Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stuff we can do to help the environment

I came across this booklet on practical ways we can positively change what we're doing. I guess Al Gore is training 1000 people on global warming in hopes of them taking it out to share with others, and one of those women wrote this. Honestly, I don't know much about global warming, I realize it's politically charged, and that there are some good critiques of Gore's movie, but this info seemed pretty good and helpful overall, regardless what you believe about the global warming debate.

"The Little Book of 'Convenient' Things You Can Do to Stop Global Warming"


Jeannett Gibson said...

I won't really comment thoroughly here because I'd neglect my son and spend the whole morning typing...but, I just want to point out that many of those things she discusses in the form of ways our goevernment can help are noble in theory but very flawed and have devastating side effects as well. For example, "Stop Urban Sprawl" and "Rehabilitate existing urban centers". Nice idea in theory...but as is obvious they are both interlinked. The problem though, is that all of that rehabilitation costs A LOT of money. More money, in fact, than building brand new homes (earthquake retrofitting, new pipes, historical preservation). And who is to pay for that? New buyers of course. Fine. Except that what happens is that the low income folk currently living in the downtown are priced out of the community and end up with nowhere to live. Do they move to the suburbs with lawns to upkeep and increased transportation costs? And, then, do the suburbs essentially become the "ghetto"? The rehabilitation and displacement of older neighborhoods is called gentrification...and San Francisco is the poster child for it. It becomes hip to live in an old neighborhood...but at what cost? So, which is better? I don't know...but it's not as simple as just saying x and y. There are other issues that it can cause. And, as we keep asking people to live in smaller homes, we are also inadvertantly making families smaller. People have fewer children. Some would say that's great. I'm not so sure.

Another issue I have is that many of the suggestions are expensive and therefore, only really feasible to the upper middle class. "Buy certified organic products". These are typically at LEAST 30% more expensive than the "standard" tomato. Our poor are overweight precisely because they can't even afford the normal veggies...junk food is infinately cheaper (think 10 cents for a cup of noodles). Upgrade appliances to energy efficient ones. Do you have $15,000 laying around to do that?

"think twice before buying a new car"...funny, this should fall in line with the new appliance mentality. New cars are more fuel efficient and produce less pollution, so really, we should be upgrading continually. That is, if we can afford it. "Live where you can drive less"...I'm sure we'd all love to kill our commutes, but as you know, it's almost impossible a lot of times. Charge, charge, charge big companies it suggests...and who then pays? The consumer. Further wreaking havoc on the poor trying to make ends meet as it is.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of her suggestions are great. Like running only full loads in the dishwasher. And I don't mean to jump all over your blog post. I do think we need to do things to preserve the world God gave us to live in. I just wanted to point out that many times, by "fixing" one problem, you create a ripple effect that makes other problems and we just need to remember that. :)

And Andy, no need to post about hybrids. I think you did that already on Jacquelyn's blog.

Brianna Heldt said...

jeannett thanks for the post and for your perspective. very interesting, i'm glad you shared. (and i would welcome any further insights!) i DO think it's good to keep in mind if we're living in excess of what we need or whatever. we certainly don't buy all-organic, some things we do (if it's roughly the same price, which rarely it is.) truly two sides to every coin. i thought the eating less meat suggestion was good, b/c it can also be healthier AND cheaper.

i guess my thing is, i don't want my extravagant lifestyle to be hurting others (more than it has to anyway). like i'd said i don't know tons about this, i just thought it was interesting and could be helpful.

i look forward to a comment from andy...

andy gibson said...

A) I'm keeping it short. Reference my commentary on the USELESS of hybrid vehicles on Jacquelyn's blog. They do more damage to the environment, long term, then a Suburban.

B) On global warming, I'll simply say in so many words it is a load of junk. I'll be happy to hand deliver to you a DVD copy of "The Great Global Warming Swindle".

C) Al Gore is a political hypocrite, period. Anybody who honestly belives the unsupported and unsubstantiated stuff in that movie need to watch it and think again....go watch the global warming swindle, which has an order of magnitude more scientific support.

D) Yes, there are things, that make sense, that are better for the environment. Buying "carbon credit" or whatever that crap is is not one of them. That is a waste of money and a scam. However, tire inflation, paper vs. plastic, recycling, generally all make sense.

Like I said on Jacquelyn's a couple of months ago, just plug your brain in and think for yourself. The answer will be obvious if you don't get caught up in the emotions which are political driven.

andy gibson said...

Jeannett said I came across as rude and short. Short, Yes, as I'm at work, and truth used up my commentary for the month. Rude, not intended, so I apologize if anybody felt that way.

Brianna Heldt said...

HA! Andy you make me smile. I didn't think you were being rude.

I wish I knew more about the whole thing to discern what is false and what is true. I think I'll try to help in ways that I can, in part because I participate in things that are NOT so good for the environment (using disposable diapers for example.) I want to be a responsible citizen, but at the same time gaurd against making a god out of it--big difference between caring for the environment, and being a slave to it.

andy gibson said...

