Bring It On!

Man vs. Earth (A Fight to the Finish?)

August 6th, 2006 | by Ken Grandlund |

It is a uniquely human quality to destroy that which we depend on. Whether from a lack of knowledge, a lack of foresight, or a lack of caring, human advancement has exacted a heavy toll on the resources and species of Earth. To any rational person, that fact is indisputable. From the extraction of minerals to the deforestation of wild lands to the over harvesting of various animals or plants, the growth of humanity has brought great changes to our planet and has affected its previous balance. The question is not how much we have damaged the Earth, or even if the damage can be reversed. The question is not even whether or not we have the right to cause these changes. The question is why are we doing it so callously?

Our planet is the lifeblood of us all. Its resources sustain our lives, both physically and mentally. Each and every part of our environment is an integral piece of the puzzle that is nature. Nature is the trees and the lakes and the mountains. Nature is the bugs and the fish and the birds. Nature is the water and the air and the dirt. And we are part of nature too. All things, from the rocks to the whales to the daisies and the wind, have their place in the natural order. The difference between most things on Earth and humans is our ability to change our environment quickly and drastically and to adapt relatively easily. Add to that ability the fantastic success we’ve had with procreation and dispersion and you can see that humans leave a large footprint when we pass through the glen. For the most part, as a species, we don’t really seem to care. Yet, somehow, we still consider ourselves to be the most intelligent life form on the planet.

Before you start rolling your eyes back in your head, let me clarify that I am not a “whacko-environmental-extremist-tree hugging-spotted leopard-newt saving-protect nature at all costs” kind of guy. I can’t deny the fact that I love being out in the forest or in the mountains, listening to the sounds of birds and creeks and crickets. I relish a clear night in the warm spring desert gazing at the stars. But I also have no problem extinguishing the lives of mosquito’s and ants and weeds in my yard or cutting down a Christmas tree or digging for gold. I like things made out of wood, I like to drive my car, and I like to drink clean water too. Unfortunately, instead of living in a world where all these things can be found and enjoyed and exist compatibly, we have created one that pins the longevity of our species to our own ability to destroy the conditions that make our lives possible.

To be fair, on the other side of the coin, we must recognize that nature is a constantly evolving creature itself, as evidenced in the scientific records of historic climate changes, the extinction of species, and the geological malleability of land itself. The forces of nature have altered thousands of times during the billions of years Earth has been in existence. Humanity has only been around for a couple hundred thousand. Surely any damage that we cause is insignificant is the larger context, isn’t it? After all, humans are part of the natural order too, so the things we do are really just part of the natural progression of Earth, right?

Here’s the deal folks. Despite what most of us are taught, humans don’t own Earth. We share it. Only by accepting this very basic concept can both sides of the environmental issue come down from their fences so that we can begin to have policies that make sense. Tree-huggers must accept the fact that man has as much right as any other creature on Earth to adapt his environment to his needs. Forest burners have to accept the fact that our ability to cause great and rapid change comes with great responsibility to all those with whom we share our planet. Both sides have to learn to use common sense and humanity as a whole must choose to extend the life of our species through ecological intelligence instead of shortening it for short-term gains.

The concept of man being ruler of the Earth is shared by both science and religion, one of the few areas that they agree upon. From the scientific theory of evolution and natural selection to the audacious belief that technology can control nature, science places man ahead of all other species and conveys upon him the right to rule Earth. Religion gives man this same right through the words of gods, who offer the planet to man in exchange for his devotion. But religion and science are both constructs of mankind, so it’s only natural that we would give ourselves the right to control. I wonder what the other species on Earth would say if they had a voice in the matter. Would the snails vote for us? How about the rivers? They can’t talk though, and that makes it easy for us to forget that, from nature’s perspective, they are just as important as we are.

Still, human civilization exists on a different plane than other animals and plants, and to a large degree, we are the dominant species on the planet. We are the only ones with the ability to significantly change the planet, aside from nature itself. And because of that, we have a duty to consider the consequences of our adaptations to other species and to mitigate damaging effects through replenishment of renewable resources and good management of our industries and practices. We have this responsibility not only to the other inhabitants of Earth, but also to the future generation of our own species, the future children for whom we profess to make the world a better place for. And we owe it to ourselves.

