Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the story of stuff

If it's the last thing you do this week, even at midnight Saturday night, promise me you will watch the 20-minute video in this link to the Story of Stuff. (Thanks to a reader, this link no longer works. You can read the referenced and annotated script here.) And make your kids watch it.
Thank you, rauf, for bringing it to my attention.
Annie Leonard is easy to listen to, and the 20 minutes will be over before you realize it, and you're sitting there dumbstruck, ready to watch it again.
STUFF. We've been conditioned to buy, consume, dispose. Can we re-condition ourselves? Annie Leonard tells us for every bag of garbage taken to the curb, there are 70 bags of garbage created from what we consumed resulting in that one bag. And, the average life of a product is 6 months. 6 months!
IDEA. I'd like to start a clothing exchange. An easy way to 'shop' for clothes that exist out there that someone else doesn't want. Something online, and not consignment. Free, maybe cover the cost of shipping. Could be a local exchange, like freecyle, which Don interacts with frequently. But I want it to be more user friendly and focused on clothes (to start), so you could plug in: size 8 pants, and go from there. Any suggestions?


Rauf said...

i have to thank Claudia for posting it Ruth.

Ruth said...

Yes, thank her for me. She has an interesting blog.

Mrs. M. said...

Have you heard about the program at Jim and Wilma's church for moms and babies monthly on a Sat.?

It's like a co-op with free breakfast and babysitting. Many hispanic families participate, and Katy has been there assisting with her Spanish skills.

Bring the clothing your children have outgrown, trade it in for the new size, let the church know any furniture needs such as cribs, carseats, etc., and they will help you find them. I wish there had been a program like that in SRQ when mine were little...or even now for me!

Ruth said...

Mrs. M., didn't know about that one specifically, but have heard about the Moms ones, can't think what they're called. I think it's more like a yard sale/consignment deal. But this sounds great.

Don and I have been brainstorming. It's nice to meet up, but it would also be nice to be able to connect with people outside your own area.

Because his school is public, we could actually use the parking lot in the nice months, if we wanted a local exchange.

Anet said...

Ruth, everyone in this country should watch this! I'm not kidding, Noah came in when it just started and I didn't say a word to him. He sat a watched the whole thing! It was so interesting. Noah couldn't believe that President Bush told people to go shopping after 9/11! He was appalled by it! He said now he feels different about things, he said "I'm not listening to commercials anymore!" Thanks for this post. I will show it to Caleb when he gets home.

Sharon said...

Have you looked at I haven't spent much time there so I don't know exactly how it works but it may be along the lines of what you're thinking.

The Story of Stuff is very powerful. Thanks!

André Lemay said...

It should be on the newscast all around the world, this way more people would see it.

Loring Wirbel said...

Wonderful animation. Hey, the local peace group here does a monthly fashion-swap-meet, stuff for stuff.

Ruth said...

Anet, way to go! So glad Noah watched too, and he can hopefully not get sucked in, the way some of us did (me).

^ ^ ^

Sharon, thanks for that link. I checked it out a bit, need to more. At first glance, it's the type of forum I don't want, because I want to be able to just type in what I'm looking for, rather than browse all those entries. But maybe I missed a way to do that.

^ ^ ^

André, I wish so too! Thank you.

Ruth said...

Loring, isn't it?

Yeah, that could work, as long as someone else has your size and taste. It's great you're/they're doing that. Thanks.

Cloudscome said...

I'm saving the Story of Stuff for nap time. Thanks! I'm spending this summer getting rid of boxes of stuff, sorting the attic, donating, etc. Even many books! I want less stuff.

Ruth said...

Cloudscome, it feels soooo good to do that.

Bob Johnson said...

Now that is an excellent video Ruth, I've watched it a couple times before, great post.

Gwen Buchanan said...

This a great video to make people aware. I think we have been passing it around for the last 6 months up here ... The more people who see it the better!! Glad you posted it.

the swap sounds great.. We have a great outlet here on the east coast.. it's called Frenchy's .. It is a warehouse type shop of second hand clothing... great stuff too...low prices...

but i think I know what you are thinking of.. something online..and easy... maybe we can make virtual little bodies of ourselves to see if the sizes fit.

my daughter uses freecycle with all her baby clothes. and with twins and another 1 yr apart... she goes through a lot...

There is also Kijiji...

Sandy said...

When I get the time later today I promise I'll watch it.

Sounds like some real sobering reading there. I know I have been such a "consumer" in my life. Now I'm busy getting rid of so much I bought to consume and it sits there gathering dust but could be so appreciated by someone else.

lesleyanne said...

that's a great idea mama!! i really like it. i've been looking at my bills lately, and feeling like too much of a consumer. yech. there's gotta be a solution! i'd love to brainstorm with you.

btw - Brian subscribed to your blog! your's and dad's. he put them on his Google Reader, how cute is that??


BouBou's said...

Hmm... I guess I'm the loan dissenting voice about this video.

I've made an effort to teach my kids to recognize propaganda, wherever it shows up. About 5 minutes into the video, they left the room, rolling their eyes. I stopped after about 10 minutes because I couldn't handle the BS anymore.

Oh, and I'm a fan of freecycle (highly recommend it) and have been an environmentalist since long before it became a religion. :-P Unfortunately, it's all about politics and social engineering than protecting the environment.


Ruth said...

Hi Bob! Thanks.

^ ^ ^

Gwen, French's sounds great! And I'm glad your daughter finds stuff on freecycle. I don't know about Kijiji, tomorrow I'll google it. Sounds like there are more things around I can check out. I still enjoy the VOA (Volunteers of America) thrift store. I appreciated what the video said about fashion (pointy shoes).

