Are We Sustainable?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by diane greene, Dec 9, 2004.

  1. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

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    In another thread a poster brought up the idea that things like global warming and depletion of the earth's resources are just "urban legends". Even the Bush folks admit the world is getting warmer and the ice caps are melting, they just don't want to say human industry is the cause in order to protect economic interests. So are we endlessly sustainable? In the last 20 years we have lost 114 species of animal and plant life (these are things that have not been seen in 20 years- they are either gone or very good at hiding from scientists http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4806272/). Our oceans are in serious trouble (just ask any deep sea fisherman http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20030726/bob10.asp) - does this seem a problem to anyone?
    I know many people look to the philosophy of homesteading as a way to live a less materialistic/consumer lifestyle. A benefit of this lifestyle is being able to live closer to the real world of plants and animals and less in the world of plastic and steel. Does the natural world seem to be endlessly sustainable to you? Is collapse possible? Did God create this world for us to demolish like a spoiled children with toys? Many people on this forum worry about economic depression- does anyone worry about environmental shifts that will make it impossible to grow crops. Pollution from Europe is believed to have caused droughts in Africa (can't find my link you will have to Google it yourself)? Could it happen in your part of the world? As humans need more space and resources what are you willing to lose - lady slipper orchids, a few beetles, song birds, whales, polar bears, other people?- where do you draw the line? Sorry to be such a gloom bringer, but it's been on mind and I just wonder what other folks are thinking - if anything.
     
  2. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    diane,
    Interesting post.
    My response is 'yes' and 'no'. You mention lady slippers, and I would hate not seeing them anymore. I have seen them growing in the north side of the abandoned pasture and on a garden property grew right up against a garage. Had these areas gone to roads or housing developments, than that ecosystem for them is gone also. So, the loss of habitat by human encroachment is real and has been ongoing, and continues. We who are in rural areas and have any capacity to steward the land for sustainability can do it. On the other hand, massive uniculture cropping, gangbang land clearing, clear cut forestry practices, and gargantuan feed lots, unsustainable ranching and depletion of the water aquifers are all things to be concerned about. Climate change originates with lifestyle connection to overutilizing fossil fuels among other ideas. Combine that with unchecked human overpopulation and love of the gas guzzling vehicles, and unwise reliance for non renewable resources, than I believe in the future there could be more to panic about than parts of the world warming or other parts cooling.

    As you put it that homesteading is less materialistic or consumable lifestyle. That may, or may not be, depending on your distance of daily job commuting, size of dwelling that may be using oil heating, and what notion you feel that you contribute to less reliance on non-renewable resources. Consider also that the land which you might homestead is not in any 'wild' state. It probably took labor and machine intesive effort to bring in further roads, supply lines and materials for electricity, natural gas lines, etc. etc.

    There is so much broader implications for this topic than to be brief, but basically if everyone has a notion to expand only for land entitlement with all the luxuries attached that have city dwelling aspects, and add to that the notion that feeling more 'room' means more comfort to have more people and increase further populations beyond ultimate capacity, then this doesn't seem like progress.
    I believe technological progress for sustainability should be directed to things that can happen, such as responsible forestry practices, diversity of planting and domestic livestock, conservation practices and care for clean water, and mostly to a more reliable and sustainable energy source like hydrogen fuel, solar, wind energy, and so on. Really, I think that so much is based on greed and detachment from our fellow beings with a lot of selfishness, though I am no perfect being either because I was brought up and taught in the ideals of a consumer and market driven society. It's good to be aware of what is possible for our fate, though. That's what makes us human, and some ability to change.
     

  3. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    Does the natural world seem to be endlessly sustainable to you?

    yes and part of that engine is causing the extinction to species that poop in the tub... us.

    All things being equal, nature roils merrily along, waves of mas extinctions are not at all uncommon for various reasons. If mankind's pooping in the tub triggers Gia to belch prematurely, it will and we Will all perish.
    the mechanics of ice ages are pretty simple; the atmosphere warms up the caps melt and the sea temp rises. this stalls the conveyor currents of the ocean, the sea stagnates the temp plummets and an ice age occurs.

