Author Topic: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?  (Read 4421 times)

GuitarStv

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #50 on: February 08, 2021, 06:56:02 AM »
Except maybe not
https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/truth-about-polar-bears
Quote
The current scientific consensus places the worldwide polar bear population between 20,000 and 25,000 animals. Prior to the 1973 worldwide restriction on commerical polar bear hunting, that number was dramatically lower, so low that a meeting of polar bear specialists in 1965 concluded that extinction was a real possibility. Some reports even estimated the number of bears as low as 5,000 worldwide. Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000 … I am inclined toward the upper end of that range.” Although old studies are sketchy, clearly more polar bears are alive today than there were 50 years ago, an essentially heartening fact that has not managed to pierce the public consciousness.

Nice insight about the polar bears! There's a polar bear on the cover of apocalypse never. While I didn't know that, I'm not surprised, as it seems the general perception of things is usually off if not backwards!



I mean . . . you could cherry pick something someone says that supports your viewpoint and drop the rest of the article.  But that would be kinda dishonest.  Maybe you should post some of the other quotes from the article, where it explains that polar bear management is more complicated than a single number of one population of bears - and that part of the problem with polar bear study is that there wasn't any good way of monitoring numbers from 50 years ago.  We don't know what populations were . . . just have some rough estimates and guesses.  What we do see in the living bear population doesn't seem good.  Fewer young, lower body weights.  The populations that have grown are linked to laws that prevent bear hunting or hunting of common foods that the bears eat.

"...a closer look reveals that everything may not be quite so sunny. “Some populations appear to be doing OK now, but what’s frightening is what might happen in the very near future,” says wildlife biologist Lily Peacock, who has worked with polar bears for the Government of Nunavut and the U.S. Geological Survey. “All indications are that the future does not look bright.” While population trends might appear stable, she says, “we’re picking up declines in body condition that are really frightening.” Scientists have shown a direct correlation between warm years and skinny bears. Even more distressing, one study predicted that 40 to 73 percent of pregnant females could fail to deliver healthy cubs if ice breakup happens one month earlier than in the 1990s. Polar bears are long-lived animals that reproduce slowly; counting the number of animals that are alive today might not paint an accurate picture."

"Take the population in the greater Churchill area, for example, which was analyzed in a 2012 paper entitled Western Hudson Bay Polar Bear Aerial Survey. While the Government of Nunavut, which commissioned the study, was quick to trumpet an increase in polar bear numbers — and call for higher hunting quotas — the University of Minnesota scientists who actually did the work were more judicious. The sea ice in Hudson Bay is now breaking up two to three weeks earlier than it did three decades ago. And since a bear on land is easier to spot from a helicopter than a bear on the ice, catastrophically early ice breakup may have just made the bears more visible. By that logic, a higher count could actually be evidence that the bears are doing worse.

Even more troublesome is the fact that the number of cubs observed in the western Hudson Bay population is dramatically lower than in the past. While adult bears may be fat and savvy enough to survive a few lean years, juvenile bears reach a tipping point quickly. Despite the triumphal notes sounded by the Nunavut government, the study’s authors point out that the scarcity of cubs undercuts the entire hypothesis that “increasing numbers of bears … are the result of overall subpopulation growth.”"

"In Davis Strait, for example, both the extent and thickness of the sea ice have been declining dramatically. In theory, this should be trouble for the local bears, which, like polar bears everywhere else, rely on solid sea ice as a hunting platform. Yet this population is an eye-popping 233 percent bigger than it was four decades ago. It’s tempting to simply declare victory and walk away. And yet this new-found abundance is entirely the result of local management practices that originally had nothing to do with bears. Specifically, in 1983, the European Economic Community banned the importation of the hides of whitecoat harp seal pups. In most places, the polar bear diet consists primarily of ringed or bearded seals. But polar bears aren’t picky eaters; when harp seal populations exploded, polar bears gorged. On the other hand, one theory holds that the loss of sea ice could encourage killer whales to move into polar bear habitat, snatching up all the seals and becoming the new dominant marine mammal."


