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Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across?
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K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across? on 08/29/2011 09:48:10 MDT Print View

This does tie in with the machete, LNT, Suv's, and the rest of the flames.
It's unfortunate that I feel the need to premise that in a number of ways I personally try and have little impact on the environment; during our last outing the forest patrol applauded us and exaggerated by telling us we ought to be putting out videos on LNT practices.....( we were using hammocks?)
This is more on a philosophical level; where do you draw the line, who decides who draws the line and how do you convince others that your line should matter?
It's not wise to let a bunch of folks loose with a machete on/off the trail. True. Is it less wise than letting a bunch of folks loose with a big vehicle, with liquor, with a computer? How about letting a bunch of folks loose with the freedom to reproduce our crowded planet? Have an SUV driving, machete and gun yielding guy have a couple of kids and him teach them his values; or a small vehicle driving, LNT practicing, recycling guy have five kids that will each have another five and each a handful of pets?
My question is who decides what has an impact and is damaging and should not be allowed?
I don't think many want to be told that they can only have one child, one car, can't fly.
There is no question ,at least in my mind, that a trend toward less waste, more efficient practices including environmental awareness , is beneficial to us. One of the problems that I see is when some of us focus a lot of energy on one aspect of this environmental issue, and when confronted about other issues, they dismiss them. Just because a topic is all the rage right now, is it a more important topic than another less comfortable one?
If you walk out of a steakhouse, and the driver of a big diesel truck yells at you for eating meat and not caring about the impact that your choice has on the environment, aren't you going to say or think how dare he say something to you as he pollutes and wastes? Yet he has a legitimate point. Same thing happens when we call someone else on one issue, acting as if we are better than them, and they see us blowing it in another way. The "better than thou" just does not work.
And who decides where to draw the line?
I am not saying that there is no hope and we should give up as there is always another issue so why bother. I am saying that attacking someone , while just as guilty in another area, actually only hurts a cause.
Personally I think that making people pay a more realistic cost for gas and a high price for garbage disposal, would go a long way to encourage more efficiency. And, on a controversial note....what is more wasteful that pumping money into a system, just to "stimulate" it?

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Who draws the line..? on 08/29/2011 10:13:45 MDT Print View

In the US, the govt through our elected representatives write the laws and our administrative agencies interpret and enforce them (for backpackers, our National Parks, Forest Service, BLM, or the similar state agencies if on state land). The federal government usually hires engineers, foresters, lawyers, and other pros to stay on top of developments (cleaning and maintenance is increasingly being contracted out - explains why federal salaries tend to be high). Then you get into dualling experts but can the layperson understand hydrology, fire ecology, predator/prey models, etc...? Most Americans can't even balance a checkbook (addition/subtraction), figure out what a balloon mortgage means, and need help with their tax forms (not even algebra).

Then again, life, especially when dealing with technology, has been getting more complicated, which is why we outsource these decisions. Most people in the world can't even work on their own cars as technology has advanced.

On simple matters, it's a judgement call whether talking to a stranger is a courtesy or just being a "busybody". Of course, one could just report any law breaking to the authorities.

In these days of instaneous communication, where almost everyone has a video capable cell phone, maybe one can email a video to the authorities (for example if one sees LNT principles being violated against the forest rules). Think all our states have different rules on recording in public and private spaces. Looks like a fertile ground for underemployed lawyers.

Edited by hknewman on 08/29/2011 10:56:30 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across? on 08/29/2011 10:50:34 MDT Print View

You're basing much of this on the assumption that everyone is in agreement that there's a problem in the first place. This is far from the truth.

(This is not to say that I do not believe in environmental problems, the importance of sustainability, or an unfolding ecological crisis. Far from it.)

But it's pretty clear that civilization (and its citizens), whether conscious of it or not, operate under some sort of binding sense of Manifest Destiny; that it is their right, be it God given or through natural selection or otherwise, to use and consume the natural resources of this planet as they see fit. We could debate the validity this single point ad-nauseum; it's steeped in philosophical, economic, and religious beliefs about our very being that are very deeply rooted. The mere fact that forests, oceans, rivers, etc., are viewed as "resources" or commodities by society says a bit about how we collectively think.

Take the notion of "ownership" of resources, for example. I'll try to avoid a Marxist or capitalistic slant, but suffice to say, a society's attitudes towards the concept of private property are directly linked to environmental issues on a large scale. Should a company be allowed to buy a forest? If so, are the trees then theirs to do with as they see fit? Should an individual be allowed to own a tree, a plot of land, a lake, or a stretch of river? And if we grant ownership, should they be able to do with it as they see fit?

Endless questions unfold based on our answers to these questions. To expect a neat's not going to happen.

