The universe is a product of the collision of materials and gases that added value to one another. Humanity’s ascent to the world’s apex predator is also a function of our ability to add value, converting one substance into another. We learned to morph wood into fire, and walnut oil into ink and then into information. We turn sand into windows, computer chips, and water filters. Conversion often produces byproducts, sometimes a bonus: Converting fat into soap produces glycerin, useful in everything from moisturizers to explosives.

More often, those byproducts are a problem. Roasting coffee beans emits compounds linked to lung disease. The vapors that escape aging whiskey feed a black fungus that’s eating whole towns in Kentucky. One hugely inefficient conversion is plants into meat. It takes 25 pounds of feed to produce a pound of beef; 40 times more energy goes into beef than comes out of it as food. Livestock account for 14% of all carbon emissions — equal to all modes of transportation combined.

Carbon emissions are believed to be the mother of all negative byproducts. The conversion of fossil fuels (themselves the product of a conversion) into energy has been the boon and burden of the past century. But there’s something worse:

Converting attention into profit.

It’s made a very few very wealthy and left the rest of us choking on the fumes: rage and polarization. The discharge of the attention economy weakens our immune system, rendering us vulnerable to other emissions, as polarization paralyzes our ability to respond to other externalities: inequality, autocracy, gun deaths, depression, addiction, obesity, and the OG itself, carbon.

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Πηγή: profgalloway.com

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