Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Not Going Green Today? Courageous Or Dumb?

Environmentalism-or going green- is a broad philosophy and social movement centered on a concern for the conservation and improvement of the environment. Environmentalism is associated with the color green.

Did you know that a leech has 32 brains? I didn't until I started this post.

Other trivial facts about leeches:

  • Leeches are used to treat some diseases. In the past, they were used to cure anything from a headache to gout

  • The bite of a leech is actually painless

  • Leeches can bite through a hippos hide

  • A leech has three mouths and Millions of teeth

But what do leeches have to do with going green?

I wasn't sure about that connection either until one day I heard a "non-green" person referred to as a leech. The implication to me was clear and obvious. "Leeches" or "non-green" people go through life sucking, consuming, and parasitically living off of the work and efforts of others. Well, that kind of sounds like me a little bit... (laugh).

All joking aside, when I look at my personal environmental footprint, I recognize that it is quite large and can be reduced. In the past few years, I've made a conscious effort to cut back on my level of consumption relative to our limited resources. I'll admit that some of the motivation has been driven by the economics of it all. Remember when gasoline prices were well over four dollars a gallon? I was happy to park my gas guzzling SUV for a little while in favor of the environmentally friendlier and more economical hybrid vehicle. I noticed the savings immediately. And compact fluorescent light bulbs make a lot of sense to me as well. Being the chief bulb changer around here I've noticed that the frequency of that activity has been slightly reduced. I've become better at recycling and have changed my philosophy on several issues. Call me a tree-hugger if you like ...... Well, I'm not that extreme yet but I'm certainly moving in that direction. I look around my home at the level of paper products. Wow! There's so much! I can hardly keep up with it all. Anything from newspapers to receipts, to junk mail, and packaging products. All of that stuff goes in the recycle bin for starters. I even shred my financial statements and recycle them with the hope that they'll come back to me as toilet paper one day. Then they'll be worth something... ha, ha.

Los Angeles has joined many other cities and developed a great rubbish/recycling program. They give you three different containers. One is a big blue container for paper, glass, plastic, and other recyclables. A green container is supplied for compost items like food, flower and plant trimmings etc., and finally there's a black container for the rest of the trash which ultimately ends up in a landfill. Some cities, like San Francisco, have proposed fines for unsorted or improperly sorted garbage. Perhaps a bit excessive and extreme but I suppose that's where we're headed. Los Angeles is proposing a system that charges you extra for using one use bags at the grocery store. I don't know where that proposal currently stands but I do notice that many people are now sporting reusable canvas bags at the local supermarket. I guess in the years to follow the question at the check out line will be "reusable bag - or paper, plastic and 25 cents per bag?"

This environmentalism stuff isn't new either. The beginnings of an environmental movement in the United States can be traced as far back as 1739, when Benjamin Franklin and other Philadelphia residents, citing "public rights," petitioned the Pennsylvania Assembly to stop waste dumping and remove tanneries from Philadelphia's commercial district. In the 1800s, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau made their key philosophical contributions. Thoreau was interested in peoples' relationship with nature and studied this by living close to nature in a simple life. He published his experiences in the book Walden, which argues that people should become intimately close with nature. Muir spent quite a bit of time hiking in Yosemite Valley and studying both the ecology and geology. He successfully lobbied congress to form Yosemite National Park and went on to set up the Sierra Club.

Anyway, you get my point I'm sure. While we have many problems around the globe today, we've only got one "Blue Marble" to live on.

Blue Marble

And while I'm somewhat confident that there will be enough resources for me during my lifetime, I'm hoping to do a little bit to ensure that there are a few more resources left for our great-great- grand kids and beyond.

So while people across the United States are putting on their green hats, ties, shirts, blouses, pants, and undies to celebrate St. Patty's Day ...... I'll be doing the same. But as I do, I'll be thinking about a different kind of "Green."

Let's see instead of green beer this year I think I want a good Irish whiskey.

Do they make green Irish whiskey?

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

For more ideas on going green: Click here - Going Green Do It Yourself


Mariana Soffer said...

Human beings need binoculars to observe their consciousness. But anyway People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the
lives they live.

intrepidideas said...

