The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
July 27, 2007

What’s Wrong with Plastic Anyway?

Why avoid plastic?  I originally wrote this post in July 2007, just one month into my plastic-free experiment.  It’s now June 2013, and in the past 6 years, I have learned a lot more about plastic — where it comes from and what problems are associated with it.  Here, then, is an updated summary of why I am still living plastic-free after all these years.

1) Plastic comes from fossil fuels.

According to the U.S. Energy Energy Information Administration, “plastics are made from liquid petroleum gases (LPG), natural gas liquids (NGL), and natural gas. LPG are by-products of petroleum refining, and NGL are removed from natural gas before it enters transmission pipelines.”  In 2010, about 191 million barrels of LPG and NGL and 412 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas were used in the United States to make plastic products.

 

And as we know, oil and gas are non-renewable resources, which means that if we don’t find alternatives to fossil fuels voluntarily, we’ll be forced to do so.  What’s more, extraction of these fuels is a dirty business.  According to the NRDC, each year, the oil industry spills tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil and other hazardous materials on the North Slope of Alaska. Oil operations also pollute the air with toxic emissions and poison the water and wetlands. Massive spills like Deep Water Horizon are legendary, but we don’t often think about the pollution that goes on every day from oil drilling.

And natural gas extraction is no cleaner.   According to Food and Water Watch, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is “an extremely water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid – typically a mix of water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer – are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well.” Fracking generates vast amounts of toxic waste, which pollute the air we breathe and water we drink.

2) Before becoming plastic products that we can use, the carbon in fossil fuels is polymerized into tiny raw plastic pellets, sometimes nicknamed  “nurdles.” These tiny nurdles are shipped in containers all over the world to factories, where they will be processed into products. But before the nurdles reach their destination, many of them are littered and end up in the ocean,  where they can resemble fish eggs to hungry marine animals. (Read more here.) Additionally, the nurdles are accumulators of hydrophobic pollutants – things like DDE and PCB. These can be up to one million times more concentrated on the surface of these pellets than they are in the ambient sea water, according to a recent Japanese study. In short, these plastic pellets not only kill the birds and fish that eat them, they are also a source of poisons in our food.

3) The nurdles that reach their intended destination are formed into all kinds of products for us to use.  During the process, additives are combined with the plastics to affect their qualities.  And some of these chemicals are pretty harmful.  There are two kinds of plastic of particular concern: PVC (polyvinyl chloride, #3 plastic), which is used for cling wrap, some plastic squeeze bottles, cooking oil and peanut butter jars, detergent and window cleaner bottles, poses risks to the environment and to humans. And polycarbonate (#7 plastic), which is used in some hard plastic bottles, metal food can liners, clear plastic “sippy” cups and some clear plastic cutlery has been found to leach Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that mimics the action of the human hormone estrogen and has been linked to several cancers and genetic damage in infants. (Read more here.)

But what’s of even more concern is that even supposedly “safe” plastics have been found to have hormone-disrupting effects.  And manufacturers are not required to disclose any of the additives in their plastics.  So we can’t be sure that any plastics are safe.

4) And then there are further dangers to sea animals. Like nurdles, bottle caps are small pieces of plastic. And most bottles caps are not recycled! So what happens to them? Many of them end up in the ocean, where albatross mothers feed them to their young, who die shortly thereafter. (Read more.) But the dangers to sea animals is not just from tiny pieces of plastic; plastic bags and wrappers are also hazardous. Floating in the ocean, they can look like jelly fish to creatures, like leatherback turtles, who feast on them. The plastic blocks the turtle’s digestive tract and leads to starvation. (Read more.)

5) And at the end of its life?  Well, there is no end for plastic.  Most fossil-based plastics and even some plant-based plastics will not biodegrade. They are, however, photodegradable, which means that if they’re exposed to light, they will degrade into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic that are not only swallowed by marine creatures, but become embedded in the zooplankton, the very bottom of the food chain, and thereby poison our food with toxins. (Read more.)

Scientists are unclear as to how long it could take plastic to finally degrade, but they do know that all the plastic that has ever been created, except for that which has been incinerated, is still with us today. And the more plastic we produce, the bigger the problem of plastic waste will become.

Now, do I think that plastic is the biggest environmental problem in the world? I have no idea. What I do know is that plastic is something that I can handle. I don’t own a car, so I can’t cut down my driving to save petroleum. I don’t own a house, so I can’t remodel to make my home more energy efficient. But I am a consumer. And I can control what products I choose to buy. And I can be an example and share through this blog the discoveries that I make. So that’s what I’m doing!

