Environmental Control

I use the term environmental control to describe how human behavior, from the individual to our global society, is driven in overwhelming majority by external, environmental factors. The study of environmental control is to learn how these environmenal factors influence behavior, and to identify how we can alter the environment to change behavior.

An environmental control refers to environmental factors that directly alter behavior. Example is speed bumps slowing down drivers.

An environmental hazard is an adverse effect that is the direct result of environmental factors. Example is polution causing lung disease. Environmental determinants of health are already a well studied example, however environmental hazards have a much larger scope, even within the health domain. Example is how housing law leads to loneliness, how the differential cost of food leads to obesity, or how the incentives of health insurance lead to medical error.

Environmental thought is the idea that any individual notion we have is directly or indirectly influenced by our environment. Example is the zeitgiest, multiple disovery, overton window, (psychohistory). A mundane example: write out three baby names you like then look up how popular the names are.

The idea of environmental control is contrary to our cultural belief of individualism, which historically is a recent phenomenon starting around the time of the Industrial Revolution. Three major factors will, I believe, move us toward re-understanding ourselves within complex systems:

  • the renewed focus on the literal wellbeing of our environment (as our ability to manipulate the environment to our advantage is, perhaps, outpaced by its declining health). It is worth pointing out that this is way beyond basic arguments surrounding climate change.
  • the rise of artificial intelligence causing us to re-evaluate our unique qualities as humans and the use of AI in very accurately predicting and subsequently altering behavior
  • the decline of individual freedoms and agency

Environmental determinism is a defined term, although I argue it is used in too narrow a fashion, largely to describe how climate and geography influence human societies. Certainly environmental determinism is an apt descriptor that could be expanded to encompass my more broad definition, although historically it has not been used as such.

Ecological anthropology and sociocultural systems are similarly related ideas however they are limited in scope and outdated in terms of their understanding and modeling of reality.