Sunday, December 14, 2014

Did anyone make the connection?

It was over the course of a few days - a flurry of plastic articles and headlines.

From the Guardian:

Phthalates risk damaging children’s IQs in the womb, US researchers suggest

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/10/phthalates-damage-childrens-iqs-womb-plastic-chemicals

While at the same time, in another area: 

The Oceans' Plastic Pollution Problem Is Far Worse Than We Thought, and Here's Why

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/12/10/worlds-ocean-plastic-pollution-problem-just-got-bigger--lot-bigger?cmpid=ait-fb

And even this:

Fleeced again: How microplastic causes macro problems for the ocean

http://grist.org/living/2011-12-07-how-microplastics-cause-macro-problems-for-the-ocean/

(Photo: Paul Kennedy/Getty Images)
Maybe I was just paying extra-super close attention. Maybe I'm extra tuned in. Maybe people really don't care. Maybe I have more time than parents. Maybe they should make more time. After all, they're the ones that have to deal with the consequences. Theor kids and their kids' kids.

The phthalates story was in the news scroll at the bottom of my morning news viewing, and t was followed immediately by the warning that there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean. Surely, surely that was on purpose, and surely, surely people made the connection.


Right? Surely? Yeah.

Too much plastic in our oceans and environment, and too many plastic chemicals messing up our children. There is no magical solution to this whole thing. It won't be cleaned, it won't go away. There is no "away." There is only mitigation at this point. We are not going to find a way to magically scoop up the plastic in the oceans despite the cool articles you see people share. There is no amazing bacteria that is going to lunch on plastic and solve our problem. Frankly, if there is - like the shared articles claim - then I will just wait for the whole new host of problems brought on by overfed insane mutant bacteria. There is no fix, other than to stop adding to the problem. Stop.

It is the one solution: stop using this stuff. It wasn't enough to tell you it was bad for the environment and to cut it out before it was too late. Now it's directly affecting your kids and it is too late and now maybe you'll pay attention.

Surely.

There are too many people here. It is unsustainable, and we are ruining the place. And because we need cheap and convenient for all these way too many people, we use plastic, and it's just plain bad.

I have to wonder what's going to give first. Will we back off in time or will Nature take care of it for us? I know what my bet is on. Go ahead - guess. I'll wait.

I do use plastic. It's very hard to avoid. I wear fleece and other clothing that will give off microfibers. I am certain this would not be so much of an issue were we keeping a closer eye on population. There is nothing that cannot be blamed on there being too many people for this ecosystem. Period. So, here we are. Let's see where we go next.










Sunday, November 30, 2014

How About Horses?

Now that we've dispensed with the Mama Bear nonsense, how about proposing an alternative? (See previous post if you didn't already read it.)

Horses.

I spent a few seasons observing horses on a thoroughbred farm in Central PA. And I got paid for it! Best job ever - me and about 100 horses, not another human to see for 8 hours at a time, most times. That gives one a lot of time to think and to just plain experience the animals. I learned a lot from being with them and talking to them and getting to know them. I was pretty ignorant about them at first. I don't ride well and I am useless when it comes to putting a saddle on them. But I was accepted by them and they taught me a lot. I didn't know that when horses feel safe and comfortable that they will lie down to sleep. When I peeked into a stall to check and the mare was on her side, I panicked. This was before smart phones so I couldn't look it up, After about the 4th horse, I figured it was OK. Even though they wheeze like you wouldn't believe.

I learned that horses are very farty. One of my duties was to lead the younger guys out to the indoor ring so they could frisk about and play and run around and get some exercise for about an hour. When they jump around, they fart. A lot. It's OK, horse farts aren't that bad. Horse poop is fine too. I learned that stallions can tell when a woman is on her period and they can get frisky about it - be careful! I learned that a skunk is a perfectly acceptable pet for a gelding. And I definitely confirmed the  validity of phrases, "Hung like a horse" and "Piss like a racehorse."