    If we atrtificcially trigger an ice age, then nature will weed out the survivors if any. mankind survived ice ages before... trouble is mankind of that era already know how to cope on a primitive level, we do not. this may be mankind's final ice age.
    yes we will warm up briefly, this is the trigger effect; this temp rise effects the sea that effects everything else.

    eVen if we stopped all greenhouse gas production tomorrow at 6 am, its to late anyway....

    and Every few ice ages the magnetic poles shift and that adds insult to injury.

    in the grand view of life, man is a short lived blip on the radar, we have only been walking talking and producing an impact for the last 10 to 10 thousand years.
    consider Neanderthal man, who was another evolutionary dead end, thrived for a paltry 150 thousand years, and they were highly specialized for the cold nasty world.
    we, as modern people are also highly specialized.... we are very Dependant on our brains, and poor physique wont hack an ice age....
    most of the human race will die off, no question. Those who are left may take another 30 thousand years to get back to our position... if they retain the knowledge.
    we are blessed with a written language and the basic industrial wisdoms, so who knows?

    as far as Gia herself.... short of an asteroid hit, she will live long after we are a distant echo.
     
  4. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    We'll be fine. The sky is not falling yet. Ice has it's own schedule; it comes and goes irregardless of man. Greenhouse gasses are not a problem. There have been much much higher levels in this planet's past and man was not even here to produce it, or remedy it. Species going extinct at present? Hardly; it is a virtual trickle when compared to what has occurred in the past. For serious extinction examples examine the past, starting with the Ordovician event; which was the first of five known great extinctions in history. The Devonian, 360 million years ago, killed 60 percent of all species; the Permian-Triassic, 250 million years ago, killed 90 percent of all life; the late Triassic, 220 million years ago, killed half of all species; and the Cretacious-Tertiary event destroyed the dinosaurs and half of all other species about 65 million years ago.
     
  5. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    dont fear the ice ages fear the corperations to whom your government has become a lapdog to.

    Given a choice of that fallout and an ice age, I wil take my chances with the ice.
     
  6. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    Just saw 'The Day After Tommorow' , and while I think it was a little far fetched, it does make some sense. I think global warming has started and is to late to stop. How long will it take to destroy life as we know it, well its anybodys guess. The earth has her way of cleansing the infections that make her sick (ice ages) Its a matter of when, not if.
     
  7. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    For the earth's temperature to never fluctuate would be wierd I would think.

    There are lots of people on the earth, and someone to specialize in everything. There are certainly people out there obsessed with primitive survival in a cold climate.

    I think humans would be sustainable, if we lived something like the Amish. We would also be alot healthier and happier too I imagine.
     
  8. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ..............Sustainability , is at best , a matter of "Observed Conclusions" , which is both biased by and predetermined in favor of the predisposed opinions of the person doing the evaluation .
    ..............Another , very obvious factor that has come into play in the last few Years , that is a Perversion of the Origional Intent is the Utilization of the "Right of Imminent Domain" by local zoning authorities is to literally Steal private property to Rezone and Rebuild area's so that they will produce More Tax Revenue . This can and does affect the farmer\homesteader. Because , let's say a person owns 100 acres and it is 5 miles from the city limits . Twenty years later the CL is only 500 feet away and a builder decides to develop that 100 acres so he\they approach the PZ board and they subsequently condemn the land because the Property owner was asking twice the appraised value. The property is then evaluated and the Builder only has to pay the Appraised value rather than negotiate with the property owner . This process has esmasculated two important principals :(1) the Imminent Domain power has overstepped it's origional intent and authority , (2) the PZ board has effectively replaced the negotiation process between a willing Buyer and Seller , and(3) the buyer knowns that he is going to obtain the property because the PZ folks are going to Steal it from it's current owner and all he has to do is just sit back and let the process work in his favor . This , process is taking place all over the country and very little is being done to stop this legalized theft of Personal Property . ..fordy... :eek: :)
     
  9. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the Amish statement, and (IMHO) will need to resort back to something like that if we keep up our current energy consumption. (Maybe not so much in my lifetime, but my kids).

    I'm just going to make a few short comments.

    By looking @ ice core samples from different spots on Earth, it is known that the climate has changed (hot/cold) and (wet/dry) for millions of years(this is fact). If humans are having an effect (which i'll admit is very possible) I doubt its really going to change the fact that we will go into another ice age @ some point. If anything it either speeds up the process or delays it. Drastic climate changes have been shown to happen rapidly.

    Now, do we worry about this more then comets/volcanoes/earthquakes/hurricanes/flu outbreaks/CWD/Mad cow/etc.??? I think you can prepare for a lot, but not everything.

    I think you need to look locally and see what will have the most effect directly on yourself/family. Living in WI, I don't need to worry about hurricanes, but I do need to keep an eye on tornadic storms.

