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post #141 of 170
Well now, this is interesting...I feel i must say this, but I'm trying to do it in the gentlest possible way....
Quoting Barbara:
"While air travel may be "unfriendly", I worry far more about a nation of people who have
never left its borders, making decisions that affect the planet..."

Sorry, but who exactly deemed that the US (or anybody else for that matter!!), with its nation full of people, 90% of whom have never left its borders, should be making decisions for anybody else on this planet???? Isn't it this mind-set that gets the US into its wars?? I realise that any country that uses 25% of the world's resources is probably going to be making some de facto decisions that will affect the rest of the world (like refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol and pushing to open up the Artic National Wildlife Refuge) BUT, doesn't this bring our discussion back to the original topic of over-population, family size, and environmental responsibility? Quite frankly, I think the world could do with a little more of the US staying within its borders, and out of other people's countries.....
post #142 of 170
Sorry, aussiemum, but that quote was by me, not barbara.

And what I meant was that Americans make decisions that affect the planet with the choices they make for lifestyle.

Pollutants from industry affect the rest of the planet. So do greenhouse gasses emitted from the millions of single occupant vehicles commuting from their suburban paradise into the cities. Huge amounts of pesticides and chemicals are dumped into the water table by massive agricultural operations. Not to mention nuclear weapons manufacture. And so on...

A country the size of the US, using that much of the planet's resources, and with practices that extend beyond their borders, cannot help but influence the planet.
post #143 of 170
I take your point Piglet, you are absolutely correct that environmental pollution produced by the US (and others, like Australia and Britain) is a problem for everybody. I guess there's something else bothering me with the trend in general thought on this discussion...I'm still trying to understand how having a large family in our respective Western democracies is somehow an environmental choice, as if you can make the world a better place by having lots of children that you have raised up by your point of view (and I assume that the point of view held by many writers on these boards in environmetally aware). I mean, why can't having a large family in Mali or China or Paraguay be considered an environmental choice then, because people living in these countries would have (I am assuming again!) a smaller ecological footprint per capita than either the US or Australia. Why shouldn't we all have large families then???? Do we really want to find out just exactly how many people we can pack onto this planet?? These are things I can't seem to resolve...
post #144 of 170
I guarantee you that you will not find anyone on here who is arguing in favor of large families, that thinks only people in the US should have them. I think we all feel that having less children is not necessarily worth the trade off for us. That we don't feel less children=better planet. We have all said that children cannot be compared to other wasteful things, and that is *my* only point. I do not think a simple, "if everyone had only 2 or less children, the world would be better off ecologically", is necessarily true, I think that a huge combination of other ways of living gently is a better answer for *some* families. Everyone will make their own choices about how to live most gently, and none of us will be perfect. I have just been saying that I have chosen to have more than 2 children, but I have also chosen other ways to live gently. I do realize that more people use up more resources, but I also believe that there are many many other ways to live gently than to limit the number of children. I wonder if those arguing that less children (smaller families) is the answer would be willing to not have any children, to make up for those of us being labeled as wasteful:

I have quite a few friends who intend to never have children b/c of overpopulation, and while I am sure some people do exist who actually will do just that, but all of my friends are using that as an excuse IMO, and have many other reasons why they don't want children. I think the same would be true of many who choose to have only 2 children "for environmental reasons". I doubt many are doing it for environmental reasons only. just like I don't use disposable diapers only for the environment, but also b/c they are cheaper, better for my babies health, etc. I don't drive an SUV, but it's not ALL about the environment, it's also about not wanting to be a *yuppie* (IMO-that's how I see them-flame away!).

I see a valid argument about more children=more resources used, but I think it's more valuable to talk about all ways to love more gently, rather than just focus on one.

OK, what was my point? Oh- I promise you there is no one on here who thinks only Americans can have large families, those of us who love large families would find beautiful a large family in any country.
post #145 of 170
Also, none of the people defending large families would try to say that you or anyone else should have a larger family.
post #146 of 170
Quote:
Originally posted by jess7396
Also, none of the people defending large families would try to say that you or anyone else should have a larger family.
Actually, I recall a thread some months ago in TAO on family size as regards having just one or more children (on the "he/she should have a little brother/sister to play with" issue) where quite a few people said very strongly (no flaming, though, nothing nasty ) that they thought more than one is much, much better. I tried to find it but it wasn't archived and I think it was inactive long before the oldest post on the current TAO.