You hit on it, Brianna...making a god out of it. Global warming is almost a religious cult in the way some people believe it, almost blindly with little or no support. And like we both said, there are things that make sense (common sense, IMOP) to care for long as it doesn't go too far...

Lara said...

Hee, Hee...yes always a hot political topic. =) Darin will be proud when he sees you posted about this. I might try to post some later when I have time to read everything Jeannett and Andy said, but for now I just want to say to Jeannett's first comment that the difference in perspective is that maybe these things cost more in the short term, but in the long term they are much more cost effective. So we are looking at the good of the earth and the people in for the long term. (Darin in the back ground says, "it's more than that it's about getting away from a throw-away mentality. When do we stop? When all our resources are gone?...") We are quite passionate about this topic (environmental stewardship as a whole). =)

Brianna Heldt said...

lara i would love to learn more about your feelings on this (darin's too), how you guys came to be passionate about it, etc. glad to have made darin proud!

to be honest, i love the idea of urbarn renewal vs. urban sprawl (in theory, because i don't know enough about it to weigh the pros and cons). the city of denver has a couple of cool projects they've done for homes, built on an old airforce base. however i thought jeannett brought up some interesting points about the people getting priced out, etc.

i'd also love to know more about the "throw away" mentality, how do we escape it, what is it exactly, etc. one thing i can see is, we are truly a culture of excess. kevin and i both thought when we were looking at homes (in the denver suburbs) that we don't want an acre-sized lawn. as nice as it would be to have, we figure for us it's one way we can conserve some water (and of course cut down on having to mow so much!!!) so how does it play out for you guys??? (can you tell i don't really know anything about this subject???? :) )

S. said...

Totally OT, but how does your daughter like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? I was wondering when to introduce those books to my 6 yr. old M., and thought I remembered some scarey parts (she is pretty easily scared). Thanks!

Brianna Heldt said...

s., anna LOVES it! she's really not to scary things tho--ie, she gets a real kick out of ursula the sea witch on the little mermaid, and in fact she really likes spooky things (spiders, the wicked witch on the wizard of oz, etc.). kind of a quirky part of her personality! i suppose a small child could be scared by this book, i remember having it read to me at a really young age however and wasn't frightened. it's hard making all these parenting decisions!

Brianna Heldt said...

oops, i meant to say "she's really not sensitive to scary things".

Lara said...

Darin, has lots more to say than I do about this topic, but since he doesn't get much time on the computer I'll have to do my best to answer some of your questions.
First of all, how we came to be passionate about this subject. Well, Darin grew up in the mountains. So I think his interest in the environment began with just a love of nature. He grew up eating really natural foods from their own garden and local farmers. But his degree at Cal Poly is in Social Sciences so he learned in depth about how societies impact each other and the world. For an example the fact that we use up so much water from the Colorado river (some of it for lawns, pools, etc.), it is a trickle by the time it gets to mexico which effects their ability to thrive. Not only do they have less drinking water but they have less water to grow crops which effects their ability to feed themselves as well as their ablitity to compete on the global market. That is just one tiny example, but the point is he really started to care about how our greed and carelessness was affecting the poor of the world. Then Darin convinced me to care.

Jeannett totally made a good point though. It isn't an easy fix. Most simple solutions will fix one problem but then create another problem (or more). That's why we (human beings) often stop caring, because mending the problems in the world can be really complicated. Not that it makes indifference right, it just makes it understandable.

So this is getting super long, but I might as well address the "thow-away" mentality too. This is something I really struggle with. I grew up with disposable everything. So it's really hard for me to think big picture about every plastic baggie I use and then throw away. It's so much easier than using tupperware and then having to wash it later. So the throw away mentality that american consumers have is that we throw away things when we are done with them and we buy something new when we have a need (or want). We use paper towels instead of washable rags. When an appliance breaks we throw it away instead of fixing it. All our food scraps go into the trash and then the dump instead of being composted and put back into the soil for nutrient rich soil. Take for instance an old barn that is about to fall down. Most of the time it will be knocked down and the wood will probably be used as firewood or end up in the landfill. But if someone were to take the time to plane and sand each piece of wood, it could be used again (and sold for a high price - old heart of pine wood is really valuable now because it's hard to find), so some family could build their house with reused wood instead of cutting down more trees. Those are just some examples. Basically it comes down to the fact that Americans now have more money than time, so it makes more sense to us to buy something new than take the time to mend something old. This may not seem like a big deal, but it's causing big problems world wide. America is getting richer and the rest of the world is getting poorer. So I guess to escape the throw-away mentality, we have to start seeing the value of our resources (water, land, trees, metal, gas, etc), and seeing that they are limited and then share instead of hording.

And Andy, I believe you've bought into the "great global warming swindle" lie. Al Gore may have a political agenda. But the CO2 levels in the air ARE going up, We ARE causing it, and there are going to be consequences. (All the top scientists say so, not just Al Gore). But you are right, hybrid cars are not the answer, not hydrogen cars either, or biodisel either. They fall into the category of fixing one problem but creating others. Another topic all together.

Darin is actually the educated one about all this, so this is just my simple understanding based on what he has shared with me. So hopefully it helps and if not, then just write me off and talk to him next time we're in town. =)

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