Mar 14, 2019 at 10:42 pm #3583549Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
If you give to environmental organizations like Earth Justice, Audibon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, etc. that’s great. Congrats and keep it up.
But if that is all you do for the environment you are merely a “Wallet Environmentalist”.
Please be an ACTIVIST Environmentalist. Camaign for candidates who will fight for the environment, Donate to their campaigns too. Demonstrate for the environment. Join in environmental clean-up work. Send “constituent” emails to your local, state and federal elected representatives.
And VOTE for a cleaner, cooler earth.Mar 15, 2019 at 9:05 pm #3583744jared hBPL Member
and if i may add something: BE environmentally conscious. just worked on a survey of some colleges, asking a bunch of questions about sustainability and eco-conscious behavior, and the incidence of people thinking ‘recycled’ or ‘recyclable’ or biodegradable or whatever nonsense on the labels of single-use items, especially plastics, was good/great for the environment was sickening. ‘wallet environmentalism’ is something that green-washing market actors look to take advantage of. be wary.Mar 15, 2019 at 10:58 pm #3583767
*Live the life. That’s all I have to say.May 4, 2019 at 6:37 pm #3591652Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Just got solar panels installed on our small 1,500 sq. ft. home. We live in the Las Vegas valley and it has a LOT of sun.
So I’m “walking the walk”. Car is a Prius v wagon.May 4, 2019 at 10:32 pm #3591670
Or get even more involved. When I joined the electric utility board of directors, I was the third of nine who was concerned about our proposed involvement with a coal-fired power plant. After 2 years of much angst and a few more election cycles, it went down 8-1. Then I pushed and pushed for taking our simple-cycle gas turbine combined cycle. It was a lot of money (another $30,000,000) and the manager didn’t want to borrow that much money, but it was the lowest cost of power in the future and allowed us to generate 40% more electricity with the same amount of gas (by using the 1100F exhaust to make steam and turn a second, steam turbine). He couldn’t prove that we couldn’t swing that much of a loan, we got it built, and it has reduced our cost of power by a bit and our gas consumption by a lot.
The coal plant might have gone away without me. I think combined cycle wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been at the table. In the last 5 years, that’s saved 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas – about 20,000 times what we use in our own home.
We’re building out an expansion to our existing hydro project (it will put 10% water behind the dam) and should get a FERC permit shortly for a second hydro project, a run-of-the-river one (that’s taken 11 years, so far). Solar is tough up here due to low capacity factors (10% or so, versus 20% for Eric in Vegas) and installation costs are higher. We’re also pursuing a landfill gas project to use that methane to fuel a recip engine and use the waste heat (instead of the pipeline gas currently being used) to evaporate landfill leachate.
And my wife got a plug-in Prius. It only has a 25-mile electric range, but she’s gone 10,000 miles on three 9-gallon fill-ups because 85-90% of her miles are within 25 miles of home or work. After the first 25 miles, it’s your basic 51-mpg Prius, 600-mile-range gasoline-hybrid Prius.May 5, 2019 at 12:09 am #3591675Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Good points here. We could all do more. Our primary vehicle is s hybrid which we bought new and now has 200,000 miles on it…we recycle just about everything, rarely buy new anything, and generate less than ten gallons of garbage every month. And I’ve served for ten years on the local bike and pedestrian commission, trying to get our community to design and manage neighborhoods for people instead of cars.
But our next big step should probably be to downsize our house. With our kids grown and gone, we don’t need such a big house, or the utility consumption that goes with it.May 5, 2019 at 1:42 am #3591682
“But our next big step should probably be to downsize our house. With our kids grown and gone, we don’t need such a big house, or the utility consumption that goes with it.”
Very true. Also, make your next house as tight, well-insulated, and using as many passive-heating/cooling features as possible. We’ve got a very compact (for Americans), 4-Bedroom, 2-bath house in 1700 square-feet and it tested as the tightest house the inspector had ever measured for air infiltration. When it got above 35/40F in late March with snow still on the ground, I turned the heating system off and it’s remained off during the last few weeks of 45-50F afternoons and 30-35F nights.