The best was when the babies came. I was privileged enough to assist in a birth. What an experience. This was a breeding farm, so there were lots and lots of babies. We had a scare that spring - a sickness swept through the babies and a few did not make it. One of my duties became to walk up to every single little colt in the fields to check them, and to do a head count to make sure all mares and babies matched. Having to be in such extreme close contact with 50 or so mare moms taught me a lot about what kind of moms they are. These are my observations, I am not a horse expert or a veterinarian or a horse farmer - I just observe very closely and think a lot.

They are very protective. No one messes with a baby horse and gets away with it. These gals watch over their babies like nothing else. And they ALL watch over ALL the babies and keep them in line. Frequently, as I had to trudge through the large field to get close enough to inspect their health, the herd of moms and babies would decide they liked the other side of the field better, and wouldn't it be fun to make the human walk even further? I stood stock-still while they ran head-long at me and broke around me like a wave. It wasn't scary but was it ever a rush! Or the entire herd would simply decide it was time to move before I got there (so much better) and through some communication I couldn't catch, they all moved as one. Except one day. One sunny day, I counted as I approached, while they mingled around the water and shade. One more mare than baby. Crap. Count again. Crap. I picked up my pace. Did she sense my alarm at just that moment? Because one of the mares all of the sudden realized her baby was not with the rest of them. I headed out into the open field to look for the little one. She sounded her concern, and all the mares immediately went on alert. She called out and they all began what I felt was a count of their own. Suddenly from the tall grass in front of me, a little head popped up. He had fallen asleep in the field and did not notice when everyone else moved away. He called out to his mom! She called back! And there it was, again I stood still as the entire herd swept by me to get to him! Everyone was fine, of course, but I marveled at how all the mares shared in the reunion. There was no "I got mine right here, if yours is missing that's your problem" going on. They all watched over all. One missing little one was a problem for all of them together.

They don't condone misbehavior. Colts were a frisky little bunch. Mom horses were pretty tough on them. If they started to act up or get too rowdy, you can bet Mom was right there to give a little correction, and those guys listen. When I would enter the field, the colts would seem to think I was something new and interesting with which to play. Even at a few months old, they were capable of some serious damage. But I never had to worry, because if they came running over to me in their cute but very clumsy way and distinct possibility of slamming me right down, Mom was watching, and a neigh from her was enough to stop them in their tracks or continue harmlessly past me. One came up to knock me about and hit me on my shoulder. It could have gotten bad but Mom called it off. Just the tiniest noise from the moms and those little guys fell right in line. All of them. All were watched over and could be corrected by anyone at any time.

They make a difference. One baby was orphaned. There was no mare to give him to as foster, or the decision was made to keep him apart, something. I don't know why, but he was to be fed by hand and kept in a stall alone. That little guy became the biggest asshole colt I ever encountered. He would get out of his stall when I went in to feed him and it was nearly impossible to get him back in. He acted up, he was a complete brat. I had to chalk it up to the fact that his mom was no longer there to correct him and he did not have the herd to keep him in line. There was another baby whose mom was almost completely blind. Some greedy owner thought she was good enough to pop out one more possible money-maker and was likely going to put her down after the baby was weaned. Since she couldn't see, they were kept in a separate area. We had to lead him and she would follow, when usually we lead the mare and the baby would follow - without fail because that's how the moms were. Follow mom or else. One evening I could hear her fretting. A lot. I went out to see, and discovered she could not find her baby and was very upset. The little jerk was playing keep-away. He would stay just far enough away from her that she couldn't get to him and be assured that he was there. They were separate from the lessons and protection of the herd. Colts on the other side of the fence actually watched in amazement.

These recollections are still very clear to me decades later. Those mares left an impression on me. Why aren't we more like that - why do we emulate and applaud the behavior of grizzly bears - solitary animals - and growl and bark and fight, instead of all caring for all? Isn't it easier to help each other instead of competing? And I'm not talking about mothers versus those of us who are childfree, I'm talking about moms with moms. Let's be horses, not bears.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Mama Bear Myth

The Urban Dictionary defines “Mama Bear” as a mom who can be cuddly and lovable but also has a ferocious side when it's necessary to protect her cubs, and suggests “a tough, aggressive, and protective mother, often going to extreme lengths to protect her child, usually her son, and herself.”


