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Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable?
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable? on 07/04/2008 11:22:06 MDT Print View

"So far, the human race has a pretty good track record of addressing every challenge it faced.

If you are talking of the entire human race surviving to this point, then we certainly have done awfully well. But if we are talking about civilizations which rose and fell, well, there are truly a lot of them which disappeared, often due to environmental destruction. We have an awful record in that regard."

Excellent point, Miguel.
The standard by which are we measuring "success" makes all the difference.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Re: Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable? on 07/04/2008 11:31:48 MDT Print View

Hi Miguel. Happy weekend / July 4th.
I was speaking of the human race. When countries / civilizations step out of line, others often replace / supplement them.

There are too many vested interests in individual civilizations that are locally popular and globally destructive or ignorant. One can also see that we've learned from civilizations that disappeared (albeit sometimes centuries or millenium later): We don't use lead pipes anymore like the Romans did, and many countries no longer allow lead based solder to connect them.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
Thanks for proving my point on 07/04/2008 17:37:17 MDT Print View

Sorry I missed the fun - I had to create wealth today.

Craig - thanks for proving my point. You are using market forces, not bigger gov't to affect change. i.e.: not buying Kimberly Clark products, pointing out the sins of the greedy.

Miguel - The UN will never work when you have ruthless dictators telling the "bad" Democracies what to do. You are correct when stating that until every citizen has a voice - an international government will not work.

Why sign the "global warming (taxing) treatyā€¯? What will the corrupt international agencies do with the carbon credit monies from the "bad" consumers? (Oil for food program??)

Will AL Gore fly his private jet there to collect?

Do the other countries that have benefited from our "consumption" really want to go back to "before"?

Is there really an oil crisis, or what do you think the speculators will do if they found out we are committed to developing our own resources? (Oil, gas, nuclear, wind) Would the prices plummet? (Market forces!!)

Will someone invent better battery technology? (yes, due to market forces) Then I can drive an electic car!!

Need I go on?


Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Thanks for proving my point on 07/05/2008 00:27:25 MDT Print View

"Craig - thanks for proving my point. You are using market forces, not bigger gov't to affect change. i.e.: not buying Kimberly Clark products, pointing out the sins of the greedy."

Dave, I don't exactly see it this way, especially when the "sins of the greedy" are only rewarded under the system of "market forces" you speak of. Kimberly Clark destroys old-growth forest because that's the cheapest way for them to get their product, plain and simple. No morality, no ethics involved, no consideration payed to the residents of the region, environmental impact, nothing...just good old "market forces" at work: make as much $$$ as you can.

Maybe we're talking about completely different systems of market forces?

What about the billions in NO-BID contracts snatched up by Haliburton in Iraq, sold off to a subcontractor for half price, then to another, and then to another still- to the point that nobody even knows who's responsible for doing the work (or more accurately, nobody knows who to hold responsible for any wrongdoing)...and the American public foots the bill. Ah, yes, those good 'ol market forces right?

Maybe we could discuss the billions in NO-BID contracts currently being offered to Exxon, Chevron, BP, Total, and Dutch Royal Shell by the Iraqis (or U.S....or wait is it the Iraqi Gov't....crap I forget which is which these days...) for oil infrastructure development. Was anyone REALLY surprised? Market Forces!

Let's try another...
After about TWENTY YEARS the Exxon Valdez spill is finally being settled. (What does that say to anyone who might want to take these people on? Got two decades and a couple million for court?)
The amount they are going to pay in damages amounts to a traffic ticket when compared to their annual earnings.
Under this system it is apparently cheaper to destroy livelihoods and the planet and pay a "fine" than do honest business and take real responsibility.

Hurray Market Forces!

Bhopal, India: A pesticide plant under the control of Union Carbide leaks 40 tons of MIC into the city...numbers vary, but anywhere from 8 TO 30 THOUSAND PEOPLE died within a month, thousands in the first days. Over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE have been affected and are still suffering.

I have two children.
I would really like to think that their lives would be worth more than $2,200 dollars.

That was the average amount Union Carbide paid for each of the dead. Where are they now? Dow Chemical Company snatched them up cheap and of course relieved itself of any responsibility of wrongdoing in Bhopal, therefore nobody pays for ongoing damages. Dow, by the way, is doing just fine.
Union Carbide's CEO was convicted of wrongdoing under Indian law but the U.S. refused to extradite him.

