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Environmental Science

We believe we choose freely to brush our teeth nightly but it can feel strangely uncomfortable, even impossible, to go to bed without brushing.

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Habits are spoken of as behaviors that people engage in automatically that are difficult to change. Think of the habit of brushing your teeth. We believe we choose freely to brush our teeth nightly but it can feel strangely uncomfortable, even impossible, to go to bed without brushing. Sure we could do that for one night – but could we give up brushing our teeth for two years?
Now think of more serious habits like, for instance, addictions to drugs or alcohol. People are blamed for these kinds of behaviors because we believe they could choose differently. However, if something is a ​‌‍‍‍‌‍‌‍‍‍‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‌‌​habit it is automatic and when things are automatic they seem to be without choice.
Human practices (i.e., habits) around industrial production and population-level consumption are the cause for the increase of global temperatures by 1.0?C since 1850 and the reason why global temperatures are projected to increase 1.5?C to 2.0?C over 19th century levels by 2050.
The argument of this week’s documentary focuses on only one area of economic activity. It argues that industry has caused us to become addicted to plastic because plastics play a critical role in our consumption economy. Do you agree or disagree with this thesis? Why or why not​‌‍‍‍‌‍‌‍‍‍‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‌‌​?

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