Current environmental policy appears to be created in an effort to insulate governments and businesses from having to adopt practices that reduce or eliminate hazardous pollutants while over-regulating private individuals through impact analyses and other legal red tape. It is a sham effort to give the appearance of eco-responsibility while rewarding bad stewardship with financial profits and a blind eye. Rather than encourage and insist upon the development of cleaner technology with reduced pollutants, governments pass out waivers and suppress innovation to sustain old corporations with deep wallets. Rather than punish the largest spoilers of nature, governments nit-pick at the little guys dumping paint thinner in the dirt.

It is time to end the politics of pseudo-environmentalism that plagues government. It is time to end the extremist attitude that would prevent all human development of the planet or its resources. It is time to start using our brains with regards to construction and consumption. We need a policy that recognizes that natural diversity is not only healthy; it is essential to life on Earth. We need a policy that reduces junk studies and red-tape and that insists upon extraordinary protection of things like water and soil and air. We need a policy with the teeth to go after those who pollute, whether they are big business or the local tire shop. We need a policy that rewards innovation and shares new found knowledge. We need a policy that encourages reuse of existing development before building something new. We need a policy that puts the rights of humans in line with the needs of the rest of the world’s creatures and features.

We have the capacity to use what the planet has to offer and to ensure that we don’t abuse what others also may need. Nature makes life hard enough at times with her storms and droughts and earthquakes and temperature shifts. Why do we make things even harder? Just to put a few million bucks into the already stuffed pockets of our leaders? Our government must decide to be better than that. We must challenge ourselves to adopt real eco-reform measures that would make the world a cleaner and more useful place for all of us while preserving the ability to change our world when we must.

[tag]environment, FOIA[/tag]

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  1. 21 Responses to “Man vs. Earth (A Fight to the Finish?)”

  2. By steve on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    I wish I owned more property so I could plant more trees.  I have put six in since I moved in.  Evergreen fruitless pear trees.  Broad leaves, always green… grows quick.  Got a Chinese Pistacio tree as well.  I have 50 or 60 (perhaps 70) year old tree of unknown type in my backyard.  I laughed at my neighbor when he asked me to cut it down.  Didn’t talk to me for like a year…  he got our unborn child (who’s gonna be officially late in three hours) a gift…  he found out I was a Republican I guess.  (Hummer gave it away)

    Sacramento would be a barren wasteland without our Urban forest. 

    I have also made a pact to buy furniture only made from renewable wood like what IKEA sells.  They don’t clear cut large forests, they grow their own.  How is that for a multi-billion dollar corporation?

    Another way to contribute to the environment:  Stop washing your car in the street in front of your house.  All that detergent, not to mention the far more than average concentrated inorganic dirt you pick up from freeway driving ends up in the storm drain which goes straight to a river or ocean and not a sewer or reclaim system that a professional car wash has where it can be processed. 

  3. By Paul Watson The Cranky Brit on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    Another way to contribute to the environment:  Stop washing your car in the street in front of your house.  All that detergent, not to mention the far more than average concentrated inorganic dirt you pick up from freeway driving ends up in the storm drain which goes straight to a river or ocean and not a sewer or reclaim system that a professional car wash has where it can be processed.

    Not that your touting for business at all, eh, steve? ;) 

    And I remember a spoof on those motivational posters: In a battle between you and the world, bet on the world. 

  4. By Sandy on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    I oppose chopping down so many trees for lumber for unnecessary new construction of houses. We have enough houses. In fact, we have a glut. Stop the builders.

    I’m against the Japanese killing whales. I think they should be protected.

    I also oppose using disposable diapers. They fill landfills. So do old tires. And NO ONE should be allowed to dump raw sewage in our water. THAT is DISGUSTING!

    I’m with the libs on a lot of this stuff. But the planet is fine. We haven’t ruined it yet.

  5. By ken grandlund on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    I’m going to mark this day down on the calendar. This may well be the first article written by a non-conservative on this site that Sandy actually agrees with. And what’s more, (s)he wrote a comment that didn’t call anyone stupid or evil.

    Apparently, wonders never will cease.

