Breaking the cycle

Global warming is in the news, and it’s in our every day lives.  Right now,  it’s the middle of January and we are expecting 55F this weekend, in an area of the US that should be seeing freezing temperatures.   Is this global warming and what is the answer?

The real names of global warming are waste and greed.  ~~ Wendell Berry

I sat and read this over a couple of times, I tried to think of another answer.  It is possible that this is just another phase the earth is going through, but I believe even if that is true, our actions are speeding things up.  Are those actions the result of simply greed and waste?

Whether you want to talk about global warming or  pollution (of water, air, land) I kept coming back to Mr. Berry’s opinion that it’s cause is waste and greed.

I still remember when I was young a commercial on television of a Native American standing by a waterway with tears rolling down his cheek as he stood looking at the pollution.

80% of our products are made to be used only once. ~~ The Hidden Life of Garbage

I can find no better answer, so the question is, “can we make better choices and break the cycle of greed and waste”?

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27 comments

  1. Is it also laziness? It really doesn’t take long to put a jumper on when it’s cold rather than bumping up the heating. I can’t stand seeing people in t-shirts inside in winter. We keep our heating on 18C during the day, perhaps up to 20C at night and then turn it off when in bed. My boys think of me as the electricity police too, I’m always on them to turn off lights when not in the room. Sometimes I feel like no one is listening but hopefully, the message is starting to sink in………..

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    • Yes! I too hate seeing people around here with tee shirts and shorts on inside the home. I keep my thermostat as low as I can and am famous for wearing several layers. Currently I have a tee shirt, sweatshirt and then a lightweight jersey-type jacket on along with heavy socks on my feet. There are plenty of blankets and quilts around for anyone who visits to curl up in as well.

      I’m known for two things when it comes to things around the house, telling everyone to turn off the lights and for the males, to put the seat down!

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  2. I have such mixed feelings about this whole topic. On the one hand I believe it’s absolutely waste and greed – and don’t even get me started on the whole mis-information campaign of the oil & coal lobbies.

    On the other hand, I have to remember that human beings are simply animals, and we’re simply doing what animals do. Is my cat wasteful and greedy because he wants to eat the best food he can get, and sit by the heater in the winter? It’s easy to sit in judgement of people driving Hummers and exalting in rapacious consumerism – but what about the subsistence farmer who burns down the rain forest to grow crops to feed his children? Both are contributing to the problem.

    One would hope that we, as a species, would be able to look at the big picture here and realize that we’d better make some pretty big changes real soon if we are to survive – but I’m just not sure it’s gonna happen.

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    • Cat, I always look forward to your point of view. On the subject of misinformation, but on a totally different subject, have you heard about the professor who is questioning the events at Sandy Hook Elementary school? He believes it was a staged exercise to get people behind changing the gun laws, and that the media is falling in by not asking the right questions. So, yes the misinformation out there is more than rampant, even if this man is off-his-rocker crazy.

      When using the example of your cat, which was a good one, I’d ask you if your cat was left to fend for himself outdoors, would he be seen as wasteful? Yes, he would seek warm spots to rest in, but would he wait to find food that comes with tons of packaging. Wish I could remember who said it, (and I am paraphrasing some) but I read a quote that said only humans create waste, that all other animals waste is absorbed back into the earth.

      On the subject of the rain forest, is it the subsistence farmer who has done the most damage, or the large corporations who move in and clear the forest to raise cattle for our meat consumption? I’ve never looked at the numbers, so if you have the answer I’d love to hear it.

      In the end, I”m with you. I’m not sure we are going to make the changes needed to be able to continue to enjoy the life we know in the future.

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      • Good point about the corporations and the rain forests, and no, I don’t know the numbers.

        I go round and round with this entire idea of climate change being a “moral issue.” A big part of me heartily agrees – in general I think that corporations have WAY too much power. But I also think that it’s sort of an inevitable thing with SOOOOO many people on this planet.

        Are you familiar with Richard Heinberg? He’s mostly a Peak Oil guy, but he also an ecologist. He has a great analogy where he compares humanity’s “feeding frenzy” on oil to that of yeast eating the sugar in grape juice (making wine by turning sugar into alcohol.) It’s great while the party lasts, but eventually we eat up all the fuel and leave ourselves with nothing but the waste product, which happens to be poisonous to us. He compares our situation to a “population bloom” that you see whenever some animal finds an abundant food source – he just says that in our case the “food” is actually “fuel” in the form of oil.

        Not sure what my point is, but when you look at it that way, it just sorta seems like it’s inevitable – the corporate greed is only hastening our demise.