There are a number of memes and blogs saying things like, “If you mess with my child, I will unleash my fury and destroy your world” or “I may seem quiet and reserved, but if you mess with my children, I will break out a level of crazy that will make your nightmares seem like a happy place.” And a favorite: “You ain’t seen crazy yet … but you will if you attack my children physically or verbally. Hugs! Love, Mama Bear.”




Yes. All well and good. Sounds bold and protective. Except you don’t really mean it. I don’t believe you. When asked this question, “Is working to try to prevent environmental damage for the future really a part of being a good parent?” ninety-three percent of the public (men and women) agreed in an anthropological poll and study by MIT investigators. Yet, where are you? Where have you been on the great threats of our day?


You will overreact to some perceived slight and call it being Mama Bear. You will get all Mama Bear on those of us who might cast a glance aside if your child is having a public tantrum and we have the nerve to let a touch of annoyance cross our face, as though your child can act up anywhere but we are not allowed to have any feelings about it. Because you’re a Mama Bear. “Don’t mess with my cubs.”


Here is why this doesn’t ring true. You aren’t fighting the most important fights for your children. You are busy insisting you can breastfeed wherever you wish, and your children are allowed to run amuck in a restaurant and we have to tolerate it because they are kids and tough nuts to anyone else in the vicinity. You cheer on a mother who punched another woman for daring to speak about a tantrum the child was having. While you are doing these things, your kid’s real and actual future is in trouble. Your kids and your kids’ kids are in profound trouble, but somehow, this doesn’t bring out the Mama Bear in you. Why is that? Why are there so many moms claiming to be mama bears sitting back and doing nothing when climate catastrophe can be seen on the horizon, or when the chemical industry teams up with bioengineers to alter your children’s food supplies in dangerous ways?


We have the very real threat of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the chemicals they can tolerate on our dinner tables. You can’t be bothered. With all the studies pointing to danger, we ask you to use your mother bear might and vast numbers to help fight, but apparently it’s too much trouble. Your daughter’s reproductive rights are at risk, but you won’t go vote because you can’t or won’t make the time. BPA bleeding from plastics are affecting your kids’ long-term health, reproductive health, your unborn kids’ health and development, but you haven’t taken the time to even know what BPAs are. The research is everywhere, but you don’t know and do not care to educate yourself. Climate Change is here and it is causing widespread disruption to the point where your kid’s future is going to be very tough - full of droughts, famine, intolerable heat and dangerous cold, diseases, shortages. Scientists just warned that the oceans will be completely destroyed by 2048. Where’s Mama Bear on this urgent warning? Too distracted? Too tired?


You are not a Mama Bear. You fall for every convenience out there because you are so busy. You give your kids fast food and chemical-laden plastic-wrapped processed crap, because being a mom is tough and you are tired and don’t have time or energy. You are putting your kids in very real danger. No, it’s not the immediate and very real danger of a bully or a snarky comment in a store. It’s the slow, deadly danger of cancer. Or sterility. Or developmental difficulties. Where is your fury and your crazy here? Where is the Mama Bear now?


This is where I get a lot of “You aren’t a mom, you don’t know.” What I do know is that people like me who don’t have their own kids are fighting for your children. We are fighting on a pretty grand scale, as a matter of fact. We’re trying to make sure your kids have a future here on this planet. We are thinking ahead. I know we’re in trouble here, and I know you brought your kid into this world, but you aren’t really thinking about their kids with your Mama Bear claims. I am. I’m thinking about your kids and their kids and all the kids, everywhere, while you are busy growling about your kid getting a behavior correction from a store employee.


So before you get all Mama Bear and smack me down with a giant paw, why don’t you listen for a moment, and take the time to realize that I am on your side. I’m on your kids’ side. While you are all riled up in the moment, I’m in it for the long haul. Yes, there are some super-awesome moms out there. There are moms out there fighting the big fight, there are some really good Mama Bears out there. They see the whole picture, and this little piece is not aimed at them.