  6. By steve on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    Ken,

    Ottman’s Sandy’s comment about the new housing glut is money motivated.  I go both ways on that one.  I don’t want to see a builder building houses, to build houses and not because the area needs them.  Starting to see new houses sit.  6 years ago there were lines for two weeks.  Hmmm…

    (As far as my car wash comment, mine is more of a reality, knowing what we go through to be certified in California to be environmentally compliant.  Average person washes their car 4 times a year and 60% do it at home, in the driveway,  near a storm drain)

    The science of landfills is getting better.  I have been to one up here and I am amazed at the efficency of how we use old gravel pits as landfills.  I talked with one operator and he said they’d be in business for the next 40 years.  Also amazed on how they want you to partition your wood and metal so they can pull it for recycling
     

  7. By ken grandlund on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    I agree that there are many efforts being made locally and they are good. But the efforts need to be expanded regioanlly, nationally, and globally. the reason it isn’t being embraced by governments and corporations is simple- money.

  8. By Paul Watson The Cranky Brit on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    And popularity, Ken. No matter how many times people say they support it, when you raise the petrol prices, or electrivity or airfares, people will go ballistic.

  9. By Jersey McJones on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    The muber one problem, getting to the heart of Ken’s excellent post, is the disconnect people feel with the natural world.

    WE ARE NOT SUPERNATURAL IMAGES OF GOD, PEOPLE!!!

    We are animals.  We eat, drink, poop, pee, and have sex just like any other animal.  We have the same biology, the same nutirtional requirements, the same everything as the rest of the animal kingdom around us.  We are a hair’s width away from a rat, genetically.  As long as people believe that they are not animals, that God favors humans over all other things, and that we are capable of living without the natural world, we will continue to work toward our own demise.

    JMJ  

  10. By Rifleman on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    I read the post and I agree with it even though the tone in which it is written troubles me. Basically I consider myself more of a [i] conservationist [/i] than an environmentalist. Environmentalism implies a socialist connection more interested in control than actually helping the environment. Environmentalists rail against such irrelevant items like SUV’s while totally ignoring the fact that SUV’s can be used responsibly, and I think most are. They demanded the addition of MTBE to gasoline even though it was previously known that the additive contributes to water polution and is useless in preventing most of the types of polution for which it was mandated to prevent.  Basically I think the vast majority of the “environmental laws” are rather useless and were never intended to actually do anything but extend the control of the government. If you doubt that, I can easily give examples beyond just the MTBE fiasco, but there is not space here.

    Instead politicians market the environment with questionable science and demand more sacrifices with promises that can’t be fullfilled.

  11. By steve on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    Dude… Rifleman.  Register on BIO and start writing!!  Welcome!!

  12. By 4Truth on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    When the POLAR CAPS MELT - thats it. There is no reversing it! The Ocean will rise.

    THAT is the end result of Global Warming. WHAT is the debate? How long it takes - you don’t care because you won’t be here? The PROBLEM is here & NOW. When will the World wake up?

  13. By REB 84 on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    In Economic Theory, pollution and the destruction of our environment is referred to as a negative externality.  Essentially, polluters are subsidized by the rest of society since the harmful effects of the polluters activities are paid for by increased health problems and reduced quality of life.

    “Available policies are broadly divided into;

    Market solutions - change the costs of the activity to account for the negative externality. This usually involves the use of charges, taxes or subsidies.

    - Regulation / legislation - this policy involves the government introducing legislation that regulates the externality to reduce it.

    - Property rights - for some negative externalities, such as, pollution, if somebody had ownership rights to the air, sea etc., then they could take the polluters to court for compensation. The provision of property rights would give individuals ownership rights on the sea, air etc.

    - Tradeable pollution permits - a modern development in the area of controlling negative externalities has been the use of tradeable pollution permits. These can be used to control the degree of structural change and focus on tackling the worst culprits.” 

     http://www.bized.ac.uk/virtual/vla/theories/negative_externalities.htm

    Isn’t it interesting that our politicians do not bring up this point in their stump speaches. 

    BTW - There is an organization that has been fighting for clean water since 1972.  Check out http://www.cleanwateraction.org/  After all, clean water is essential to life on earth.

    http://www.teambio.org/2006/08/life-on-earth-what-is-the-future/#comments

     

     

     

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 6, 2006 | Reply

    Do you suppose it’s a different Sandy?

