The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ecochondriacs and Hypochondriacs

Philip Stott over at EnviroSpin Watch coins a new word and draws an interesting parallel.

The richer we get, the more neurotic we become. Hypochondriacs worry constantly about their bodily health, and they see every little twinge, however trivial, as evidence of a serious, and often terminal, condition. Ecochondriacs are fundamentally the same, with ecochondriasis being the unrealistic and persistent belief, or fear, that the Earth, and thus we, are suffering from one critical sickness after another, despite the fact that the Earth is the toughest of old boots and life goes on - indeed, is improving for many people (me included).

We, in the prosperous West, have become what Dr James Le Fanu calls the "worried well". Realistically we are better off and healthier than ever before, but it doesn't seem that way to us. We are no longer killed in large numbers by wild animals, famine or infectious disease, so we worry about largely imaginary threats to our well-being - getting our cholesterol down and reducing Carbon emissions, for example.

There will always be people prepared to exploit our irrational concerns, be they politicians, environmental professionals or the drugs companies.

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