Insightful... Had to read it twice to understand it. Thanks.

Mariana Soffer said...

I might be mistaken again.

I think your point is a change in the everyday meaning of the word "green" in the environmental activism context, and the self-reflection about it.

"non-green" people go through life sucking ... of others, meaning they take advantage of others, parasite them.

You refer to you as non-green people wich implies you are trying to become a green one.

You intend to change your mind and become a real green thinker by Broadening you awareness ot things

Jane Turley said...

A very pleasing post Mr I as my concerns about global warming grow daily. I was pleased to discover recently that despite Mr Bush's negativity in office, some states in the USA have pushed forward with Green policies anyway. I understand Arnold wishes to reduce California's C02 emmissions by 80% - a very worthy (and necessary) target if we are to stop the world from reaching the tipping point whereby runaway clmate change will become unstoppable.

Originally when I read Paul Brown's book (pub 2006) scientists anticpated approximately a 15 year window to act if we are to halt the progress of climate change. (Bearing it mind it takes 30 yrs for CO2 emissions to reach their full effect the world is still going to keep warming up anyway and waters will continue to rise flooding low lying land.) However, scientists now believe that warming is speeding up - we may have as little time as 6 years -2015 - to get a grip on our lifestyles. The question is really how much we can limit the damage and not whether we can prevent it. I also learnt that by 2020 it is expected that California will have a water deficit equivalent to the needs of 11 miliion people. This is because global warming will effect the Sierra Mountain range that supplies California's water. Only action taken now will prevent California (and elsewhere) from becoming certain dustbowls.

Sorry, if that sounds scaremongering but unfortunately I believe that hard facts are the way the world will wake up to the fact that all actions have consequences and the actions of the last two hundred years are going to be catastrophic.

Nice post though Mr I. I like this thoughful side of you...although I did think the butler changed the lightbulbs! (That's a joke!)

dickster1961 said...

Hmmm, let's see how do I want to approach this?

I take my recycling out to the curb every week. I believe we should try to reduce pollution as much as we can. I am all for developing cleaner, renewable forms of energy, and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.

However, I do not believe the government should adopt "green" policies that will negatively impact the economy. In other words, the idea of a "cap and trade" system that will drive energy prices up, and ultimately hurt the lower and middle classes the most is abhorrent to me. Despite what Al Gore says, the science of global warming or climate change is not settled. I believe that climate change is primarily a naturally occurring cycle. I mean, were they driving Hummers around when the climate warmed up enough to end the Ice Age?

dickster1961 said...

let me add another comment in regards to CO2. CO2 is exhaled by every living being on the planet. So if we want to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere, will we then have to cap how many people/animals can inhabit the planet?

Tami said...

Good post, guy! A leech has that many brains?

Kudos for all of the small things you are doing. It all adds up. Houston really isn't recycling yet, unfortunately. Good to read the other cities are leading the way. Happy St. Patrick's evening to you!

Jane Turley said...


I hope you don't mind me butting in but I've become very interested in climate change recently.

Of course some climate change is natural but what scientists are referring to is catastrophic climate change brought about by man's abuse of the natural world which will have severe repercussions on the immediate surival of the human race.

While there are indeed some aspects of climate change that scientists can't predict - for example if the gulf stream slows/shuts down theoretically the UK, western Europe and the Eastern US would become colder with longer winters impacting on harvests and food supplies. However, as the atmosphere is warming up the two may balance out - unfortunately no one can predict how nature will react on that one. So yes, some of the science is uncertain. However, it is proven that climate change has already started and the evidence is incontrovertible - the icecaps are melting, the deserts are expanding and sea levels are rising. If we are not extremely careful fresh drinking water will become a rare and expensive commodity; it will be water we will argue over, not oil.

Unfortunately, the scepticism about global warming, particularly by the Bush Administration and the fossil fuel lobby has become deeply engrained. ( Perhaps short term political expediency, self interest and greed were factors?) But the truth is mankind has abused its habitat and the natural world has been deeply affected. We need to adopted Green policies today; further delay will only bring more chaos.