^ ^ ^

When I look at what we've accumulated, Auntie Sandy, I'm embarrassed. Now it's even harder to whittle down, because we have a barn and outbuildings! Boxes we haven't opened since moving. But we have really cut back on what we buy, so the trend has stopped at least. Just have to catch up with the purging.

Ruth said...

Lesley! That's good about being aware, and yes, let's brainstorm. For one, I've stopped buying water in plastic bottles unless I'm desperate, but now I plan ahead.

That is very sweet about Brian! Better be careful what I say now. Hehe.

^ ^ ^

BouBou, thank you so much for expressing yourself honestly. It's fine to be a dissenting voice, we need you! If you have time and come back, I would love it if you'd say more about that. It is definitely a very well done and convincing video. I know there are environmentalist groups that may skew statistics, we've all heard the criticisms of Gore, etc. I don't know much about this 'darker side' of the propaganda perspective, so I need to be educated. I think it's bad if anyone misconstrues or misprepresents data for any end, good or bad. I can't think of a down side to cutting back as consumers (except for a consumer-based economy), but I don't want to be misled in the process. I am ALWAYS glad to be made more aware, so I would be grateful for anything further you have to say about this.

BouBou's said...

Thanks for the invite back, Ruth. I greatly appreciate it.

My problem with videos like this (and there are many of them, though few as professionally done as this one) is that they like to paint the world in terms of Big Bad Industry/Oil/USA/Bush vs. some idyllic utopia that doesn't exist, and never has. There is no black and white - only shades of grey.

This isn't to say that there are not problems that need to be addressed - absolutely there are. It's that they take something that is, in reality, actually very good, ignore the good, and make it into something very bad.

Take the US, for example. One of the things that turned me off this video is the blatant anti-Americanism. I've noticed self flagellation in the US seems really popular right now. The US isn't perfect, but no other country has done more good in the world - and no other country is in a position to do so much good. The US has accomplished so much in fighting pollution, poverty, illness, etc. and it's because people in the US (and other 1st world nations) have the luxury wealth gives them to actually *do* these things. The countries that have been doing the most damage to their own environment are the ones the video claims are being taken advantage of by the US and Big Industry. The people in these countries are far more interested in surviving, even if it means deforesting for their cook fires. They can't worry about what effluent is leaching into their water supplies. They don't have the luxury to care abut the damage they're doing to their environment. Living from one day to the next is more important. The best way to help them is through the very things being condemned by people who make videos like this - they need industry and wealth through a free market economy. Many of these countries want help to achieve this, and with the help of 1st world countries, 3rd world countries can achieve this without having to go through the destructive growing pains 1st world countries had to go through first.

I don't want to take up too much space in the comments section to talk about it - I've been researching such things for a number of years, so I could go on for a very long time. Instead, I will recommend a book, Eco-Imperialism , as a starting point. I'd also recommend pretty much anything from Paul Zane Pilzer and the late Julian Simon.

Oh, and to answer the question you left on my blog's comments, no I don't think the propaganda is in the hands of socialists - at least not any more so than any other group. They just happen to be on the upswing right now. Propaganda is a pretty universal tool.


Ginnie said...

I just listened to the video over lunch and say a hearty AMEN! I know I can do so much more than I already do but this is so much in my line of thinking. I'd like to talk about it when we're with you for Farm Day. Seriously. Thanks for the link!

Rauf said...

Ruth, this is exactly what i have been writing about. i don't think the clip is anti American. Its the country where the presenter lives and she talks about her country.
Even our Indian government polishes the shoes of the corporate and multi nationals. The path of the Corporate is cleared completely ignoring the pressing needs of the citizens. 4% of original forest remains in the US. Ours is even worse, we have only 3% left. i see the impact here in India where the tribals and villagers are leaving the lands which had sustained them for centuries and moving to the cities looking for jobs, in construction or factories.

i can go a bit beyond the video. This is the planned attempt to make us all insensitive, docile or obedient. GM food is one such attempt. We are lost in competing with our neighbours relatives friends in owning fancy mobiles latest computers flashy cars. We have to work hard, put in extra efforts and hours to keep up with the Joneses. I can see the silent competetion within my friends circle. One is unhappy about his perfectly working and almost new motor bike because his cousin bought a new one. This doesn't give much room for love and care.
i think i wrote in the poison post or GM food how our minds are being manipulated, how they are making an attempt to control it. This is not a theory, this is happening.
just by changing the food, the most ferocious breed of dogs are made docile and friendly. We will not have any anti war protest marches in the future. there will be no time for it and we will not even think of it. we will be too busy and involved staying one up and competing with the Joneses. Where is the time to take care of our aging parents ? We would become so insensitive that we would not care about loss of life, pain suffering due to war, natural calamities, hunger or disease.
This video is an eye opener Ruth. Shopping craze is just the beginning. TV commercials will make me fat, thats what they want, wide spread obesity, docile insensitive citizens. i would just sit and enjoy my gadgets.
hope that day never comes.

Gwen Buchanan said...

hear! hear! Rauf! Salute to you!!! we must all be aware... all the time!!!

Ruth , your friend, Rauf, is a very smart man!!!

Loring Wirbel said...

BouBou, I'm an anarcho-syndicalist who sees things from a left perspective, but is very skeptical of a traditional socialist mindset. I think that globalized capitalism has indeed brought much of the world out of famine, even as it has led to global warming. But I think the outline of the video is generally correct, in that social engineers from the 1920s to 1950s explicitly set up large-scale capitalism for wasteful consumerism without externalities - that's not paranoia, them's the facts.