Think about this: actual mama bears raise their cubs then never have anything to do with them after about their second spring. Is short-term parenting what you are modelling for your children? I doubt it. Let’s drop the bear myth and end the misplaced ferocity, or better yet redirect your focus and anger to the real threats by fighting for your children’s future.  Let’s work together for the long-term future of children everywhere.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The article is:

Grow-in-the-dark plants could spark the next Green Revolution

 http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/09/06/ozy-grow-in-the-dark-plants/15128899/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories 

Pretty much everything in this article annoys me. Science is awesome and glorious, but this is just one more example in a line of many ways we try to stick wads of gum in the holes of a wall that is gushing water and threatening to explode. Let us begin ...

The new Green Revolution might look a little like this: peach orchards heavy with fruit in the middle of January, dense rows of corn flourishing in sandbox-sized plots, and grocers stocking persimmons in the heat of summer.

Sounds amazing, right? Who wouldn't want that? Solve all the problems, right?

And it might start with the phytochrome – a crucial light-sensing molecule that tells plants when to germinate, grow, make food, flower and age. Scientists have mapped and manipulated the phytochrome's structure, aiming to alter the conditions under which plants grow and develop. Eventually, they want to insert these modified phytochromes into plants to trick them into growing, and bearing seeds and fruit – even when they're not supposed to.

"Manipulating." See, that's where it goes wonky for me. It can only be considered hubris to think we can improve upon Nature. "Trick"? Since when is it a good idea to "trick" Nature?

"We hope to create a toolkit of phytochromes that can eventually be used to control agriculture – how plants grow, when they flower, when they die," said Richard Vierstra, a plant geneticist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

"Control." Yeah, also such a good idea. Trying to control Nature.

Vierstra and his colleagues have only just begun making these mutants and inserting them into the sprightly mustard weed ...

Anyone else have a problem with the word, mutant? Let's see what else they want to do.

Plants "don't like" cramped conditions. "We have to engineer plants so they do like being grown that way…. There really is a need to re-engineer the phytochrome system."

No, no there really isn't. There is no need to do that.

Scientists could even trick phytochromes into ignoring growing seasons. The ratio of active to inactive phytochromes reflects the hours of day and night, indicating the time of year, which, in turn, tells plants when to sprout, flower, fruit or go to seed. But researchers could, for example, insert plants with phytochromes that stay active all year. 

What could possibly go wrong?

... it sounds so crazy it just might work. But when contending with a swelling population and shrinking arable lands, a no-holds barred approach might be exactly what's needed.

No, it just sounds crazy. Here's what else is crazy: realizing and stating that we are facing shrinking arable land, and calling the manipulation of Nature the right thing to do, instead of the obvious answer of not letting the population swell beyond what is sustainable! We are not sustainable now! We will be even less so at 8 billion. A no-holds barred approach? How about not needing to get to that point? How about that whole "arable land" issue? Science for the sake of science much? We live in a society of ignoring the cause of of the disease and instead scrambling to come up with little helps for the symptoms. That is exactly and all this is, and it cannot end well. Remember the commercial from the '70s, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." It's really not. In that case, ironically, they replaced her butter with some crap-chemical margarine made in a lab. She was not amused. She won't be now, either. That I can promise.

I am all for science. I love science. Science is awesome. But this is not progress. This is hurtling with eyes wide open into disaster. And don't insult me by couching it in "green revolution." I'm not falling for it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Robert Reich is Right, But...

Good man, that one. Robert Reich is all kinds of cool and correct. See this post:

"Gridlock in Washington doesn't stop your state or city from raising its minimum wage. Minimum wage campaigns are underway in thirty states and a dozen locales. And because most minimum-wage workers are in retail and fast-food businesses, raising their wages won't hurt the competitiveness of businesses in your state or city because retail and fast food is sold locally. To the contrary, by putting more money into the pockets of low-wage workers in your area, you're helping the local economy because those workers will be able to buy more local goods and services. Please start or join a minimum wage campaign in your community."

It is all completely true. There is nothing there with which I don't agree. And he has his cause; he has it and he does it well. Intelligent, well-spake of course, knowledgeable way beyond anything I am. I learn tons from him. 

