Friday, April 07, 2006


I have an ethical question that I would like to hear people's answers to.

Last night I went to a very convincing lecture on why America's transportation needs to switch over to hydrogen power or at least natural gas. She ended the lecture with a plea to all of us to make our next car a hybrid. It really made me think about it - I'll probably get a car when I'm in grad school, which is about three years from now, and by then hybrids should be a bit cheaper than they are now. They will undoubtedly still be more expensive than a used heap of junk I could get, though.

So here's my question: what's the balance between making your own consumption habits sustainable and providing for others? Do I spend the extra few thousands on making my own lifestyle ethical, or do I give it to Oxfam to save people's lives with? I run into the same question with organic food - is it better that my spinach be organic and local and all that good stuff, or should the extra $2 go towards vaccinations for a child somewhere? Either way I allow something bad to happen - I'm supporting pollution and big agribusiness and probably exploitative labor one way, but the other way I'm allowing someone somewhere to die of TB.

Which way would you go? Which way do you go? And would you go the same way if it were your child needing the vaccination?


emelin said...

you could possibly even buy a heap of junk hybrid by the time you make it to grad school, you never know :) the other trade off is that if you buy the heap those $2 that would have gone to a vaccination would probably go to gas and upkeep. initially a hybrid would cost more, but in the long run you would be able to donate more based on what you would be saving in gas, having to buy a new heap eventually when it broke down, etc, so i would vote for spending more initially and saving more to donate in the long run.

Julia said...

The other argument on the car is that it can be avoided entirely, which is ideal. But what about food?