As for Co2, the damage is primarily done by fossil fuel emissions. And as for capping populations it has been suggested the world population may fall from 6 billion to 1 billion by the end of the centuary as a result of climate change; it may be easier and less painful in the long run to just cap the oil wells.

intrepidideas said...


I think you got it...

intrepidideas said...

Jane... You have scared me indeed. And you have impressed me with how much you know about our country, politics (state and federal). Thanks.

intrepidideas said...

you said:

"I take my recycling out to the curb every week. I believe we should try to reduce pollution as much as we can. I am all for developing cleaner, renewable forms of energy, and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels."

That's more than a lot of folks in this world and a good start.

You're right, the debate on "global warming and climate control" continues. Even right here on my blog - Awesome! :) I don't know the ultimate answer. But it seems scientist agree that some man-made emissions (green house gases are contributing to climate change - In their 2007 report, The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) disclosed that "anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations are very likely to have caused most of the increases in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century." So it's reasonable for me to assume that if we change some habits we can at least slow if not reverse the climate change.

Your comment:

"I do not believe the government should adopt "green" policies that will negatively impact the economy."

I think the current administration is trying to put out the "biggest and closest fires." Right now, the economy could burn up the county. The economy is definitely broken - they're trying everything to get things back on track. Or at least keep it from slipping further. And by the way, I believe that government failure to act and enforce policies can negatively affect the economy as well... Thanks for the lively discussion. I'll be back.

intrepidideas said...

Jane knows more than I do about this stuff....

Mariana Soffer said...

Great, I am glad we can understand each other. Besides I consider that what you write in this posts contains wisdom.

Jane Turley said...

Well Mr I, I don't want to brag but my knowledge maybe due to all those magazines I read in the waiting room at the Dentists....


dickster1961 said...

I am by no means a scientist, nor do I play one on TV.

First, in regards to the IPCC. They are a UN sponsored organization. I believe that the UN has showed itself to be an anti-American and anti-capitalist organization, so I believe there is an inherent bias there.

When I read articles that Mars, Jupiter, and other bodies in our solar system are showing signs of "global warming" that coincide with the time of our "global warming" it makes me believe that it is due more to solar activity than anything else. That is unless there are little green men on Mars driving Hummers around.

Earlier this month the International Conference on Climate Change held a three day forum with the theme "Global Warming: Was It Ever a Crisis?" Several well respected scientists and climatologists attended and spoke at the event.

Last month a Japanese commission challenging the "supposed consensus" of man mad global warming. You can find several news articles that say we are currently in a period of global cooling.

I do not dispute the possibility of catastrophic climate change. The earth has been through those before, but those were not due to any man made influences.

Luis Portugal said...

It has a nice blog.
Sorry not write more, but my English is bad writing.
A hug from my country, Portugal

intrepidideas said...


Thanks for the visit and the comment. Your English is far better than my Portuguese.

intrepidideas said...

Dickster, sorry for the delay in addressing your comment. I hate it when "work" gets in the way of my Blogging. I've got to do something about that... But right now, bills, bills, bills, must be paid! Anyway, sounds like we're in agreement on at least two items. 1) Neither one of us is a scientist. 2) We're both environmentally sensitive in that we're aware of the possible damages to our world/environment and how our actions may impact it, and we're taking small steps to help improve our environment.

The debate seems to be whether or not climate change, global warming, and global cooling are affected by mankind or merely a cosmic eventuality. I've listened to several sides of this debate and will probably do more research as a result of our discussion. As far as I can tell though, global warming seems to be directly proportional to an increase in CO2. Does that mean they're related? Not necessarily. However, I'd be interested in viewing any links that you have discovered that say they are not related. I'm not sure what or who may have caused the prior climate changes but I don't believe in the logic tree that says "because there was one several thousand years ago caused by "whatever" it stands that there will be an unpreventable one in the future and we can't do anything about it. The consequences are too great and I advocate that we pursue a more conservative approach. Here's a post of mine from about a year ago.... You might find it interesting given what I know about you: http://curageousideas.blogspot.com/2008/01/snow-falls-in-baghdad.html

Have you seen "An inconvenient Truth?" If so, what are your thoughts? Don't shoot the messenger! Al Gore can't dance and may not be a great politician but that doesn't mean his facts are wrong. If you haven't seen it, here's about 10 mins. on global warming from his perspective:


Thanks for the discussion.

