Author Topic: So I got this email from an old guy...  (Read 6606 times)

ShavenLlama

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So I got this email from an old guy...
« on: August 03, 2012, 12:00:24 PM »
... who drives over 20 miles (that's like, an hour or so in my 'hood) to a job he hates but needs in order to keep his unlimited Dish subscription current and his nightly rum flowing. But it's a fun read, especially as I think to myself, "But I DO have a push mower... I DO reuse and recycle my cans and bottles... I DO ride my bike to get groceries (sometimes)..."


Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV or radio in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

grantmeaname

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 12:04:26 PM »
You can feel the smugness dripping off this email.

darkelenchus

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2012, 01:36:38 PM »
Kids these days...

tooqk4u22

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2012, 02:12:12 PM »
They are all valid and seem to be fairly acurate points...but it ignores the willingness/ignorance that it was acceptable to dump all the industrial waste into the rivers....that wasn't very green.

If we go back a bit further we will see that cavemen were likely the most green, although at some point they created fire so I guess that is the start of air pollution so maybe we have to look just before that period for the greenest humans. 

Jamesqf

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2012, 04:51:15 PM »
If we go back a bit further we will see that cavemen were likely the most green...

Unless perhaps you think about the extinction of most of the American megafauna when humans moved in during/after the last Ice Age.  Or the similar fate of Australian megafauna some tens of millenia earlier.

kisserofsinners

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 05:24:34 PM »
....and get off my lawn!

sol

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2012, 06:36:30 PM »
I'm not even sure where to begin with this one.

Today's environmental problems were not caused by our grandparents driving everywhere, they were caused by our grandparents designing cities that required everyone else to drive everywhere.

They weren't caused by that generation using push mowers, they were caused by that generation cutting down the rain forests.

They weren't caused by using clothes lines to dry clothing, they were caused by exporting clothing manufacturing to children in third world sweatshops.

They weren't caused by recycling milk bottles, they were caused by the proliferation of confined animal feeding operations for dairy cows.

In every case, the habits of consumers are not what is being criticized by the stereotypically rude young checkout clerk, but rather the creation and marketing of a society that functions by inefficiently consuming resources on a wholesale level.  And that I can't really fault them for, honestly.  Nobody likes to live in poverty, and they worked towards a more industrialized lifestyle for themselves and their families, just like China and friends are doing today.

RoseRelish

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2012, 06:16:41 AM »
... a society that functions by inefficiently consuming resources on a wholesale level.  And that I can't really fault them for, honestly.  Nobody likes to live in poverty, and they worked towards a more industrialized lifestyle for themselves and their families, just like China and friends are doing today.

I think it's important to point out that somewhere along the way, money/the DOLLAR became a "resource" that influenced/mandated to be part of the "efficient use of resources" equation. Producing goods far away from the end-user may not be efficient using classical resources (oil/trees/water), but is VERY efficient in an economic sense. The current generation is essentially trying to add "the environment" as a resource in the equation to cancel/offset the influence of money - justifying higher prices/more work for products/services - in order to efficienty use the environment.

grantmeaname

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 08:44:46 AM »
In every case, the habits of consumers are not what is being criticized by the stereotypically rude young checkout clerk, but rather the creation and marketing of a society that functions by inefficiently consuming resources on a wholesale level.  And that I can't really fault them for, honestly.  Nobody likes to live in poverty, and they worked towards a more industrialized lifestyle for themselves and their families, just like China and friends are doing today.
This is exactly what I was thinking. Except, you know, articulate.

Producing goods far away from the end-user may not be efficient using classical resources (oil/trees/water), but is VERY efficient in an economic sense. The current generation is essentially trying to add "the environment" as a resource in the equation to cancel/offset the influence of money - justifying higher prices/more work for products/services - in order to efficienty use the environment.
I'd argue that you're thinking about this all wrong. The dollar cost of products didn't include externalities like the cost of water quality control around mines or of returning rivers to productivity and stability after dumping industrial wastes in them, and these costs are slowly and unsteadily starting to be included in the total cost of the product, one industry at a time, like they should be. The classical economic costs of the products were falsely low and are now beginning to reflect the true costs.

Bakari

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2012, 10:38:31 AM »
Externalities are an example of the "tragedy of the commons", and they are the natural, expected, and inevitable result of any individualistic system (i.e. capitalism).

For anyone who hasn't seen it "The Century of the Self" is a fascinating documentary that follows the trend in America for people to go from "citizens" to "consumers" from deliberate processes of psychology in marketing by at industry that was afraid that people wight figure out they had enough stuff and stop buying more.
The consumer way of life didn't "just happen", and it wasn't just because of people wanting to escape poverty.

http://www.sprword.com/videos/centuryoftheself/

tooqk4u22

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 10:40:39 AM »
I think it's important to point out that somewhere along the way, money/the DOLLAR became a "resource" that influenced/mandated to be part of the "efficient use of resources" equation.

There has always been some form of currency.....dollars, gold, jewels, spices, food, etc.


Externalities are an example of the "tragedy of the commons", and they are the natural, expected, and inevitable result of any individualistic system (i.e. capitalism).


This has nothing to do with capitalism....no country or political system throughout the industrial age, and likely before then, was focused on environmental impact....Afterall, China is Communist, isn't it, so if it was about capitalism then they would be the greenest.  All of Europe is predominantly socialist, yet they have all of the same issues.

Even before industrialization, populations extracted every resources out of the lands and when nature stopped satisfying those people moved on....that wasn't capitalism that was survival.  Although many believe or claim that the native American Indians understood sustainability and not exploiting or raping the land, and this may have been true but it could also have been they were relatively small population in a relatively vast and resourceful land.   

Jamesqf

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2012, 01:15:56 PM »
Even before industrialization, populations extracted every resources out of the lands and when nature stopped satisfying those people moved on...

Even so, and the observant of those days realized it.  Take for instance this, from  Plato (Critias, ca 400BCE):
Quote
The consequence is, that in comparison of what then was, there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, as in the case of small islands, all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land being left. But in the primitive state of the country, its mountains were high hills covered with soil, and the plains, as they are termed by us, of Phelleus were full of rich earth, and there was abundance of wood in the mountains. Of this last the traces still remain, for although some of the mountains now only afford sustenance to bees, not so very long ago there were still to be seen roofs of timber cut from trees growing there, which were of a size sufficient to cover the largest houses; and there were many other high trees, cultivated by man and bearing abundance of food for cattle. Moreover, the land reaped the benefit of the annual rainfall, not as now losing the water which flows off the bare earth into the sea, but, having an abundant supply in all places, and receiving it into herself and treasuring it up in the close clay soil, it let off into the hollows the streams which it absorbed from the heights, providing everywhere abundant fountains and rivers, of which there may still be observed sacred memorials in places where fountains once existed...

tooqk4u22

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Re: So I got this email from an old guy...
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2012, 05:28:04 PM »
Great excerpt, thanks.  So more than 2000 years later we as a population are too dumb to to realize it and/or do something about it, and the problems are far worse and the consequences greater.