And I've had some people IRL before I was pregnant tell me I was "unwomanly" (or is it un-womb-anly: ) for not having children and that I'd regret it someday. And now that I have a child, I've had people tell me I'm cruel for not "even considering another" because he'll be lonely. No pleasing some people.

And, actually, I was intending not to have any children at all, precisely because of the population issue. However, I also have an incredible fear of doctors and could not face voluntarily going in to be sterilized. And my husband, being male and therefore really good at denial and not listening, never took it upon himself to take care of (he's had a vascectomy since...after he saw what hell I went through during the birth). So, the birth control didn't work and by the time I knew I was pregnant, it was 2 and a half months along. I couldn't have caused an abortion by herbs at that point and I decided to carry the pregnancy to term, if it lasted. It did. There won't be another one. Perhaps other children will join our family, but not from my womb.

And frankly, I had NOT been planning on NOT having a child so someone else could have an extra one. This is, therefore, a really strange question: "I wonder if those arguing that less children (smaller families) is the answer would be willing to not have any children, to make up for those of us being labeled as wasteful".
post #147 of 170
As much as I agree with and believe that pretty much all Americans live well beyond the truly perfect gentle lifestyle (including everyone on this thread who obviously have computers) I must take complete unction with the idea of the "bad" American. Yes, we are wasteful and could learn alot from other less commercialized countries but we are by far not the worst when it comes to recognizing the fragility of the planet. And it completely irks me that we fail to realize that. Even hollywood tries to indoctrinate our children into believing that the rest of the world are the good guys and America is the only bad guy in terms of environmentalism.

Examples -

Taiwan or Thailand (I can't remember which) - they have sewage pipes dumping thousands of tons of waste and pollution into their rivers with absolutely no laws of restriction. They also dump motorbikes (main source of transportation) on the side of the road whenever one fails.

Japan - serves whales as a food. And throws dynamite into coral reefs to fish.

Iceland - plans on reinacting whale hunting.

Brazil - the Amazon is has been polluted for so long that most biologists didn't know that the dolphins weren't supposed to be pink.

And these are just a few stories that I have heard of or read from the top of my head. Say what you want about the commercialism of Americans but suggesting that we are the environmental idiots of this planet is rather shortsighted and quite frankly misinformed.
post #148 of 170
Quote:
Originally posted by irishprincess71
...(including everyone on this thread who obviously have computers)....
Not necessarily. They may simply have ACCESS to a computer and not actually own one themself.

Quote:
Originally posted by irishprincess71
...Brazil - the Amazon is has been polluted for so long that most biologists didn't know that the dolphins weren't supposed to be pink.
A very large chunk of the pollution in the Amazon is due to a U.S. gold mining corporation far upstream. They use cyanide to separate the gold from the ore and dump it directly into the river w/o treatment.

And as heinous as whale hunting and so forth are, the actual consumption in all those countries you mentioned is far, far lower than it is in the U.S. On the average, the transport miles per person and the fuels consumed per person are much less. This does not excuse dynamiting coral reefs; however, in the last five years, there has been an enormous die-off of coral due to the warming of the oceans. This is directly related to global warming. If you accept the thesis that states that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming, then as the U.S., per capita is the largest producer of greenhouse gases we are surely to blame.

edited to add: Thailand and Taiwan do, as you say, dump untreated sewage. So do we in many communities. And so does much of the world. Building sewage treatment plants takes money. There are some relatively cheap sewage treatment methods ("constructed wetlands", for example) but those take lots of land space. So, many of these countries choose to concentrate on making sure the drinking water is clean and can treat the drinking water more economically("sand filter beds", for example) than treating all the sewage as, frequently, the sewers are what we call a CSO, or Combined Sewer Outflow and both septic waste and rainwater runoff end up in the same sewer and, therefore, a huge volume of water needs to be treated.