That being said, there are plenty of little quibbles I could make about the video. Example - computing. Annie talks about wastefulness in the processor, when open-bus PCs were designed to be upgradeable. Now, she could make that same point about inkjet printers that change the cartridge design every year, but you can't really say that about microprocessors in the PC. Nevertheless, her point about planned obsolescence is legitimate. On issues of consumerism, the magazine Adbusters is my bible. It has plenty of pieces that could be considered propaganda, but the basic points it makes about the suicidal nature of a consumerist global capitalism are true.

Ruth said...

Oh, thank you, BouBou, for taking time to write.

The first thing that strikes me is that I did not take offense at anti-American in the video, since I have been wrestling elsewhere over anti-Americanism, particularly around the world. One could say, I suppose, that the video did a good job then with its propaganda.

I appreciate your points, all valid in themselves, and I respect the years of searching you’ve done, which is far more than I have done.

Each individual has biases. Every day we feed our biases, by choosing to read this article over that one, etc. Some of us do a pretty good job at remaining open to all sides and balancing our personal leanings with facts, figures and other people’s perspectives and opinions. If I hadn’t started blogging, I would have missed out on important learning and development that has happened especially when a dissenting voice has challenged my biases, directly or indirectly.

What this video gets at for me is the system of consumerism entrenched here, pure and simple. (Not that it’s pure or simple in intention or structure.) But I think it’s essential to keep the main thing the main thing, as someone once said. I can say certain facts are wrong, this group or that group is willfully misleading, but the message in this video that I care about is we have too much stuff, and we need to break out of the stuff habit, bad.

I love that you shared your perspective, because now I know about another way of looking at this, and it deepens my understanding.

Thank you again for your valuable and informed input.

Ruth said...

Boots, let's talk! I can think of a few others who might join in on Farm Day.

Ruth said...

Oh rauf, you are one of those voices I needed to hear. I remember in the first few posts I read of yours back in 2006 my head was spinning because I was hearing things I didn't know, some of them about my own country and government.

When I recently watched the film 'Gandhi' for the first time (I know, shame on me) one thing that stuck with me was how the people he first worked with, the crowds who were riled about a certain injustice served them by the British, they were bent on violence out of their desperation. He was able - a small man, with a small humble voice - to turn their energy in a different direction, toward peaceful non-cooperation.

The masses need information. We need open ears and eyes. I think I overcame a hurdle this week, realizing I can't change the system, I can't stop global warming, lots of things I can't do. But what I can do is change my own life. That kind of change - regardless of what organizations or governments choose to do - can't be stopped. I feel the voice in this video is a voice we need to listen to.

Ruth said...

Gwen, I'm glad you agree with me about rauf. You can see what a loss it was to be without him 4 months on the Internet. We need his voice.

We need every voice. And we need to keep listening. Notice today's word (Thursday) is: listen.

You have gone ahead of us by leaps and bounds in your lifestyle. You and John are an incredible inspiration to Don and me, that you don't have to sacrifice style, beauty or art to live in harmony with Nature, to respect resources, to be aware and free. I hope rauf will visit your desideratum blog and find out why we need you too.

Ruth said...

Loring, anarcho-what? Wow, that's a first for me. If it means you think for yourself, I agree with your self assessment.

I remember my brother Bennett (died in 1996) - he's my progressive/socialist hero (not that I am a socialist) - talking about planned obsolescence back when I was very young. And I need to read Adbusters more - even though it's on my sidebar, I don't read it regularly enough.

I do keep mainstream newspapers on my sidebar, along with some progressive sites, so that even if I don't read them all regularly enough, I'm at least reminding myself by their presence there that I need to listen, listen, listen, to dissenting viewpoints.

I thank you for how much you have contributed to my own growing awareness, both here and at your iconocurmudgeon blog.

Loring Wirbel said...

Ruth, Anarcho-syndicalism pulls together local-control anarchism with concepts of community and workplace self-management. Rudy Rucker wrote the "founding book" of Anarchosyndicalism. It's often linked to the folks promoting Situationism, particularly Guy Debord (Society of the Spectacle) and Raoul Vaneigem (The Revolution of Everyday Life). Some skeptics say Situationists and Anarcho-Syndicalists are as full of themselves and vacuous theory as the existentialists or post-modernists - partially true, but I still like their work. I can't recommend Guy Debord highly enough.

Loring Wirbel said...

Stupid mistake - Rudy Rucker is the comedian sci-fi writer and mathematician. "Anarchosyndicalism" is by Rudolf Rocker. Gotta get my rockers and ruckers straight in this life.

Sharon said...

Hey Ruth!
I just wanted to say what a great thread you have going here. I especially appreciate the opportunity to eaves drop on your, Bou Bou, Rauf's, and Loring's discussion. I expect that there are many more out there like me who are processing and pondering all that you've said.
So thank you all.

SwedeHart said...

I'll tell you what me and my girlfriends used to do about once a year. We'd have a food and clothing exchange. It's funny that you have brought this up- because I have been scheming up plans in my head of how to coordinate a food and clothing exchange at the college. I always ask people to bring their favorite cultural dish to exchange and any clothes they haven't worn in the last 30 days. We make a huge pile of clothing in the middle of the floor, drink wine, eat and spend the evening chatting and going in a circle one at a time picking items from the pile. It's a fabulous way to strengthen friendships. And it's fun to see your friend wearing something that once belonged to you:D

BouBou's said...

4% of original forest remains in the US.
I'm curious about this number, Rauf. Where did you find it? What do you mean by "original forest? Does this somehow imply that "non-original" forests are somehow inferior?