85 comments
schultzybeckett
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Gary
Gary

I do agree that plastics are bad, however, I reading and answering this via my computer, which is plastic, typed on a keyboard, which is plastic. My shampoo, milk container, medicine bottles, most of my car, probably my tires, you get my point. What are we really going to do? Don't forget the cell phones and throw away stuff. Everything is over packaged!! I would prefer going back to glass. This seems to be a losing battle.

Gary

ml
ml

Hi - good blog. I am wondering, given that plastic does not go away easily.. i am an architect doing installation art projects that only use reclaimed material that might otherwise go into the landfill, and i am looking to source plastic sheets for my next art project - sheets that would be considered scrap or junk. Do you happen to have any resources for reclaiming plastic sheets from either manufacturers or repurposing them form their original use?  I would love to make contact with them. ml@westwoods.com

Thanks!

BethTerry
BethTerry

prosaic BethTerry retiredranger I haven't had any.  Do cats count?  :-)

prosaic
prosaic

BethTerry retiredranger 

Terence McKenna actually came up with a viable solution back in the 1990s, which was for every woman of childbearing years, who chose to have children, to have only one child.

By having only one child, particularly for those in developed nations, the population would naturally slowly decrease, and the population issues facing us today would be solved in approximately three generations.  In addition, the resources of the family would be less taxed, and the parents could afford to spend more time with their one child, leading to better kids and a better world.

Growing populations in Third World countries is actually less of an issue, as they do not consume nearly as much as those in developed nations, and therefore do not tax the planet or its resources to the same degree.

I am not putting this forth as the ultimate solution; merely as one solution that has merit, and fits the bill as being neither draconian nor involving genocide.

NeoHypocrite
NeoHypocrite

All plastic is derived or derived from oil and gas byproducts.

Until you eliminate all plastics then you are disingenuine in saying a "plastic free life".

NeoHypocrite
NeoHypocrite

All plastic is derived or derived from oil and gas byproducts.

Until you eliminate all plastics then you are disingenuine in saying a "plastic free life".

BethTerry
BethTerry

@Anonymous You're right that much of our plastic production comes from natural gas.  This was a very old post -- originally written in 2007.  Since the post is still active, I have updated it to reflect the most current information I have.  The fact that much of our plastic comes from natural gas is not reassuring to me in the least.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Only 13% of the mass of plastics produced in the USA is petroleum derived, 87% is from waste byproducts of natural gas processing. Plastic is 75% from ethylene, 20% from propylene (40% of which is petroleum-derived). These are derived from massive centralized plants that process ethane (2-carbon chain, natural gas waste byproduct, over 70% of primary plastic source material), propane (3-carbon chain), and naphtha (5, 6-carbon chain), and from refinery derived propylene, and 5% from petroleum-derived aromatics. Ethylene is 85% made from natural gas liquids, primarily ethane. 

Moreover, the fraction of plastics that is petroleum derived is from waste refinery streams: 

naphtha, which is low-octane and can't be used in internal combustion engines, 70% of which is used for plastics

propylene - a byproduct of fluid catalytic cracking, which can't be sold in propane tanks,

benzene - which has to be deliberately removed from the gasoline supply to meet mobile air source toxics (MSAT) regulations.

Bottom line: petroleum demand is in no way related to our demand for plastics.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Only 13% of the mass of plastics produced in the USA is petroleum derived, 87% is from waste byproducts of natural gas processing. Plastic is 75% from ethylene, 20% from propylene (40% of which is petroleum-derived). These are derived from massive centralized plants that process ethane (2-carbon chain, natural gas waste byproduct, over 70% of primary plastic source material), propane (3-carbon chain), and naphtha (5, 6-carbon chain), and from refinery derived propylene, and 5% from petroleum-derived aromatics. Ethylene is 85% made from natural gas liquids, primarily ethane. 

Moreover, the fraction of plastics that is petroleum derived is from waste refinery streams: 

naphtha, which is low-octane and can't be used in internal combustion engines, 70% of which is used for plastics

propylene - a byproduct of fluid catalytic cracking, which can't be sold in propane tanks,

benzene - which has to be deliberately removed from the gasoline supply to meet mobile air source toxics (MSAT) regulations.

