Aug 29, 2011 at 8:48 am #1278648
This does tie in with the machete, LNT, Suv's, and the rest of the flames.
It's unfortunate that I feel the need to premise that in a number of ways I personally try and have little impact on the environment; during our last outing the forest patrol applauded us and exaggerated by telling us we ought to be putting out videos on LNT practices…..( we were using hammocks?)
This is more on a philosophical level; where do you draw the line, who decides who draws the line and how do you convince others that your line should matter?
It's not wise to let a bunch of folks loose with a machete on/off the trail. True. Is it less wise than letting a bunch of folks loose with a big vehicle, with liquor, with a computer? How about letting a bunch of folks loose with the freedom to reproduce our crowded planet? Have an SUV driving, machete and gun yielding guy have a couple of kids and him teach them his values; or a small vehicle driving, LNT practicing, recycling guy have five kids that will each have another five and each a handful of pets?
My question is who decides what has an impact and is damaging and should not be allowed?
I don't think many want to be told that they can only have one child, one car, can't fly.
There is no question ,at least in my mind, that a trend toward less waste, more efficient practices including environmental awareness , is beneficial to us. One of the problems that I see is when some of us focus a lot of energy on one aspect of this environmental issue, and when confronted about other issues, they dismiss them. Just because a topic is all the rage right now, is it a more important topic than another less comfortable one?
If you walk out of a steakhouse, and the driver of a big diesel truck yells at you for eating meat and not caring about the impact that your choice has on the environment, aren't you going to say or think how dare he say something to you as he pollutes and wastes? Yet he has a legitimate point. Same thing happens when we call someone else on one issue, acting as if we are better than them, and they see us blowing it in another way. The "better than thou" just does not work.
And who decides where to draw the line?
I am not saying that there is no hope and we should give up as there is always another issue so why bother. I am saying that attacking someone , while just as guilty in another area, actually only hurts a cause.
Personally I think that making people pay a more realistic cost for gas and a high price for garbage disposal, would go a long way to encourage more efficiency. And, on a controversial note….what is more wasteful that pumping money into a system, just to "stimulate" it?Aug 29, 2011 at 9:13 am #1773884
In the US, the govt through our elected representatives write the laws and our administrative agencies interpret and enforce them (for backpackers, our National Parks, Forest Service, BLM, or the similar state agencies if on state land). The federal government usually hires engineers, foresters, lawyers, and other pros to stay on top of developments (cleaning and maintenance is increasingly being contracted out – explains why federal salaries tend to be high). Then you get into dualling experts but can the layperson understand hydrology, fire ecology, predator/prey models, etc…? Most Americans can't even balance a checkbook (addition/subtraction), figure out what a balloon mortgage means, and need help with their tax forms (not even algebra).
Then again, life, especially when dealing with technology, has been getting more complicated, which is why we outsource these decisions. Most people in the world can't even work on their own cars as technology has advanced.
On simple matters, it's a judgement call whether talking to a stranger is a courtesy or just being a "busybody". Of course, one could just report any law breaking to the authorities.
In these days of instaneous communication, where almost everyone has a video capable cell phone, maybe one can email a video to the authorities (for example if one sees LNT principles being violated against the forest rules). Think all our states have different rules on recording in public and private spaces. Looks like a fertile ground for underemployed lawyers.Aug 29, 2011 at 9:50 am #1773896
You're basing much of this on the assumption that everyone is in agreement that there's a problem in the first place. This is far from the truth.
(This is not to say that I do not believe in environmental problems, the importance of sustainability, or an unfolding ecological crisis. Far from it.)
But it's pretty clear that civilization (and its citizens), whether conscious of it or not, operate under some sort of binding sense of Manifest Destiny; that it is their right, be it God given or through natural selection or otherwise, to use and consume the natural resources of this planet as they see fit. We could debate the validity this single point ad-nauseum; it's steeped in philosophical, economic, and religious beliefs about our very being that are very deeply rooted. The mere fact that forests, oceans, rivers, etc., are viewed as "resources" or commodities by society says a bit about how we collectively think.