I can't say anything about India, but this is why I ask these questions. Before Europeans came to the "New World" the native populations were active manipulators of their environment - especially through the use of fire. (I believe West Coast native populations were somewhat exceptions to that). The Plains Indians created the prairies deliberately and maintained them for 5000 years through fire to support the bison herds they relied on. They particularly sought to reduce old growth forests, as they supported far less of the wildlife they sought to encourage.

When Europeans first arrived, they wanted the wood for their ships, so they put at stop to the fires (discussions about the ethics of colonialism being outside this topic for now). In the past 400 years, forests in Canada and the US have been increased by 10's of millions of acres. There is more forest coverage in the US and Canada now than there has been in 400 years, and it's growing every year. Most of these forests are planted and maintained by the forestry, pulp and paper industries. (In Canada, logging companies are required to replant the equivalent of what they cut.) Likewise, forest coverage in Western Europe has greatly increased.

Letters written at the time of the first European explorers mentioned how "dead" the land was - there were very few bird species and a low variety of wildlife. Compare that to today, where bird species are many times greater than they were 400 yrs ago and continue to increase. Likewise, moose, elk, deer and other species that prefer forested areas are all at record high populations, to the point that culling has often become necessary. That we now have to deal with forest fires like what's been happening in Saskatchewan and California is another issue. All ecosystems exist at the expense of others.

I also greatly question your sources of GM food as "poison." While there are certainly legitimate concerns about GM foods, I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories. I used to be a lot more anti-GM foods until I started looking into it. Again, there are areas of concern, but most GM foods are simply more precise versions of hybridization. Humans have been deliberately genetically modifying our food since agriculture began. Sometimes more successful than others. Doing it in a lab greatly reduces the trail and error. I'd recommend looking up Norman Borlaug.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm all for conspicuous consumption. I'm not. I loathe wastefulness and I find things like built in obsolescence ridiculous. (Just try and find a computer with open slots that allows for upgrades - or a use for the old cell phone chargers when the phone has to be replaced.) We don't even have TV in the household, and when I do watch, I am often flabbergasted at the commercials. I just really object to the "good vs. evil" way of portraying things. Ghandi, by the way, wasn't much of a hero to those outside his religious group, among other issues, and Mother Theresa ... well, lets just say she was no saint! The Dalai Lama isn't exactly squeaky clean, either. This is not to denigrate the good they accomplished, but rather to say they shouldn't be put on a pedestal, any more than Big Industry deserves to be vilified.

Oh, and just to really dig my own grave here...

Global warming ended almost 10 years ago. The .6C (1F) increase we've seen from 1900 to 2000 has already been wiped out by the dropping global average of 2007 and the first half of 2008. There's every indication that we're heading for a prolonged cooling period similar to the Maunder Minimum. Solar Cycle 24 still hasn't started, we're undergoing a PDO shift, and just got off a severe La Nina, with several more La Nina's typically expected before the next El Nino. If we're lucky, we won't be going through another Little Ice Age. I *really* hope I'm reading the signs wrong, but far too people many better qualified than I am are afraid of the same thing. Global cooling is far more dangerous than warming by a long shot. Warming would've been quite beneficial, as is the increase in CO2 levels (which does not, by the way, drive climate). It's taken improved technology to discover this, but we've been living in what could be described as a CO2 deficit.

If you really want to look into unethical practices, take a close look at the anthropogenic global warming scams. Probably the greatest hoax ever perpetuated.

(donning asbestos knickers and ducking. ;-) )

Loring Wirbel said...

Boubou, I was partially with you on colonists' arrival in the New World, though the Native American human population had been 90 percent decimated between 1500 and 1600, due in part to initial contact with white folk, so it's hard to tell what species diversity in North America pre-1492 really was. Judging by the Lewis and Clark journals, the Missouri Basin was actually far richer in bird and mammal diversity prior to heavy settler arrival. But I'll grant you the point that Native Americans were no magical preservers of the natural order.

However, you lose me completely with your final comments on global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change truly does represent the consensus of more than 90 percent of climatologists, and those that doubt the reality of current (not just prior) global warming can safely be placed in the wackadoodle minority. Sure there are those that don't believe in Big Bang or plate tectonics, either, but we choose to ignore them....

Sharon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry said...

That was from Larry!!!

you have triggered a great conversation. I especially enjoyed Bou Bou and Loring’s exchanges. I have nothing to add only because years ago I was determined that world hunger could be conquered. How hard could that be? Some people have excess food and some people are hungry; let’s put them together and solve this problem. Many many books and websites later I gave up in a muttering stooper and decided on individual sponsorship as at least one way that I could effect change for a limited number of children.

You can put me down as a questioner of the Big Bang theory. I’m sure you will have a nice laugh but I have been reading a book by physicist Paul A. La Violette entitled “Genesis of the Cosmos”. I would be interested in your view of him, if you’re familiar with his theory of the continous creation of matter.

Rauf said...

woke up late and still rubbing my eyes Ruth.

Dear Gwen, you have to read my next post to know how intelligent and smart i am. Thank you.

Dear Sharon, you are not eaves dropping (i copied your spelling)
you are actively participating in a debate.

Gwen, Sharon, Ruth, This is where the government want us to be. Debating. Barking on a wrong tree.
They are smiling.

The Environmentalists, the media and the government are the partners in crime. They are friends actually. Its a big Cospiracy. Huge.

i am just repeating what i have written in various posts.
The Environmentalists are peddling fear of global warming. The government manufactured 9/11 and successfully marketed fear. There is profit in both. We stand here debating, shopping shopping shopping eating eating and eating.
and eating.
and eating.
Our attention is diverted from real issue. Real danger.
Genetic Engineering.
Control of food.
The media is not talking about it.
When you control food, you control the world.
Big money.
Real BEEEG money. Billions Trillions.
We are talking about oil.
Food is bigger than oil.