Bottom line: petroleum demand is in no way related to our demand for plastics.

Sian
Sian

I find your honest, genuine approach to taking responsibility for your impact really refreshing.

Being an eco-warrior isn't just about sticking coloured paper onto an old can and calling it upcycled because you can store pens in it. It's also about going back to the source of the problem and working out, not just how we can slow it down, but how we can prevent it altogether.

It also isn't just about entry after entry of new eco gear, which, whatever it's made of, will have needed energy to manufacture. It's also about making mundane, practical decisions that will help to achieve your aims, knowing that not everyone will understand. Sometimes the hardest, most frustrating, most inconveniencing thing about trying to make positive changes to your lifestyle is the negative attitudes of people who don't know, understand or care about your values or motivations; it's easier to criticise your choices than to "keep their own doorstep clean".

Well, here's one person who understands the logic of "if it doesn't need to be manufactured, don't cause it to be / if it already has been manufactured, don't let it go to waste"!

joel longstreth
joel longstreth

here's some background:'

 

http://info.brentwoodplastics.com/blog/bid/134350/BPA-free-is-irrelevant-to-most-plastics

 

the polymers you need to focus on are polycarbonate PC and polyvinyl chloride or PVC.

 

PC uses BPA as a catalyst which is used up in the reaction 

 

PVC has some nasty stuff in it and outgasses as it degrades into dioxin

 

there are plenty of other polymers which are not in the same category

PE, PP, to name a few

 

but we do such a lousy job getting the truth out that people oversimplify

 

PVC replacement is a high development priority and it may be a fools errand.

http://www.brentwoodplastics.com/pvc_film_substitute.html

 

because nobody really cares

PVC is everywhere

commercial wallcoverings, 3 ring binders, billboards

 

next time you see the yellow caution tape at a construction site, remember it probably contains 1% lead which is leaching injto skin 

 

nobody cares because the made in china is 60% less than heavy metal free made in the US

awilkins
awilkins

Beth, 

Your naivety is rather worrying.

You talk about leading a 'plastic free' life, whilst running a blog designed on a computer encased in plastic (or have you found a company that makes computers made out of bamboo and organic yoghurt?)

awilkins
awilkins

Beth, 

Your naivety is rather worrying.

You talk about leading a 'plastic free' life, whilst running a blog designed on a computer encased in plastic (or have you found a company that makes computers made out of bamboo and organic yoghurt?)

MARYAN
MARYAN

what does oil have to do about producing "PLASTIC"?

MARYAN
MARYAN

what does oil have to do about producing "PLASTIC"?

retiredranger
retiredranger

I don't see any other place to comment on this as I can't find it listed as an issue.  I realize that you are just working on a small portion of the environmental challenges we face.  However we can meet all those challenges and still fail.  There is a elephant in the room and it will be our downfall unless a solution is adopted and adopted quickly.  The issue is population growth.  I believe, based on some solid resource condition information, particularly the study of soils, that the earth is past its ultimate long term carrying capacity of humans.  As we use more and more technology to make up for the gaps in resources and food supply we just put of the inevitable and dig ourselves a deeper hole.  

 

Carrying capacity is used in range management, recreation facility design and wildlife management.  It works rather well and a huge effort to establish and refine the methods used to gain the validity of the principle has been made.  We are smart enough to do that but stupid enough to be arrogant in our thinking that this principle doesn't apply to us. 

 

There are means to accomplish stabilization and slow reduction of the world's population.  They aren't draconian and don't involve genocide and all those other methods conservatives call it.  But, to avoid the necessity of them when we have finally painted ourselves into a corner, we need to make huge strides immediately.  A hot potato politically as people turn on all of their emotions to evaluate the problem instead of using the other 20% of our brain responsible for rational thinking.  I'm pessimistic as I don't think our current political systems can even come close to addressing the problem.  

 

There isn't any room under the carpet to keep sweeping this under the rug.  

retiredranger
retiredranger

I don't see any other place to comment on this as I can't find it listed as an issue.  I realize that you are just working on a small portion of the environmental challenges we face.  However we can meet all those challenges and still fail.  There is a elephant in the room and it will be our downfall unless a solution is adopted and adopted quickly.  The issue is population growth.  I believe, based on some solid resource condition information, particularly the study of soils, that the earth is past its ultimate long term carrying capacity of humans.  As we use more and more technology to make up for the gaps in resources and food supply we just put of the inevitable and dig ourselves a deeper hole.  

