What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Alan Phipps » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 14:10

Surely the real benefit of a thread like this would be when people post something simple and practical that they do and then somebody else thinks, 'I didn't know we could do that' or 'I hadn't thought of that' or 'I could easily do that too.' Examples could be carrying an acceptable reusable coffee cup into participating coffee outlets, taking reusable bags when shopping, buying low packaging refills rather than new spray bottles, etc.

Giving up the car type of lifestyle change doesn't strike me as quite in that category (although I may applaud those who make those sort of choices). That said, the little things really do add up significantly over time and with larger numbers participating.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Observe » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 15:56

Trouble is, it is already too late. Strong international cooperation involving severe and drastic steps was necessary years ago. That didn't happen and given Brexit and other nationalist movements, the chances of any effective action is vanishingly small. This is a global problem. No single nation can solve it.

Even now, we have people who think it's OK to eat meat, fly and drive all over the place and transport products by land and sea to the point of absurdity. Excessive consumption is the rule of the day.

We hear a lot about the need for endless economic growth. Usually that translates into destruction of the environment, extinction of species and eventually the demise of human civilization. A completely new approach to economics is needed. The existing profit based system is designed to destroy us.

The only thing we can do at this late stage, is stop having children and climb to higher ground. The collective will to make a difference is simply not present.

Live simply so others may simply live. Every comfort we derive from our modern lifestyle, will result in suffering for all the inhabitants of our planet, now and in the future.

I admit, I do get pissed off when I hear people talk about the little things they can do to help - while continuing to persist in the worst behaviors as if those don't matter.

The common mantra seems to be: let's not do the right thing, because it's too damn hard. Instead, let's pretend that half measures can win the day.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Alan Phipps » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 21:04

Well that is rather more a topic for a different thread than this one, IMO.

Keeping a typical/normal/average (whatever) lifestyle but doing the little things you can to help seems much better to me than keeping that lifestyle and not doing them because they might appear to some to be futile/insignificant. At least we see car manufacture gradually moving away from reliance on fossil fuel now, whether they jumped or were pushed. Now we have to make it affordable and get the car consumers onboard, so to speak.

(As an aside, this is the first time I have seen Brexit being partly blamed for a global issue! :D OK, I'll consider myself warned for going off topic.)
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by red assassin » Wed, 14. Aug 19, 00:36

Chips wrote:
Tue, 13. Aug 19, 13:24
Taking it literally too parallel. Perhaps choosing Fair Trade would have been better. The actions of a few gained traction - no Governments whatsoever involved. From there, companies and corporations got involved keen to bolster their corporate social responsibilities (but also slyly it ensured supply continuity and quality eventually too). Has it had an impact upon farmers and communities around the world? Demonstrably yes. But it was the actions of individuals that collectively resulted in a shift - and no Government law changes were required. If you waited for legislation, which funnily enough would almost certainly not happen due to it involving an entire supply chain across countries and continents, it'd have never happened. People do not need Governments to force changes, they can do it themselves - and sometimes more efficiently (no endless bureaucracy that pro-actively delays and holds things up - as i mentioned with lobbyists who have self interests in preventing action).
The impact of Fair Trade on a global scale is tiny. A couple of thousand producer organisations certified, a tiny fraction of goods trade even to rich Western nations affected, never mind considering global trade as a whole, and questions over the impact it has even on producers that have signed up. Is it a good thing anyway? Probably. But a useful comparison to stopping climate change? Only in the sense that it's a great example of a popular citizen-led action campaign achieving small gains over the course of a lot of years, which is about what we've managed against climate change... but civilisation isn't gonna end because Fair Trade hasn't reached enough people, and there's no deadline for it either.
I am starting to get the impression you think I view this thread as the solution? No, that's crazy talk. But driving down energy usage (hence the kettle - boil what you need only) not only uses less energy, but saves people money as well. It's reasonable, practical, and ZERO EFFORT COST improvements that can be made. That's why I don't quite get your opposition to it. Unless you view such zero cost lifestyle improvements as "pointless effort" - at which point, why bother do anything. May as well wait for the Governments to decide (how on earth they do that if they don't believe it's voters desire to see it... :o ) what's necessary for us and legislate for it (again, good grief it takes decades if ever)... and then have to try and force people to adopt it with "the stick" method - as people won't want to take part unless it's made to cost.