Boubou's, Sir i have friends of all kinds, i have friends who wait for the government to tell them that their house is on fire.
Its OK Sir.

3% or 4% is picked up from various reports from past 20 years. i don't need these figres. if i don't see, if i don't feel, i am insensitive. i am blind. i chuck all the figures, charts graphs out of the window. i speak out of my experience.

i was born in a forest 60 years ago. The forest is not there now, i see coffee plantation there. We moved to the city.
i have the internet now. i meet you i meet Ruth.
but what have i lost ?
The forest is gone.
i go there every year during the rains, i love walking in the rain like i used to in my childhood.
Long walk, now there is a well laid road. Wow !
there is a bus every ten minutes, WOW !
i sit there have tea smoke and smile and say WOW
I was robbed of my heritage, my childhood memories, the atmosphere i grew up, and i say wow !
You may ask, did you own it ?
then you are a nobody.
This is what the video the 'story of stuff' in this post says.

Global Warming : This is not a big fear as the environmentalist project. But its there. sea level is rising.
how do you know you may ask
i feel it i experience it.

This june was warmer than the last. We have no winter, but still we needed blankets in the nights during winter. Now no blankets, not even a thin sheet.
i used to have a hot water bath, now no need of hot water in winter. i have cold water shower in winter here in Chennai.

Sea level Rise : how do i know that sea level is rising ?
Becuse i saw the FIGHTS.
Fishermen encroached my friends land near Pondicherry.
GET OUT OF MY LAND my friend yelled,
Police came, big fights.
What would the fishermen do ? The sea is coming in and they had to move. They encroached my friend's land. Now nobody wants to buy that land. Fishermen are big trouble.
This is personal experience.

Lot more to say, its getting too long.

Loring Wirbel said...

Rauf, hooray!

Larry, there's about three or four other cosmologists along with La Violette playing around with updated versions of the old steady-state theory. Anything's possible, but the evidence of not just the background noise, but the so-called "dark ages" before matter creation, etc. just keeps getting more and more overwhelming to suggest Big Bang is more or less right, just in need of revision. It's like the continuous intelligent design vs. evolution debate - no theory is every 100 percent proven, but it comes so close to an axiom it might as well be. I consider Big Bang in that state, but I keep an open mind. As for string theory, supersymmetry, 11-dimensions, etc., that's all FAR more speculative.

Rauf said...

oh ! sorry, boubou's, i forgot.
yes trees and animals alone don't make a forest, it is the micro organisms that make a forest. Its a complex network. The refuse of species A is the resource of species B, species C survives on eating species B, so there is a natural balance and there is absolutely no waste in a natural or original forest. You can see elks deers coming on to the highways and causing accidents. This happens due to imbalance as the natural predators are absent.

Non original forests inferior ? No, non original or artificial forests are not inferior, they are lethal.

i have already written a lot on this subject. i am repeating a little here.

BouBou's said...

This may turn out to be another really long comment - I apologize in advance if it does. It's also coming up on 1 am here, so I many just have to cut short half way through. ;-)

"...and those that doubt the reality of current (not just prior) global warming...

Just a clarification. Are you talking about global warming or anthropogenic global warming? Because they are two different things.

Also, to "doubt" or "believe" in global warming is a matter of faith. What we have is data, and we can draw conclusions from that data. Based on the data, we have seen many warming and cooling periods during interglacial periods. Based on the data, past warming and cooling periods have sometimes occurred within amazingly short periods. Based on the data, we've seen warming within the past 100-150 years that is well within normal (mean average) ranges for interglacial periods. Based on the data, that warming flat-lined, then began to drop within the last 10 years (note also that ocean temperatures have been dropping for the past 3 years). Based on the data, we've seen a drop in the average global temperate in the past of 1 year that is as great as the warming of the previous 100 years. Based on the data, warming and cooling with the past 100-150 years have no correlation to atmospheric CO2 levels at all.


"...can safely be placed in the wackadoodle minority"

Wackadoodle! I like that one. Much more creative than the other ad hominum attacks I've seen (and received)

Ad hominum attacks, however, do nothing to challenge the data, and the data says otherwise, no matter how much NASA's Hansen tries to spin the numbers.

The IPCC is a political body created specifically to find anthropogenic global warming. It is not a scientific group.

The IPCC does not and never has represented 90% of climatologists. The exact numbers are difficult to determine since so many climatologists are afraid of losing their jobs and/or research grants if they speak against AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) dogma - not to mention the death threats and physical assaults. More and more, however, are finally daring to go public. That's in addition to the 30,000 plus scientists from a wide variety of specialties that have publicly stated their disagreement with AGW dogma.

There is not, nor has there ever been, a consensus, even within the IPCC.

Of the 1500 or so contributors to the IPCC reports, they were not all climatologists. Now, I happen to think that's a good thing, as the input of geologists, physicists, meteorologists, hurricane experts, even economists, is very valuable. I'm not sure what the author or the gynecologist and could contribute, and I wonder about the lack of statisticians and paleo-climatologists, but a variety of experts is a good thing to me. Those who claim all the contributors were climatologists, however, are wrong.

These 1500 or so experts contributed to the reports, but there was no consensus. Some of them were, in fact, quite upset to see their work misrepresented by the panel.