Take the notion of "ownership" of resources, for example. I'll try to avoid a Marxist or capitalistic slant, but suffice to say, a society's attitudes towards the concept of private property are directly linked to environmental issues on a large scale. Should a company be allowed to buy a forest? If so, are the trees then theirs to do with as they see fit? Should an individual be allowed to own a tree, a plot of land, a lake, or a stretch of river? And if we grant ownership, should they be able to do with it as they see fit?
Endless questions unfold based on our answers to these questions. To expect a neat consensus…it's not going to happen.
So where does the individual fit into this? Everywhere and nowhere, simultaneously.
Can human civilization as a whole have anything but a negative impact upon a land base? What's the measure? We best be careful how we answer…if the impact is predominately negative, the implication is starkly grim. If our best hopes are simply minimizing damage it stands to reason that we'd have the least impact if we were dead. Hell of an ideal to base a movement on, huh?Aug 29, 2011 at 9:54 am #1773898
Your question has no answer … if you believe other humans (and non humans) besides yourself, actually have the right to live on this earth.
Your question, in its broadest form, has been fought over since the dawn of man …… no answer yet, except the age old adage … might makes right.Aug 29, 2011 at 10:13 am #1773906
I agree, there is no answer, but it is still a valid question.
My main point is that it actually hurts a cause when we use it to separate ourselves from others, or to act self righteously. I personally don't take well when a clueless busy body attacks me, touting some regulation that may or may not make sense in a particular case. If they want to have a conversation with me and we have the time, I am more than open to it. If it's just about acting as if they are an agent of God, here to tell me what is right and what isn't, while they walk away…..no thanks. And I rarely encounter that because I don't attract much attention, but I have encountered it.
Is one willing to talk about the many aspects, the philosophy behind it all, then we can all learn from it and find a common ground somewhere. It's the simplistic, generalized ideas expressed with holier than thou attitude that will never be well received.Aug 29, 2011 at 10:18 am #1773908
We put together a government to draw the line. If each individual does it for himself, there is no one to protect us from bulldozers looting our land. If every individual gets to draw his own line, then some will take advantage. Seems pretty basic. If you want civilization instead of anarchy, the government draws the line.Aug 29, 2011 at 10:23 am #1773910
Seems to me the better question is where do we draw the line. If we don't like the line, we have the opportunity to participate. If machete rights are important to me, I can work for machete rights. Someone else may work against me in my quest for machete rights. If its important to us, we should participate.Aug 29, 2011 at 10:25 am #1773912
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
That's politics, plain and simple. Rarely rational and subject to superstition, faulty logic, knee jerk reactions, raging emotions, sacred cows, misinformation, outright greed and all the rest. We've been muddling along for a quarter-million years or so, but we know we are running out of time, space, and resources. Either we get it together, or we don't make it. Read history and archeology: there are lots of civilizations that couldn't cut the mustard.
And it is difficult for each of us. Trying to get by and make as little impact as possible is a daily challenge. Everywhere you turn there are problems, from the food we eat, the packaging it comes in, the electronics we love so much, transportation, energy, urban planning, resource management, population control, human rights, religious freedom, species extinction, international relations, pollution, global warming, terrorism, poverty, employment, medical care and ethics. If that list doesn't raise your blood pressure, you have better drugs or meditation techniques than I do. May you live in interesting times indeed!
So your question: Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across?
Act on good information
Walk the talk
Do the right thing
Do the best you canAug 29, 2011 at 10:29 am #1773914
Ok. Where does one draw the line when telling someone else they are polluters according to their vehicle, while one owns say five pets, which may have a larger carbon footprint than the offending vehicle? It's legal to own an SUV and it's legal to have pets and lots of kids. Who gives one the right to act as if they are better for the planet ( or merely not as bad) than the other?Aug 29, 2011 at 10:34 am #1773918
…..I personally don't take well when a clueless busy body attacks me, touting some regulation that may or may not make sense in a particular case. If they want to have a conversation with me and we have the time, I am more than open to it. If it's just about acting as if they are an agent of God, here to tell me what is right and what isn't, while they walk away…..no thanks
Beyond politics, that is what is called transferring negative energy or (Americanism) "taking a dump on another person". A person is having a bad day or a bad life, and decides to ruin your day or week as well by transferring their problem or neurosis. Some people excel at it.