Meanwhile, spreading awareness (without making people feel like they're being bludgeoned as per climate protesters trying to shut down a city centre) and showing people that you don't need to make sacrifices to be more responsible/considerate (and hoping this then translates into being more interested as well, wanting to see a change etc) can't be a bad thing. Hence, the thread... has a good purpose. But I don't imagine for one second anyone believes the solution is in the thread - except for perhaps you thinking that's what we think?
As I've said several times, my opposition is that billing these measures as an environmental thing lets people think that they've Done Something and feeds a narrative that we can stop climate change and other catastrophic ecological damage via asking people for minor lifestyle changes. It minimises how much trouble we're in and it helps vested interests deflect attention away from the major changes that actually need to happen to save us. People hear "Do these minor things and help the environment!" and they maybe try a couple of them and they think "great, I'm helping the environment!" and tick that little box off in their heads and the truth is whatever they've done doesn't matter.

You wanna bill it as tips to save a little money here and there? Great. Go for it. Maybe you'll help a few people. But don't bill it as helping the environment because a) it isn't and b) the idea that it is is actively counterproductive.


Also, I find it amusing that you cited the suffragettes as an example a couple of posts ago and are now suggesting that climate protesters making people feel bludgeoned is a bad thing. Next to nobody is going to voluntarily sign up for the massive personal lifestyle changes that all of us will need to endure because they're gonna suck. Certainly nobody who runs an oil company is going to voluntarily fold it. We're out of time and change needs to be forced by the only entities powerful enough to do so, and if we want them to do so then those who care need in turn to do whatever's necessary to force them to.

You can reasonably suggest that that's highly unlikely to happen, that it's anti-democratic unless the majority of people are asking for it, that the economic consequences will be enormous, etc etc, and you would be entirely correct in every case... but there's no time and the alternative is we are all going to die.



edit: banning myself from this thread, sorry, no further replies forthcoming.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Olterin » Wed, 14. Aug 19, 01:40

@red assassin

Given all your "doom and gloom" (arguably mostly justified, except I'm not quite convinced humanity will die out entirely unless we actively kill ourselves with nukes), and your proposals to go vote for parties trying to oppose climate change... here's another depressing thought. Even if all the Western countries were to overnight go "green" (as in, zero net emissions of any kind), we'd still be falling way way way way short of where we'd need to be to actually preserve current civilization. You probably know this already, but I feel like maybe reminding everyone of this perspective helps also put into perspective that every little bit matters - because clearly, getting our Western countries to that state of Zero Net Emissions is a Good Thing™ (lead by example, get the debates going, these kinds of reasons). The reason I'm saying that we'd be falling way short? Two, actually: India and China.

I started reading this thread under the assumption that it might contain useful things I hadn't thought of myself just yet. Miniscule though they might be, every bit would surely help - and that's in no opposition to also doing all the "obvious" things such as participating in the democratic process, as far as I'm concerned.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Mightysword » Fri, 16. Aug 19, 01:22

I kinda understand where Red Assassin came from though: to draw a parallel.

A few years ago, California faced a severe drought. And the state applied some really draconian water saving measure on the residents. I visited a relative during this time and tbh, it was so bad you would feel bad if you have to take a 3 minutes shower. This also draw some of the "ugliness" out of people. Folks started to look around and accusing of each others, people take picture of house with swimming pools and publicly shamed them on social media ...etc... all the while remains oblivious to the real issue. For a quick reference: look at this picture:

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/fi ... on-2_0.png

Public Supply contributed a whooping 12% of freshwater consumption. And noted that as an agriculture state, the percentage usages for irrigation in California would skewed even more. So, what a 3min shower save? What is the cost of people keeping their swimming pool filled, or trying to keep the lawn green? 2%, 3% of the overall? And like I said, these misguided anger toward individual massed the much bigger institutionalized issues, like:

- For years, California chased after the super food fever for big profit (like Almond, which is a waterhog crop).
- They still bottle water and export it.
- You would think a state with such a big economy would know how to invest better in their water infrastructure (ala Isareal).

Yes, I'm not saying the mindset of "everyone does a little bit to help" is not important or irrelevant. But sadly we live in a culture where people look over other shoulders for a reason to feel enrage in order to validate ourselves. We do little small things and brag about it on social media to earn "like" in order to feel good as if we are matter. And such, we chase after these little small satisfaction/gratification in our day to day live while blissfully ignore the larger issues.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by pjknibbs » Fri, 16. Aug 19, 08:35

The problem with that argument is that it can just be used as an excuse to do *nothing*. I mean, it doesn't matter if my car returns 12 mpg, it's just a drop in the ocean of worldwide fuel use, right?

