Family Size and the Ecological Footprint - Page 6 - Mothering Forums

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#151 of 170 Old 09-03-2003, 09:10 PM
 
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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,

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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.
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#152 of 170 Old 09-05-2003, 04:43 AM
 
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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!!).

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#153 of 170 Old 09-05-2003, 06:21 AM
 
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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.

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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.
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#154 of 170 Old 09-05-2003, 04:49 PM
 
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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.
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#155 of 170 Old 09-06-2003, 01:27 AM
 
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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:
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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...
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#156 of 170 Old 09-06-2003, 03:31 AM
 
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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.

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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.
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#157 of 170 Old 09-06-2003, 04:43 AM
 
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just for point of record..

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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.

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#158 of 170 Old 09-06-2003, 01:50 PM
 
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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.
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#159 of 170 Old 10-26-2003, 08:49 PM
 
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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.



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#160 of 170 Old 10-29-2003, 04:30 PM
 
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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.

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#161 of 170 Old 10-31-2003, 03:57 AM
 
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Originally posted by irishprincess71
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.
I believe this is a false statement. What makes you say Americans care about the environment more than other countries??? America is NOT one of the best countries environmentally speaking. In fact, we are the world's biggest polluter. The majority of our adult population does NOT recycle, does NOT regularly use public transportation instead of personal vehicles, does NOT eat a ecologically sound diet. We CONSUME and EAT and DRIVE and POLLUTE!!!!

85% of our garbage goes to a dump or landfill.

Although we comprise 7% of the world population, we consume 29% of the energy used per year, and our carbon emissions comprise 25%.

The US Senate just rejected a bill to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

America backed out of the Kyoto Protocol. USA wanted special rules that would apply just for us so we could pollute more than other countries by exploiting poor countries. America didn't want to compromise its lifestyle for the planet's sake.

Sweden, Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, and many many other countries have better environmental policies, consume less, and have the courage of their convictions - compared to Americans, anyway.

Maybe you're right...maybe a lot of Americans DO care about the environment. But we sure have trouble ordering a salad instead of a steak, walking instead of driving, carpooling, not shopping at environment-abusing stores and companies, recycling, reusing, etc...we just can't seem to put our money where our mouth is. (Hey - we're rich - we don't have walk!!! : )

I'm wondering why you think Americans care more than other countries?
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#162 of 170 Old 10-31-2003, 04:46 AM
 
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What makes you say Americans care about the environment more than other countries???
Because I don't just look at what we are doing "wrong" as a litmus test. I look at what we are trying to do right. I also don't look at other countries with poorer lifestyles as doing "right" either.

In using the test and our general assumptions as to what is ecologically "right" the lifestyle of most Brazilians should be our goal simply because most of them live a very poor lifestyle and consum much less than we do. However, if you ask most Brazilians they will tell you that their goal is to eventually live like us regardless of how they get there.

4 weeks ago there was a meeting of the WTO. Brazil and a number of other poor countries walked out because it would not lift the tarifs on their agricultur. Brazil want the tarifs lifted so that they can grow and sell grain to other countries in order to make money. Where the H#%@ do you think they are planning to get the land to grow that grain. The Rainforests. The U.S. is not "exploiting" this poor country so as to use its natural resources; this country is begging the world to allow it to exploit itself for money.

I would like to see qualified the statement that Japan has better environmental policies as an overall. As Kangamom stated from actual experience not heresay - Japan has lousy waste management and I have a few Biology books that talk about Japans dynamiting of coral reefs for fish and serving of whale for food. They may be better in some respects (ohh, I know because THEY didn't back out of the Kyoto Protocol, they should be our heroes) but they have a lot of work to do before they can be held up to a higher level than the U.S.