The submitted reports were reviewed by a smaller panel, and the final reports and Summary for Policymakers was in the control of even fewer people. Five, if I remember correctly. The panel simply refused the reports that didn't agree with what they wanted. Even so, the reports were far less extreme than they wanted - which was made up for in the Summaries, which made statements *not* backed up by the reports themselves.

I could go on, but it will take up too much space.

"...i don't need these figres. if i don't see, if i don't feel, i am insensitive. i am blind. i chuck all the figures, charts graphs out of the window. i speak out of my experience."

Wow. What can I say to that? You reject the actual data in favour of your personal, anecdotal evidence? Now that is truly a testament to blind faith!

So you've had a warm June? Well, we've had a cold one where I live. Does my anecdotal evidence trump yours? My family in another province has had an even colder June (and July, and the whole first half of 2008). Did you know that there are still snow drifts in Montreal? The snow cleared in the winter into municipal dumping areas still hasn't melted away because they've had such a cold year. Did you know that all around the world, crops are failing, fish and wildlife are suffering, and yes, even people are dying, due to the unusually cold temperatures in 2008? Do these mean nothing because you don't need a blanket when you sleep at night?

Re: forestry. In my earlier comment, I specifically stated that I was talking about the US, Canada and Western Europe. I don't know a great deal about what's going on in India, but I do know that India is going through some major growing pains. Europe, the US and Canada have all gone through these growing pains. Once they passed through them, these countries were able to then clean up the pollution, replant forests, protect wildlife, etc. Yes, there's still a lot of work to be done, but things have improved dramatically. India hasn't got to that point yet, but I believe it can and, so long as India isn't sabotaged by groups who think they know better, I believe it will - and that it can do so faster and with a much smaller learning curve than current 1st world countries.

re: sea levels. Sea level changes are notoriously difficult to determine. Is the sea level rising, or is the land sinking? In many places, sea levels are dropping because the land is still rebounding from the last ice age (around Churchill, Manitoba, it's rebounding so "quickly," that it is effecting gravity. There are a number of spots around the world were gravity is "off" - things are lighter in those areas than others. In Churchill, it was finally concluded that it was because the land is rising fast enough to be reflected in weights. Granted, it's only .8g, but it's measurable.)

Thanks to tidal gauges, satellites and other modern technology, we can determine that yes, sea levels are indeed rising. In the past 100 years, global sea levels have risen the equivalent of the width of a human hair. There is no evidence to suggest they are rising any faster, and it is well within historical precedent. And yes, that includes those Pacific atolls near Australia I can't remember the name of right now.

"No, non original or artificial forests are not inferior, they are lethal."

You totally lost me on this one. How can "non original" forests be lethal? What is an "artificial" forest? And I still don't know what you mean by "original" forest.

I'm not even going to try and address the GM foods conspiracy comment. I've already gone on long enough.

(oh, and by the way, I'm not a Sir - not that it matters. ;-))


Ruth said...

Everyone: I'm here, listening.

Rauf said...

boubou's,i sincerely apologise for addressing you as sir,
having data on my hand wouldn't alter my experience. this is not blind faith. Blind faith has no foundation. My experience is my foundation.

We are drifting from the subject of this post, so let me explain in brief.

one square meter of natural rain forest has more activity than entire NY city. it is so rich with life.

A forest has a perfect waste management system and a perfect balance. If all the eggs of a black cobra are hatched the forest would become unlivable for other animals. so come the predators to balance.

Environmentalists are going about creating artificial forest which would prove to be a disaster in the longer run. One species in absence of a predator can grow out of proportion.

Mother earth has the capacity to heal itself though it may take hundreds of years. We are too small either to damage or to repair the damage. We have no idea how small we are. The entire damage caused during past 500 years is less than a second for our planet. The problem is we are not allowing the earth to heal itself. And we are deciding for nature and worse, we are tampering with nature. We have to allow nature to decide for itself.

Don said...

It has been interesting and enlightening to read this string and hear of different perspectives. This has made me think about "what do I actually believe?" about global warming. After pondering that question for a few moments (I'm ADD) I find that I think something is happening to our weather patterns. Whether or not it has been caused by people, or is an every X number of years earthly event, I really don't know, and it sounds like no one truly knows. I know enough about weather patterns to know that it won't look (or feel) the same everywhere on earth. England may get much colder, due to losing the Gulf Stream, for example and this will make some people say, "Ha look at that! How can that be Global Warming?"

I like what Rauf said about getting a little off the subject, however, I do enjoy learning about others' points of views. I think that the biggest idea I take from the video is the FACT that I (we) buy too much stuff and that we people are burning through our limited resources at an exponentially increasing rate. With India and China joining in with Europe and North America in this race to throw things away, we are heading for something that we may not be able to handle.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth I am following this too with great interest and I appreciate you posting and hosting thought-provoking comments from one and all...

also i wanted to thank you for your very kind and thoughtful comments a little earlier on...Anyone could do what we do...

Ruth said...

Beautiful stuff.

Ok, my reflections on this debate.

It strikes me that an individual scientist is going to spend her/his life on just a few areas, or maybe one. After a little research, a hypothesis is formed. So one scientist, devoting a whole life to her/his research, will make discoveries in limited areas. Each scientist pursues what she/he pursues for some reason or another. Some are open to conflicting data, some are not.

So communities of scientists come together and compare research and data, results and proofs, based on limited experiments. Some groups are driven politically, even to the point of skewing results to support a movement.

Governments, cultural leaders, corporations, the groups that dominate our lives, take, push, skew, create out of nothing even, data and scientific results to support their own intentions.

I am no scientist. But even if I were, when I look at the complexity and the limitations of one person, I see that there is no way I would have all the information. Nor would I be free of bias.