If you (or anyone else on these boards) are ever in NYC, let me know and I will be more than happy to try and arrange a tour of the two world's largest sewage treatment plants: Wards Island WPCP and Newtown Creek WPCP. WPCP stands for Wastewater Pollution Control Plant. And we still have some raw sewage end up in the Hudson during periods of large rainfall. Imagine if we had a monsoon season.
post #149 of 170
Quote:
And as heinous as whale hunting and so forth are, the actual consumption in all those countries you mentioned is far, far lower than it is in the U.S.
I would love to know where to find whale on the U.S. market because I have yet to see it. And if perhaps you are talking about consumption in general (which I personally don't think compare), NO Japan is not far, far lower than the U.S. they are right up there with us. In fact, most gadgets and gizmos on the U.S. market are tried out in Japan up to 2 years prior to U.S. release.

Quote:
Not necessarily. They may simply have ACCESS to a computer and not actually own one themself.
Possibly - BUT highly unlikely. And I think a quick survey would prove this.

Quote:
If you accept the thesis that states that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming, then as the U.S., per capita is the largest producer of greenhouse gases we are surely to blame.
Not true - there is a NASA photo taken showing the warming spots on the planet and the U.S. was not even close to being first. China was, in fact, the biggest problem in global warming is burning of fossil fuels and forests. For which China and South America are the worst. But then I am sure that you could blame that on the U.S. too.
post #150 of 170
In response:

1) I'll find the stats on per capita consumption and check my info and let you know.

2) Well, I was just offering a possibility as you used the word "everyone" and I know that at least two of the people here I regularly exchange messages with log on only at the library as they don't have computers, so there is a time lag for our communication.

3) You missed the fact I said "per capita". China and most of South America have larger populations than the U.S. does.

Yes, there fires buring the rainforest to clear unsuitable land for farming in South America and there are long-burning (centuries!) coal seam fires in China and China also has heat and CO2 and CO and NOx and Sulphur generated by industrial plants with few or no pollution controls.

Well, the coal seam fires are an act of God, I assume, as mention of them has been found in texts for hundreds and hundreds of years. We also have a couple burning in this country. They are
very difficult to put out.

And as far as industry goes, well, I could mention that a great deal of the output of the industry in China goes to the U.S. so purchasers of these products here could consider themselves at least partly responsible for another country's environmental degradation and the resulting damage to the atmosphere...but I shouldn't because you'll assume I'm bashing the U.S. and putting the "rest of the world" on a pedestal.

As a matter of fact, I am not america-bashing. I am consumption bashing. I know a brit who seems to consume a huge amount of stuff and I know canadians who do the same. However, I have noticed that it is only in this country that I see an incredibly high "consumption level" across all economic groups and social classes. I'm convinced it is because we have an economy of "disposal" and because our advertising industry works really hard to keep us in line and thinking that we need food that is "sinfully delicious" and vehicles that give us "freedom" and new clothes that allow us to "express ourselves" and other possessions that "make us who we are."

Hmmm. I've met people who had nothing except a few rags to try and keep the dust out of their mucous membranes. (Literally! War and famine certainly help you get your priorities straight.) They certainly seemed to be 'who they were' by virtue of what they talked about and what they had experienced and who they were related to, not what they had. And I don't think any of them thought that a new SUV would give them "freedom".

Give me a few days and I'll locate solid waste statistics for a few dozen countries.

I fear I've gone way off topic again.
post #151 of 170
Quote:
As a matter of fact, I am not america-bashing. I am consumption bashing
If you recall in my first post on this, I said,

Quote:
Yes, we are wasteful and could learn alot from other less commercialized countries but we are by far not the worst when it comes to recognizing the fragility of the planet
I am a firm believer in consumption being a large problem. However, the rest of these countries that people are so quick to point out as living less consumer based lifestyles and only damage the environment in an attempt to fill the American consumer hole WANT our business and WANT our lifestyle. That is why they are producing for us. They WANT our money. We don't go around begging them for business. 40 and 50 years ago they came to us for our money. And it is not just about having enough to survive. They want to live like us. And will do anything it takes to achieve that, including destroying the planet. Which, per my original point, makes them no better than us and no worse than us. It is an unfortunately flaw in human nature to want more and more. Not everyone is effect to the same degree and there are a few, like Mother Theresa, etc. that have overcome it.

The average Asian, South American, etc. want to live like Americans do. They don't live in dirt-floored huts because they want to. If that were the case America would not have the highest rate of immigration in the world. People don't come here to live what they percieve as the "poverty" lifestyle.