  15. By Rue-Mur on Aug 7, 2006 | Reply

    You’ll find the “solution” in the heart of the “problem”. The problem is political, the solution is political. To plant a tree is a “feels good, do it” kind’a thing. To get off the dime, and become a world changing somebody, folks are going to have to get political. In this country it doesn’t pay to start another “party”; we’re a two party system. You have to take over one of them. As soon as you do, the other will attempt to “balance” the equation and pick up the issue with a “better solution”. Plant a tree? Save a whale? Clean up a slum? Stop urban sprawl? Change a city? Change a state? Change a country? Change the world? Get political! (PS: You might have more than a little competition from the Neo-Com’s; you see, they’re trying to take over the country and the world for other reasons. Don’t buy their “sit in the corner and we’ll get to you after we win” , or their “you scratch our back and we’ll scratch your’s” speech. Don’t trust them any farther than you can throw a Grey Whale. )

  16. By Jersey McJones on Aug 7, 2006 | Reply

    Rifleman,

    “I read the post and I agree with it even though the tone in which it is written troubles me. Basically I consider myself more of a [i] conservationist [/i] than an environmentalist.”

    Semantics.  Useless semantics.

    “Environmentalism implies a socialist connection more interested in control than actually helping the environment. Environmentalists rail against such irrelevant items like SUV’s while totally ignoring the fact that SUV’s can be used responsibly, and I think most are.”

    So, you don’t understand why gas-guzzling, heavy, giant trucks are a problem, huh?  And what the fuck does “used responsibly” mean?  That’s like saying, “Severe polluting and Middle East energy dependence is fine as long as it’s done “responsibly.”"  What???

    “They demanded the addition of MTBE to gasoline even though it was previously known that the additive contributes to water polution and is useless in preventing most of the types of polution for which it was mandated to prevent.”

    If by “they,” you mean farmers in the Bread Belt, you’d be telliong the truth.  But you mean “liberals” and that’s a lie and it’s stupid - do you really believe that “liberals” and “environmentalists” hold any sway in government?  Really?  MTBE has been in use for over 25 years now and it was a gimme to the farm states for votes - not an environmentalist cabal.

    “Basically I think the vast majority of the “environmental laws” are rather useless and were never intended to actually do anything but extend the control of the government.”

    This is fuckin’ bullshit.  If you trust the private sector to take care of the environment, you’re an idiot.  The government is US - the people.  The environment is our’s - we need it to live.  Therefore the government MUST take care of the environment, just as it would security, police, etc.  What you are saying is like, “People who keep their yards clean don’t really care about their yards, they just want to “control” their land.”  How about this - how about I move next door to you and dump four million tons of industrial waste in my front yard?  You okay with that?

    “If you doubt that, I can easily give examples beyond just the MTBE fiasco, but there is not space here.”

    Bullshit. 

    “Instead politicians market the environment with questionable science and demand more sacrifices with promises that can’t be fullfilled.”

    “questionable science?”  What planet do you live on?  You’d have to be retarded to question the mountains of scientific research and data out there! 

    JMJ 

  17. By Paul Merda on Aug 7, 2006 | Reply

    The Earth will be fine, its really a matter of whether or not we will be a part of the future of this planet more than anything else.  No matter how hot or cold this place gets due to our activity, we’ll probably never make it lifeless.  We may go extinct, but the earth will move on supporting some sort of life.

    I think the biggest problem with the disconnect (man and earth/nature) is the fact that we aren’t really ready to pay the consequences of doing the right thing.  A majority of US citizens like the idea of being environmentally concerned but when it comes down to paying for it, most of us balk.  Let’s increase gasoline taxes, make us pay what the Euros do and you’ll hear so much whining, it will be disgusting.  We’re complaining now at $3/gallon, but what would happen at $4 or $5, riots??

    Your average citizen of the world is pretty unwilling to give up their comforts even if it made a much more sustainable energy situation. 

    Get rid of AC, license it so that only the sickly can get it, save that energy… Yeah right!

    Tax the shit out of gasoline, forcing people to buy cars that get better mileage, can you hear the whining now?

    Build public transportation that nobody will use outside of big cities! 

