Summary: Maladaptation


In this section, we explore 3 examples of bad ideas that started off with good intentions – featuring pest control, wildfire suppression, and half-assed forestation. Although we originally set out to protect the environment, incomplete studies and short-sightedness prevented us from realizing that we were going to do more harm than good. In all 3 examples, we assumed we knew how nature works, and each time it backfired.

While the solutions weren’t great, they did stem from good intentions. We are entering an age where natural crises will be more frequent and intense than in the past. Because of us, human intervention will be needed to mitigate or prevent these crises. However, before we act, we’ll need to take a second and evaluate the consequences of our actions before going all-in on large-scale solutions. An important part of that will be acknowledging that we don’t know everything. At the individual scale, it’s important for everyone to think and educate themselves on a matter before presenting opinions as facts.

These solutions draw many comparisons to renewable energy technologies. Although they will help decarbonize our atmosphere, there are significant drawbacks that we need to be more aware of. This will help ‘full-on’ green-tech advocates be more reasonable, so that we can all start planning for the long term on a finite planet. If we fail to shape a sustainable future soon, the ‘age of metals’ won’t last very long.