I also believe though that a large portion of Americans DO happen to care about the environment. Much more so then the populations in other countries.
post #152 of 170
Well, if I could work out how to do the fancy quote thing I would, but it eludes me so you'll have to put up with my imperfect quotes I'm afraid!

Quoting Irishprincess (I hope I get the quotee right this time!):
"The average Asian, South American, etc. want to live like Americans do. They don't live in dirt-floored huts because they want to. If that were the case America would not have the highest rate of immigration in the world. People don't come here to live what they percieve as the "poverty" lifestyle."

Why exactly do we perceive a simpler lifestyle as a poverty lifestyle? I think it's because we are sold an ideal by mass marketing, and the US sells that vision around the world. The second most commonly known word around the world is Coke, as in the kind you drink, not the kind you put up your nose (or so I learned from a Casey Neill song back in my enviro activist days!). China is polluting and developing and doing just the most environmentally and socially horrific things so they can be just like the US. Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtse River- now that mess is shocking on a number of levels. But you can compare it to the Hoover Dam in the desert southwest if you like. I'm sure the Chinese do. A book called Cadillac Desert outlines the environmental damage caused by building dams post-WWII. The Columbia River salmon fisheries have been devasted by dams (& probably overfishing), and on and on it goes. So, how can industrialised western countries even begin to assert that others who are just developing are somehow more polluting than us? It's just that we got in first. This is why I think we all need to take a long hard look at the way we live our lives, and part of that examination must include family planning.

People come to America because they want to make money (the Aussies do anyway!), because the want to live the lifestyle they see on Baywatch as it's beemed down to a television sitting in a two room home. Somehow, they are getting the message that this lifestyle is better than theirs. I personally don't get that, but then again I live a very comfortable life, with a car, and a reasonably nice house in a reasonably trendy inner-city area. I've got the quarter acre block dream (an Australian dream anyway), with two kids, a few chickens in the backyard, right down to the picket fence out front (no joke! ). Some days, I wonder how I got here....starting to sound like a Talking Heads song now, so I'll stop here.

Sorry, edited to add: That I think the last bit in irishprincess's post about Americans caring about the environment more than others is perhaps a bit off the mark (I'm trying to be diplomatic here!!).
post #153 of 170
Okay - if you don't believe me about U.S. bashing being a given in almost all arenas take the test again. Try putting in the exact same information for the U.S. that you would for South American. I did - my score in the U.S. was 12 and for Brazil was 3.2. Which I take to mean that the test itself takes it as a given that you are automatically living unfriendly lifestyles and precalculates it into the average.

Quote:
Sorry, edited to add: That I think the last bit in irishprincess's post about Americans caring about the environment more than others is perhaps a bit off the mark (I'm trying to be diplomatic here!!).
Granted we are consumer driven which contributes to a large portion of the destruction of the environment in building and processing; however, I don't see any American's condoning whale hunting and eating like Japan and Iceland, dynamiting coral reefs; most American's I know would love to find ways to stop the destruction of the Amazon rainforest (which they have found a way but the natives and the countries are not interested). And I didn't necessarily mean more than everyone else so much as I meant that we are on average with other industrialized countries as individuals.

I must also point out that I believe that there is a Catch-22 to the problem solving of getting other countries to care for the environment. Until a country can reach a point where the people on a whole (not just the politicians) live a middle-income lifestyle they are not going to care how they achieve it or what they destroy along the way.

P.S. I know this is a bit nitpicky so forgive me but the Hoover Dam is pre-WWII.
post #154 of 170
the reason your score was so much lower in brazil is b/c the number is given in hectares, which are much bigger than acres. if you want to compare the answers, you'd have to convert acres to hectares. this is not america-bashing, although imo we americans could definately use a wake-up call. and i would assume that if you used the metric system and plugged in your numbers in most other countries, you would still get a lower answer in the non-usa country, b/c this country is not set up to be eco-friendly. things are too spread out, traffic is heavy, and, even if you're living an eco-friendly lifestyle compared to your compatriots, it is almost certainly going to be more consuming than the average for most other countries.