Then there's the classification of polar bears by every country that has populations (https://arcticwwf.org/species/polar-bear/population/):
International: Vulnerable
Canada: Special Concern
Greenland / Denmark: Vulnerable
Norway: Vulnerable
Russia: Indeterminate, Rare, or Recovering, depending on population
United States: Threatened



Polar bears aren't my primary concern with climate change, but there's no need to misrepresent the situation as A-OK.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #51 on: February 08, 2021, 09:09:33 AM »
Except maybe not
https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/truth-about-polar-bears
Quote
The current scientific consensus places the worldwide polar bear population between 20,000 and 25,000 animals. Prior to the 1973 worldwide restriction on commerical polar bear hunting, that number was dramatically lower, so low that a meeting of polar bear specialists in 1965 concluded that extinction was a real possibility. Some reports even estimated the number of bears as low as 5,000 worldwide. Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000 … I am inclined toward the upper end of that range.” Although old studies are sketchy, clearly more polar bears are alive today than there were 50 years ago, an essentially heartening fact that has not managed to pierce the public consciousness.

Nice insight about the polar bears! There's a polar bear on the cover of apocalypse never. While I didn't know that, I'm not surprised, as it seems the general perception of things is usually off if not backwards!



I mean . . . you could cherry pick something someone says that supports your viewpoint and drop the rest of the article.  But that would be kinda dishonest.  Maybe you should post some of the other quotes from the article, where it explains that polar bear management is more complicated than a single number of one population of bears - and that part of the problem with polar bear study is that there wasn't any good way of monitoring numbers from 50 years ago.  We don't know what populations were . . . just have some rough estimates and guesses.  What we do see in the living bear population doesn't seem good.  Fewer young, lower body weights.  The populations that have grown are linked to laws that prevent bear hunting or hunting of common foods that the bears eat.

"...a closer look reveals that everything may not be quite so sunny. “Some populations appear to be doing OK now, but what’s frightening is what might happen in the very near future,” says wildlife biologist Lily Peacock, who has worked with polar bears for the Government of Nunavut and the U.S. Geological Survey. “All indications are that the future does not look bright.” While population trends might appear stable, she says, “we’re picking up declines in body condition that are really frightening.” Scientists have shown a direct correlation between warm years and skinny bears. Even more distressing, one study predicted that 40 to 73 percent of pregnant females could fail to deliver healthy cubs if ice breakup happens one month earlier than in the 1990s. Polar bears are long-lived animals that reproduce slowly; counting the number of animals that are alive today might not paint an accurate picture."

"Take the population in the greater Churchill area, for example, which was analyzed in a 2012 paper entitled Western Hudson Bay Polar Bear Aerial Survey. While the Government of Nunavut, which commissioned the study, was quick to trumpet an increase in polar bear numbers — and call for higher hunting quotas — the University of Minnesota scientists who actually did the work were more judicious. The sea ice in Hudson Bay is now breaking up two to three weeks earlier than it did three decades ago. And since a bear on land is easier to spot from a helicopter than a bear on the ice, catastrophically early ice breakup may have just made the bears more visible. By that logic, a higher count could actually be evidence that the bears are doing worse.

Even more troublesome is the fact that the number of cubs observed in the western Hudson Bay population is dramatically lower than in the past. While adult bears may be fat and savvy enough to survive a few lean years, juvenile bears reach a tipping point quickly. Despite the triumphal notes sounded by the Nunavut government, the study’s authors point out that the scarcity of cubs undercuts the entire hypothesis that “increasing numbers of bears … are the result of overall subpopulation growth.”"

"In Davis Strait, for example, both the extent and thickness of the sea ice have been declining dramatically. In theory, this should be trouble for the local bears, which, like polar bears everywhere else, rely on solid sea ice as a hunting platform. Yet this population is an eye-popping 233 percent bigger than it was four decades ago. It’s tempting to simply declare victory and walk away. And yet this new-found abundance is entirely the result of local management practices that originally had nothing to do with bears. Specifically, in 1983, the European Economic Community banned the importation of the hides of whitecoat harp seal pups. In most places, the polar bear diet consists primarily of ringed or bearded seals. But polar bears aren’t picky eaters; when harp seal populations exploded, polar bears gorged. On the other hand, one theory holds that the loss of sea ice could encourage killer whales to move into polar bear habitat, snatching up all the seals and becoming the new dominant marine mammal."


Then there's the classification of polar bears by every country that has populations (https://arcticwwf.org/species/polar-bear/population/):
International: Vulnerable
Canada: Special Concern
Greenland / Denmark: Vulnerable
Norway: Vulnerable
Russia: Indeterminate, Rare, or Recovering, depending on population
United States: Threatened



Polar bears aren't my primary concern with climate change, but there's no need to misrepresent the situation as A-OK.