What about this is remotely attractive?

His cause is not my cause and my cause is not his. Mr. Reich is a champion for the workers, for sure. And yes - minimum wage SHOULD be raised. That's not even a debate in my mind. My side, then? Let's look around at the much, much bigger picture. Why do we have so many minimum wage jobs? Well, first obvious answer is greed, naturally. We have lots and lots of low-paying jobs, and even with those, lots and lots of people who aren't making ends meet and lots and lots who don't even have jobs. That's a whole lot of people.

Because we have too many people. We have more people than we have jobs. This is not likely to change. Why? Because we have been moving toward a society where so much is automated or made easier to do that we don't need as many workers. But we forgot to tell the population. We were supposed to create a future where people did not have to do as much work, and had a better life, because technology made everything so much better. But we forgot to tell the economy. We forgot to factor in that people were still going to need to make money, or forgot to get around that part while we improved everyone's life. 

And we have so much consumerism and waste along with the greed... do we need fast food? Of course not. In fact, it's terrible for us. We'd all be better off eating better, healthier. But we can't, because it's a vicious cycle of poor people who go for cheap food because they don't have jobs or the education for a better life or because they actually WORK at fast food places because that's the only place they can get a job and that is serving a dual purpose of trying to find something for them to do and trying to feed them at the same time - around and around it goes and where it stops....

I applaud Mr. Reich for the amazingness that he does. We need him. Moreover, however, we need to put a halt on increasing the population. The reasons for this are many; I'm addressing population and wages in this post. Not enough jobs? What's the answer? Create more jobs? How? Why? What kind of jobs? Will education keep up with it? Who can afford the education? A whole lot more would have to change for society to to "provide" as many good-paying jobs for the vast number of people out there.

Lowering the population solves that. We don't *need* fast food workers. We don't need anal bleaching technicians. We don't need professional cuddlers. Yes, those last two are jobs out there. I'm all for creating jobs, but can we please focus on quality instead of quantity? Are bleached anuses really furthering the good of humanity? Don't bother - it was rhetorical.

We don't have to forbid anyone from having kids, lest we think we are stepping on someone's right, as is often squawked when the conversation raises its head. We can educate educate educate, provide proper birth control, and stop giving tax breaks for having more children. Easy. Can't raise three children on minimum wage jobs? First of all, don't have three children. Second... well, there isn't really a second, because the first one takes care of it. 1 child = tax break like already exists. 1nd one - NO tax break. Just the one for the first one. 3rd child? You start paying in because now you are putting a strain on resources for everyone else. Easy. Simple. Elegant. No one is forced to do anything.

Of course, there is a societal argument that some are going to be tempted to bring up with this... but I'll let that come out on its own, if it wishes....

Thank you, Robert Reich, for what you do. Again, we NEED you and your passion and intelligence. At the same time, we need to level out our numbers, and this is just one of the many reasons why.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Symptom vs. disease

From One Green Planet: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/beef-production-is-killing-the-amazon-rainforest/

This is a very good and interesting article. It accurately describes and explains deforestation in Brazil due to cattle ranching, particularly in Brazil. Quote, "According to one report, an estimated 70% of deforestation in the Amazon basin can be attributed to cattle ranching."

They properly state that buying only certified beef products and rejecting cattle raised illegally on deforested rainforest land will help stop this.

While that's all well and good and right, I can't help but feel that they are missing the point. They are looking at a symptom and trying to attend to it, while ignoring the overlying disease. With increasing population, and the consumption we cause/face, and the waste we promote, deforestation can only continue. Greed will not change in time and our practices of consumerism and waste are not likely to subside any time soon.

I eat meat. I do not believe a vegan planet is the answer. I try to consume only sustainably-raised meat and I avoid fast food. (Not always successfully, but I sure try and do pretty well.) Sure, if we all cut back on meat like we really should, we could help this. Think about having to feed 9 billion people or more. That;s the real issue. 7 billion is already unsustainable. By all means, leave the rainforest alone. We need it. What I am saying is that if you are going to have this conversation, address the real root of it all.