And why is it that Americans are bad guys for ordering steak instead of salads but Japan can eat whale, Australia can eat kangaroos, Germany can eat bratwurst by the tons and it is okay. I can not see the average German being a vegan and the fact that Japan and Germany use more mass transit has less to do with their desire for a better environment and more from a general lack of space and over-crowding. Given that one of the biggest waste in auto fuel is in Germany (the Autoban) it is kind of goofy to look to them as a standard for anything either.
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#163 of 170 Old 10-31-2003, 01:17 PM
 
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Man, I typed out replies on all of your responses. My computer froze. It was 2:30am, so I had to just go to bed.

Just really quick summary:
-I didn't say it was "Okay" for other countries to do ecologically responsible things like consume meat or drive everywhere. But, unlike us, many countries (you mentioned Germany) have mush better *environmental policies and population practices*, which was the point I was trying to make. Of course, no country is perfect, as no people are perfect. I just wish the United States would emulate other countries more as fas as the environmental practices are concerned.
-Yes, it is true that we have sold other cultures somewhat on "American Life." But, it is also important to realize how those countries got those ideals, and the full ramifications of that. For example, more people in China regularly drink Pepsi than tea now. Pepsi, in all its irreverence, started an enormous campaing painting tea as old-fashioned and unhip. Thus, a part of traditional Chinese practice, (and much better drink environmentally and health-wise) has started to dramatically decline. Yes, many people in the world wish to emulate our lifestyle. But at what cost? And *why* are cultures conforming to our standards? We only have 7% of the world population... We have *the best* global marketing, though.
-The exploiting of indigent countries I referring to was not farming in Brazil. I was referring to President Bush's propsed modifications of the Kyoto Protocol. They would allow the USA to purchase "polluting shares" from poor countries, who then would forfeit their right to pollute. This angers me on many levels. I will go into more detail, if you want.

I have so much more I could say, but I don't want to hijack the thread! I will leave my earth-defending here! I will try to stay more on topic about "Family Size and Ecological Footprint"...

So...many thanks to Islandmama for posting the test. I scored a 7; average is 24. Not bad, but still work to go. I will be traveling again internationally this year (to Turkey!), so my number will stay up, I fear. Although, I agree...I wish the test did take into account CDing, as well as BFing.

Also thanks to Piglet68, sohj, trabot, barbara, lunar forest, aussiemum and others for keeping this discussion interesting, intelligent, and respectful. Your reverence for the earth is apparent, and it makes me smile! You guys rock!
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#164 of 170 Old 10-31-2003, 02:00 PM
 
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Originally posted by aussiemum
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...
Well, if you can't resolve them, nobody can, because they are entirely your own construction. They were not postulated by anybody here. I'm rather flabbergasted that you would ask why people in mali or China shouldn't have large families, as though anybody who believes that their family size is a personal, free-will choice has denied that freedom to anybody else. Where on earth would you get that idea? Family size is a personal decision. If you don't want children, don't have them. If I do, I will. The size of my family or your family (Unless you live in China) is utterly outside the control of anybody else, and that's the way it should be.

The only way to control family size is through facist eugenics policies, and that's a very ugly place to go.

"So we want to find out how many people we can pack into this planet" is a total strawman. Nobody has said that is their goal for having children.

Other points: I have a computer. It's used. A computer geek friend was upgrading, and he offered us his for free. So the computer on my desk is one less computer in the landfill.
Computers are also, in this country, the best answer to the mass transit issue. Mass transit simply won't work in a country like ours. Working at home or schooling at home via computers will.
America is different from Europe in ways that Europeans just don't seem to be able to grasp.
The state of Texas is one and a half times larger than the country of France- but Texas has only 1/3 the people. Montana is bigger than Germany, and Germany has 160 times more people than Montana. They don't have a clue what it is like to live in a large, sparsely populated state. Mass transit simply does not work in large areas where people are few and far betweenwhich describes a large portion of the United States. But computer commuting will.