On Svalbard/Spitsbergen polar bears now stay at land in period where they would otherwise go onto ice and hunt. They are strolling over land and starving. More often than before they visit human dwellings to look for food. I have understood that polar bears to a certain degree have altered internal reproductive organs because of heavy metals and other stuff that humans have put in the sea.

The biggest problem everywhere on the planet that climate changes faster than many species (animals, plants, fungi) can adapt to it. Species are migrating/invading to newly warmer areas and threatening the established colder species.

Someone above mentioned that wildernis can't be disappearing that fast. But it is. Only a small fraction of growable land is still wildernis. And the total of wild mammals on this planet is only a percent or 2 of all lifestock mammals. There might still be a lot of wildernis left in Canada, Russia and such places, but the amazonas is rapidly burnt down. And elsewhere (like in Norway) there are more and more roads built, electric wires placed, windmills bult, lakes dammed. In the USA, mountain tops removal. Even if there is still some green area around it, it is often close to human invention and with that less inhabitable for wild animals. Even seemingly beautiful nature areas can have a past of polluting with lakes full of mining heavy metals.

uneven_cyclist

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #52 on: February 08, 2021, 02:43:25 PM »
The easiest way to reduce our impact is to have fewer children. This is something I'm doing. If others aren't willing to do it, or legislate caps on having children, then that is their problem.

This reasoning doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

50 dirt poor kids in a third world country are going to use fewer resources over their lives than one average middle income dude in North America.  Children aren't the problem.  Living a middle class (or better) lifestyle is.  By putting the blame on kids, it relieves one of having to scrutinize the systemic problems with the way we rich people live.

The birth rate in Canada has been below replacement for a while now.  If kids were the issue, we would see improvement in pollution and environmental damage each year . . . instead we see the opposite.  Legislating caps on the number of children clearly has no chance of working.

So if it's middle income people that are the problem then stop them having children. I didn't say anything about dirt poor people needing to stop having children (though I suspect it would be better for them to stop as well).

Don't tell me that I as a rich person with no children - and with less consumption [spending] than the average household - consume or use more resources than a middle class person with three (or two, or even one) child. That doesn't add up.

The real issue here in rich countries is that we're still having too many kids - even if marginally below replacement rate. If we all had one kid each and we let our population stagnate the world would be much better off. Till middle class families are okay with that, they can bear the blame for resource consumption. A middle class family that has 2-3 children each of whom has 2-3 children will have a much greater lifetime carbon footprint than a rich couple with 1 kid.

Canada has been below replacement for years.  If your theory is correct . . . why is our pollution output increasing with fewer children, rather than decreasing?

With fewer children our economy requires immigration to continue growth . . . so it's not like there are going to be fewer people in a country with fewer children.  There will just be more immigrants.  Unless your goal is to tank the economy.  If so, you're probably doing the right thing for the environment (less production and economic contraction is almost always great for the environment!) but will have a really tough sell.

But it's not just middle income people who are the problem . . . it's money.  The richer people are, the bigger their carbon footprint typically.  That's why the average carbon footprint of someone living in Beverly Hills is about five times what someone living in South Central LA is (https://apnews.com/article/be099434a414a0cb647640ce45f8e6fc).  Might be worth just taxing the rich and middle class until they're poor . . . then they can't afford to keep polluting.

By world population there's just no comparison at all.  Us rich people are the problem because of our consumption.  Consumption that is driven by wealth.


@mozar suggested that I read Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth and although the book is on hold right now (I requested it on Libby / 6-week wait time) I read the free sample, which covers the first couple of chapters. 

Raworth is an Oxford economist who addresses this very question and who proposes a different model for thinking about economics that might enable us to solve some of these pressing issues.

You are both right in the sense that wealthier people consume more resources and that also as the rate of reproduction drops that immigration must, by necessity, rise in order to fill the void -- unless a nation is willing to suffer falling growth and economic collapse.  This is because the success of our economies for the past 100+ years has been measured based on one metric alone: growth, as determined by GDP.

The problem with simply choosing to not have children without also addressing challenges like poverty and income inequality is that, in a world where we measure success in our economies by growth and growth alone, you will not ever solve the overpopulation problem because there will always be people in desperate, poor parts of the world who will be having large numbers of children.