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by BugMeister » Fri, 16. Aug 19, 08:49

Alan Phipps wrote:
Tue, 13. Aug 19, 14:10
Surely the real benefit of a thread like this would be when people post something simple and practical that they do and then somebody else thinks, 'I didn't know we could do that' or 'I hadn't thought of that' or 'I could easily do that too.' Examples could be carrying an acceptable reusable coffee cup into participating coffee outlets, taking reusable bags when shopping, buying low packaging refills rather than new spray bottles, etc.

Giving up the car type of lifestyle change doesn't strike me as quite in that category (although I may applaud those who make those sort of choices). That said, the little things really do add up significantly over time and with larger numbers participating.

- it's the "I'm alright, Jack" approach..

- give up driving
- unrestricted private vehicle ownership is the curse of humanity..

- just give up driving, and stop making excuses..
- love thy neighbour as thyself.. etc, etc.. :roll:
- the whole universe is running in BETA mode - we're working on it.. beep..!! :D :thumb_up:

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by RegisterMe » Fri, 16. Aug 19, 10:50

Well I don't have a car and have lent my parking space to a neighbour who's a junior doctor working in A&E in a local hospital.

I iz saintly.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Mightysword » Fri, 16. Aug 19, 17:01

pjknibbs wrote:
Fri, 16. Aug 19, 08:35
The problem with that argument is that it can just be used as an excuse to do *nothing*. I mean, it doesn't matter if my car returns 12 mpg, it's just a drop in the ocean of worldwide fuel use, right?
Not really. I already said:
Mightysword wrote:
Fri, 16. Aug 19, 01:22
Yes, I'm not saying the mindset of "everyone does a little bit to help" is not important or irrelevant.
But whether that's matter or not is whether people not get fool into ignoring the bigger problem. Since you mentioned car, that's actually another good example of my point. I'm not currently a believer of Electric car. I consider myself an environment conscious person, but last year I still bought a new gasoline car with a high mpg, why? Because I feel electric car is a typical example of putting the cart before the horse. Given the fact that the majority of the energy grid still source from fossil fuel, and ~1/3 (used to be 1/2) are from coal, a highly efficient gasoline car is probably less of a drain on the environment then an inefficient electric car drawing from a coal-fired power plant. Sure, it probably helps make the 'local' air a bit cleaner, but we're talking about massive investment from the government and industry on R&D, as well as the consumers paying a premium to simply shifting the problem out of view, not actually solving it.

Like I said the problem is with modern culture and mentality, just like in other threads I often said people make up a target and slab a label on it, believe that it is the source of their problem and pour their anger and frustration on that target, believing all their problems will disappear upon that target removal. And while that maybe somewhat true (to a small degree), that allows them to blind to the fact that a much larger problem is themselves.

Here is another example:

I still use a flip phone. Tiny little thing, fit just inside of my palm. And despite it's 10 years old so the battery must have decay greatly, I still only charge it once a week.

Most people these days use a smartphones. I had seen the charge frequency ranging from once every 3 days to something like 3 times a days, and again where all the extra charges drawing energy from what source? The point I'm talking about here is not about criticizing the usage of smart phone btw, even though if every person on earth discard their smartphone and go back to the simplier phone I bet that will help. Still, that's a mostly irrelevant discussion, because the real problem is elsewhere.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Observe » Fri, 16. Aug 19, 20:12

Mightysword wrote:
Fri, 16. Aug 19, 17:01
I consider myself an environment conscious person, but last year I still bought a new gasoline car with a high mpg, why? Because I feel electric car is a typical example of putting the cart before the horse. Given the fact that the majority of the energy grid still source from fossil fuel...
I think the idea is to transition away from fossil fuels. Cars are only one part of the equation as you rightly point out. Over time, we need to transition away from fossil fuel power plants. How exactly we do that, is still a work-in-progress. Nevertheless, do it we must.

We already have a number of countries that are proposing to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles. Norway, Germany, France, China and others. Costa Rica is proposing a ban in 2011. They generate 99% of their electricity from renewable sources and they hope to become the first country to fully decarbonize.