    ***Wear your seatbelt and drive safe, because your odds are a hell of a lot better dying in an automobile accident. (this was made clear this past weekend with a string of automobile fatalities in my area).
     
  10. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    One of the facts that doesn't get enough attention, is that in the last 36 years, the world's population has doubled. You really have to think about how that effects our natural resources. It only took 36 years to double what had taken hundreds of years to produce.

    The US population is increasing at about 1.1% per year, not including illegal immigration. At this rate we will have 520 million people approx by 2050.

    The US is projected to have only 290 million acres of arable land by 2050. That works out to about 0.6 acres per person. Agronomists say that a person needs a minimum of 1.2 acres of arable land for a productive diet. I don't know if this is true or not, but if it is, then the math is scary. Seems to me that 0.6 acres of land could feed a lot of people, but I don't know what goes into determining those figures. Some of it is the amount of land needed to feed the cow you eat etc.

    Studies posted on some of the government water conservation sites shows that based on usage in 1998 in Tucson, AZ and taking into consideration the water conservation they have in place, by the year 2012, they will be out of water. Already, Denver is taking water from 5 counties nearby that includes Aspen, which has seen its water supply cut by 50%.

    The whole debate on the oil shortage is not about how much oil is in the ground, but how much the population of the world is growing and how much oil each person is using----not just here in the US, but other countries around the world as well.

    Elm trees got a bug and died out. Now the Red oaks around the country are dying of some type of disease. The Forestry Service tells us here that within 2 years, there won't be a red oak that doens't have the disease. Like the trees, nature has a way of bringing us a virus or bacteria that can and does wipe us out. There was the flu pandemic in the early 1900's and now there are warnings about the bird flu.

    It is all too overwhelming and you just have no way of really knowing what is going to happen.
     
  11. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    I am reminded that 25 years ago we were sure another ice age was coming. All the news, due to a couple of unusually difficult winters, was about the new ice age.

    I was reading where Europe warmed up a lot during the Viking times then a few hundred years later had a mini ice age.

    I'm not so worried about the climate in teh US because I see more and more wildlife ... stuff we never saw as kids ... such as white-tailed deer, Canada geese, beaver and wild turkey ... making a come back. Something must be going right.

    I am more concerned about China's industrial growth, oil consumption and lack of environmental control. Just seems like an accident waiting to happen. One of the local trailer factories got a shipment of doors from China (can't we make doors here ...? But I digress) Workers found an open can of stuff marked with a skull and crossbones in the container. They didn't know what it was and called the fire department, who brought in the Haz-Mat guys :eek: who recognized this chemical as something extremely dangerous. I forget if it would explode if it got wet, or create toxic fumes. The Chinese shipper had put the container in the shipment to fumigate insects. That kind of carelessness makes you think there might be some problems develop.

    But as I think about all this, I like what Jesus said ... "In this world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

    Ann
     
  12. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    humans WERE sustainable, until the last 200 years or so. now, it seems as if we have sown the seeds of our own destruction. i actually find that quite comforting, that we are a part of the constant ebb and flow of this old mother earth. she will prevail.:)
     
  13. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I would say at very best we have reached a plateau in human growth and actually think we have way passed it and will have to fall back. This despite what the silver tongued wizards representing the Gods of the Marketplace and their pyramid scheme economy have to say. It would take another great leap in technology or another great cheap energy source to propagate the blight that has human civilization has become at current rates of expansion.
     
  14. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    National Geographic had a quote a while back in one of their magazines that said something to the effect that if the Chinese lived like Americans, we would need 2.5 planet Earths. Scary thought, considering the automobile craze hitting China right now.

    The US uses 20.45 million bpd (per DAY!)...this isn't sustainable. Consumption is expected to grow even more. The WORLD (total) uses around 80 million bpd.

    I don't buy into these mass starvation, huge dieoff scenarios(atleast in the USA). I do think, economically, we could be in a world of hurt if we don't change some habits and pay off some debts. Its one reason why the Eurodollar has been on a rampage this year (along with others).

    Population growth is negative in a lot of Euro countries. I could see this trend continuing(spreading) if economic conditions worsen in the years ahead.

    I will add that I do drive a vehicle (it gets good mileage), heat with nat gas, and just got done eating a pineapple from Costa Rica. Its a hard habit to break!
     