In other words, as GuitarStv says...you might decide to not have a child, but under our current system that will not mean that there will not be *a* child living in your country, consuming resources and therefore warming the climate -- it just won't be your child.

The reason that Raworth's model makes a lot of sense is that she encourages us to drop the idea of measuring success based on growth completely and to instead measure success based on how good a job we are doing when it comes to ensuring that everyone on the planet (human, animal, plant -- every living being) has access to a basic set of critical needs -- that they are above the Social Foundation -- and that we, as humans, are not consuming at such a high level that we are destroying the planet -- i.e. not overshooting our Ecological Ceiling. 

Achieving this through Doughnut Economics would not come through forcing certain numbers of people to live in poverty, but rather through intentionally designing our economies in such a way that we can all live within the green zone so that we are able to thrive with nature and to not destroy our planet. 

Although this task might feel daunting (or even impossible) I also know that one thing the MMM community does particularly well is to come up with unique solutions to complicated problems that others might consider to be impossible. 

At one point when I first posted this, ChpBstrd mentioned the idea of using our most powerful levers to effect change -- I might add to the list that education is a hugely powerful lever.  Learning about what is causing the problems.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 03:00:36 PM by uneven_cyclist »

uneven_cyclist

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #53 on: February 08, 2021, 02:52:55 PM »
I should also re-emphasize an idea that I mentioned before that dovetails with Raworth's ideas: Attenborough argues in his film that it will be critical for us to reach our peak population on earth as quickly as we can.  While it may be the case that people in developing nations do not have as large an environmental impact, it is also the case that those populations are all moving rapidly toward lifestyles that involve much higher levels of consumption.

A better way to look at things might be to look at things more holistically: not in terms of which nations to target, or which groups of people are the biggest problem, and so on, but rather...how can we make things sustainable for everyone, because we all have to live here, and we will need to find a balance in which everyone on the planet can live in a safe, comfortable, harmonious environment.

With that in mind, it is in all of our interest to invest effort into helping people who need help to access education, housing, drinking water, political stability, etc. to get those things ASAP, because the longer they go *without* those things, the faster the population will grow, and regardless of whether or not we provide support, everyone eventually reaches a level of prosperity at which it becomes possible to consume more resources.

It is a matter of figuring out whether it would be best to be working on how to accommodate 10 billion people within the doughnut or 12 billion or 20 billion etc. The more rapidly we can have the population peak, the smaller that number would be. 

One of the most high impact ways to reduce that number is by educating children, and especially girls, in the developing world.

uneven_cyclist

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #54 on: February 08, 2021, 07:06:54 PM »
@uneven_cyclist
You might want to look into Deep Adaptation, a movement that wants to prepare in the best way for the inevitable climate changes. You can find a community on fb.

For green investments, you could consider buying/creating rentals that are energy-modern, with solar panels and not car dependent. Or even buy a large house on a farm and get people like you to live there with you, driving it together as a coop. I recently saw an add for for an extra tennant such a house in Oslo. It was not on a farm, but they had a large garden to grow food. But the idea is that you with your investments buy the green place to live and your renters pay you your profit, while living in a green way.

You can also run for politics in your community and join a green party (or the greenest).

I have my money in a (Norwegian) index fund that is called "more societal responsibility". It has the same low price as the world wide index fund, but doesn't buy the worst weapons and polluters. I think they created the fund because there was a strong demand for people to invest in something more responsible. You should all ask vanguard to also offer such a fund, maybe if enough people donit will help.

I think there is one thing Mustachians often do that contributes a lot to our CO2 ommissions and that is travel hacking. Travel by air has a really big environmental impact. Even MMM himself used to have his yearly meetings in farawayistan. We should at least try not to become frequent flyers, but rather practice other forms for (slow) travel.

Thanks Linea,

These are great ideas.  Right now I am searching for ideas about how I can get involved / make my largest impact, so these ideas are really helpful. 

I'm right there with you on Travel Hacking / Credit Card Churning.  Although I am doing it a bit myself (have not yet traveled, just accumulating miles) I have had a bit of an uneasy feeling about all of it and recently read a NYT article about The Points Guy that another Mustachian posted elsewhere in the forum, and it was unsettling. 