Unless they are some sort of law/code enforcement in their jurisdiction, lawyer, or a bonifide expert, it's just their opinion. Maybe a well- read opinion but then they should state it in a persuasive manner, and not to alienate thus damaging their own cause, IMHO.Aug 29, 2011 at 10:40 am #1773921
Yes, all of the above. But speaking up also includes letting someone else know the complications of it all, and the other stuff we take for granted.
Years ago we lived on a piece of land between HWY and Ano Nuevo State Reserve, along the coast. A portion of that land had been purchased by Bart, as a mitigation, when building near the Airport is South SF. As they were laying track in South San Francisco, they came across the SF Garter Snake, so they had to find a snake habitat place and purchase it. Then Bart leased this habitat out to a farmer here on the coast. We lived in a cabin right smack in the middle of it. We were reprimanded by the local ranger for letting our dogs out on occasion while biking with the kids, as they might hurt the snake. Now a lot of people would agree that yes, dogs have to stay on a leash or they endanger the local fauna. Well, true, but Bart leased the land to a commercial Brussel sprout farmer, who plowed it, disked it and poisoned it regularly. So what looks good on paper, does not necessarily look good in the real world. And I consider this speaking up.Aug 29, 2011 at 10:46 am #1773925
Pilate de GuerreMember
@deguerreLocale: SE, USA
You're asking some tough questions that deserve to be answered. Towards that end, I cannot recommend the essay "Forget Shorter Showers" published a couple years ago in Orion enough. It serves as a kind of concise, clear introduction to an old-is-new-again take on environmentalism. One that you've probably never been exposed to because it's neither discussed by the non-profit industrial complex's environmental NGOs or by businesses and their green-washing campaigns. It's short and as it's free from jargon — be it leftist or business, scientific or new-age — the author communicates the ideas readily. If you haven't read it, give it a shot.Aug 29, 2011 at 10:48 am #1773926
We all draw the line at different places on a variety of subjects. Are you implying we have too many lines and inhibited personal freedom too much? Personal freedom has always been limited to the extent it affects other people. There's nothing wrong with that. In old days, when population was more sparse, fewer of our actions affected other people so much. Now our actions regularly affect other people. We have to have a few more rules to co-exist.Aug 29, 2011 at 11:00 am #1773931
Ben. So do we take it to the extent of limiting the number of children per family, since over population impacts the environment and "others"? Or is that beyond the line. And if so, why? Where would you stop?Aug 29, 2011 at 11:07 am #1773933
I would not draw that line, no. Its a matter of balance. You have to balance the importance of the personal freedom against the effect exercising that freedom has on others. Most of us highly value our reproductive rights, so I would (and most of us would) tilt the scale in favor of reproductive rights on that question. I would support other less restrictive efforts to control population. For example, I support most efforts to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. The balance is way different.Aug 29, 2011 at 11:10 am #1773934
I am often surprised that people feel the need to have absolutes. In every decision, there has to be a balancing of interests or we make a bad decision. Often the hard part is identifying the importance of those interests. For me, though, its a no-brainer that we have to look at balance…in almost every decision.Aug 29, 2011 at 11:15 am #1773937
@hellbillylarryLocale: southern appalachians
Why can't we just use common sense? Almost nothing is LNT. Machetes, trekking poles, tent stakes, hammocks all leave a "trace" the point could be argued that on trail hiking is not LNT either. Just use your brain and make as little an impact as possible it's simple.
As for environmental issues and cars vs SUVs. Most of the people complaining about SUVs are clueless about how cars work or how they affect the environment. Cars today are so much cleaner than the cars of just 15 years ago. But does that mean it's "greener" to junk your current car and buy a Prius? There is more to a cars environmental impact than it's emissions and mpg. It took energy to build that new Prius and it will take energy to recycle your old car. IMO it's "greener" to keep an older car running well than it is to buy a ULEV every 5 years.
As far as big diesel trucks go, keep in mind that that giant diesel ford truck uses less fuel that say a jeep Cherokee. And the fuel it uses takes less energy to produce.Aug 29, 2011 at 11:24 am #1773940
Your point is well taken, and I actually don't speak in absolutes, nor do I have the answers. I constantly struggle with this and I frustrate many by not exactly fitting in any party or side.
The difficulty lies exactly in finding that balance.
My tendency is toward letting others do unless it hurts someone else, and what constitutes " hurts" is questionable. I think we help our cause if we make it clear that we are aware of the difficulties and complications.