 

Carrying capacity is used in range management, recreation facility design and wildlife management.  It works rather well and a huge effort to establish and refine the methods used to gain the validity of the principle has been made.  We are smart enough to do that but stupid enough to be arrogant in our thinking that this principle doesn't apply to us. 

 

There are means to accomplish stabilization and slow reduction of the world's population.  They aren't draconian and don't involve genocide and all those other methods conservatives call it.  But, to avoid the necessity of them when we have finally painted ourselves into a corner, we need to make huge strides immediately.  A hot potato politically as people turn on all of their emotions to evaluate the problem instead of using the other 20% of our brain responsible for rational thinking.  I'm pessimistic as I don't think our current political systems can even come close to addressing the problem.  

 

There isn't any room under the carpet to keep sweeping this under the rug.  

retiredranger
retiredranger

Another couple of comments.  In some products plastic is more durable than metal alternatives. A few products last longer due to the use of plastic. Cars built today run with less pollution and get better gas mileage because they are lighter as a result of plastic. I purchase my first car in 1969. The car had 80,000 miles on it at ten years old. I nursed it along for another two years and it could not run short of a restoration.  

 

I now have a twenty year old Subaru with 150,000 miles, a Honda that is 21 years old and a Toyota Land Cruiser that I drive less that 800 miles per year. For the most part his was not possible for cars before about 1970-1980. Quality has increased as has durability and efficiency.  Plastics play a large part in that. We have to make darn sure that all plastic is recycled! 

 

Question:  is that 10% of the oil supply that plastic is made from useful for any other purpose?  

retiredranger
retiredranger

Kaycee, it would seem as though you are writing off the entire green movement. Remember that the green movement has accomplished a great deal. Recycling, at a limited scale, was started in the early70's by people who understood that we were throwing energy and materials into holes dug in the ground or by filling in canyons. People pushed for recycling laws and so called "bottle bills."  I think if this situation was left to "the market place to decide" industry would not have started recycling until many decades later. The early green movement and a great deal of education was needed to convince private industry that greener practices lower expenses and increase profits.  

 

Europe has it correct. They charge the manufacturers for the impact their packaging will cost in the entire waste stream. They reduce the size and type of packaging so they aren't charged as much and then turn that into a lower priced product that out competes those who were doing "business as usual."  

 

In the U.S. we have huge plastic containers for everything.  They make a profit and pass the problem on to the consumer. Eventually it ends up in the government's lap and we all pay through taxes to increase the profits of the manufacturers. No wonder we are finding it difficult to keep governments afloat. This to increase the profits for large corporations.

 

 I realize that all of this is not as straightforward as this limited space allows me to explain.  Packaging is getting larger and the number of non-serviceable products has been increasing. Example, I can't replace parts or the battery in my Dustbuster vacuum.  The battery life has expired and I can't replace it.  A waste of oil, steel and the chemicals use to make the battery.  I will, like I do everything else, break the thing apart and sort plastic from metal and recycle the batteries correctly. I use an electric toothbrush to improve my dental health, but it is put together just like the vacuum. I have to take the time and the State of California has to subsidize my small county in order for the recyclable materials to reach the facilities that can reuse the material. Now we used energy to bring the items into our local stores and use energy to recycle it.

 

This can only be changed when a movement starts to raise the conscience of the public, who then start making consumer choices differently. It is only then that manufacturers have to change. The movement is called "green."      

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@Anonymous You're right that much of our plastic production comes from natural gas.  This was a very old post -- originally written in 2007.  Since the post is still active, I have updated it to reflect the most current information I have.  The fact that much of our plastic comes from natural gas is not reassuring to me in the least.

BethTerry
BethTerry

@joel longstreth Hi Joel.  It's true that we need to focus on PVC and PC, some of the worst plastics.  But the problem is that ALL plastics contain additives, and manufacturers don't reveal their proprietary recipes.  If you guys would let us know what's in all the plastic products you sell, we could make informed decisions about our exposure.

BethTerry
BethTerry

@joel longstreth I left you a comment on your video about plastic being short for "thermoplastic."  "Plastic" is commonly used to refer to all synthetic polymers, including thermosets like Bakelite.  I bring this up because there was recently a company arguing that their product was plastic-free because it was made from a thermoset rather than a thermoplastic.  Those distinctions are pretty meaningless to the average consumer.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

 @awilkins Hi.  Welcome to this site.  Please check out #68 and #69 in my Plastic-Free Guide (http://plasticfreeguide.com/) to understand how it is I can use computers and other plastic items.  This project is about not acquiring new plastic, rather than refusing to touch any plastic at all. 