    People want theirs and they want it now!  I have little hope that will change anytime soon.  I feel that we will continue down the path to ruin, sucking every bit of energy resources out of the planet that we can as quickly as we can wiht no thought for the ‘morrow.  It is our own greed that will doom us all…

     

  18. By Sandy on Aug 7, 2006 | Reply

    I do agree with some of what is posted on this site. Every once in a while someone says something that is not totally leftist extremist.

    I disagree with Jersey. I am NOT an animal. I have the spirit of God living inside me. An animal CANNOT have that. Christians are made in the image of God. That same God gave us dominion over the earth.

    And yes, I am the same Sandy. Just not outraged over this particular topic.

  19. By steve on Aug 7, 2006 | Reply

    Jersey,

    How are we supposed to be listening to you and not be so “fucking stupid” if you package the message that way?

    How would you like it if I told you that Bush was right to invade Iraq and all you people standing in Crawford protesting were “too fucking stupid” to realize it? 

    You feed environmentalism like that to me I’ll shove if back in your face and say “do over”.  C’mon… if you were serious about it you wouldn’t be so political or preachy about it.  How do you like them apples? 

  20. By Liberal Jarhead on Aug 7, 2006 | Reply

    The fundamental, underlying problem is overpopulation.  I do consider myself a conservationist and environmentalist, and I advocate measures like solar and wind energy and using renewable resources, mandating higher gas mileage and lower emissions in cars, and so on, but the bottom line is that even with all those measures, we still have a minimum unavoidable per-capita impact on our environment, and if there are too many of us, we’re going to turn it into a sewer.  Same as when people crowd too many of any kind of creature together in a pig farm, cattle feedlot, etc.  If humanity keeps reproducing at our present rate, we’re going to run out of planet pretty soon.

    Sandy, you’re right on about the disposable diapers, dumping sewage, etc.  Old tires can be kept out of landfills, and are in a lot of places, by grinding them up and mixing them in with asphalt when they repair road surfaces; it actually makes for a more resilient asphalt surface that’s both longer-lasting and easier on the vehicles using it.  And even though there are some places where we do need more housing, we can use materials other than lumber.  Nothing wrong with concrete and brick, and in my part of the country adobe works nicely.

    Steve, planting trees is one of the best things people can do - you’re right, one of the best things about Sac is its greenery.  Here in the desert, we can plant varieties that flourish on just the water they get naturally; we put a desert willow in our front yard a couple of years ago and it’s really taken off without one drop of watering from us since the first few months when it was getting established, and not much then.  We’re planning to put in some more along the south side of the house to shade it and make it easier to keep cool.

    Paul, I’m with you on increasing the taxes on fuel, but there are some places where AC is not a luxury, it’s a basic necessity.  I’ve lived a lot of my life in New Mexico (where I am now) and Arizona, and with global warming, we’re routinely seeing summer temps of 110-125 in a lot of communities; we should be using solar and wind to power the AC, though.  We sure have enough sunlight and wind.  And a lot of the time, a swamp cooler is good enough, which uses less power (though more water) than refrigerated air.  Here in Albuquerque, being a bit over a mile above sea level, we can get by with just the swamp cooler; when I lived in Yuma, AZ, and in 29 Palms, CA, those houses had both - we’d use the swamp cooler until it got over 110 or the humidity went up, then switch to the refrigerated air.

    Sandy, I have to insist that animals have souls too.  I’ve had dogs and/or cats around for most of my life, and there is no way anyone will ever convince me that those animals do not have feelings and spirits every bit as self-aware and feeling as mine.  It’s not a putdown to say that we are animals; it merely means that we are beings whose souls inhabit physical bodies with all the usual biomechanical functions.  And we do share most our genetic code with the other life forms around us - we are related.

  21. By sushil_yadav on Nov 4, 2006 | Reply

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
    Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

    Emotion ends.

    Man becomes machine.

    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

    FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.

    SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.

    To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

    http://www.planetsave.com/ps_mambo/index.php?option=com_simpleboard&Itemid=75&func=view&id=68&catid=6

    http://www.earthnewswire.com/index.php?option=com_forum&Itemid=89&page=viewtopic&t=11

    sushil_yadav

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