Kyoto- Oh, puleeze. There are many good reasons for us to withdraw from Kyoto. First of all, it was obviously economically rather than environmentally motiviated. It was a direct swing at America, or else large polluters like India, China and other countries would not be exempt from Kyoto's provisions. Putting a cap on the US's emissions that does not apply to other countries is a reasonable effort from those other countries. It makes good economic sense, for them, as it will enable them to compete for US businesses hampered by environmental restrictions _here_ to countries not so hampered. But I see no reason to just roll over and concede.

If Kyoto was about enviornment over economics, then we wouldn't have the strange provision that allows countries to simply play a shell game with their carbon dioxide emissions, by allowing the industrialized signatores under their quota target to sell or trade their surplus brownie (or should that be greenie?) points to countries that are over their target.

Then there's the issue of just how accurate the 'science' behind Kyoto is.
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish environmentalist, wrote in the New York Times, "All current models show that the Kyoto Protocol will have surprisingly little impact on the climate: temperature levels projected for 2100 will be postponed for all of six years."

19,000 scientists have signed a declaration stating that there is no evidence for global warming, and the predictions of the global warming advocates are consistently proved false. Grapes once grew in Greenland. The MIddle Ages were warmer than the current age. What data there is that seemingly supports global warming is data that ignored weather satellites, an odd omission.

When so many scientists disagree with it, I see no reason to subject our country to a compact clearly designed to single us out. The science ought to matter more than it does.



Kyoto singled out carbon dioxide, and ignored black carbon, or diesel as a pollutant. Why? Because Europe uses more diesel.

And what do you make of the issue of CO2 versus non-CO2? Water vapor is a larger greenhouse gas than CO2. For some reason, however, Kyoto didn't address that, choosing rather to single out CO2, which is not so costly to Europe as it is to the US, since Europe has higher levels of non-CO2 (and worse greenhouse-effect) gases.


Kyoto was less about protecting the environment than giving Europe the right to meddle with the American economy. Can't blame them for trying. They've hobbled their own economies to the point that the only way to compete with ours is to hobble us as well, but while it makes good economic sense for them to try to blame us for the world's problems and bog down our economy in a quagmire of excessive regulation that really does nothing for the environment, I'm not going to apologize for my government seeing through it and saying, "Nope."

Then there's this little irony:

"In 2001, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were 6,937.7 teragrams of carbon dioxide equivalents (Tg CO2 Eq.) (13.0 percent above 1990 emissions). Emissions declined for the first time since the base year 1990, decreasing by 1.6 percent (110.3 Tg CO2 Eq.) from 2000 to 2001, driven primarily by decreases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel...."

Compared to this:
BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 6 (UPI) -- European Union greenhouse gas emissions rose for the second year running in 2001, the European Environment Agency said Tuesday in its annual report on the bloc's strategy to curb global warming.
Ten of the EU's 15 states overshot national targets, increasing total emissions by 1 percent in the last year for which data is available.
The figures threaten to blow a hole in the EU's ambitious climate change strategy, which has been sharply criticized by the United States and sections of European industry.



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#165 of 170 Old 10-31-2003, 05:39 PM
 
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I think while everyone is either defending or bashing anyone particlau countries environmental policies in the end we need to remeber that WE are the ones respondsible for the out come of our enviroment. If WE don't like the way something is being delt with we need to fight for change. Regardless of our family sizes, whether you have 1 child or 10 children, you personal choices paly a large role on how you impact the enviroment.
The governments of most countries aren't looking to save the earth, they are looking for away to make their countries wealthy. Whether it is hacking down the rainforests to raise cattle, dumping sewage into the seas, hunting whales, or pumping the earth dry of its fossil fuels. It doesn't matter. WHAT MATTERS IS YOUR PERSONAL CHOICES!!! That is it!
I mean you can compare the European mass transit to ours and say that here in the USA it isn't possible, but I am gonna have to disagree. I will admit that a massive masstransit system to cover all of the USA is pretty unreasonable, BUT in any city with a moderate to large population there can easily be an effective and easy to use mass transit system. I mean why not? Most people do a majority of their driving in the city anyway right? I know I do.
And why not ENCOURAGE people to make better choices... ie eating less meat, composting, using masstransit where avalible, cloth diapering, BF, making baby food, buying/growing organic, buying second hand, recycling. These are all things that the average person can do that really make a huge differance when LOADS of people do them together.
Instead of bickering back and forth about which counrty is doing a crapper job, lets work on finding ways to help each other make a smaller foot print.
I mean go in and take the test again with the changes you would like to make and see how much your footprint changes.