The author of the article revealed the mechanics of airline miles and credit card bonuses.  Here is a link to the story for anyone who is interested:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/magazine/points-guy-travel-rewards.html

Quoting my own reply from that post:

Just read this.  So...the airlines sell miles to the banks because this is a way to generate reliable/predictable revenue...the banks, in turn, use the miles to create co-branded cards to attract customers who aspire to travel...then the banks earn revenue on the cards through interchange fees which are charged to merchants on every single transaction (this is the bulk of their revenue, not interest) while the customers get to (have to?) travel on jets and have an elite experience.

In other countries, interchange fees are capped and there are not points/miles/bonuses etc.

This all makes me wonder how much jet fuel has been dumped into the atmosphere just to maintain fee revenue for the banks...a revenue stream largely financed by people who don't actually have credit cards in the first place or even know anything about airline miles or bonuses, but are just making cash purchases and scraping by day-to-day.

As the author writes at the end of the story, "The poor underwrite the fantasies of the middle class, who in turn underwrite the realities of the rich."


uneven_cyclist

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #55 on: February 08, 2021, 08:16:20 PM »
It is not lost on me that this forum / MMM in general is financed primarily by profits generated when people sign up for these credit cards (there's an ad at the bottom of the page that says "Bigass Credit Card Rewards are BACK")...but at the same time I doubt that there are many here who, if armed with understanding about what's going on, and if given the chance, would not shut down the whole racket.

High interchange fees are a uniquely American thing and they are bad for three reasons:
1) People in the lowest income brackets suffer most because they pay higher prices across the entire economy without any reimbursement through credit card rewards.
2) Income inequality becomes worse because bankers grow rich from the fees.
3) The environment is literally being consumed because high interchange fees are what enable banks to lure consumers into signing up for elite credit cards by offering airline travel or cashback bonuses.

As Mustachians, we have the ability to come out somewhere in the middle of the pile of course, by travel hacking and earning lots of cc bonuses...

Travel hacking is all probably just a blip on the radar of the big banks, and any money that they might be losing they can easily recover by boosting interchange fees marginally the following year and passing the bill to those who can least afford to pay it and who have the least amount of power to do anything about it.

I am not in a position to change any of this unfortunately, but it felt important to share with folks in case there might be anyone reading who *is* in a position of influence out there.



« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 08:19:35 PM by uneven_cyclist »

Riccardo

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #56 on: February 08, 2021, 08:59:18 PM »
Quote
In the way that MMM and others illuminated the path on a personal level to take folks from a life of debt to a life of early retirement, we now need their help to chart a similar course on a societal level in order to halt the decline of the natural world (stop racking up debt) and then begin to repair the damage (invest in VTSAX) -- speaking in metaphor, I'm not saying that we need to literally stop racking up debt and invest in VTSAX in order to repair the world, but that we need help from visionaries like MMM to identify the equivalent actions that must be taken on a societal level in order to get out of the crisis.

I haven't read this whole thread yet, but IMHO MMM has always been an environmentalist using wealth as the lure to get on board with his ideas. He promotes bikes, limited fertility, reduced consumption, local travel... Perhaps with the stock market booming ever more people are missing this angle of his message. To me it has always been clear that his message of driving less, biking more, consuming less, saving more, eating home cooked food instead of preservative-laden packaged meals, etc. made us rich, happy & healthy -- and was intended to solve the environmental troubles described in this thread. Being resigned to failure is something I've read on this forum again and again over the years.

One thing our family does is turn off the circuit breaker using OhmConnect. We get paid to save e- during peak hours! Yet when I share this with others, they think it sounds nuts. They'd rather complain than play a boardgames by candlelight for an hour.

The solutions are there. Agree corporations have pushed the individual responsibility angle. But this pandemic has brought us measurably closer to mitigating human impact by more remote work, something closer to UBI, a vast wave of interest in biking and bike infrastructure, and a massive reduction in international jet travel.

uneven_cyclist

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #57 on: February 09, 2021, 01:02:57 AM »
Quote
In short: I want to step up, but I also sense that this is a situation where it would be very easy to take a step (or many steps) in the wrong direction, and I am hoping to avoid that.

I think your being too hard for yourself. It's about putting one foot in front of another. If you feel like your going in the wrong direction, change directions. If you're feeling overwhelmed try volunteering for a conservancy non profit. The path doesn't appear until you start the journey.
You are both correct. Thankfully lots of people are thinking a lot about this so you don't have to solve everything yourself!