        Or, perhaps I’m just too fatalistic! 🙂

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        • Yes, I have read some information by Richard Heinberg, and I want to say he was featured in a documentary I watched but I can’t recall for sure right now.

          Corporations do have way too much power today, I wonder what the founding fathers would think of the country the started, but that is another discussion all together.

          I don’t think you are too fatalistic, there are groups and pockets of people all around who are taking action in their private lives, but for me there weren’t enough people around locally who cared that I sought out like-minded people through the blog world. I really am concerned for the future generations.

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  3. No doubt in my mind it’s greed and waste, it’s all about money. I remember reading back in the late 80’s a New York Times article about the oceans and it stated that tuna would be nearly gone in 25 years and guess what?, there’s hardly any tuna left. We know what’s going to happen, already, but no one wants to hear or deal with it. There’s this new strange movement to be proud of our ignorance and put down science, there were people saying this (climate change) would happen when I was a kid in the 70’s! And I’m just sick about the elephants, rinos and other large animals that will be gone by the time my children are my age.
    We have solar panels on our house, use cloth napkins, hang our cloths, have energy saving appliances, eat organic, rarely ever buy “new”, don’t use herbicides or pesticides, keep my cats indoors (to spare the birds) use indiginous plants when gardening, heck, we don’t have a traditional grass lawn, I could go on and on! What we do doesn’t cost more actually it costs less, WAY less but try getting others to do it, they think I’m crazy!
    This issue has been politicized so that money can continue to be made, in record amounts by the way. My children, now 21 (twins) and 19 are pretty much disgusted and very cynical that anything will change, not at all how I felt at their age, a complete optimist. I recently spoke with a couple of doctors about cancer and the dramatic rise in autism and they really feel that it’s the environment we have created and spoke about “endocrine disruptors”, when you start to read about this it’s frightening.
    Now at 49 I see things very differently then I used to and struggle to keep hope alive that we humans will ever change.

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    • Jayne, we have lived such similar paths in our lives. I too remember the stories that came out about the tuna and decided to stop eating it at that point. I’ve been hearing stories of how we should be eating this fish or that to save the tuna that are left, but what happens when we over consume the new popular fish?

      I worry not so much about my children, but my grand children. I traveled quite a bit with my children, they were able to see animals, natural parks, and so much more. I feel like you about the loss of the animals we are slowly, or not so slowly, killing off but at least my children will have the chance to remember them, my grand children not so much.

      I don’t have solar panels, but do most of the rest of what you do. Since my landlord is thrilled with the improvements I’ve made to the “field” out back, which has been a reason some people have moved here, he pretty much lets me do what I want, so I’m planning to put in a clothes line behind some trees and see if I can get away with that this summer. It is so much cheaper to grow an organic garden than one loaded with pesticides and healthier for the workers as well. A good friend used to work on a large potato farm here. She tells us how the fields were sprayed before planting, then the tops of the plants were killed off with more pesticide, once harvested the potatoes were again sprayed before going into storage. The one thing she makes perfectly clear is that while the spraying was going on everyone had to be out of the fields because of the dangers and the ones doing the spraying work huge protective suits and masks. This is crazy.

      My same friend has undergone chemo and radiation for cancer this year. One day she came home from her appointment and told he that while waiting for her treatment she heard one of the nurses state that it was only 2pm yet they had already had 545 people come through the doors for treatment. She said she wished she was shocked, but was only saddened so many people have to go through what she is.

      And yes, growing up I thought the world was one big open (with waiting arms) world for me to enjoy.

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  4. Possibly a TMI moment but I switched to reusable menstrual items because the waste (of money AND stuff) of disposable pads and tampons is just ridiculous. I also started using recycled-plastic toothbrushes, and I will be switching to “real” floss instead of plastic flossing picks. And that’s just the bathroom! I also pack my lunch in reusable (90% of the time, glass) containers instead of plastic throwaway ones whenever possible, and I’ve been starting to buy more whole foods to make meals instead of buying prepackaged meals that are worse for your body and the environment. I try every day to make a smaller impact on the Earth. We’re killing it, and where can we put it when it’s time to throw IT away? The Earth is not meant to be disposable, the Earth is not for one-time use. We should be leaving it in a better state for future generations but we just throw it in the garbage like everything else.

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    • Caitlin, you give me so much hope. It’s your generation and those that will follow who are going to suffer from the choices my generation has made. On the subject of your reusable menstrual items, I switched to a menstrual cup (the keeper) more than 10 years ago after I became sick using the disposable choices. My doctor said she could try to do some tests, but I was either suffering from Toxic Shock, allergic to the additives, or having a pesticide reaction. That was enough for me, they were gone.