Market Forces!

Would you poison your own food? Poison your own air? Knowingly dump toxic chemicals into the oceans and rivers that ultimately support you? Sounds crazy, huh?
Corporations do it every day. Why?

Market Forces!!!!

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable? on 07/05/2008 03:02:25 MDT Print View

OK, that's it. When someone starts talking about "barbarians in the 3rd world" or "killing islamists" or "fishing trawlers sunk on sight by the Navy I think they would make great target practice for 5 inch gun fire" I think the forum talk has gone WAY beyond what should be tolerated here, even if it is in jest. There are people from the "Third World" here on this forum (including myself) and it is in mighty bad taste to refer to them in that way. If people can't keep a civil tongue while they are here I will have nothing to do with the conversation. This is hate mongering and BPL should be ashamed of allowing it here. I'm disgusted to be in the same company as anyone who talks like this.

The whole world is doomed because people have to act like this instead of hearing each other out. Craig started a legitimate and dignified discussion, but instead some people have to drag it down to crap. What a waste.

Enjoy squabbling and making the worst of it all. I'm not contributing anything here any more.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
you are doing it again on 07/05/2008 05:24:31 MDT Print View


I really don't want to go back and forth over this. I answered your question and proposed and answer and you have validated it twice now.

You - by giving us this information on the sins of the greedy and making choices on which products to buy are part of the market forces I speak of. It is good that we have people like you that watchdog companies and give us information so we can make informed choices. When a company gets hit in the pocketbook - they listen (market forces); it is when a company is gov't owned then it is untouchable.

The market can also drive innovation. New technologies, new industries are born based on the needs of the human race. Who ever thought that we could have this discussion across boarders while sipping my coffee at my desk? A few years ago we could not. What problems that we face can we not conquer? - I say that the glass is half full not half empty

I love this country, this world and the human race and will do what I can to see that my children have it to enjoy.


Miguel - I'm sorry that there have been idiotic comments on this thread. I enjoy reading your imput on various subjects and respect your opinion. God bless. Maybe this thread should stop. I am done.

Edited by dmgoody on 07/05/2008 05:52:49 MDT.

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
Idiotic? Really? on 07/05/2008 06:34:00 MDT Print View

I was trying to make a point using sarcasm dude. Think about it.
As far as banning what I had to say don't you see that is the whole problem? Everyone should have the right to say whatever they want and think whatever they want it's called freedom of speech.
David- Thanks for being on the side of liberty and freedom.
The UN is run by anti-freedom liberty despising statinst dictatorial paracites and I have no intrest in "talking" with them or giving them one more dime. I have an intrest withdrawing the US completely from it and removing it from the US once and for all. Same goes for the world bank etc.
Oh yeah and as for our good buddies the Islamists. I have no intrest in "talking" with them or "adressing thier concerns" or whatever. I have no plans to live under Sharia Law ever or see my kid under it for that matter. So if you don't like me calling Islamists 7th centery barbarians tough. That's what they are.
As for some kind of "International Goverment" you can forget it pal. We will never submit to being ruled by the aforementioned liberty despising freedom hating statists.
I am for as close to NO goverment as possible anywhere on earth. Goverment and religion are the sources of almost all problems that I know of.
Oh yeah and like David said vote against things you don't like use the market to change them don't buy from Kimberly Clark or any other company you don't like and get the word out about what they do. Just don't try to legislate away other people's freedom.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
"Does anyone actually think?" on 07/05/2008 07:45:05 MDT Print View

What are you doing in your own life that reflects these changes you want to see. Lead by example, show me the way.

1)What do you/your family drive?
2)How do you heat/cool your home?
3)What materials is your home made from, where did the materials come from?
4)Do you grow your own food, if so is it all 100% organic?
5)Do you own hiking gear? If so please provide gear list showing materials used and what natural resources were used in manufacturing.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 08:39:54 MDT Print View

I'm confused? Is this a backpacking website? Why arn't you people putting all that gear to use? It's hiking season people!!!!

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 08:46:18 MDT Print View

I'm almost positive that my boss would frown on me pitching a tarp and brewing coffee in my cubicle.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 11:11:01 MDT Print View

Hi Everyone -

While it is perfectly appropriate to debate sustainability, it is not appropriate on our forums to denigrate specific religions or peoples. We've deleted a handful of posts on this thread. I'll check in again later (when I have a better internet connection - I'm up in the mountains). Please keep the dialogue respectful.


Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 12:20:06 MDT Print View

I know this is a tough topic, but I would genuinely like to debate it.
I will not respond to posts that put down the people of certain regions or religions.

As far as a recent post questioning my lifestyle choices, read the post I addressed to Victoria- she essentially asked the same question.

I get the impression that people are upset with me, personally, for stating that I do not believe industrial civilization is sustainable. Hence the amount of "you're just as much a part of the problem" posts directed towards me.

Please remember, I never stated I wasn't part of the problem. I am not taking a position of superiority in this debate. I am simply stating my belief that industrial civilization is not sustainable and trying to give examples of why. If someone says market forces will save us, I try to give an accurate response as to why I don't believe that's so. If someone claims we can go to space for resources, I have tried to pick apart that idea. Please give me reasons I am wrong or focus on reasons you believe industrial civilization is (or will become) sustainable.

But I have never said that I hold the moral high-ground on this. I have never stated that I live in a way that does not contribute to the problems. I have done many, many things in my life to attempt to lessen my impact, I have participated in many activist campaigns and organizations and still do.

But my intention in this thread was not to air a laundry list of what I'm doing for you all to read. Nor am I trying to attack people personally for what they are not doing. Starting a thread titled "What are things you are doing to lessen your impact on the environment?" would be a great start on that issue, probably very worthwhile. But that is not the thread I started.

One thing I would like to talk about here, because it has come up again, is the issue of "Who are you to complain if you drive a car, use electricity, eat food, etc., etc., etc."
The following was a very important realization for me when it comes to environmental activism:

We consume. All of life consumes. It is impossible to lead a life in which something, somewhere, is not consumed. And often you just have to take it- i.e. food: if you're hungry, you must eat. If that means (within context) killing a plant, so be it. If means (within context) you must kill an animal, so be it.
This used to bring me REALLY down. Until you realize that's just the way it is. Get over it.
Now let's extend this to our lifestyles.
I hate smog. no, I HATE smog. I live in Los Angeles, some of the worst air in the nation. I fear for my children (asthma studies in cities aren't encouraging).
I have to drive a car. Yes, I cycle as much as I can (over 100 miles in some weeks!), but I do have to drive.
So does that mean I have no right to demand a better system?
The fact that I drive, does that mean I have no right to be upset that this city favors the car, caters to the car, has destroyed itself for the car? Does that mean I have no right to fight for a better way?

Do not let your guilt stop you from action. Again, DO NOT let your guilt stop you from action.

We are complex beings. We can be part of a particular problem while SIMULTANEOUSLY working to end the system that creates the problem. Do not let your guilt stop you from action- KEEP THE GUILT PROPORTIONAL to your actions. It is too easy to hang your head and sulk away because you must ultimately consume/destroy.

Just because I use toilet paper DOES NOT mean I am responsible for the actions of every timber corporation on this planet. KEEP THE GUILT PROPORTIONAL and do not let it paralyze you. That extreme guilt is what prevents half the world from doing anything about our problems. Just because I use toilet paper does not mean I cannot demand and fight for a better way to get it.

Hell, I believe our entire way of life (industrial civilization) is ultimately doomed, but the guilt I carry for being part of it does not stop me from trying to do something.

Edited by xnomanx on 07/05/2008 12:24:17 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 13:47:50 MDT Print View

More than Industrialism, capitalism, consumerism, ect.
Population is the #1 threat to sustainability.
No one wants to address it, politicans wont touch it and even radical professors (so called) ignore it.
No one wants to tell any one not to have many kids. It opens up a can of worms. People get enraged when I tell them were all better off ending the Victorian novely of having 'pets", the health conscerns, the resources, the incompatability of our and the animals lifestyles.
Now tell people we have x amount of land and it will idealy suport x number of population- heads will roll