H

PS sorry about the misspellings and typos I am fixing lunch for the kids and Nursing a beebee!

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#166 of 170 Old 10-31-2003, 05:40 PM
 
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I don't have a lotof time, but wanted to add something to this debate:

Quote:
Originally posted by Kanga Mom
Mass transit simply won't work in a country like ours. Working at home or schooling at home via computers will.
... Mass transit simply does not work in large areas where people are few and far betweenwhich describes a large portion of the United States.
Mass transit used to work very, very well in population centers. It was systematically done away with in the post--WWII economic boom when fuel companies frequently bought up transit lines (the tale of the Red CArs in LA, for example) and put them out of business while simultaneously heavily marketing the automobile as the "American Dream". And, obviously, places that aren't densly populated wouldn't have a lot of people to serve. And, most likely, people who live in sparsely populated places would have little reason to commute into a dense place on a regular basis. So, this seems like a red herring as a reason not to have public transportation.

Also, even more off-topic...but I am dying to throw this in...the existence of the suburbs as places where you would have to have cars was a conscious decision made in many cases to prevent the "poor" (or carless) from purchasing there.

Quote:
Originally posted by Kanga Mom
Then there's the issue of just how accurate the 'science' behind Kyoto is.
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish environmentalist, wrote in the New York Times, "All current models show that the Kyoto Protocol will have surprisingly little impact on the climate: temperature levels projected for 2100 will be postponed for all of six years."
But, Lomborg also wrote the following: "Global Warming is important, environmentally, politically and economically. There is no doubt that mankind has influenced and is still increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and that this will increase temperature. I will not discuss all the scientifica uncertainty, but basically accept the models and predictions from the 2001 report of the UN Climate Panel (IPCC)."

He disagrees with what the Kyoto agreement calls for and he disagrees with the Cassandras among the scientists, but he does not disagree with the global warming event as a whole.

Also, on the topic of his predictions of what will happen as a result of global warming, I must point out that he is not a biologist or climatologist or forensic-botanic archaeologist, but a statistician. He is re-analysing data generated by others. That is admirable and can be a welcome source of input when seen in context, but as one who frequently has to work with data points myself, I am sceptical of someone who is unfamiliar with the methods of getting the data in the first place or what the data points mean manipulating the information. For a very simplistic example, if you have 100 frogs in a pond. 80 of them are green, 19 are yellow-green and 1 is a deep blue, many people might want to say "Well, the typical frog here is green." And, as far as it goes, that is true. But, where is this pond? Are the ponds nearby stocked with a similar arrangement of frogs? What if every other frog in every other pond for half a mile in every direction is blue ? Most would think that was important. But, if you are just taking the "raw published data" -- which may or may not (and I wish it always did, but it often doesn't) include all the data actually gathered on this study, or the data gathered on another study that might have been looked at, referred to and thought about when deciding the parameters to set on the data being collected -- you might just decide that the blue frog was an "outlier" and remove him/her from the stats completely. Now, seen that way, is that statement useful or even "true" in a larger sense?

I am sceptical of the "sceptical environmentalist" because he so consistently draws conclusions soooo diametrically opposed to the majority of scientists working in whatever field he is commenting on. I haven't gotten all the way through his book yet, but his astoundingly rosy picture of the future is making me suspicious. I also get suspicious with a total gloom-and-doom picture, but his claim that petroleum will never run out is just plain Pollyanna-ism.