We must cut back on population. That's the root of it. That's the whole thing. All these things of which we speak and talk and debate and fret - merely symptoms of the larger issue. Let's talk about that instead. It is past time to consider it taboo.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Not Sure What Part is Most Alarming.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/18/world/asia/china-baby-hatch-closes/index.html

Feel free to click and read this article if you wish, but I'll try to address it in a way that you won't need to. It refers to a "Baby Hatch" in China. 25 such places have opened there since 2011. It is a safe haven to drop off an unwanted child anonymously - it is illegal to abandon a child in China, but it happens anyway all the time, especially in poorer regions.

Since this particular hatch in this story - in a city named Guangzhou - opened, they have received on average 5 babies a day. That's a staggering number to me. They closed the doors after they hit 262 babies; they just didn't have room. That is also astounding to me. But it doesn't stop there.

ALL 262 of the babies dropped off at THIS ONE place in THIS ONE city, every one of them suffers from a disease or disability. The article mentions Down's Syndrome, cerebral palsy, congenital heart disease. So that's where I get all twisted in my head. What's more alarming: the sheer number of abandoned babies, or the fact that the sheer number of abandoned babies are all that sick?

Of course, we know that the massive amount of rampant pollution in China is causing all the problems. Can we not see that, and learn from that? What is going to become of this next generation? Is Mother Nature finally slamming the door? I realize this is a fairly isolated situation... but then my brain yells "Over 200 babies in a few months!!!!" and I am staggering under the thought of it again.

That's all. I have no answers. I'm just trying to share the weight of this. This has to stop. WE have to stop. We have to look at what is happening all over the world. We can't turn a blind eye because it's not our kids and it's not our country... this is humanity and this is happening. And as the saying goes, "We all live downstream."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Who Benefits?

Who benefits from denial of the scientific evidence of unsustainable population growth? 

I have been pondering this question for some time now. I am not sure I have an answer yet. Maybe I'm too far off to the one side, because when I think of this growth, all I can see are the problems created. So I think really really hard on this one, and try to see it from different angles, to step outside myself. I still am going to try to employ logic, sooo.... there's that. 

What benefits are there of a rising population? Let's ask Google, shall we? Because I'm stumped. Here are some of the things I found, good food for thought. Let's go over them. (Actually, thank you ask.com.)

Advantages of population growth are, growing population can generate economic growth as it causes more demand for products and also leads to an upsurge in human labor in a country. 

Yes, that is a popular one: economic growth. To me, this is a complete non-argument, as the demand for products is not a good thing. That is simply consuming resources for the sake of consuming resources. The only reason we would need an upsurge in human labor is because we have more humans than available work. Do we NEED 30 pairs of boots? Of course not. But there are women out there who have or want that many. Consumerism is not a logical reason for overtaxing the planet's resources. Next.

Many of the world's remarkable innovations over the past 300 years are attributable to population growth: More great minds lead to more innovations. Assembly-line manufacturing itself is an adaptation to an increasing population and the need for greater and faster output. More people around the world are living longer lives than even a century earlier thanks to modern medical achievements. And while agricultural resources are a very real concern as the world's population grows, the world's increase in population is responsible for a greater consciousness of the need for additional resources as well as the innovations to produce food at the pace of population growth.

Well that's going to take some untangling. "More great minds lead to more innovations." Um... that's... not exactly provable, is it? How can we know that? We have quantity, not quality. Who is to say we would not have had the same innovations from a smaller group? And the assembly-line argument is a circular one. We needed greater and faster output because there were more people. Chicken or the egg? Also, assembly-line manufacturing sharply decreased the number of workers needed, so more people had fewer jobs, thanks to there being more people who needed more. (You'll excuse me while I un-cramp my brain.) Yes, more people are living longer - yes that's part of the problem - but are they living quality lives for the longer time? There is still sickness, there are overflowing nursing homes, there are a lot of lonely older people out there. Again, the whole focus on there is quantity-not-quality. Again. And that last part, the one that really bakes my noodle, is that we wouldn't need to have "a greater conciousness of the need for additional resources" etc "to produce food at the pace of population growth" if the population was not GROWING as much. 