Ultimately, we need to stop driving anywhere as much as possible. Our large population centers (cities) probably should ban personal vehicles altogether. Air travel should also be illegal under most circumstances. Buying a product from Amazon and having it delivered in one or two days should include carbon taxes to cover the environmental impact of such expediency.

So yeah, in many ways, electric cars are just sticking a new label on an old problem and kicking the can down the street for someone else to throw in the trash.

Still, buying a gasoline car because electric isn't a perfect solution, is kind of like saying let's not outlaw guns, because outlaws will still be able to get them. We know we are in dire straits, but let's ignore solutions until we find the perfect one. There is no "perfect" solution to the climate change problem, short of putting a dam on our excessive consumption.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Mightysword » Sat, 17. Aug 19, 02:07

Observe wrote:
Fri, 16. Aug 19, 20:12
Ultimately, we need to stop driving anywhere as much as possible. Our large population centers (cities) probably should ban personal vehicles altogether. Air travel should also be illegal under most circumstances. Buying a product from Amazon and having it delivered in one or two days should include carbon taxes to cover the environmental impact of such expediency.
Here is the thing, do you know that most people live in Downtown already don't drive? I mean ... why would they?
- Super expensive parking fee.
- Work and shopping are usually within walking/distance.
- Most place in old downtowns are single or double lane traffics.

So ... where do you think all the cars come from? It's mainly from people who had to commute from the suburb to the city to work. You can see clear evidence of this in the winter in place like Denver. On heavy Snowdays that you would expect slow and congestion, the metro area is usually "empty", you're like ... having the whole boulevard to yourself in the morning. It's not because people staying at home, it's because all in the inbound traffic got stuck on the highways leading into the city, which made up the majority of the rush hour commune. Then after those traffic trickle in during the day, in the evening it's the Metro traffic that takes turn becoming a shit show because people try to leave the city. Trust me, people in the city limit don't drive, or drive very little. In fact, try to look up research on this, there are several out there that break down the #of mile drive by population, age group ...etc... the Metro people are at the bottom in term of average mileage per year.

Advocating for people to not drive or drive less is one thing, but that's merely empty drivel if you don't provide them with meaningful alternative. Will you pay the bill for a family who have already spent 2h commune to get to work even if they drive, otherwise I don't see how they can keep their job. I personally know someone who take a 4h commune EVERYDAY to go to college via public transportation, God bless his heart for what he does, but the only reason he can do it because he's an old man, retired, and only do 2 classes per semester for fun.

I know people tend to make fun about "America loves their car" joke, but there is one thing they tend to forget is just how freaking big this country is. You should take a look at the map of our population distribution, and you will realize not even when we have something as good as the Japanese has, it will not become a completely substitute for cars. And heck, I think even our best system is still about 20 years behind what the Japanese currently has.
Buying a product from Amazon and having it delivered in one or two days should include carbon taxes to cover the environmental impact of such expediency.
How is that any different than me going to the supermarket in my own car? Why single out Amazon? In fact, isn't in this case it's actually better to shop from a place like Amazon? I mean ... it's like taking the bus to work instead of driving your own car. Have one truck deliver items to 100 houses a day is better than having 100 cars driving to the shop seperately surely? Adding the fact that the delivery truck will most likely be operated base on the most efficient route, while the 100 cars will not since they will at least waste half of the distance on the round trip. I don't think you really thought this example through.
So yeah, in many ways, electric cars are just sticking a new label on an old problem and kicking the can down the street for someone else to throw in the trash.
Do you remember the sequestration a few years ago and why we do it? I'm not talking about logic here, I'm talking about "mentality", and sadly mentality a lot of time doesn't follow logic. Sometime we take up extreme action and even have to refuse small corrective measure for the sake of something actually matter to happen. You can give a man a fish every day, or you can teach him how to fish, and a lot of time even after that, you might have let him have a taste of starvation to work up that motivation of fishing for himself.
Still, buying a gasoline car because electric isn't a perfect solution,
I don't see electric car in this environment a non-perfect solution, I see it as a "pointless" solution. It have large upfront cost while does not result in a net positive for the environment. It's like a farmer try to save water by cutting down his shower time from 5m to 3m, while continue wasting thousand of gallons on poor farming practice.
is kind of like saying let's not outlaw guns, because outlaws will still be able to get them. We know we are in dire straits, but let's ignore solutions until we find the perfect one. There is no "perfect" solution to the climate change problem, short of putting a dam on our excessive consumption.
Nope, I don't see it like that at all. The difference between our views you are trying to sell it as a "somewhat a solution", while I don't see it that way. The way I see this is more like you're trying to tell people to help putting a fire with a bottle of water because "hey it's something". The day I see our grid draw less than 30% from fossil fuel, I'll consider an electric car. But right now like I said, I'm pretty sure my gasoline car does less damage to the environment than the supposed "clean energy run car" but technically run on coal.
Last edited by Mightysword on Sat, 17. Aug 19, 02:30, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by RegisterMe » Sat, 17. Aug 19, 02:17