Quote:
Originally posted by Kanga Mom
19,000 scientists have signed a declaration stating that there is no evidence for global warming, and the predictions of the global warming advocates are consistently proved false. .... When so many scientists disagree with it, I see no reason to subject our country to a compact clearly designed to single us out. The science ought to matter more than it does.
I wonder about these scientists who are found to have quotations saying there is no evidence for global warming. Several years ago, I sat in a meeting room with the head of a division of Air Quality from United Technologies. That company is hardly a hotbed of Greenpeace activists and tree-huggers. Also in the room were two representatives of mining companies, three people from a big developer's office and a couple of people from the local wastewater treatment agency. All were scientists of some description, admitedly more on the commercial, private industry side. These are not what I would consider "wacky environmentalists". During the discussion of air filtration, the "background levels" of varous pollutants in the outdoor air was being discussed. This is important as when designing a air filtration/conditioning system, you have to decide where to draw your "fresh air" intake air from. If the available "fresh air" is highly polluted, then the intake ALSO has to be filtered and treated. The man from United Technologies said "....and then we come to CO2. These days the minimum I design for is 210 ppm [parts per million]. Twenty years ago it was 150 ppm, but with global warming, we have had to change our recommemdations on fresh air intake filtration." Not an eye blinked in the room. No one disagreed with this, even though it was going to cost several hundred thousand dollars more to deal with it. The reason that I could put that into quotes is because I was so shocked by the non-response of everyone, after hearing in the media how "debated" this idea supposedly is, that I wrote this down. And then I made a point of speaking with the man from UT later alone and asked him about that. His response was "Everyone knows about global warming. No one really thinks it isn't happening, except maybe someone who has never had to do air, soil or pollen sampling."

Straight from industry's mouth. Take it or leave it.

Quote:
Originally posted by Kanga Mom
"In 2001, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were 6,937.7 teragrams of carbon dioxide equivalents (Tg CO2 Eq.) (13.0 percent above 1990 emissions). Emissions declined for the first time since the base year 1990, decreasing by 1.6 percent (110.3 Tg CO2 Eq.) from 2000 to 2001, driven primarily by decreases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel...."

Compared to this:
BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 6 (UPI) -- European Union greenhouse gas emissions rose for the second year running in 2001, the European Environment Agency said Tuesday in its annual report on the bloc's strategy to curb global warming.
Ten of the EU's 15 states overshot national targets, increasing total emissions by 1 percent in the last year for which data is available.
The figures threaten to blow a hole in the EU's ambitious climate change strategy, which has been sharply criticized by the United States and sections of European industry.
Do you have these two things compared in the same units? I don't think it would be hard for us to decrease the percent emitted, the question is the mass.
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#167 of 170 Old 10-31-2003, 06:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kanga Mom

19,000 scientists have signed a declaration stating that there is no evidence for global warming, and the predictions of the global warming advocates are consistently proved false. Grapes once grew in Greenland. The MIddle Ages were warmer than the current age. What data there is that seemingly supports global warming is data that ignored weather satellites, an odd omission.

1-These 19,000 scientists are *in the minority.* Most scientists who have field experience agree that global warming is a very real threat. It is still a THEORY...it has not been proven, so that is a very convienent way for people to argue that it isn't "true". I suspect a lot of these skeptics have found it clinically advantageous to ignore/dispute the threat. (A' la the Bush Administration)

2-Predictions are hard to make about global warming acceleration, because we have never faced a crisis like this before. We have no frame of reference for the level of pollutants being released. And we do know that the earth has been self-regulating in the past (it could never get to the point of "Waterworld", for example.) but the earth has never had to "deal with" pollution from 6 billion people before, either. It's hard to predict exactly when we will start feeling drastic effects of the impact.