So where does the individual fit into this? Everywhere and nowhere, simultaneously.
Who knows.

Can human civilization as a whole have anything but a negative impact upon a land base? What's the measure? We best be careful how we answer...if the impact is predominately negative, the implication is starkly grim. If our best hopes are simply minimizing damage it stands to reason that we'd have the least impact if we were dead. Hell of an ideal to base a movement on, huh?

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across? on 08/29/2011 10:54:52 MDT Print View

Your question has no answer ... if you believe other humans (and non humans) besides yourself, actually have the right to live on this earth.

Your question, in its broadest form, has been fought over since the dawn of man ...... no answer yet, except the age old adage ... might makes right.

Edited by asandh on 08/29/2011 11:08:55 MDT.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
no answer on 08/29/2011 11:13:45 MDT Print View

I agree, there is no answer, but it is still a valid question.
My main point is that it actually hurts a cause when we use it to separate ourselves from others, or to act self righteously. I personally don't take well when a clueless busy body attacks me, touting some regulation that may or may not make sense in a particular case. If they want to have a conversation with me and we have the time, I am more than open to it. If it's just about acting as if they are an agent of God, here to tell me what is right and what isn't, while they walk thanks. And I rarely encounter that because I don't attract much attention, but I have encountered it.
Is one willing to talk about the many aspects, the philosophy behind it all, then we can all learn from it and find a common ground somewhere. It's the simplistic, generalized ideas expressed with holier than thou attitude that will never be well received.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Who draws the line? on 08/29/2011 11:18:49 MDT Print View

We put together a government to draw the line. If each individual does it for himself, there is no one to protect us from bulldozers looting our land. If every individual gets to draw his own line, then some will take advantage. Seems pretty basic. If you want civilization instead of anarchy, the government draws the line.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Where the line is drawn on 08/29/2011 11:23:52 MDT Print View

Seems to me the better question is where do we draw the line. If we don't like the line, we have the opportunity to participate. If machete rights are important to me, I can work for machete rights. Someone else may work against me in my quest for machete rights. If its important to us, we should participate.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across? on 08/29/2011 11:25:20 MDT Print View

That's politics, plain and simple. Rarely rational and subject to superstition, faulty logic, knee jerk reactions, raging emotions, sacred cows, misinformation, outright greed and all the rest. We've been muddling along for a quarter-million years or so, but we know we are running out of time, space, and resources. Either we get it together, or we don't make it. Read history and archeology: there are lots of civilizations that couldn't cut the mustard.

And it is difficult for each of us. Trying to get by and make as little impact as possible is a daily challenge. Everywhere you turn there are problems, from the food we eat, the packaging it comes in, the electronics we love so much, transportation, energy, urban planning, resource management, population control, human rights, religious freedom, species extinction, international relations, pollution, global warming, terrorism, poverty, employment, medical care and ethics. If that list doesn't raise your blood pressure, you have better drugs or meditation techniques than I do. May you live in interesting times indeed!

So your question: Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across?

Act on good information

Be rational

Have courage

Speak up


Walk the talk

Be compassionate

Do the right thing

Do the best you can

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
@Ben on 08/29/2011 11:29:00 MDT Print View

Ok. Where does one draw the line when telling someone else they are polluters according to their vehicle, while one owns say five pets, which may have a larger carbon footprint than the offending vehicle? It's legal to own an SUV and it's legal to have pets and lots of kids. Who gives one the right to act as if they are better for the planet ( or merely not as bad) than the other?

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: no answer on 08/29/2011 11:34:39 MDT Print View

.....I personally don't take well when a clueless busy body attacks me, touting some regulation that may or may not make sense in a particular case. If they want to have a conversation with me and we have the time, I am more than open to it. If it's just about acting as if they are an agent of God, here to tell me what is right and what isn't, while they walk thanks

Beyond politics, that is what is called transferring negative energy or (Americanism) "taking a dump on another person". A person is having a bad day or a bad life, and decides to ruin your day or week as well by transferring their problem or neurosis. Some people excel at it.

Unless they are some sort of law/code enforcement in their jurisdiction, lawyer, or a bonifide expert, it's just their opinion. Maybe a well- read opinion but then they should state it in a persuasive manner, and not to alienate thus damaging their own cause, IMHO.