Check out https://80000hours.org/

I think there will be a lot in there about how you can help, given your particular skills. That community has a lot to say, from high level career-long things down to what can you do today. They acknowledge and have some numbers around the idea that for some people, the most effective thing they can do is maximize their earnings and donate. I haven't put too much scrutiny to this site because my chosen career path is already pretty much in line with their thinking. It's more along the lines of career and $ than permaculture type things, which are also great but a little less on topic.

I will admit I haven't read much myself about investing's impact. I guess I just assumed that, say, 12 years working for the man plus investing 1 million dollars was < actively working to solve the problem the rest of the time or at least as good as I could do. Maybe not though, more reading for me as well.

They do say this, but I think MMMers can do better than their audience.
Quote
We’re unsure in general how much people should be investing vs. spending now on the most pressing causes.

It is intriguing though. Might a paycheck to paycheck frugal lifestyle, working in a job doing good for humanity, with maybe a 250k buffer be better for the planet than FIRE? No idea =).

The closest I've found on that site is this, which basically boils down to "don't donate all your money" to me.
https://80000hours.org/2015/11/why-everyone-even-our-readers-should-save-enough-to-live-for-6-24-months/

It is worth noting that, according to their analysis, climate change is in the second tier of ways for any otherwise generic person to make a difference.

Thanks!  Checking out the website and the podcast now. 

uneven_cyclist

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #58 on: February 09, 2021, 02:01:52 AM »
Quote
In the way that MMM and others illuminated the path on a personal level to take folks from a life of debt to a life of early retirement, we now need their help to chart a similar course on a societal level in order to halt the decline of the natural world (stop racking up debt) and then begin to repair the damage (invest in VTSAX) -- speaking in metaphor, I'm not saying that we need to literally stop racking up debt and invest in VTSAX in order to repair the world, but that we need help from visionaries like MMM to identify the equivalent actions that must be taken on a societal level in order to get out of the crisis.

I haven't read this whole thread yet, but IMHO MMM has always been an environmentalist using wealth as the lure to get on board with his ideas. He promotes bikes, limited fertility, reduced consumption, local travel... Perhaps with the stock market booming ever more people are missing this angle of his message. To me it has always been clear that his message of driving less, biking more, consuming less, saving more, eating home cooked food instead of preservative-laden packaged meals, etc. made us rich, happy & healthy -- and was intended to solve the environmental troubles described in this thread. Being resigned to failure is something I've read on this forum again and again over the years.

One thing our family does is turn off the circuit breaker using OhmConnect. We get paid to save e- during peak hours! Yet when I share this with others, they think it sounds nuts. They'd rather complain than play a boardgames by candlelight for an hour.

The solutions are there. Agree corporations have pushed the individual responsibility angle. But this pandemic has brought us measurably closer to mitigating human impact by more remote work, something closer to UBI, a vast wave of interest in biking and bike infrastructure, and a massive reduction in international jet travel.


No doubt about it.  MMM is a visionary in every sense: he described a revolutionary way of life based on environmental and financial ideas and values that allowed many of us to dramatically reduce our consumption levels and environmental impact and to build significant wealth.

I made my post because I saw a film recently that made me feel a sense of deep concern about the rapid loss of wilderness around the world, David Attenborough's "A Life on Our Planet." I felt an urgent need to align myself with the mission of the film while also holding true to the concepts I learned about through MMM, so I turned to the forum for advice and ideas.  The problems that exist are large in scale / scope, certainly, and I recognize that my role would not be on a major scale, but it is important to me to find ways to participate. 

Right now, that means learning about and understanding my role in contributing to the crisis -- what effect am I having on the destruction of wilderness?
How do I fit in, and how does the MMM community fit in?  Is Mustachianism sustainable from an ecological perspective?  A humanitarian perspective?  If not, will it become so over time? It is impossible to chart my course without first understanding my position. 

In the past few days I have learned a tremendous amount.  The idea of Doughnut Economics, which argues that we move away from economies based purely on growth and toward distributive economies based on ensuring that nobody falls below the Social Foundation and that we do not overshoot our Ecological Ceiling...the 80,000 hour project, which is a website and podcast that helps people align their career work with the world's most pressing challenges...The OhmConnect!  Even without the power saving benefits, just the idea of playing board games and having candlelight sounds really nice.