BethTerry
BethTerry

@awilkins Hi.  Welcome to this site.  Please check out #68 and #69 in my Plastic-Free Guide (http://plasticfreeguide.com/) to understand how it is I can use computers and other plastic items.  This project is about not acquiring new plastic, rather than refusing to touch any plastic at all.

retiredranger
retiredranger

%I also have 20 year old Subaru with 150,000 miles. I agree with you about how cars are running longer, more efficiently and with increased safety.  Plastics are a part of that. What I object to is the waste of plastics.  Two examples, we seem to have been duped that water in plastic bottles costing at minimum about $1.00 per gallon even though we can get safer water out of our taps.  At least those taps fed by a public water system where the requirements and standards are the best in the world.  On the other hand, water in bottles is not subject to stringent requirements. We are shipping water, that usually comes out of a tap anyway and using huge amounts of oil to produce the bottles and ship them to stores for the consumer to purchase. After they are used 95% of them end up in a landfill.  

 

I also object to excessive packaging. I can't see the reason for it. The loss prevention folks might disagree with me, but we are subjecting ourselves to huge costs of creating, managing and maintaining the liability of its existence for many decades.  I object to low cost appliances, and even some higher cost appliances that can't be taken apart for repairs.  

 

 

We need to catch up and make widespread and fundamental changes in our waste stream.  It has started but much more needs to be done.  The cities that have done the best need to be supported nationwide and haven't gotten as far as we need to get. We need fundamental changes in energy use.  The marketplace decisions are not moving us as far and as fast as we need to do.  We can't have trucks delivering bottled water with distances of more than a thousand miles from source to use, returning to the source empty (deadheading).  We have trucks deadheading and wasting energy.  Plastics, population, and energy, et. al., need to be addressed.

 

As far as technology solving increasing population, remember that technology has been responsible for many improvement in our lives, but has also allowed us to make the crisis worse.  There are limited resources on the earth, there are huge ecosystems that sustain us and we can't build them. We've already lost the North Atlantic cod fishery and tuna is expected to be extinct in years. It has already gone from some large fisheries.  

 

As for getting two crops due to global warming, the effect of drought will likely negate that.  The Ogallala aquifer is already been drown down to the point that acreage in the grain belt is no longer suitable for crops.  We have to accept our limits or we are going to have them given to us.  The disaster that would result would be far worse than the plagues that have occurred in the past.  Check out the book "The Coming Plague" to understand what increased population density is playing a role in the author's conclusions.  

 

The writings I read are all from credible scientists, of course remembering that a scientist without credibility is an oxymoron.

BethTerry
BethTerry

 @retiredranger Plastic is a mixed bag.  Yes, it allows us to make vehicles that are more fuel efficient.  But on the other hand, many of the plastics used in cars offgas harmful chemicals that we breath.   Building walkable, bikeable communities is a better long-term solution.  If we can reduce the amount we need to drive, we reduce the amount of plastics and other materials and energy needed to make so many cars in the first place.  And then, yes, we need to service and repair the cars we already have to make them last as long as possible.

retiredranger
retiredranger

The Land Cruiser is 35 years old and I'm the original and only owner. I use it to drive in the snow and pull out the stuck cars of my friends and their friends. I drive it to remote trailheads and car camping sites. Most of its mileage has been off-highway and that has resulted in such a low mileage accrual. I use it far less now than when I first owned it.  The knees have pretty much ended my ability to take even short day hikes, so now I'm riding my road bicycle 1,000 to 1,500 miles a year!

prosaic
prosaic

@BethTerry @retiredranger 

Terence McKenna actually came up with a viable solution back in the 1990s, which was for every woman of childbearing years, who chose to have children, to have only one child.

By having only one child, particularly for those in developed nations, the population would naturally slowly decrease, and the population issues facing us today would be solved in approximately three generations.  In addition, the resources of the family would be less taxed, and the parents could afford to spend more time with their one child, leading to better kids and a better world.

Growing populations in Third World countries is actually less of an issue, as they do not consume nearly as much as those in developed nations, and therefore do not tax the planet or its resources to the same degree.

