Friday, February 29, 2008

Religion and sustainability

Sustainability is an interesting issue. I have a friend, a hippy but for wanting for a better term, and she has a “bumper” sticker on her bag reading: “The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.” She then believes that we do have a responsibility to future generations. Her argument comes from her basic belief system. She beliefs that each person is an extension of the gaya and in death we realize the connection. She then uses this as a statement that any damage done to life and the earth is damage upon yourself as a whole. We discussed in class about religion being the driving force for the idea of sustainability and the responsibility for future generations.
But a question still keeps asserting its self; what is harm? Surely natural activities of animals isn’t harm. If a loin kills to eat he is sustaining himself, his offspring and his species. So, using the fruits of the environment isn’t harm. What then is?
Her response was any action which eliminates other species or human life in the long run. She was then worried about global warming, mostly caused by carbon emissions. She also worries about the destruction of the rain forest and related issues. I then asked her another question, what does sustainability mean to you? Her response was interesting. She said the most important issue was to respect nature and use just the bare minimum of resources to survive. She also believed in local made products and natural methods of production.
Also during class with discussed that these methods bring about poverty. But her response was what one would typically expound. It was only lower material consumption, but not wealth in other senses. Her argument was that by our vast material wealth has detracted from human interaction and therefore we are worse off then if we didn’t have as much material wealth. This is an interesting idea with one possible hitch, what about personal preferences and liberty? Her argument was that we would realize only once we eliminate excess material possession.
Her arguments seem to ring in the same tone as our current book: For the Common Good. I think this shows how one then argues for sustainability, through some sense of a higher power. I don’t see another way in which to argue for sustainability and then government interference to achieve sustainability.

Chopping Down More Trees to Build More Houses…The Environmental Way

Today’s Wall Street Journal ran a story on the recent push towards eco friendly homes. But perhaps the most interesting part of the piece, aside from one couple admitting they didn’t expect to recoup on their investment within their lifetime (which begs the question: then when?), was the perceived actors behind this particular fad. No it’s not the environmentalists. It’s the contractors who build and renovate homes.

There’s been a theory in the economic field that essentially says in order to pass most legislation you need both Baptists, i.e. a moral party, and bootleggers, a faction looking to profit, proving the old saying “politics makes strange bedfellows.” However, I think cases such as this demonstrate these odd pairings move far beyond simple legislation.

Changes in the market have caused consumers looking to build or renovate a home to substantially change their cost benefit analysis, and as a result fewer and fewer are actually going through with the deed. Thus contractors have had to get creative in attempts to reweight the analysis and have begun to offer, or rather push, more and more “green” domiciles, which offers the consumer the benefits of not just remodeling, but the warm fuzzy feelings of helping to save mother nature in the process.

The end result? A day I never thought I’d see, environmentalists almost paradoxically thrilled to see continued construction. Bootleggers and Baptists, eat your heart out.

Jaeson Madison

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

Here's something interesting:
As VHEMT Volunteers know, the hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens... us.

Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom.

When every human chooses to stop breeding, Earth's biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory, and all remaining creatures will be free to live, die, evolve (if they believe in evolution), and will perhaps pass away, as so many of Nature's "experiments" have done throughout the eons.