  15. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

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    Boy am I with you one this one comfortablynumb, great quote!. I think we have done a lot of harm to the inviroment but we can change our ways. Start harvesting rain water. Grow a garden. Buy organic food when ever possible. Drive something gas saving. Cut down on trash. Avoid trans fats :) . What we do can make a difference and even people in citys can do the suggestions above.
     
  16. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I agree, We have to begin thinking about consequenses of overpopulation. It's an individual thing and whether we see ideas beyond selfish urges or linking that
    family values equates human procreation. So many people have kids who don't want them (some studies show this to be as high as 80% of married couples have kids 'just because'), and many having unwanted children in poor countries can't look after them. It's a sad fact. People not childed, like me and others chosing that life wholesomely and responsibly, are often chided and ostracized for being in the minority. Why it makes people 'comfortable' bliss and they aren't asked why they have kids, as those who are childless or childfree are constantly pressured to procreate further the human race. Harmony with people should be constant enough with as many of us are around already. Economist 'fright' about 'demographics' that overpopulation 'sustains' economies doesn't have to be dogma. Perhaps in the future, a more reasonable approach to developing mass sustainability for progress by static human growth can be figured out. The sad current fact is that each person added in a develooped nation is a multiple consumer of resources much greater than anyone born in underdeveloped areas, thus an amassing of further pollution on the notion of 'consumerism'.
    I don't believe in socialistic, communistic,or police states either. Freedom and liberty are primary indicators of happiness for freethinking and people in a free country, though I am somewhat conflicted about attitiude that we shouldn't conserve.

    Frank, I am also a 'homesteading hypocrit' and freely admit it, because I'm also feeling trapped to the gasoline burning vehicle, electric/oil fired furnace to keep warm, and eating those damn holiday mandarin oranges imported on fuel guzzling flying cargo planes to fulfill my greedy gratification with wants and desires for something that can't grow here in December! I can't say that consumerism isn't a way of life with this country dweller, as anyone else in the city. Perhaps the only good feeling I may have is not adding some clone of me to add in wanting further consumerism on such a scale, because I'm sure if I had a kid, they would want an SUV, boat, fishing junk, etc. etc. and probably a methane producing horse! (tongue in cheek) :no:
     
  17. Jane in southwest WI

    Jane in southwest WI Well-Known Member

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    Great suggestions, and I'll add this one: NO MORE PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS! I bring an assortment of canvas bags with me when I go shopping. They are so much better for carrying groceries than plastic or paper bags, they are reusable and they aren't harmful to the environment. It's a little disheartening when I see everyone else carrying out all those plastic bags, and in my area most plastic is not recyclable.
     
  18. pigneeder

    pigneeder New Member

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    Why is it people think that humans will die off because of a change in the environment ? If humans only lived in the environment we were suited to, we would all live in the middle east/africa. But we wear clothes, build houses, grow food, drive cars, etc. Some people even live in antartica and space. And all this talk about acres/ person is just silly, just as a mental thought, lets say we grow plants indoors under lights powered by nuclear fission/fusion. eh ? The future will be powered by advanced technology not old technology. Think of nuclear submarines. They can extract all the O2 they need from the ocean ... have nuclear power etc. That is old old tech and equipment. If we had to develop new ways to power and feed ourselves we would. It isnt really that hard, there is just NO NEED for building nuclear reactors to power lights to grow plants to feed to animals living on the 10th floor of a 100 floor building to feed a person when they can just buy a baby calf and raise it on grass that grows wildly ! That said, poor people will have a hard time, as always. Many poor people wont survive it, many dont now. eh.
     
  19. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    As far as we are concerned, fordy is right that this is the issue that it will all boil down to.
    Whatever crisis might come - natural or economic - all the folks out there who are spending their money on new shoes and boats and other fancy toys are going to be hungry!
    All the sacrifices my family has made in order to buy our homestead / farm equipment / livestock etc. will be for naught when those hungry folks demand a share of our pie because it's for the "public good".

    Wise folks KNOW to prepare for a rainy day. Part of that preparation is the awareness that the lazy squirrels who are not collecting nuts are going to try to steal yours come winter. :mad:
    So what to do? The only thing they can't take away from you is the knowledge of how to survive when the Super Wal-mart trucks stop coming....
     
  20. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    About population ... isn't Africa predicted to become a wasteland in future as so many die of AIDS :waa: (That whole scenario really bothers me when I read about orphans there. We donate to charities for children but still ...)

    Ann