Ecological Traps Are Killing You (And You Don’t Even Know It)

You may not realize this, but you’re trapped in a series of ecological traps.

Why isn’t this front page news? It is. Every story you hear of suffering is likely the result of an ecological trap.

An ecological trap arises when a creature (including you) sees a decision as beneficial that is clearly detrimental. The decisions being made by countless persons right now to spend 99% of their time lazing about buildings that are perfectly temperature controlled in recycled air, and to eat whatever garbage they feel like from the cookie, cracker, and soda aisle, are perfect examples.

We aren’t just creating ecological traps for ourselves. When we use poison or (literally) traps to kill rats, we are creating ecological traps. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Ecological traps have far reaching consequences. This is what makes them difficult to understand and identify. For example, asbestos was used for years in a wide array of industrial processes, from ship building to cars. Only decades later was a connection made between asbestos exposure and lung disease and even cancer. I argue that every health problem can be traced to a misconception of the risks and benefits of a given choice.

The answer is obviously not to abandon our innovations, but to understand their full effects and then to use them more intelligently. To do otherwise is to ensure that we will fall into traps or our own making.