      I love your statement: “We’re killing it [the earth], and where can we put it when it’s time to throw IT away. That should be a slogan for everyone to think about.

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  5. Reblogged this on Transformed as Clay and commented:
    Some things to think about…
    Whether it is something the planet was meant to go through, or something we have brought on…we could absolutely be doing more to preserve and prevent. I try daily to do something better for the environment, but sometimes it feels like an uphill (losing) battle.
    I highly recommend you read the comments section of this post too…very good dialogue there. 🙂

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    • Thank you, we could and should be doing more to preserve and prevent further damage to not only the earth but to ourselves. I too feel it’s an uphill battle, like finding brand new khaki shorts in the trash geesh, give them away first.

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      • I couldn’t agree more, its frustrating to see what people throw away. I always try to donate or give away items that I won’t use anymore…and I TRY to encourage others to do the same.
        I do, however, believe that there is a huge group in this generation that is starting to see the value in recycling, repurposing, reusing, and shopping and living sustainably with products that were produced and break down according to the natural flow of the planet rather than becoming super-pollution products that will take more years than we have to break down.
        There will need to be a HUGE cultural shift in order for that to make a dent in the damage we’re doing, but my hope is that it is coming with people like you and I and other likeminded people. 🙂

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        • It’s my hope as well, and why I keep blogging about it. There are wonderful young people out there who are bucking the system and thinking about more than their own needs. Caitlin at Born again minimalist is one of those young people at age 24, but I know there are plenty more out there like you.

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  6. I agree that there are lots of younger people out there who are making a difference. I think the earth will always be here – we might extinguish ourselves, but the earth will rebound without us! Hope we don’t get to that point any time soon.

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    • My son enjoys the program Life After People, I have no idea what channel it’s on, but the programs takes it step by step to show how long the earth would take to heal and reclaim itself after people are no longer here. Scary thought.

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  7. Breaking the cycle is hard and I’ll tell ya why. Well, I’ll tell ya one reason. In my case, my extended family thinks reusing stuff is “gross.” They have that engrained in their heads. I always get stuff from goodwill or grab materials from construction sites that they’re throwing out, and get great use! I was paid to tear down this guys’ fence not that long ago, and I took that wood from the fence and made my family’s deck with it. It’s awesome, it has character, it was free, and best of all, compeltely reused wood! I dont’ understand why people dont’ think this way.

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    • That is fantastic, now you have a beautiful deck for free! I always wonder about people who think used items are gross, many are the same people who love to stay at a hotel on vacation, where they use towels and bedding other people use without ever giving it much thought. Even going out for a meal, you are eating off utensils and dishes other people use all the time. I wonder if you asked them about those situations what they would say.

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  8. Great article ! With the holidays winding down, it was a great example of your post today. Everyone that knows me, knows I try to be as green as possible. All of my gifts were made from repurposed items, with the exception of the kids. Kids don’t understand waste and greed during the holidays, and it is hard to give children under 10 recycled items. One of the comments mentioned laziness, I agree, it is work to save your recycling and if you don’t DIY, what do you do with it? People learn by example, I have friends that drop their recycling off to me and I share with my other friends. They didn’t always do that, but they have learned by example from me. It’s a start. Thanks for sharing!

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    • That’s fantastic that you were able to make all your Christmas gifts from re-purposed items for Christmas. That’s definitely a goal of mine, not there completely. As for the children, you are right they wouldn’t completely understand if they were used to getting all new things. I did buy new for the grand children, but they received games and craft supplies and a couple wooden toys so I don’t feel too badly about it.

      I love that your friends bring you their recycling, so far all I’ve been able to do is encourage people to use our recycling bin here and offer to bring their recycling back if I see them. A couple neighbors now realize how much I like to re-purpose and will ask me before tossing something, then there is my one neighbor who checks the bins twice a day and offers me anything he finds.:-)

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    • How true!! We talk a lot about conserving around here with the little ones and they seem to get it. When they want to craft they head for the bag of scraps, they enjoy watering the garden, but know we have to wait for the sun to go down and why. They are also a huge help in the garden and enjoy growing their own food, feeding the birds and not disturbing a habitat for wildlife. I think these types of activities are what they need to learn to appreciate what we are so fortunate to have available to us.

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        • They do learn but they believe this is fun and that’s the important part. We talk about good and bad bugs and why we need them. My grand daughter is famous for picking up worms and putting them in the garden where they won’t get run over and can help the food grow better:-)

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