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Environment Climate Change, Pollution, Endangered Species, Industrial Agriculture, Degrading Habitats & Renewable Energy.

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  #11  
Old Aug 22nd 2011, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by NickKIELCEPoland View Post
Only a few people have answered this question?
Don't people believe the environment is being harmed by human activity?
Or don't you want to think about your own personal responsibility?
I can't speak for others, but I personally never answered the question because I don't think that the size of my (or any of your) carbon footprint makes for interesting discussion.

As for the framing of the potential motivations for lack of participation, people being worried about 'personal responsibility' for it implies the sort of religion-like baseline of guilt/Environmental Original Sin that would be required to have this outlook. In other words, someone who feels that his own existence is a sin against nature is the kind of person that probably spends a lot of time talking about carbon footprints in the first place. Contrast this with your rootin', tootin', pollutin' oil man types that will also happily talk about it, if only to tell you that they hate nature and trees and liberals.

I think it would be a very specific and gentle soul indeed that would pass over your thread out of guilt.
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Old Aug 22nd 2011, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
I can't speak for others, but I personally never answered the question because I don't think that the size of my (or any of your) carbon footprint makes for interesting discussion.

As for the framing of the potential motivations for lack of participation, people being worried about 'personal responsibility' for it implies the sort of religion-like baseline of guilt/Environmental Original Sin that would be required to have this outlook. In other words, someone who feels that his own existence is a sin against nature is the kind of person that probably spends a lot of time talking about carbon footprints in the first place. Contrast this with your rootin', tootin', pollutin' oil man types that will also happily talk about it, if only to tell you that they hate nature and trees and liberals.

I think it would be a very specific and gentle soul indeed that would pass over your thread out of guilt.
-interesting discussion? Indeed, that could be the reason? People don't think it's interesting.

-"In other words, someone who feels that his own existence is a sin against nature is the kind of person that probably spends a lot of time talking about carbon footprints in the first place"

No, you could have a completely different reason for not answering the question. Such as, for example, that you don't believe humans are having an effect, and, if you cared to read properly, I provide that as a possiblity.
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  #13  
Old Aug 22nd 2011, 04:10 PM
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-interesting discussion? Indeed, that could be the reason? People don't think it's interesting.

-"In other words, someone who feels that his own existence is a sin against nature is the kind of person that probably spends a lot of time talking about carbon footprints in the first place"

No, you could have a completely different reason for not answering the question. Such as, for example, that you don't believe humans are having an effect, and, if you cared to read properly, I provide that as a possiblity.
If I "cared to read properly"? I did read your post, in its entirety.

The first question that you asked was one to which the answer was self-evident. It was not worth asking and it certainly wasn't worth responding, so I didn't.

The second question -- the one you accuse me of not "[reading] properly" -- was a somewhat reasonable possible explanation for people not responding. As such, I didn't address it in my critique of your questions.

The third question, the only part of your post that I addressed, was a silly one. I diplomatically pointed out why it was silly, and that was the entire purpose of my post.

The fact that I didn't answer your vacuous first question or your plausible but unlikely second question is not an indication that I failed to read or understand either one. In fact, you'll notice that I supplied my own third option (not interesting) because you supplied only two possible explanations. As such, there is clearly no reason to explain to me that a third option is possible, much less accuse me of not reading properly.
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Old Aug 22nd 2011, 04:43 PM
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If I "cared to read properly"? I did read your post, in its entirety.

The first question that you asked was one to which the answer was self-evident. It was not worth asking and it certainly wasn't worth responding, so I didn't.

The second question -- the one you accuse me of not "[reading] properly" -- was a somewhat reasonable possible explanation for people not responding. As such, I didn't address it in my critique of your questions.

The third question, the only part of your post that I addressed, was a silly one. I diplomatically pointed out why it was silly, and that was the entire purpose of my post.