Mightysword wrote:
Sat, 17. Aug 19, 02:07
The day I see our grid draw less than 30% from fossil fuel, I'll consider an electric car. But right now like I said, I'm pretty sure my gasoline car does less damage to the environment than the supposed "clean energy run car" but technically run on coal.
And there, in a nutshell, we have it :(.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by pjknibbs » Sat, 17. Aug 19, 05:19

Mightysword wrote:
Fri, 16. Aug 19, 17:01
Because I feel electric car is a typical example of putting the cart before the horse. Given the fact that the majority of the energy grid still source from fossil fuel, and ~1/3 (used to be 1/2) are from coal, a highly efficient gasoline car is probably less of a drain on the environment then an inefficient electric car drawing from a coal-fired power plant.
Sorry, but that's absolute cobblers. For a start, if you look at the breakdown of how the US generates its electricity, coal accounts for only just over a quarter (source: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3). You actually generate more than a third from nuclear and renewables. Secondly, power stations can be run at the point where they are most efficient at turning heat energy into useful work quite easily, whereas internal combustion engines usually have a fairly narrow rev range at which they're most efficient and it's practically impossible to keep them running in that sweet spot at all times, so overall efficiency of the ICE in a car will be lower. Thirdly, power stations being large stationary structures means it's possible to build a lot of scrubbing technology into them in order to clean up the exhaust that simply isn't possible on a small, mobile thing like a car.

As for the efficiency of electric cars, they're pretty darned good. A typical electric motor will turn more than 80% of the input power into useful work.

So, overall: even if you could somehow ensure that all the electricity you put into your electric car comes from coal-fired power stations, which is obviously an absurdity given the way the electricity grid works, you would still be emitting less CO2 per mile travelled under all but the most ridiculously favourable conditions (e.g. you're driving your car on a long journey where you never need to change speed and can run the engine at its efficiency sweet spot constantly). In the real world, where a significant portion of the 'leccy you're putting in your car comes from non-fossil fuel sources, the situation is even better for the electric car.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Masterbagger » Sat, 17. Aug 19, 06:10

Mightysword wrote:
Fri, 16. Aug 19, 17:01




Like I said the problem is with modern culture and mentality, just like in other threads I often said people make up a target and slab a label on it, believe that it is the source of their problem and pour their anger and frustration on that target, believing all their problems will disappear upon that target removal. And while that maybe somewhat true (to a small degree), that allows them to blind to the fact that a much larger problem is themselves.

Here is another example:
I think that sentiment is more relevant than anything else to a whole range of issues. We have a mentality here where something bad either happens or is predicted to happen. People cry out "We have to do something!" Here comes our political class with a plan. It may address the problem or it may just make people feel better and not deal with the problem at all but it is still a plan. Everyone who cried out then jumps to "We have to do this plan!". There isn't a whole lot of examination of who stands to personally profit in terms of money or political power from the plan. We just want some action to be done even if it is futile.

That's where we are. I think the climate doomsayers didn't get this much attention in decades past because the technology that lets us share information has become so much more instantaneous. 20 years ago most of us knew what Y2k was but it wasn't blasted in our faces 24/7 and hyped to such an extent that we had to face our own mortality every time we pulled up an internet browser. Maybe we were just less susceptible to hysteria back then as well. We just carried on as usual and it passed. There is a design behind getting people to panic to do stuff they would never consider otherwise.

It makes me sad. I need to step out to the garage and whisper some encouraging words to my mustang. I patched her freon leak, vacuum leak(s), oil leak, and got everything but the antilock brakes running because I'll be damned if I get another brake module again those stupid things only last a couple years and no one needs it anyway. She'll make point five past lightspeed. She may not look like much but she's got it where it counts. Runs like a raped ape when you hit the gas. Made a lot of special modifications myself. I think I'm doing right by keeping her running and not consuming the resources it would take to get a whole new vehicle.
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