also, a large part of why rain forests are getting chopped down is for grazing land for cattle. who buys the beef? what's for dinner? it's not that the natives and the countries are not interested, it's that they need the money. if that's what people are buying, that's what becomes important to them. if there were other viable alternatives, they'd do less of it. and maybe americans aren't dynamiting coral reefs, but the us emits more co2 than any other country (with australia emmiting the most per capita), which causes global warming, which causes more cyclones, etc, which rip up coral reefs and cause the sea temps to rise and cause coral bleaching. (see "all the disappearing islands" in the current issue of mother jones )

americans pay lip service to the environment. sure, people "care" but nobody is really doing anything. recycling is not enough. if we really cared, there would've been an uproar when we didn't sign the kyoto protocol. we would already be driving solar-powered cars, but only when necessary, and otherwise we'd be using mass transit or walking/biking, and city planning would be more sophisticated, not the sprawl-inducing joke that it is. local farmers would be rolling in the dough, and dependence on fossil fuels would be a thing of the past. most of all, people would stop buying crap and buying into the ideas of beauty that those who have something to sell pawn off on them.

and, until we take a serious interest in learing about other countries/cultures/languages, without just assuming that everyone else can speak english, so what difference does it make, other countries should feel free to ridicule us. this is a narcissistic nation. we need to get off our high horse.
post #155 of 170
You have some good points happypants, and I agree that the US needs to get off it's high horse....or maybe we need to get on the horse and ride it to work instead of cars and mass transit.

I wanted to make sure everyone saw the following point that happypants made:
Quote:
a large part of why rain forests are getting chopped down is for grazing land for cattle. who buys the beef? what's for dinner?
Let's all wake up and stop eating crop consuming beef! What's for dinner? Beans and rice! yum...
post #156 of 170
In regards to the rainforest - as I said before, THEY WANT our money. Yes, we may buy the beef but the governments in South America would throw a FIT if we stopped buying the beef because they want the money that goes along with it. They don't use the beef for themselves in fact, if they just wanted to live that "wonderfully ecological" lifestyle that so many on this thread keep glorizing them for then they would continue to live off of the land. There is a lizard that lives in the trees of the rainforest that actually produces a higher quantity of protein and meat than beef for much much less land waste; this lizard could not only feed the natives but allow them to sell for a small amount of money for themselves but they have no interest.

The U.S. does not emit more CO2, in a photo taken by NASA (which I unfortunately deleated the link) China came out on top. The one spot in the U.S. that showed up glowing as bright as China was Wyoming during the fires 2 years ago.

I find it amazing that the good is never seen only the bad. There are sooo many areas that the U.S. has improved upon in the past 40 years but no one seems to want to see or admit it. The first that comes to the top of my head is Lake Michigan. 20 years ago the lake was so badly contaminated with poisons that if you were a woman of childbearing years you could not eat the fish. That is no longer true and native fish are finally returning because of the quality of water.

Unfortunately, America's main infrastructure was built during a time when the prevailing thought was "endless supply." Which makes it very difficult to back up and change. So. CA. is a very good example of how mass transit just is not feasible at this time much as we would like it to be.

Quote:
and, until we take a serious interest in learing about other countries/cultures/languages, without just assuming that everyone else can speak english, so what difference does it make, other countries should feel free to ridicule us.
Guess what, to obtain unity in anything you have to have a common language. Because England lead the way; English has become that language. French used to be the language of diplomacy (all diplomats had to know French) but that changed (much to the complete disgusted and anger of the French). And I see much less ridicule from the people in other countries of the U.S. then I do from Americans themselves.
post #157 of 170
just for point of record..

Quote:
Unfortunately, America's main infrastructure was built during a time when the prevailing thought was "endless supply." Which makes it very difficult to back up and change. So. CA. is a very good example of how mass transit just is not feasible at this time much as we would like it to be.
I think it actually was more like 'greed' than 'endless supply'.

many cities in california including Los Angeles had beautiful transit systems in place. Here in LA it was the "Red Cars" which all members of my family speak very affectionately.
The Red Cars here were everywhere. There were several lines in your neighborhood, IrishPrincess..you could have gone from your home to downtown LA quite painlessly, along the ocean up to washington blvd then to downtown.

however, it was the greedy side of the tire industry, the car industry and the oil industry and senators from those states that systematically pulled up the transits systems in many cities so that more people would be forced to buy cars. It was all fraud. The tire industy literally set up fake bus systems in these cities and then deliberately put less buses on the roads so that they would be inconvenient and people felt they needed cars.