I am not putting this forth as the ultimate solution; merely as one solution that has merit, and fits the bill as being neither draconian nor involving genocide.

joel longstreth
joel longstreth

 @BethTerry  @retiredranger 

You have swerved into the solution.  Even a plastic free life is not even a half measure.  Protesting fracking, vilifying all corporations, recycling - they don't come close to what needs to be done:

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

http://vhemt.org/

is the answer

joel longstreth
joel longstreth

 @BethTerry  @retiredranger 

You have swerved into the solution.  Even a plastic free life is not even a half measure.  Protesting fracking, vilifying all corporations, recycling - they don't come close to what needs to be done:

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

http://vhemt.org/

is the answer

awilkins
awilkins

 @retiredranger  @joel longstreth  @BethTerry The Peace Corps?! Is that the organisation that assuages Liberal Guilt by sending naive youngsters to the developing world so that they can risk their lives and achieve very little?

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2011/05/16/the-peace-corps-at-50-whats-a-little-rape-murder-and-brutalization-of-women-between-friends/

Rather than family planning, the highest priority for the developing world is energy. That means efficient power stations and the infrastructure needed to distribute that power. That doesn't mean useless and inefficient wind turbines or solar panels, instead it means fossil-fuel powered generators. A country's birthrate declines as it's population becomes wealthier and standards of living increase, through the supply of cheap power (specifically electricity). Waving condoms at poor Africans is not going to drag them out of poverty.

The reason my country (UK) managed to improve its standard of living was through the industrial revolution of the 19th Century. How was that achieved? By a steady supply of large amounts of reliable energy (Victorians would have no time for wind turbines powered by unicorn farts and uneconomic subsidies).

Why have you told me your 62? Is that because you believe in some sort of superiority through seniority? I imagine it's more likely that you look back on a life of naive ideals and realise you've actually achieved very little, hence your "still time to make a 180 turn" statement.

 

Me? I feel I've achieved a lot and I'm proud of what I've done. I'm a mathematics teacher who has spent most of my career telling kids to think for themselves. In the last few years that has meant telling kids to really research the dodgy science behind the global warming scam - we look at the numbers and analyse the graphs and my students are shocked to see that throughout their whole lifetime the globally averaged temperature has not risen at all. We also analyse the numbers on 'alternative energy' technology and they get to see that the technology being foisted upon them by your generation is both hugely expensive and next to useless.

 

"First I think the off white chairs and the large chairs should be kept in the rear and will someone please tell the band to stop playing? " Sorry squire, I haven't a clue what your trying to say with that daft statement. Is it supposed to be some sort of witty literary reference? 

 

retiredranger
retiredranger

 @awilkins  @joel longstreth  @BethTerry  @retiredranger 

 

I now know, by just reading your post that you are completely correct, Better we should stay at home, ignore high infant mortality rates, not send our doctors and nurses to provide for and educate people on health care,  not educate women about birth control and not empower women by means of education. Oh, and I forgot, we should end the Peace Corps program, one I have experience with, as its never been effective anywhere at any time.  This no matter that eventually people adapt to what works and thank you profusely for living in their country just to help them. No matter that the effort is not to give a man a fish but to teach them how to build their own fishing pole.  No, it would be far better if we stayed at home and continued to rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

 

You've lumped me in with some others whose comments I don't agree with.  But wait, I think your stereotyping is dead on. Wow, I've been living and working me entire life, living in radically different cultures than the one I grew up in and know I realize that all of it was a myth.  Thanks, I'm 62 now and there is still time to make a 180 turn here.  First I think the off white chairs and the large chairs should be kept in the rear and will someone please tell the band to stop playing? 

awilkins
awilkins

 @joel longstreth  @BethTerry  @retiredranger "Voluntary Extinction"? Tell me you're not serious! Do you really think people are going to give up on their most primal urge - procreating?