Thanks for your post and keep up the good work with lowering consumption, eating healthy, cycling, and otherwise moving things in the right direction. 
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 02:07:01 AM by uneven_cyclist »

Riccardo

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #59 on: February 09, 2021, 12:23:48 PM »
Check out a long thread (or threads) on the topic from a few years ago with @JoshuaSpodek -- I learned so much from him, things I had never thought about relating to the "experience-based economy" which just moves the consumption from things to travel (while not really reducing the things angle, sadly).

I also suspect fertility is going to fall drastically in the very short term in the US. I believe that not having kids is a biologically driven "choice" that people are "making". In other words, only those truly biologically driven to reproduce will do so, while those who in the past would have done so either accidentally or due to social pressure will be off the hook.

Automation is going to radically change our world and make UBI possible (note I am not a UBI fan/shill, just seems to me that the pandemic has proven that it will happen).  For those who doubt the power of automation, we need only to look at agriculture, perhaps the most automated industry in America, which feeds (excessively) while using a tiny human labor force. I saw a quote that 200 years ago (not gonna get this right) 80% of people were farmers, then it dropped to 10% of people were farmers, and now something like 3% of people are farmers.

I try not to think about biodiversity extinctions (insects, plants, animals) because it makes me very sad. Trying to do my part in my garden. Wish we could ban Roundup.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 12:26:54 PM by Fru-Gal »

MustacheAndaHalf

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #60 on: February 09, 2021, 01:06:25 PM »
It would help to prioritize actions, and I think investing is low on that list.  Stocks are unaware that you didn't buy them - and certainly not why you didn't buy them.  The price of stocks are determined by active trading, not from buy and hold index investors.  Select ESG, but don't get distracted by investing as a way to have an impact.

Does your representative in Congress know your feelings?  That's how focusing on stocks, with no impact, can detract from doing something that can have an impact.

uneven_cyclist

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #61 on: February 09, 2021, 01:38:24 PM »
Check out a long thread (or threads) on the topic from a few years ago with @JoshuaSpodek -- I learned so much from him, things I had never thought about relating to the "experience-based economy" which just moves the consumption from things to travel (while not really reducing the things angle, sadly).

I also suspect fertility is going to fall drastically in the very short term in the US. I believe that not having kids is a biologically driven "choice" that people are "making". In other words, only those truly biologically driven to reproduce will do so, while those who in the past would have done so either accidentally or due to social pressure will be off the hook.

Automation is going to radically change our world and make UBI possible (note I am not a UBI fan/shill, just seems to me that the pandemic has proven that it will happen).  For those who doubt the power of automation, we need only to look at agriculture, perhaps the most automated industry in America, which feeds (excessively) while using a tiny human labor force. I saw a quote that 200 years ago (not gonna get this right) 80% of people were farmers, then it dropped to 10% of people were farmers, and now something like 3% of people are farmers.

I try not to think about biodiversity extinctions (insects, plants, animals) because it makes me very sad. Trying to do my part in my garden. Wish we could ban Roundup.

This makes a lot of sense...and while we can all feel good (justifiably good) about reducing our consumption on daily expenses, eating healthier, and riding bikes, there are chinks in the armor of Mustachianism.

Something that I think is really important to be aware of is the idea of loopholes, hacking, tricks, etc. that save us money...especially anything involving taxes and banks.  Because when we are doing things like travel hacking, which enable us to have amazing experiences all over the globe, it is important to keep in mind that people with lower incomes than our own financing our journeys and just because we are not paying for it, that does not mean that the jet fuel is not being consumed, the airplanes are not being built, the food isn't being eaten, the hotels built, etc. etc.  While these journeys may be free or very cheap for us, it would be a tough sell to convince me that they are not contributing to income disparities or that they are not contributing to the destruction of the environment. 

@MustacheAndaHalf re: contacting my congress person...I was talking to my sister about all of this yesterday and she also suggested that it would be a good idea to reach out to my congress person for ideas.

I understand what you are saying about retail investing where if I don't own the stock then someone else would just own it at the same price, and so in that sense my actions as a buy-and-hold investor do not have too much influence.

I still have a lot to learn.  I do have the sense after reading further up in the thread that institutional investors (corporations, university endowments, etc.) have the ability to affect change in a much more meaningful way. 