It is a tragic story. San Francisco Mayor Alioto took the senators on and practically got handed his genitals back, but god bless him he did it.

if you ever want to learn more get this documentary.

http://www.newday.com/films/Taken_for_a_Ride.html

I personally think the story should be dramatized and Curtis Hanson who directed LA Confidential should tell the tale.
It is heartbreaking.

by the way, some of those red car lines are now, the 405 freeway, the santa monica freeway, the hollywood, the ten... I think you get the picture.
post #158 of 170
Trabot - you are right about that whole fiasco. And I had heard about it briefly; very frustrating. So much of human nature and action is based on greed. I wonder though if they had been able to look into the future and see the disaster of overcrowding on the freeways that we deal with now if they would have done the same thing. Since 1980 the miles of roads has increased in the U.S. by 2.4%, number of drivers by 31.2%, registered vehicles 39.8%, miles of travel 81.2% and time in traffic 232%. I don't think anyone could have even come close to predicting these rates.

In So. Ca. though we are now dealing with a lot of outlying areas (Palmdale, Lancaster, Thousand Oaks, and even Ventura) where people are buying affordable homes and commuting to L.A. The metrolink is a start but doesn't answer the whole problem and a bit expensive for the average wage earner.
post #159 of 170
We have seven children.

I scored a 5. The average for this country is 24. If everybody lived like we do (a logical fallacy upon which to base on argument), then we would need 1.1 planets.

There a lot of logical problems here- it's a cute little test, but I wouldn't base a single life decision on it.
There are too many false starting assumptions and too many factors not included in the questions.

We live, for instance, in a house that is 120 years old. If everybody lived like we do, there'd no new houses built.

We pump our own drinking water from our own well. IT's pumped into the house, and then we handpump the stuff we drink. If everybody lived like we do...

We do not buy new clothing, except for undergarments. If everybody lived like we do, there'd be no work for garment makers and many other folks.

When we lived in the city, we could walk a lot of places, but we couldn't raise our own food as well.

Now we live in the country and we drive a bit more (although we combine trips), but we can grown and raise food for ourselves and others.

The list could go on and on, because it's a very, very bad idea for everybody to live just like everybody else.

We lived in Japan for five years. We were astonished at the litter, filth and trash we saw in the roadsides that we never see here in the U.S. We saw open sewage flowing out to the sea. We saw whale meat sold in the grocery store.
We've also visitied the Philippines, Mexico, lived in Canada, been to South Korea, dh has been to Australia. I saw things that were done better than they are in America, and I saw things that were done much, much worse (really, teh garbage in Japan probably was the worst I saw anywhere).

Each country is different and will have its strengths and weaknesses, and what works in one home or country may not be duplicatable in other countries. America is not the worst offender across the board.



Kanga
post #160 of 170
MY "footprint" was a 7 with our area being 24. I don't know. I mean we use cloth diapers, breastfeed, make our own baby food, buy stuff 2nd hand (or get it free at our homeschool swap... very cool! ). We own a small 3 bedroom one bath house. I do drive a minivan, but we are planning on 5 kids and have 3 already. I don't drive too much anyway. It takes me about 2-3 weeks to go thru a tank of gas. We maybe fly someplace every 2 years (4 hours total). We have had 3 computers but only one brand new my MIL gave us one for free and we baught on 2nd hand (that was our first on YEARS ago). This is our first new one. We recycle, buy organic, eat veggie,try not to buy processed foods. We have our own garden. I mean I think that the whole idea of family size is really irrelivate for the most part, if you live a "clean" life style. I mean I have a friend with no children and they make tons of trash (she is married) they eat loads of meat, have 2 cars that they drive every where, etc. So her foot print is much larger than mine.
Also with a large family I think you have to do things cheaper, so you tend to buy second hand and don't eat expensive foods (at least this is my experience with the families I know) you can't fly a family of 8 all over the place too often do to the fact that it cost so bloody much.
I guess it has more to do with your lifestyle then the amount of people inthe house.

H
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