If you go to the following link 

http://www.studentsoftheworld.info/infopays/rank/fecondite2.html

(hope it works!), you'll see that the developed countries of the world have birthrates of 2 or less children per mother i.e. their populations are stable or declining. The countries with growing populations are those in the less developed regions of the world. Are you going to be the one who goes to Niger and tell them to stop having children? I think you'll find they'll laugh at you and then give you a good kick up the backside for being such an arrogant little person who thinks he can tell someone living in a shanty town what to do, whilst he sits in the air-conditioned living room of his lovely house in the West.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

 @joel longstreth  @retiredranger I don't want to see humans become extinct.  I want them to evolve.  We have these amazing brains and have learned so much scientifically and technologically.  I'd hate to see all of that wasted.  It might be naive, but in my perfect world, there would be fewer humans living peacefully and inventing all kinds of amazing things in as ecologically sound a way as possible.

awilkins
awilkins

@retiredranger  @joel longstreth  @BethTerry The Peace Corps?! Is that the organisation that assuages Liberal Guilt by sending naive youngsters to the developing world so that they can risk their lives and achieve very little?

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2011/05/16/the-peace-corps-at-50-whats-a-little-rape-murder-and-brutalization-of-women-between-friends/

Rather than family planning, the highest priority for the developing world is energy. That means efficient power stations and the infrastructure needed to distribute that power. That doesn't mean useless and inefficient wind turbines or solar panels, instead it means fossil-fuel powered generators. A country's birthrate declines as it's population becomes wealthier and standards of living increase, through the supply of cheap power (specifically electricity). Waving condoms at poor Africans is not going to drag them out of poverty.

The reason my country (UK) managed to improve its standard of living was through the industrial revolution of the 19th Century. How was that achieved? By a steady supply of large amounts of reliable energy (Victorians would have no time for wind turbines powered by unicorn farts and uneconomic subsidies).

Why have you told me your 62? Is that because you believe in some sort of superiority through seniority? I imagine it's more likely that you look back on a life of naive ideals and realise you've actually achieved very little, hence your "still time to make a 180 turn" statement.

 

Me? I feel I've achieved a lot and I'm proud of what I've done. I'm a mathematics teacher who has spent most of my career telling kids to think for themselves. In the last few years that has meant telling kids to really research the dodgy science behind the global warming scam - we look at the numbers and analyse the graphs and my students are shocked to see that throughout their whole lifetime the globally averaged temperature has not risen at all. We also analyse the numbers on 'alternative energy' technology and they get to see that the technology being foisted upon them by your generation is both hugely expensive and next to useless.

 

"First I think the off white chairs and the large chairs should be kept in the rear and will someone please tell the band to stop playing? " Sorry squire, I haven't a clue what your trying to say with that daft statement. Is it supposed to be some sort of witty literary reference?

retiredranger
retiredranger

@awilkins  @joel longstreth  @BethTerry  @retiredranger 

 

I now know, by just reading your post that you are completely correct, Better we should stay at home, ignore high infant mortality rates, not send our doctors and nurses to provide for and educate people on health care,  not educate women about birth control and not empower women by means of education. Oh, and I forgot, we should end the Peace Corps program, one I have experience with, as its never been effective anywhere at any time.  This no matter that eventually people adapt to what works and thank you profusely for living in their country just to help them. No matter that the effort is not to give a man a fish but to teach them how to build their own fishing pole.  No, it would be far better if we stayed at home and continued to rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

 

You've lumped me in with some others whose comments I don't agree with.  But wait, I think your stereotyping is dead on. Wow, I've been living and working me entire life, living in radically different cultures than the one I grew up in and know I realize that all of it was a myth.  Thanks, I'm 62 now and there is still time to make a 180 turn here.  First I think the off white chairs and the large chairs should be kept in the rear and will someone please tell the band to stop playing?

awilkins
awilkins

@joel longstreth  @BethTerry  @retiredranger "Voluntary Extinction"? Tell me you're not serious! Do you really think people are going to give up on their most primal urge - procreating?

If you go to the following link 

http://www.studentsoftheworld.info/infopays/rank/fecondite2.html

(hope it works!), you'll see that the developed countries of the world have birthrates of 2 or less children per mother i.e. their populations are stable or declining. The countries with growing populations are those in the less developed regions of the world. Are you going to be the one who goes to Niger and tell them to stop having children? I think you'll find they'll laugh at you and then give you a good kick up the backside for being such an arrogant little person who thinks he can tell someone living in a shanty town what to do, whilst he sits in the air-conditioned living room of his lovely house in the West.

BethTerry
BethTerry

 @joel longstreth  @retiredranger I don't want to see humans become extinct.  I want them to evolve.  We have these amazing brains and have learned so much scientifically and technologically.  I'd hate to see all of that wasted.  It might be naive, but in my perfect world, there would be fewer humans living peacefully and inventing all kinds of amazing things in as ecologically sound a way as possible.

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