But as individuals, we do have the ability to shape the conversation.  Still figuring it out and learning, thank you all for your thoughts and ideas.  And yes, it is absolutely important to prioritize actions.

« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 01:53:24 PM by uneven_cyclist »

simonsez

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #62 on: February 09, 2021, 01:43:02 PM »
I believe that not having kids is a biologically driven "choice" that people are "making". In other words, only those truly biologically driven to reproduce will do so, while those who in the past would have done so either accidentally or due to social pressure will be off the hook.
Can you expand on this?  I'm having a hard time envisioning someone driven purely by biological factors to create offspring with no impact by social pressure.  I.e. if someone grew up isolated with no connection to other humans, do you really think there would be some innate urge to make more humans and they would lament this inability (aside from general loneliness)?  Or if two sterile people that were attracted to each other and regularly had sexual gratification - would they have the concept of offspring and that something is missing or would they be satisfied?  I would think every birth has some element of social pressure baked in.

Perhaps I'm being too broad with how I'm thinking of social pressure.  I would consider anything that a person in isolation wouldn't come up with on their own to be social pressure.  A spouse saying they're open to the idea of having children or an advertisement showing a positive bond between parent(s) and a child or even a tax break for having children would be social pressure.  If we're just talking libido, sure I would buy that a good deal of that is natural and would occur without any social pressure. 

joe189man

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #63 on: February 10, 2021, 09:25:34 AM »
IMO the easiest thing you can do is do a carbon footprint calculator to see where your household is generating the most carbon and look for low hanging fruit, flying is extremely carbon intensive, so is driving a low mpg or older car a lot of miles. live close to work and ride your bike

maybe if your utility is coal dominate solar makes sense

then vote with your dollars, do research to find companies or ETFs that promote whats important to you

a thing i would like to do is buy some land (many acres) and put it in a conservation easement to prevent future development and work to restore or enhance the available habitat

a moon shot might be space mining - getting critical resources from off planet ( https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/asteroids/16-psyche/in-depth/ ) and even manufacturing/processing in space would tremendously benefit the planet

if we want to go all solar and wind we still need solar panels, metal and battery components which requires mining - might as well get them from an asteroid

Riccardo

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #64 on: February 10, 2021, 09:56:37 AM »
Quote
a thing i would like to do is buy some land (many acres) and put it in a conservation easement to prevent future development and work to restore or enhance the available habitat

I have thought about this too! Cool idea!

WRT to population decline, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_decline:

"... after 1968 the global population growth rate started a long decline and today (the period 2015–2020) is estimated to be about 1.1%,[2] half of its peak in 1968. Although still growing, global population is predicted to level out around the end of the 21st century,[8] and some sources predict the start of a decline before then.[1][9]  The principle cause of this phenomenon is the abrupt decline in the global total fertility rate, from 5.0 in 1960 to 2.5 in 2016. The decline in the total fertility rate has occurred in every region of the world and has brought renewed concern for population decline.[1]

The era of rapid global population increase, and concomitant concern about a population explosion, has been a relative short one compared with the span of human history. It began roughly at the beginning of the industrial revolution and appears to be now drawing to a close in the Western world.[1]"

It's pretty stunning to see what is happening in Japan. But in terms of what I was talking about, it's just a theory I have and can't currently find evidence for (though I believe I did find some on Twitter). In my lifetime I have seen a drastic change in how people talk about having children. I am 50, I always wanted children, and we had them fairly young. Today, I frequently hear people talking about plans to never have children. I think it's great that this is something people can openly say now. What I am suggesting is that fertility is dropping for myriad *biological* reasons (low testosterone, "affluenza" resulting in no survivability advantage to reproduction, population pressure/crowding) in addition to the sociological reasons such as female education, contraception, late/no marriage, etc. My husband, who like me always wanted children, has an additional theory that entertainment/screen addiction is reducing the desire to reproduce.

Anyway, a lot of my theories have to do with the fact that humans are animals, and the biological population dynamics we see in other animal populations apply to us as well.

Riccardo

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: Are We Part of The Problem?
« Reply #65 on: February 10, 2021, 10:03:03 AM »
One theory about life is that it is the ideal method of distributing the entropy originated with the Big Bang. If human civilization has achieved a new "self-velocity" of entropy (similar to compound interest), reproduction may no longer be the primary method for distributing entropy.

(Dunno if this works with my other theory 😂)