The fact that I didn't answer your vacuous first question or your plausible but unlikely second question is not an indication that I failed to read or understand either one. In fact, you'll notice that I supplied my own third option (not interesting) because you supplied only two possible explanations. As such, there is clearly no reason to explain to me that a third option is possible, much less accuse me of not reading properly.
1st question. Well, you might not find it worth asking, but I disagree.
2nd. As I said, I didn't rule out the possibility that people might have honourable reasons not to answer the question. You accused me of accusing people who didn't answer as being sinful, so I had to defend myself by reminding you that I allowed for the possibility of honourable reasons for not answering.
3rd. Well, if you think it was silly then what more can I do?
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Old Aug 25th 2011, 06:01 PM
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The whole idea of a personal carbon footprint is not very meaningful. Imagine if everybody in the developed world halved their carbon footprint? It would not solve anything at all, as the population increase and poverty reduction in the poor world would quickly wipe out any gains on the time scales that are relevant here. Besides, it is naive to think more than a tiny minority of people are going to make such enormous personal sacrifices anyway and at best it would only slightly delay severe impacts, not stop them. The largest source of CO2 emissions comes from industrial use, and that has grown despite people talking about lifestyle choices and making personal sacrifices for the last 40 or so years. 2010 set a new record for CO2 emissions, because industry keeps doing what it does. I sometimes am acquainted with people who make all the "right" choices; they compost, they walk, they bike, they reuse, they recycle, etc... but they also wake up every morning and go to work and directly support industrial civilization for 9 hours everyday. When they get a holiday they fly to mexico or wherever... their personal sacrifice is more than wiped out by their direct support of this culture and their willingness to take a vacation in some far off touristry spot. Their personal sacrifice is entirely meaningless in terms of addressing global warming, (but if it makes them feel good and happy, than kudos to them, just don't confuse it with activism or making a difference).
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Old Aug 25th 2011, 06:16 PM
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The whole idea of a personal carbon footprint is not very meaningful. Imagine if everybody in the developed world halved their carbon footprint? It would not solve anything at all, as the population increase and poverty reduction in the poor world would quickly wipe out any gains on the time scales that are relevant here. Besides, it is naive to think more than a tiny minority of people are going to make such enormous personal sacrifices anyway and at best it would only slightly delay severe impacts, not stop them. The largest source of CO2 emissions comes from industrial use, and that has grown despite people talking about lifestyle choices and making personal sacrifices for the last 40 or so years. 2010 set a new record for CO2 emissions, because industry keeps doing what it does. I sometimes am acquainted with people who make all the "right" choices; they compost, they walk, they bike, they reuse, they recycle, etc... but they also wake up every morning and go to work and directly support industrial civilization for 9 hours everyday. When they get a holiday they fly to mexico or wherever... their personal sacrifice is more than wiped out by their direct support of this culture and their willingness to take a vacation in some far off touristry spot. Their personal sacrifice is entirely meaningless in terms of addressing global warming, (but if it makes them feel good and happy, than kudos to them, just don't confuse it with activism or making a difference).
Yes this is a darn good point. I nearly laughed by head off when the Ontario government announced its 'big green initiative' a couple of years ago - it consisted of subsidies for new energy saving light bulbs - for residential consumers!

And I laugh at all the big 'green' logos on water-efficient washing machines and hot-water heaters. Fact is, residential water usage makes up only a small fraction of annual water consumption - the vast majority of which is consumed by industry and agriculture and they get subsidies, tax rebates and quantity discounts so that the MORE THEY USE, THE LESS THEY PAY.

This is the insanity of the 'green' movement - it seems to be all about making consumers feel 'good' about doing some small and relatively insignificant thing - while still being good consumers and supporting the political and economic status quo that is driving society right off a cliff.

Bottom line is that the biggest greenhouse gas emissions from average consumers comes from all the electricity they use (which is usually created from coal or oil-fired generators) and/or from their cars. If they don't reduce these two, anything else they do is just pissing in the wind.
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Old Aug 25th 2011, 06:37 PM
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Yes this is a darn good point. I nearly laughed by head off when the Ontario government announced its 'big green initiative' a couple of years ago - it consisted of subsidies for new energy saving light bulbs - for residential consumers!

And I laugh at all the big 'green' logos on water-efficient washing machines and hot-water heaters. Fact is, residential water usage makes up only a small fraction of annual water consumption - the vast majority of which is consumed by industry and agriculture and they get subsidies, tax rebates and quantity discounts so that the MORE THEY USE, THE LESS THEY PAY.

This is the insanity of the 'green' movement - it seems to be all about making consumers feel 'good' about doing some small and relatively insignificant thing - while still being good consumers and supporting the political and economic status quo that is driving society right off a cliff.

Bottom line is that the biggest greenhouse gas emissions from average consumers comes from all the electricity they use (which is usually created from coal or oil-fired generators) and/or from their cars. If they don't reduce these two, anything else they do is just pissing in the wind.
Yeah. When I watch the consumer oriented "green movement", I'm vaguely reminded of the Catholic Church's practice of confession and indulgences.