Anonymous said...

I am 27 years old and I think Going "Green" is a dumb Fad. Don't you people understand that your forgein electric and rice burner combo (or similar Green-labeled product) aren't going to save or conserve any resources on earth? So many of you have fallen for the Marketing fad of being green. It is a huge multi-billion dollar industry that is temporarily refocusing people who can't think for themselves to feel that they have a purpose. We have many greater problems in America to be concerned with instead of redesigning homes to have "Green" materials,etc. etc. Try buying American products, American cars, stop Shopping at huge big-box stores and support local business owners. All of you who think you are doing our country a favor by pretending to be "Green" are really deepening the country's REAL problems by not addressing them. It pains me to exist in a country full of people who have their priorities and their place in life mixed-up by pretending to justify their existence by pretending to be Green. Try to refocus and forget about going "Green" and do something worthwhile, like supporting American Industry. We need to support American Engineered, Conceptualized, and Manufactured products to save our country, not our trees.

intrepidideas said...

Mr. Anonymous, I understand your frustration and I agree that our focus should be on strengthening the U.S. industrial complex but I don't quite follow your logic.

When I was 25 I used to eat at McDonalds a lot. Each time I ate there I would grab about 5-7 napkins and 4 or 5 ketchup packets. I'd end up throwing away several unused napkins and at least half of the ketchups -also unused . When I was 27, I lived in Europe for a while where they charged extra for additional condiments and issued you one tiny napkin with your meal. If you asked for more napkins, they snarled at you and gave them to you one tiny napkin at a time. I was irritated but I figured out that I only really needed about two and a half ketchups and three of those goofy little napkins. Now that I'm back in the U.S., I still grab more big fluffy napkins and Ketchup packets than I need but I've made a conscious effort to reduce my waste and I usually only grab two napkins and 3 ketchups. If you're telling me that it's people like "me" who have decided not to go through life "wasting" things who are ruining America - I don't follow your thinking. If you're suggesting that I throw away all of my compact fluorescent light bulbs and go back to buying the bulbs that say "Hecho in Mexico" and burn out three times faster and are four times less efficient - I don't get It. If you're suggesting that I continue to drive my gas guzzling SUV (11 mpg) when gas is around $5 a gallon instead of utilizing my Hybrid (32 mpg) - The numbers don't add up in my head! Where do you think those dollars are going anyway? All of those petro dollars are being pumped out of our country and sent to the Middle East, Russia, and Venezuela. And all of that wastefully packaging and consumer excess. Most of that stuff is made in China. Personally, I don't need any more plastic shopping bags. A reusable "green" shopping bag makes sense. It may not be the most convenient thing but when California starts charging 25 cents per shopping bag, people will get the message. There's been a huge transfer of wealth from our country to China, Russia, and The Middle East. Look at the trade deficit. That's got nothing to do with being Green! In fact, most of the "Green Products" are made right here in the good ole USA. Why don't you buy a few and save a domestic job or two! American car makers are making some pretty fuel efficient machines. Go buy a Ford Fusion- save a job! Then take the difference in money that you won't be sending to the Middle East and park it in an American Bank-save another job! Recycle some paper and bottles.... Help those people keep their jobs!

You said -

"It pains me to exist in a country full of people who have their priorities and their place in life mixed-up by pretending to justify their existence by pretending to be Green."

Mr. Anonymous, I never knew that supporting American Industry and being "Green" were mutually exclusive. I think you've identified the wrong enemy here. "Green people are not the enemy." And the reality is - many Americans are cutting back on their waste not only because it's the responsible thing to do but also because of the economic impact. Water, electric, and gas cost a lot of money these days and many people can't afford to leave the lights on and waste power like they could during the economic expansion of the 90's. If you're telling me that these people cutting back on their wasteful habits is going to collapse America, Then we're in a lot of trouble! I think maybe you live in an Oil Rich country and you want us to keep buying oil so that you can continue to grow rich off of our excessive and complacent lifestyles.

In all sincerity,

Thanks for stopping by.... It's nice to hear some different views.