The good thing for you (but not the planet) is that very few home buyers look past the bedrooms, baths, curb appeal, etc to consider energy consumption. And if they do, they don’t fully grasp the present worth of paying $80 electric and $50 gas per month instead of $200 + $300 every month for decades to come. So having a typical house doesn’t hurt you when you sell it.Jun 30, 2019 at 4:52 am #3599976Craig BBPL Member
Wow David, thanks for sticking to your guns and pushing your utility to go greener. Excellent work! We need more people like you in those kinds of oversight roles.Jun 30, 2019 at 1:06 pm #3600000
yeah, excellent work
imagine the possibilities, if all houses were like that. It costs a little more but not that much.
we come from an era of cheap, subsidized energy so there’s no reason to make houses efficient. And post WWII, the priority was quickly building a lot of houses for people, and “keeping up with the neighbors” features
it’ll take a long time because of all the existing houses, but at least new houses could be efficient and we can gradually retrofit old housesJun 30, 2019 at 10:21 pm #3600091John McBPL Member
I volunteer with a local trail maintenance group. It feels good to give back.
35 years ago we studied ‘Global Warming’ now called ‘Climate Change’ in University. It was at that time that I decided to not add to the problem by having children. I got snipped that summer and never regretted it.Jul 1, 2019 at 2:14 pm #3600156
Buying a new car, just because it is touted as being green, isn’t the best choice. The footprint of it is huge. From slave (and often underage) labor used to mine for the lithium used in the batteries, to the fact you bought a new car. Reduce & reuse – you must consider that.
I sat in our pickup the other day and realized we have driven 32,000 miles in the past 5 years. And that number is only that due to us moving 15 months ago. Not very American.
The better choice is simply to drive a LOT less if you can. The less you drive, the smaller your footprint.
We keep our truck because it is paid for and does everything we need (we farm, so need towing power/cargo space). And it can haul our family.
Quit flying. Flying is one of the worst things you can participate in!
Grow your food. Practice permaculture to layer your area, to conserve water. Install rain gardens. Keep forests healthy if you have them, to reduce fire hazards. Reduce your consumption where you can of everything. Recycling isn’t good enough. We started following zero waste a few years back and it has changed how we shop for everything. Can we compost the packaging? I will pay more for a brand in cardboard or glass, so we can not go to the dump. (We don’t have curbside recycling – ours is done at a public transfer station where you are watched so you cannot slip in crap that is not recyclable.)
Saying not having kids is silly. You can have children. You can have MULTIPLE offspring, and still be good to the earth. I have no qualms over having had 3 children. I see my best in them – and the hope that I can mold them to be stewards. They may face adversity in their adult years with climate change, but they may also help. They can be the change.
*And yes, we live in a rural area. Some might claim that our owning land isn’t green, I say everyone should be farming and living a slower life.Jul 1, 2019 at 5:39 pm #3600187John McBPL Member
I don’t agree. Having children is not being a good steward. Having a child is the worst thing you can do for the environment. Just think of the waste and usage generated by each American over their life time.
The EPA in 2014 calculated the average American produces 16.4 metric tons of CO2 per year……80 gallons of water usage per day….4.40 lbs of waste per day. Multiply this over ones life. Think about the pollution generated just to get little Billy a new bike. Amazing amount of pollution.
Even when a parent dies they are still polluting through their children. No matter how good of a steward one is they are still adding to the problem.Jul 1, 2019 at 8:28 pm #3600233
If someone is using 80 gallons of water per person, per day, they are living wrong. I know how much we use. We live on a well. We use rainwater to irrigate our crops.
Btw, you won’t win on the children. I have zero qualms over having produced 3 children in my life span. Had I had my cards lined up better, I would have had a lot more. I have no issue cutting back in how I live for them to exist.
And bluntly: They will be paying for your generation when it is older. Don’t become like Japan where they are severely top heavy, and few young people to keep the economy going…..it is what happens when a country doesn’t prize children and value mothers.