As an individual who is not a scientist, I am at the mercy of the media to report to me what is being discovered, what is important, what will have an impact on me. How well informed I am may or may not help me be less biased, since I can immerse myself in one perspective.

In an interview in this month’s The Sun magazine, Wendell Berry said:

‘To make yourself a passive receptacle for information, or whatever anybody wants to pour into you, is a bad idea. To be informed used to be a meaningful experience; it meant “to be formed from within.” But information now is just a bunch of disconnected data or entertainment and, as such, may be worthless, perhaps harmful. As T.S. Eliot wrote a long time ago, information is different from knowledge, and it has nothing at all to do with wisdom.’

So what matters to me listening to this debate is the human exchange, through the art of communication and the art of rhetoric. Clearly the Story of Stuff video is well presented, even if you don’t agree with the facts or the bias. To be able to present an opinion – based on one individual’s limited ability to understand the overwhelming amount of data – and listen to another, openly, is what matters to me. I am grateful for what is happening here.

What matters to me in the human exchange is what is bigger in it, what rauf talked about that we are losing in the pile of stuff, which is caring and attentiveness between people.

Ruth said...

I did not mean to say in the next to the last paragraph that I don't care about the data, or whether it is propaganda, or about the arguments presented her in comments. But what occurred to me is how different each person's presentation is, and how complex that is, and so the complexity of the world and its systems is reflected in the complexities of individuals, and I repeat: each of our voices is important.

I do hope we can continue the discussion, if anyone wishes, in this spirit of openness.

BouBou's said...

having data on my hand wouldn't alter my experience.

Of course it wouldn't. The data, however, reflects the reality *outside* personal experience.

I think I am understanding what you mean about "artificial" forests - I think you're talking about situations like Yellowstone Park. Too bad the people running the park didn't look to Medieval Europe, where forests have been actively and successfully managed for centuries.

Having said that, I am amazed at what seems to be a lack of basic understandings of eco-systems. We are all ignorant in different areas, since we can't know all things, but to deliberately maintain one's ignorance by refusing to look at the data and relying completely on personal experience, while at the same time speaking as if understanding the subject is... rather mind blowing.

Well, let's talk about personal experience, then. You know that lifestyle promoted in the video (and from so many other sources)? That low impact, back to basics, thing? Well, that's how I grew up. I lived on a farm I like to describe as 2 sticks ahead of the stone ages. When my dad bought it, he upgraded from horses to tractors. I've yet to meet a person my own age that actively worked with binders and threshing machines. We got indoor plumbing in 1974/75. The joys of not having to go to an outhouse, or use a bucket in the basement when it was -30C outside!! And being able to wash any time I needed to!

We had a garden that was almost 2 acres. We had fruit trees and gathered wild foods. We raised animals for milk, eggs and meat, and even grew most of their feed. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle as a concept didn't really exist back then, but it's how we lived. Our equipment was so old that, if something broke down, we usually couldn't get replacement parts anymore. My dad would have to either repair or build replacements (even if it meant teaching himself to become a blacksmith). One of my brothers even invented some of our equipment from scratch. When we did go to the dump (now called landfills) to get rid of what little garbage we couldn't burn in the burn barrel, my siblings and I (there were 5 of us) would scavenge through other people's garbage and often brought things home (something that is no longer allowed, due to the dangers).

While there is much to commend this way of life, based on my experience, I would not go back to it. Why? Because it's an inferior, rather selfish, lifestyle. So much time and energy is spent growing food, tending animals, preserving the bounty, etc., there's little time left to take care of each other - or even ourselves, sometimes. I admire strong work ethics and abhor sloth, but my parents worked themselves to levels of pain and damage to their bodies they should not have to live with, and the work load greatly exacerbated my mother's mental health problems.

Though we raised enough to sell some things for cash, it was never enough to pay for everything. So both my parents would have to take outside jobs on top of everything else to be able to pay for things we couldn't produce ourselves, like school supplies, clothing (my mother could sew, but never had time to learn to sew well enough to cloth us - and we'd still need to buy fabrics and notions), and things like flour, sugar, salt, etc.

There was no time to give to the community. I was "lucky" in that I was the youngest. I actually had the luxury of time to sit and read books, do crafts, etc. I was able to disappear into the bush for hours at a time (mostly to escape my mother's physical and psychological abuse, but that's another story).

It's selfish in that we were in no position to help others. So much time and energy was spent sustaining ourselves, coupled with the lack of money, we were in no position to help sustain anyone else. My husband and I don't have a lot to give, but we are in a much better position to help those around us than was ever possible in the life I grew up with.

I wouldn't trade my life experiences away for anything, but having lived this way, my personal experience has kept me from falling for the Utopian "back to basics" delusions being promoted. If that lifestyle is so great, why are people all over the world trying to hard to get away from it? And have been since long before it could be blamed on corporations and government.

Rauf, you still haven't explained what you mean be "original" forests. Based on how I am understanding the term, I need to point out that there are no "original" forests. Not even the tropical rainforests. The earth is constantly and dramatically changing. Ice ages tend to do that. That fact that something has been there for hundreds - even thousands - of years doesn't make it original. It's just the ecosystem that was able to take over when the last one failed.

There is no "balance" in nature. The earth is, to borrow the gaming phrase, chaotic neutral. Nature can be violent and, yes, wasteful. If you've seen the aftermath of a skunk raiding a henhouse (they only eat the heads and leave the rest of the bodies), or a weasel attack (weasals are particularly bloodthirsty killers), you'd know that animals are just as capable of waste and destruction as humans. Animals will eat each other into extinction, and have done so for as long as they've existed. Heck, even plants are constantly battling each other for survival. Only humans care whether or not our actions are causing damage, or worry about the future effects of what we do.