"But does that mean it's "greener" to junk your current car and buy a Prius"
exactly, thanks.Aug 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm #1774026
"As far as big diesel trucks go, keep in mind that that giant diesel ford truck uses less fuel that say a jeep Cherokee. And the fuel it uses takes less energy to produce."
True to a certain degree. I'm looking forward to the day when diesels are put into 1/2 ton trucks instead of only the heavy haulers.
RyanAug 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm #1774031
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
"I don't think many want to be told that they can only have one child"
Umm? Excuse me? Do you actually believe in that? Or is this just a wandering comment?
If you do, well wow.Aug 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm #1774032
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"This is more on a philosophical level; where do you draw the line, who decides who draws the line and how do you convince others that your line should matter?"
Mother Nature will ultimately decide the issue, Kat, and all the flaming and finger pointing in the world won't change her decision. We're going to be sloughed off like so much dead skin if we continue on our current path. All of us, the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the meantime, Chaff is a great place to blow off a little CO2 when we're not out blowing it off in the real world. ;)
Edited for spelling.Aug 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm #1774049
@ Sarah. No, I don't believe in limiting the number of children one can have.
@Tom. Yeah.Aug 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm #1774089
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
OK…I figured it was just a point overall.
BTW, I do agree that Mother Nature has more control than we'd like to think – think back how many times that populations have been quickly dwindled by disease. In a year or 10 years we can easily lose 1/2 the humans on Earth simply to disease. And it hasn't even been 100 years since the last time viral disease spread like fire……
And more, cruel things such as drought and starvation kill off many more. We as humans are designed to breed – and breed often – to counter the effects of these things!Aug 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm #1774107
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
I don't know. When you have populations like you do in Bangladesh, China, India, Kenya, or a lot of the less wealthy nations, how exactly do you deal with the immense (and I mean immense unlike anything you can imagine in the States) populations? The numbers of people are so bad that the land is literally being destroyed day by day just by the occupation of so many people in such small areas. There is mass starvation, uncontrolled disease, endless wars, depletion of even basic resources like firewood for everyday cooking, severe lack of housing, severe lack of jobs, systems unable to cope with the demands of sanitation, water, distribution of food and goods, overcrowded transportation, and rampant crime. What exactly do you do? Just let everyone carry on anyway they like? Have as many children as they like? No bounds, no plans, no community responsibility? When things get like that, when survival is the name of the game and debating the philosophical connotations of being told or not told what to do does absolutely nothing to actually solve real-life problems, I think someone has to put their foot down and say, "No! Enough! No more children until we can sort this out and gain back control of this situation. EIther it's control the numbers of children, or we die out." I think it's irresponsible and immature to always insist that one's individual wants trump the needs of a community. Who should make this decision? A good, strong leader in concert with representatives of the people (if the government is working and not corrupt) who has courage to say what needs to be said in spite of probably being disliked or hated by those who insist on their individual desires first. I agree with Spock's dictum: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."Aug 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm #1774128
We as humans are designed to breed – and breed often..
Don't forget human collective behavior can be measured in economics (the "invisible hand" as per Adam Smith). In agricultural-based societies there's a lot of kids as the young ones had to provide for the old, so it paid to have a large family to harvest when one was too old (plus make up losses due to disease, famine, etc… )
One idea taught in economics is introducing technology limits population growth as people willingly give up having several offspring to buy consumer goods (washing machines, home electronics, and, of course, autos – almost everyone wants their own car). Not that corporations are into population control, they are just very good at marketing their wares, but most workers cannot afford to outfit themselves plus several kids in the latest gadgets and fashions.
Mexico is down to a little over 2 kids per couple about the same as the US (Source: The Economist Aug 10, 2011, "Where have all the ninos gone?"). Starbucks is down here (selling coffee in the summer w/ afternoon highs in the 100s) plus many American brand names.
China is now the fastest growing car market – even without their one child policy, they will likely follow the US, Europe, and Japan birth rates.
As Chinese workers get pricier, employing the entire Indian subcontinent and then resource-rich Africa will be next likely. Seen some different projections of world population growth from the researchers who specialize in this.
Add: "Invisible hand" for economic choices (SUVs, kids, iPad2's, plasma TVs), kind of got away from manzanita bushes.
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