Ow. My brain. 

A growing population can generate economic growth. The birth of more people equates to a greater number of parents investing in their youth. Increased purchases in products such as food, clothing, education-related expenses, sporting goods and toys feed the economy. Parents with small children purchase larger homes with more bedrooms and bathrooms to make room for their children. The larger homes that parents with children purchase feed the construction and home improvement industries economically. Children then grow into adults who work for pay and spend it in the economy.


FALSE. I already hit this a little, but this one is really good. It's kind of so funny that I had to share. This is such a non-argument that I almost insult us all by giving it consideration. Parents with small children do NOT always buy larger homes. How many families with lots of kids live in or near poverty and have a few generations cramped in some tiny 1-bedroom apartment??? Or are homeless? My hometown has a glut of vacant large homes, because families are NOT living in them. Construction industry is not benefitting. Let's say it together: Economy is not a valid reason. Economy is a man-made construct. 

That's really all I can handle for now. This is going to have to be a few entries. I didn't even get into religion. That one could be good.  

Seems Like a Good Thing

"By switching to Natural Gas, LA's bus fleet runs 80% cleaner."

So sayeth the commercial on TV. That seems like a great thing, right?


This is one of those things to me that just puts a happy face on it and walks away. It's very nearly greenwashing. How so? How can anything about this be negative?

Let's start by thinking about our demand for natural gas. The process of fracking to get it out of the ground is anything but clean. The methane released - and methane leaks that are entirely possible - could make that 80% really pale. Relying more heavily on even more fossil fuels is not the answer.

You know what runs cleaner than a bus on natural gas? A bus that doesn't run at all. Buses are better than too many cars. Even better - lower population going fewer places. Not feasible? There are plans out there for monorails and even better things, and supertrains, but for some reason we cannot be bothered to litter our landscape with rails. Or give up our cars. Or put the money into these better technologies. 

The ad could read, "By switching to natural gas, LA's bus fleet is putting a Band-aid on the real issues by using a temporary fix," and it would be just as accurate. 

And better. 

And more honest. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why It's Close to Hopeless

Here's why I have so little hope that we as a people can change/make it/turn it around, and why we need to just stop expanding population: Incandescent light bulbs.

Yep, these little items spell doom and downfall to me. The noise around these things is unreal. From the how-dare-the-gub'mint-tell-me-what-bulb-I-can-use (it's really not) to the myriad of excuses against CFLs or anything else. The government isn't even banning the incandescents; instead, BUSH ordered bulbs to be more efficient, so really these are just getting phased out. After all, they are 90% inefficient. I think that qualifies as something that should be phased out. Call me crazy.

But why we're surely doomed is evidenced by the amount of hoarding that is taking place. I have personally seen people buy dozens of them, so as to continue wasting electricity and changing them once a year. I do not comprehend this behavior. Are we so resistant to change? Is it the feeling of being forced to do something? Well that's just silly. Don't even try to bring up the mercury issue in CFLs. That's VERY silly. Some complain the CFLs take a minute to really get up to full light, so they don't like them. BEYOND SILLY!

It should be a natural thing - in my head anyway - to think, "Oh, hey, the bulb I am currently [no pun intended] using wastes precious energy, not just for me and my electric bill, but for the whole world. My using something so inefficient is really bad for everyone. I am happy to switch [another no-pun] to something that saves resources for EVERYONE." But people don't think that way. They resist change, they don't think beyond their own backyard, and no matter what is told to them - that the LEDs and CFLs WILL save tons of money in the long run and will last for years and years - they won't be swayed.

So, yeah, this is why I have little hope for our growing population. We can quit while we're behind. Until we can get a whole lot smarter about a whole lotta things, we really can just slow down. Quality instead of quantity for a change? Oops - don't use that word: change. It's bad. And do NOT recommend doing something for the good of all. We have come to believe that would be SOCIALISM or something, or that Ayn Rand would like it, or... I don't even know. I know Congress has tried to repeal the law, even though it was done by their own guy back in 2007.

Then again, if we lived by the rule of logic and by traveling as equals, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this.