*Many of my female friends have more than 2 children. I have friends with 5 to 8 children. They all live rather simple – because they made a choice. They don’t fly, don’t take vacations to far away places. They drive one vehicle. They reuse clothing and diapers till they fall apart. Many are homesteaders. It is the city/suburban folk who each have a personal car, and choose to live in a large home – using AC and heat heavily, eating out constantly, living on food that isn’t local (grapes from Chile in January? Avocados from Mexico in October….heavy use of coconut products from 3rd world countries.). Those people are worse than children!Jul 30, 2019 at 3:21 pm #3604101Dalton CooperBPL Member
I don’t think that “WALLET ENVIRONMENTALISM” is necessarily a bad thing in a capitalist society, given that divestment campaigns are often the most effective route to political/social/environmental change (e.g.: Civil Rights Movement, National Farm Workers Association, Apartheid South Africa, Gandhi and British India). With that being said, there is a phenomenon of “Greenwashing” and “Shopping Our Way to Safety” (Szasz), which doesn’t really help. It seems like if you’re thinking about these issues, you’d know enough to do your research on these kinds of things, but these are some good ideas that haven’t been hit on and aren’t necessarily expensive things to do:
Jul 30, 2019 at 7:09 pm #3604144BlackHatGuySpectator
- Divest from fossil fuels: Talk w/ your financial planner about investing in a “socially/environmentally conscious” mutual fund. These funds most often perform the same as generic index funds and you can know that your money isn’t being invested in offshore drilling or fracking.
- Go vegetarian: So it turns out that agriculture and eating meat is actually a huge part of our GHG emissions and by going vegetarian is a massive step that normal people can take that will actually do something. Even if you can’t go completely vegetarian for health or culinary reasons, you can reduce your consumption or eat less carbon-intensive proteins like fish and poultry.
- Purchase renewable energy credits: this reimburses sustainable electricity producers and signals to industry an increased demand for responsible energy.
- Don’t fly – one flight is basically half a years’ worth of driving in terms of GHG emissions (even though fuel economies are becoming comparably efficient). This can be tough for work and family commitments but it’s definitely possible to find alternatives for hiking/vacations.
- Buy less shit
@sleepingLocale: The CascadesJul 30, 2019 at 7:48 pm #3604156Casey BowdenBPL Member
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”Jul 30, 2019 at 9:26 pm #3604179
Clearly, having fewer/no kids is the biggest single decision you can make to help the planet. Even if your kids are now and will remain throughout their life lower-impact than the average US resident, fewer of them would be less impact.
And yet, very few people will make such a personal decision for the benefit of everyone / everything else. There are still religious sects and cults like the “quiverful” nuts who believe they’re on a mission from God to overpopulate the Earth (with their sect). 100 years ago, my Catholic ancestors stopped listening to the Pope and using birth control to keep it down to 1 or 2 or 3 kids instead of 8 to 12. And mostly, US-born Catholics don’t hesitate to commit that sin. Those changes in behavior tend to happen about a generation after joining the middle class.
And doing a Japan with an increasingly old population is only a problem for very racist countries like Japan and the USA. There’s no shortage of young, healthy workers who’d love to immigrate to an advanced country, but they may be of a different skin tone or speak with an accent.
Short version of living lightly on the planet? Live cheaply. Eat grains instead of beef. Buy a reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle and then minimize your use of it. Live in a small, efficient house close to your work and play.Jul 30, 2019 at 10:59 pm #3604206
I don’t know Doug, they say the “rebound effect” would eliminate any CO2 savings
If you saved a dollar not buying meat, you’d spend it on something else that would produce almost the same amount of CO2 as you saved
As long as we’re hypothesizing that people could not eat meat, we could also hypothesize they spend the savings on something else that doesn’t produce CO2, like carbon offsets or save for retirement. or someone’s education. or organic vegetables.
Not that I’m into wagging my finger at people eating meat. I eat meat some. Mostly, I don’t eat a lot because it’s unhealthful and I’ve convinced myself I like plants better.
Yeah, not having so many children is way more important. Anyone that has no children should be allowed to eat all the meat they want : )Jul 31, 2019 at 1:20 am #3604242
“If you saved a dollar not buying meat, you’d spend it on something else that would produce almost the same amount of CO2 as you saved”
I had a Dutch girlfriend who liked to travel the world even though she was on the government dole. By not eating meat, she could save enough to go to Spain or Southern France each year and occasionally to the US. Less beef/pork, more jet fuel.