3-Yes, the weather has been drastically different here on Earth. The earth goes thru cyclical temperature shifts naturally. The fact that the the planet is warming up is no big surprise to anyone. The problem is that it is warming up at an accelerated level due to high emissions levels by the human population. The data that "ignored weather satellites" ....no.
Experts know that the world has been both hotter and colder. This is normal for our planet. (I will explain how/why this happens if you like.) What is NOT normal is the rate at which it is getting warmer. People can argue that temperature-rising is normal, and so is global warming - and I agree - but what some fail to realize is that it's the activities of the human race that is altering this natural process dramatically.
---------
A little back to Family Size....I just want to mention how wonderful it is that so many large families are making efforts to tread lightly...I was raised in a very large family (7 kids) and I think my parents placed little or no value on ecological responsiblity. I think they thought recycling, walking, carpooling, etc was a lot of extra hassle with so many of us, and that's why they didn't do it.
Great job, mamas of many!!!
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#168 of 170 Old 11-03-2003, 12:56 PM
 
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First of all, let me apologize for the unorganized way I posted- I was short on time, suffering from a nasty chest cold (still have that), and I should have either waiting til I had more time to organize my thoughts (and proofread my post) or not posted at all.

Here's a couple points- somebody, I forget who, said that our failure to sign the Kyoto protocol was proof that Americans didn't care about the environment. The main thing I'd like people to consider is whether that is really a fair litmus test. I think that there are enough problems with the Kyoto protocol that reasonable and fairminded people could reach different conclusions on it- certainly there are enough problems with it that America's failure to sign should not be the litmus test as to whether or not we care about the environment.

Mass Transit- yes, I certainly was unclear and swept a broader brush than I intended. My apologies.

You are right, mass transit would certainly work in our population centers. I believe that we will have more mass transit systems in place in the larger towns and cities within the next 20 years, and this is a very good thing.
But we _do_ have many more places where such systems won't work than most European countries, and I think that ought to be taken into account. I do not think one size fits all fixes are appropriate.

Other countries have problem areas they need to work on that we don't have- for instance, the wastewater that flows from above ground pipes out of houses into open, above ground ditches and runs directly into the sea, such as I saw in Japan. The attitude toward the outdoors that I saw in Japan was much more disdainful than anything I've seen anywhere in America, too. It is common practice for men to urinate in the road- it's rude for you to look, but not rude for them to do. The litter and garbage strewn about the streets and beaches was astonishing. My oceanography professor there was incensed because the governor of Okinawa Prefecture had written a letter, which was published in the local paper, encouraging mainland businesses to relocate to Okinawa, and explaining that the size of the island was no object- they would simply expand the size by pouring concrete along the beaches (killing Okinawa's incredibly diverse coral reefs).
REcycling was unheard of where we lived.

Global Warming: I'm sorry, but there is _not_ consensus in the independent scientific community about global warming. If you only ever read one side, it might seem that there is, but if you try to read outside your comfort zone you might see a different picture.
There isn't agreement about whether or not it's happening. Among those who do agree that temperatures are warming, there isn't agreement about the causes. There isn't consensus about the best way to fix it amongst those who think there is warming. There isn't agreement about what it means for the future, either. The main point I wish to make here, is, again, that reasonable people can, and do, disagree about it without it meaning that they don't care about the environment.

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#169 of 170 Old 11-03-2003, 01:36 PM
 
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And still, America isn't the be all end all of environmental goodness. To say that because Japan may be nastier than the USA and there for the US has no reason for improvement is rediculous. (OK no one really said those exact words... but everyone is either defending or crabbing about it, BUT not offering any good solutions)

And Global warming... Is it happening? WHO CARES!!! What matters is we ONLY HAVE ONE EARTH!!! That is it! So does it matter if every person owns their own SUV, and factories pump out tons of air polution??? YES!!! It does matter. Does it matter that the amount of cattle on the earth for human consumption is tossing up methanine gas, yes! It does. Should we (or any contry for that matter) destroy all the old growth forests and jungles??? NO!!!