Edited by hknewman on 08/29/2011 11:39:31 MDT.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
@ Dale on 08/29/2011 11:40:42 MDT Print View

Yes, all of the above. But speaking up also includes letting someone else know the complications of it all, and the other stuff we take for granted.
Years ago we lived on a piece of land between HWY and Ano Nuevo State Reserve, along the coast. A portion of that land had been purchased by Bart, as a mitigation, when building near the Airport is South SF. As they were laying track in South San Francisco, they came across the SF Garter Snake, so they had to find a snake habitat place and purchase it. Then Bart leased this habitat out to a farmer here on the coast. We lived in a cabin right smack in the middle of it. We were reprimanded by the local ranger for letting our dogs out on occasion while biking with the kids, as they might hurt the snake. Now a lot of people would agree that yes, dogs have to stay on a leash or they endanger the local fauna. Well, true, but Bart leased the land to a commercial Brussel sprout farmer, who plowed it, disked it and poisoned it regularly. So what looks good on paper, does not necessarily look good in the real world. And I consider this speaking up.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Re: @Ben on 08/29/2011 11:46:59 MDT Print View


You're asking some tough questions that deserve to be answered. Towards that end, I cannot recommend the essay "Forget Shorter Showers" published a couple years ago in Orion enough. It serves as a kind of concise, clear introduction to an old-is-new-again take on environmentalism. One that you've probably never been exposed to because it's neither discussed by the non-profit industrial complex's environmental NGOs or by businesses and their green-washing campaigns. It's short and as it's free from jargon -- be it leftist or business, scientific or new-age -- the author communicates the ideas readily. If you haven't read it, give it a shot.

Edited by deGuerre on 08/29/2011 12:17:46 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Where to draw the line on 08/29/2011 11:48:03 MDT Print View

We all draw the line at different places on a variety of subjects. Are you implying we have too many lines and inhibited personal freedom too much? Personal freedom has always been limited to the extent it affects other people. There's nothing wrong with that. In old days, when population was more sparse, fewer of our actions affected other people so much. Now our actions regularly affect other people. We have to have a few more rules to co-exist.

Edited by alexdrewreed on 08/29/2011 12:00:38 MDT.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Where to draw the line on 08/29/2011 12:00:13 MDT Print View

Ben. So do we take it to the extent of limiting the number of children per family, since over population impacts the environment and "others"? Or is that beyond the line. And if so, why? Where would you stop?

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Population control on 08/29/2011 12:07:33 MDT Print View

I would not draw that line, no. Its a matter of balance. You have to balance the importance of the personal freedom against the effect exercising that freedom has on others. Most of us highly value our reproductive rights, so I would (and most of us would) tilt the scale in favor of reproductive rights on that question. I would support other less restrictive efforts to control population. For example, I support most efforts to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. The balance is way different.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Generally on 08/29/2011 12:10:45 MDT Print View

I am often surprised that people feel the need to have absolutes. In every decision, there has to be a balancing of interests or we make a bad decision. Often the hard part is identifying the importance of those interests. For me, though, its a no-brainer that we have to look at almost every decision.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Common sense on 08/29/2011 12:15:14 MDT Print View

Why can't we just use common sense? Almost nothing is LNT. Machetes, trekking poles, tent stakes, hammocks all leave a "trace" the point could be argued that on trail hiking is not LNT either. Just use your brain and make as little an impact as possible it's simple.

As for environmental issues and cars vs SUVs. Most of the people complaining about SUVs are clueless about how cars work or how they affect the environment. Cars today are so much cleaner than the cars of just 15 years ago. But does that mean it's "greener" to junk your current car and buy a Prius? There is more to a cars environmental impact than it's emissions and mpg. It took energy to build that new Prius and it will take energy to recycle your old car. IMO it's "greener" to keep an older car running well than it is to buy a ULEV every 5 years.

As far as big diesel trucks go, keep in mind that that giant diesel ford truck uses less fuel that say a jeep Cherokee. And the fuel it uses takes less energy to produce.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Absolutes on 08/29/2011 12:24:18 MDT Print View

Your point is well taken, and I actually don't speak in absolutes, nor do I have the answers. I constantly struggle with this and I frustrate many by not exactly fitting in any party or side.
The difficulty lies exactly in finding that balance.
My tendency is toward letting others do unless it hurts someone else, and what constitutes " hurts" is questionable. I think we help our cause if we make it clear that we are aware of the difficulties and complications.

"But does that mean it's "greener" to junk your current car and buy a Prius"

exactly, thanks.

Edited by Kat_P on 08/29/2011 12:27:28 MDT.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
re on 08/29/2011 16:46:56 MDT Print View

"As far as big diesel trucks go, keep in mind that that giant diesel ford truck uses less fuel that say a jeep Cherokee. And the fuel it uses takes less energy to produce."

True to a certain degree. I'm looking forward to the day when diesels are put into 1/2 ton trucks instead of only the heavy haulers.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Where do you draw the line and how do you get your point across? on 08/29/2011 17:07:15 MDT Print View

"I don't think many want to be told that they can only have one child"

Umm? Excuse me? Do you actually believe in that? Or is this just a wandering comment?

If you do, well wow.