The premise is oddly, though not completely, similar. There is a concept of original sin -- your very existence is sinful (everyone has a carbon footprint). There is the a priori notion that you should feel guilty about your sinful nature. There is the notion that by getting on board with the consumer oriented green movement, you can absolve yourself of your sin. And, there is the notion that, in lieu of actually reducing your carbon footprint, you can pay/donate and have some poor third world schmuck ostensibly do it for you.



In that vein, I have the same sort of agnostic attitude toward my environmental sin as my mortal sin -- I try generally to do the right thing, to be a good person, not to be wasteful, etc, and I don't bother to feel guilty or sweat it. I recycle, I reuse things whenever possible, I don't litter, I generally conserve, etc. As such, I won't bother feeling bad about driving a car that could get better gas mileage or keeping my house at 72 degrees instead of 75 degrees in the summer. If those things aren't good enough, somebody can come along and offer me an indulgence to crank down my AC.
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Old Aug 25th 2011, 09:04 PM
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... As such, I won't bother feeling bad about driving a car that could get better gas mileage or keeping my house at 72 degrees instead of 75 degrees in the summer. If those things aren't good enough, somebody can come along and offer me an indulgence to crank down my AC.
Such as a doubling or tripling of the price of energy...

And even if quadrupling of the price of energy doesn't actually scare you because you make good money and could easily afford it, just remember that you live surrounded by several million other people who definitely cannot afford such a large increase in the relative price of energy and will suffer great hardships because of it.

All that being said, I don't think it is possible to actually calculate any individual person's actual carbon footprint - because it makes a HUGE difference if you work for a car factory or a petrochemical plant or as a school teacher. Any given factory worker would have to claim a percentage of all the factory emissions for the company they work for. I suppose that would get real tricky for accountants and lawyers. But school teachers probably would have a fairly low level of work related emissions (no more than the usual heating/lighting/ac that is common to everyone). Airline pilots (or anyone working for an airline) would likely have the largest carbon footprints of all.
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  #19  
Old Aug 26th 2011, 02:46 AM
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Such as a doubling or tripling of the price of energy...

And even if quadrupling of the price of energy doesn't actually scare you because you make good money and could easily afford it, just remember that you live surrounded by several million other people who definitely cannot afford such a large increase in the relative price of energy and will suffer great hardships because of it.
I don't know that I'd consider cranking up the cost of energy to be an indulgence -- that seems more like a tithe, to continue the Catholic Church metaphor.

My point was more along the lines that I tend to do a lot of things that offset whatever bad things I do. I drive an SUV that gets ~25 MPG highway, but I've never had more than a 15 minute driving commute in the last 8 years and I sometimes work from home (so, my emissions are better than a long range commuter who drives a 40 MPG Prius). I keep my house at 72 degrees all summer but am perfectly happy to leave my heat set to a chilly 60 degrees in the winter. And, so on and so forth - tit for tat. In the end, I try not to be excessive and I generally refuse to feel guilty about the things that I could improve on. At the end of the day, I hate being hot, so 72 it is.

Quote:
All that being said, I don't think it is possible to actually calculate any individual person's actual carbon footprint - because it makes a HUGE difference if you work for a car factory or a petrochemical plant or as a school teacher. Any given factory worker would have to claim a percentage of all the factory emissions for the company they work for. I suppose that would get real tricky for accountants and lawyers. But school teachers probably would have a fairly low level of work related emissions (no more than the usual heating/lighting/ac that is common to everyone). Airline pilots (or anyone working for an airline) would likely have the largest carbon footprints of all.
Yeah, it'd be a difficult task even as you frame it, but think about the additional complexity of accounting for social influence. For example, right wingers love to rag on Al Gore as a hypocrite for having a big carbon footprint in his home/office, but I'd imagine that the influence that he has far offsets whatever it is that he does there.

It's an interesting thing to think about for me too, personally, because a lot of the work I do peripherally encourages distributed work environments (i.e. technology allowing people not to need to commute and things of this nature). The home automation stuff I'm doing has applicability to things like kicking power back into the grid and eliminating wasteful power consumption... but, nothing guzzles power like tech and tech development.

At the end of the day, I think discussions along these lines (carbon foot print) will always deteriorate into finger pointing and a terminally stupid situation where everyone is accused of (and probably rightfully so) of being hypocritical in some fashion or another. That's why I prefer not to play the game.
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  #20  
Old Aug 26th 2011, 09:09 AM
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I'm not sure that it is actually true, but the flip side of the argument is that marketing the consumer "greening" is part of building a critical mass toward getting industry sorted out.

That's an optimistic perspective.
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