Another myth is that we are running out of resources. I'd recommend reading Hoodwinking a Nation from the late Julian Simon and The Next Millionaires from Paul Zane Pilzer to explore this further. In a nutshell, the idea of running out of resources only works if everything remains as they are now - which has never happened (as a side note - we've been telling each other we're running out of resources and destroying the earth for millenia. It's always interesting to read some ancient Roman or Greek text that could easily have been written by today's doomsayers).

First, our technology is always improving, so that we use less of resources we are already using to accomplish more - this is particularly true of minerals. Second, our technology advances change what resources we need. A lot of the resources we are supposedly running out of now, we've only been using for a short time. Those resources will eventually be replaced by something else. We didn't run out of stones in the Stone Age because we moved on to the Copper Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age. We didn't run out of millet, because we moved on to rye and barely, then wheat. We didn't run out of land to grow them because we learned to genetically modify (hybridize) them so that they produced higher yields on less land and water. Etc.

And finally, it's not physically possible to "run out" of things like water or minerals. Water is endlessly recycled. One can use up the water in a region, but it's not "gone." It's simply gone somewhere else. We can't run out of fresh water, because evaporation of the oceans is continually adding more fresh water to the atmosphere, as well as melt from glaciers, etc. Even polluted water evaporates, leaving behind the pollutants. Granted, we need to be wise in the use of the resources, but lets not attribute more that we're actually responsible for.

Re: nature recovering. We frequently underestimate the earth. It's far less fragile than I was taught when I was in school. A dramatic example. An atomic bomb, far larger than what was dropped on Hiroshima, was tested on a coral reef. It blew a crater in the ocean bottom, completely destroying the reef. That was 40 years ago. Recently, divers explored the crater, cataloging what they found. There's a new coral reef in the crater, teeming with life. So much for coral reefs being so fragile and needing hundreds, even thousands, of years to grow! No, it's not the same as before, but it's not the sterile hole we've been taught it should have been.

re: media. Most people depend on the media for their information. Few people have the time, interest or energy to do otherwise. Sadly, the media is probably the worst source of information. My home is rather media challenged. We don't get tv (though we can go to the lounge in our building to watch, if we want). I don't buy magazines. I mostly read my news online. I've gotten so used to ignoring ads, I don't even see them anymore. I get most of my information from the library (the joys of living in a large city - before moving here, our personal library was better than the public one) and online. My BS meter is on constant high alert. As much as possible, I try to seek out the source of information. If I can find the original report that a news article is based on, that's golden. Frequently, the original reports and the publications have little in common, which is a source of much frustration.

Sorry for another really long comment! Time to go... it's library day for the kids and I.


BouBou's said...

Oh, before I leave for the day... I wanted to correct a mistake I made earlier.

There were *no* geologists contributing to the IPCC report. This is a serious gap, considering the vital role geology plays in climate.

I just wanted to fix my error.

Thanks for everyone's patience. ;-)


Ruth said...

As I told you in an email, BouBou, there is a lot here to absorb, on different levels. Rather overwhelming.

I hear myself saying it's difficult and takes a lot of time and energy and effort to search and go to the source, to not rely on the media for information. I know it's true, but I also believe it's been an excuse not to do it. I'm surrounded by PhD's at my university who go deep on things, and I see the time it takes, and also I feel intimidated.

So. I'll tell you one result of this conversation. rauf sent me a link to a GM information slide show. I trust rauf, but I thought, I have to dig for myself too, so before watching it (still haven't yet), I looked for a bio on the guy, Jeffrey Smith, and found more information about him, his books and his research. Now I don't know much after doing that for a few minutes, but with the support of some genetecists, Jane Goodall, and other scientists, I feel I can, with care, go ahead and take in the slideshow.

I guess I'm confessing here to having gotten lazy about researching the issues I care about.

At the same time, as Wendell Berry said in what I quoted in a previous comment, and also TS Eliot, knowledge does not impart wisdom. And my own point is also that there are things that matter more to me than data and proofs, and I feel something like rauf (can't speak for him) that in a way I don't care about data, since it can be manipulated or driven by unseen forces anyway, and I have to live within my own experience the best I can.

Many thanks to each of you who contributed to this very good debate. It's been excellent, somewhat exhausting, at times frustrating, but quite enlightening.

Gwen Buchanan said...

just one more thing from me...
no one will ever be able to convince me that GM seeds or foods are a good way to go.. I just shake my head when I think about it!!!

I say stay natural.

John Ackerson said...

I think all my clothes are someone else's discarded or unwanted. So is much of our furniture - yard sale antiques made of real wood.

I distaste how the fashion industry from home renovation TV shows to what's 'trendy'-this-fall has conditioned consumers to buy into what's considered trendy and fashionable at the moment - what's hot - what's not, as opposed to following a simple philosophy - long lived classic design using quality, lifetime-longevity materials.

But, I guess this thinking flies in the face of planned obsolescence, and forcing 'consumers' to forever be buying more 'stuff'.

Ruth said...

Gwen, the thought of injecting all sorts of things to make a plant 'better' and then other stuff to make it accept those things, without knowing how it will affect our health, are they nuts?

^ ^ ^

John, fashion is pretty ridiculous, and I fall prey to it time and again. It's great that you wear recycled clothes, I do too, at least some of it. What you and Gwen have done in your fabulous place is testimony to how creative gathering for a home is way more appealing than going to Pottery Barn. Where's the adventure in that?

But I also know you two have put a ton of work into those treasures you recycled.