what I do, I’m going to have to give up things to which I have become accustomed, and that will not be easy. The fact that I have become accustomed to them in the first place means that they are things that I see as desirable in some way, that give me some level of comfort.
It’s easier to not have a conscience. It’s easier to switch on the TV, to not think so much. If I don’t say anything, if I don’t do anything, if I pretend that there isn’t a problem, won’t it all just go away? No? Damn.

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