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 14:12:25 MDT Print View

Excellent point, population is certainly a factor in this.
However, population only becomes unsustainable when a population consumes more than is available.
People quickly slip into blaming "third world" countries for population issues (I think we saw a hint of that in some earlier posts).
But we all know all people do not consume equally- don't forget that. This world would sustain a large population of indigenous (read non-industrialized) people just fine- they typically don't consume more than their immediate environment can provide and sustain.
It is when people begin large scale agriculture and industrialization (industrial civilization) that we begin seeing massive patterns of unsustainable consumption.
Large scale agriculture and industrialization lead to the enormous populations and consumption that a region cannot support- that is why industrial civilization is founded upon importing resources from other regions (and exporting the exploitation and destruction it takes to secure those resources).
It is not that this world cannot support people- it is that this world cannot support millions of people that consume like the average resident of a "first world" (read fully industrialized) nation.
So I would argue we can't reduce it to purely a number game- that can potentially oversimplify- you must factor in the consumption of those numbers. By the mere fact that we are communicating through computers, it's probably safe to say that you and I could easily consume more than 100 times what the average Indian, Southeast Asian, or African consumes.

Let's not forget who's responsible for the vast and overwhelming majority of the consumption on this planet.

Which is why, in a sense, I agree with you. Nobody wants to touch it, because everyone knows we have too many people living a certain way that cannot be sustained for this many people. That doesn't, however, mean we go off a bunch of people or ourselves to let the system (industrial civilization) continue. That won't happen (well actually, it could- there are people/nations crazy enough to start offing other people over resources and protecting their way of life, just look at history). But I want no part in that! That is why this way of living will hopefully go first. Will a collapse of industrial civilization take people with it? Absolutely. Me and my family? Who knows, probably? Would it lead to a long period of chaos? Absolutely, that's why this subject is frightening and nobody wants to touch it.
I really, REALLY, hope I'm not right about this...but?

Edited by xnomanx on 07/05/2008 14:37:28 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 14:32:00 MDT Print View

True, Industrialism enables people to exploit resourse on a larger scale. But even if we restrict that capacity polulation can still devastate the enviroment.
Im not blaming or saying 2nd or 3rd world countries have the population problem, Im saying we do too.
The difference is we can import resources from other places and more efficiantly exploit the ones we have. Where as non industrialized cultures are more likly to face starvation and start migrating -and historicly invade their neighboors. Im not saying therfore its OK for industrial nations to overpopulate because we can find more resources before we starve, just making the point that 1rst or 3rd world -population is a major problem.
And on a side note Indusrialism doesnt mean we have to have large scale agriculture. It can be small scale as well, there are no rules that say it has to be the way it is.
And Thats kind of my point.
Industrialism offers as many possible ways to do things as the human imagination allows. Its a tool. If we find that fossil fuel is riffe with problems we can look for a new way. If we find the way we farm is unsustanable we can find a new way, ect.
Not sayinig its easy, not saying it will be done -just that it could.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 07/05/2008 14:34:41 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 14:41:37 MDT Print View

Brian, read my edit above...

I think I agree with much of what you're saying, I'm just concerned that this way of life spurs a literally endless cycle of consumption, looking for new resources, exploiting them until collapse, shifting resources, exploiting them until collapse....forever.
Will we hit a point when there's nowhere left to look? Aren't we sort of there now?

Meanwhile, salmon and polar bears continue to disappear, people die, populations are displaced, the rich get richer....

Edited by xnomanx on 07/05/2008 14:46:13 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 14:41:58 MDT Print View

I should add that I dont think population is THE cause of all the worlds problems. Just that it is a big part of it and I dont hear a lot of people adressing it.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 14:53:47 MDT Print View

I think I see what your getting at.
I think its the (our) culture of consumerism.
That prevading force in American culture that constantly says we are inadequate. We shouldnt be greatfull for what we have but demand more. Here is the problem you didnt know you had and here is the product/service that will cure it.
I am a beliver in the free market- but that doesnt mean its without problems. There is a change in cultural values that I think we are seeing for the better. Sustain, recycle, reuse, ect. Its a struggle.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 15:11:35 MDT Print View

I am one of the most cynical of people you could hope to meet. But let me point out somthing that has more significance than people are giving (post)modern man credit for.

We are probably the first civilization that is selfaware enough to realize that we cannot sustain our current lifstlyes and must change or die. That awarness is no small feat.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Industrial Civilization on 07/05/2008 17:26:17 MDT Print View

How about over consumption AND over population being responsible for many of the world's most pressing problems?
BTW, for those of you truly concerned, there is a book that deals with this problem very intelligently: "Steady State Economics" by Herman Daly. Worth reading, IMO.