In my house we mostly eat “the other red meat” (sockeye salmon). I got 42 in the freezer this month. Pretty low carbon footprint. I walk to the beach from my house, I fillet them by hand, the vac-packer uses very little electricity (some plastic, though) and then the running the chest freezer till November.Jul 31, 2019 at 1:40 am #3604245jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Sarah wrote: “The better choice is simply to drive a LOT less if you can. The less you drive, the smaller your footprint.
We keep our truck because it is paid for and does everything we need (we farm, so need towing power/cargo space). And it can haul our family.
Quit flying. Flying is one of the worst things you can participate in!”
I agree. I haven’t quit flying but I’ve cut way back. More: I realize that I dislike flying a lot. I’m lucky to live in California. I have a huge variety of gob smacking wonderful places to vacation in within close driving range. I only fly now for funerals and other family obligations. And yes, I realize that I still drive to get to the Sierra or wine country or north coast, but as Sarah points out that’s far less co2 costly than flying. And I hardly drive at all at home.
Sarah lives near Mt. Rainier and the entire Cascade range. And a fabulous wild coast.
Maybe we need to abandon the notion that millions of us can fly to business meetings or vacations several continents away as often as we can afford. Mark Twain took a ship to Europe. So did everyone then. It reads like an adventure.
When did your last plane ride seem like an adventure? and epic airport delays don’t count.
Anyway, why hasn’t Skype killed business flights?Jul 31, 2019 at 1:45 pm #3604286
I haven’t flown since before 9/11/2001
I don’t like sitting around in airports waiting for flight. You have to maintain enough attention so that when they call your flight you’re ready. If you accidentally nap, you might wake up with your flight gone. Huge lines of people everywhere. Taking your shoes off? Just to make us think they’re doing something???Aug 1, 2019 at 5:56 pm #3604480Dalton CooperBPL Member
Okay, so there’s a reason that most environmentalists agree reducing meat consumption (or at least adjusting what kinds of meats we’re eating) is a good idea. Let’s have a looky-see:
- While agriculture makes up about 9% of GHG emissions, livestock consisting of about a third of this, the primary GHG emitted is methane, which is 84 times more potent of a GHG than carbon dioxide. The (sole) journal article cited by Doug’s resource only accounts for net emissions but fails to place weights on how much worse CH4 is for the greenhouse effect than CO2.
- The cited article makes no mention of embedded carbon , or the amount of carbon emitted in a good’s entire lifecycle. Given how many inputs are necessary for meat (especially beef), this is a huge accounting issue that undermines the kind of analysis a free-market publication would as it contradicts the Neoclassical assumptions of perfect information and perfect accounting. Since a not-insignificant amount of plants are grown as feed, these emissions should be included in the carbon analysis of meat production, not produce.
- The issue of perfect accounting also raises issues of arable land and fresh water use, which will become increasingly scarce due to climate change.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Cook Out as much as anyone else, but it’d be kinda disingenuous to pretend that eliminating, reducing, or adjusting meat consumption would have but marginal effects on our environmental impact….Aug 5, 2019 at 6:41 am #3604851
“Sarah lives near Mt. Rainier and the entire Cascade range. And a fabulous wild coast.”
Sarah moved to an island in 2018 to homestead/farm in a rural area. I know….crazy, but it works. I drive more than I used to (for example, my kids’ school is an 18 mile round trip, and I volunteer weekly). Still, our carbon footprint is relatively small. We grow most of our food, we compost most of our garbage output, we harvest rainwater. We both work from home.
And guys, let me say it again: IT’S OK TO HAVE KIDS. Being smug about it is eye rolling. The best part of myself as a human are my children. Children can show us humanity. Children can make us better people. They remind us to try harder and do better.Aug 5, 2019 at 3:17 pm #3604873Tom KBPL Member
“Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Cook Out as much as anyone else, but it’d be kinda disingenuous to pretend that eliminating, reducing, or adjusting meat consumption would have but marginal effects on our environmental impact….”
I’ve read your post several times now, and darned if I can understand how you arrived at your conclusion. All of the information you cite seems to lead in the opposite direction. Would you be willing to simplify your logic a bit, so a confused old goat can understand how you arrived at a seemingly contradictory conclusion?
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