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Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolving conflicts

We have tried to keep this blog's topics pretty wide, but at it's most simple we focus on three things: the environment, health, and social impacts. These are by no means isolated areas however - some issues can easily been seen as covering all three. For example, a dangerous chemical used in a product is a concern for our health but it may also be a concern for the people manufacturing the product (making it a social concern) and it also might cause pollution when waste products are discharged from the factory (making it an environmental concern).

Often it is not that simple however. Some products might but better than alternatives in one area and worse in others. For example, Palm oil is better for our health than both butter and trans fat containing margarine; but both these alternatives are are more environmentally friendly than palm oil. So we are forced to decide between these competing issues.

I suggest that these three issues can be ranked so that, all else being equal, one trumps the concerns of another.

1. Social
2. Environmental
3. Health

A lot of people will disagree with me ranking Social above Environmental, but I am shamelessly anthropomorphic and think that the extreme suffering of humans is of a more urgent concern than environmental ones. Don't get me wrong, the environment is important in it's own right and in the sense it is where humans live, but social concerns are more important to me (you can rank differently if you want). Health, I think is pretty non-controversial to put third as it is a 'selfish' concern - it mainly only effects ourselves and those we buy for. We can always eat small amounts of butter over palm oil to use the above example.

In light of this we will be writing more about social concerns in the future to balance all the posts about the environment so far.

any comments?

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