Like I said before, we should be working on solutions, NOT crabbing at each other about how crappy or uncrappy the USA is in comparison to other countries. Let us be the rolemodel for the world.
And small towns and cities can also have an effective mass transit system. It would have to be scaled down, but it could work. Why is everything an NO go, Because it is hard? I mean come on, having kids can be hard, but do you give up? Do you say well the neighbor just leaves her kids out in the yard all day with cookies and kool-aid, so that should be OK for my kids too. I mean because some other contry is doing a crappier job than us doesn't mean our job is GREAT!
It takes everyday citizens, voting, writting letters, send e mails, signing patitions, riding the buses or subways or light rails, recycling, reducing, reusing, and all that other great stuff, for the governments to see and then they change policies, because WE become the voice of the nation not the big corperations. WE demand organic farming, and mass transit, WE demand clean air and water, WE demand our natural forests to be left intact.

This isn't about who is worse than us, it is HOW we can be better. I mean if your making a large foot print, then there are things you can do to change that WITHOUT making life unbareable for your family.
I know for a fact we use to have a very large foot print, but we have made serious changes, and not one thing we did, changed the way we lived to an uncomfortable living. In fact we have saved money.
Tuesday I have the opportunity to vote on a light rail system here in my city!!! That will go right down the main street closest to my house! HOW COOL IS THAT!!!
I have three kids right now, and we are planning on 5 kids total, I think that, with a little work we are still going to have that small foot print. I am willing to do the little bit of work to keep it small.

H

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#170 of 170 Old 11-03-2003, 10:30 PM
 
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Well, back to this thread again..... Since I'm being quoted I'd better respond. Kanga when i was throwing out some thoughts on family size in different countries, they were simply musings and I'm sorry if you felt like I was attacking big families. I wasn't and quite frankly I hadn't really thought much about it before this thread was started. So I kinda reject the notion that I have some sort of construct about this topic thru which I view the world. I don't. I come from a big extended family (hundreds of rellys, literally), tho I've only got two kids myself and am not planning on anymore. Not really a planet kind of decision in the end cuz I'm enough of a libertarian to know that if I wanted more I'd have them. My dynamic duo are enough for me, thanks, and if you met my kids you'd know why, bless 'em!!!

However, I think if you do the simple maths it's easy to see that if everyone had as many kids as my great-aunt and uncle (12) you have a great big population explosion. Some of those 12 kids have gone on to have 6 or more kids, the minimum number of kids each of the 12 sibs has had is two. Even if, sadly and tragically in some cases, not all of those people have survived into adulthood, we still need to rent a community hall for Christmas get-togethers. In fact, some of these people I wouldn't recognise on the street, but they are my family nonetheless.

As a close to this rambling post, I would gently suggest that while everyone has the right to make their own choices about how to live their life (and I extend this right to lots of things ie: drug use, homebirth choices, homeshcooling, vaccinations, the right to free speech and I mean ALL free speech whether I like it or not, etc. etc.) we also have the responsibility to try and make those choices in such a way that will benefit the greatest number of people. In my mind every right comes with a responsibility, it is left to the individual to make a decision about what is right for them. You can only hope that that choice will not adversely affect others....
In my opinion, some of the choices being made in Western industrialised countries are not being made with the greatest good of humanity in mind. Indeed, as I understand it, the charter for companies who have public stocks is that they must make the greatest amount of money for their shareholders or risk being sued. (and if i'm wrong here could some of you business-y type mamas clear that up for me and set the record straight? Thanks!)

edited to add: I'm really comfortable with the idea that there is not consensus about global warming. Science should never be about consensus, otherwise it's not science anymore, it's dogma. However, I believe the precautionary principle should apply in this situation re: global warming. As another poster has pointed out, we do only have one planet and in my opinion if we stuff it up we've suddenly got the world biggest real estate hunt on our hands. And you can bet it's not going to be the poor people of the world who get the first tickets on a rocket-ship outta here!!! (sorry, had to indulge in a little Vonnegut fantasy, probably not reality, hee! hee!-- I hope)

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