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Article in Scientific American

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Jan. 31st, 2002 | 03:25 pm

Oh yes, I was slacking in the bookstore and read an article in the current issue of scientific american.

It was on caring for the environment, and argued that instead of calling it "environmentalism" it should be more along the lines of "realism".

For example, one of the choices I've made to reduce my environmental impact was to switch to a vegetarian diet. An interesting details in this article was about the impact of meat eating, if everyone were to eat the "typical" american meat centered diet, we only have enough planet to support about 2.5 billion people. If however people were to eat a vegetarian diet, we could, in principal support up to 16 billion. (Or leave more space for bits of planet not explicitly being used to support humanity.)

Rather obviously most people are currently much closer to being vegetarian than most americans. Additionally more of us will need to change to vegetarianism as population continues to grow to its current higest probability peak population of 8 to 10 billion.

The article also held up china as an example of what will be happening to most everyone else. Some large fraction of china's rivers are no longer able to support fish because of the toxic industrial waste contaminating them. One river regularly dries up because of the demand for water, china's aquifers continue to drop, and many cities now have regular water shortages.

Welcome to the future.

By the way, we do have reasonable plans for what people can do to prevent a massive die-off. Unfortunatly the only thing that comes naturally with increased education is women choose smaller families. All the other resource using choices, meat-eating, car usage, high-tech products, larger homes, seem continue to climb. (Though it is good that there's at least something positive that comes naturally.)

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Comments {5}

[you'll find a light, find a friend, find a way]

(no subject)

from: artemii
date: Jan. 31st, 2002 05:00 pm (UTC)
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i assume your "other resource using" section is specifically about americans?

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Jan. 31st, 2002 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Shockingly, no. American culture tends to be especially bad, but as education and economic wealth increase, most people start switching to a more meat based diet, most people start wanting television sets, and automobiles, and so forth. Aparently the rich elites in most "developing" countries start adapting a more americanized way of life when they can.

At least that's what most of my research has lead me to believe.

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[you'll find a light, find a friend, find a way]

(no subject)

from: artemii
date: Jan. 31st, 2002 07:06 pm (UTC)
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i don't think one can really generalize that much.
amongst industrialized nations, for example, owning home computers varies wildly. (the US has more computers than the entire rest of the world combined.) SUVs are rare in europe; electrical cars are increasingly popular. and as has already been discussed in your journal, some countries have more commuters who use public transit and bikes than cars. etc., etc., etc.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Jan. 31st, 2002 11:48 pm (UTC)
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Though I'm feeling to lazy to track down my original references. One trend I think I came accross on vegetarian advocacy sites about how meat consumption seems to increase with wealth. The other was a tendancy for people to attempt to own more cars, I think in this case the reference was about china's population of automobiles steadily climbing.

Yes it's true that these trends are not universal, but I think I've run accross references to general trends like these on several different web sites and books, implying to my brain that they're not uncommon.

Of course my motivation for ranting was I was (alas) driving, and ended up sitting behind 5 SUVs. Not to mention my frustration at trying to get some of my friends to walk a couple of blocks to lunch instead of driving.

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Life Rebooted

Everything can be downsized

from: hopeforyou
date: Jan. 31st, 2002 07:47 pm (UTC)
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I mean, if families have fewer children, then less square ft/m should be needed for homes, smaller cars (esp. gas-electric or totally electric) can be used, and less purchases are needed to be made for family members overall. If we have small houses or small apartment complexes, then more free land is available for planting gardens and feeding ourselves -- as well as creating a greener oxygen-rich environment to live in.

If the world collectively had fewer children, and corrupt governments and corporations didn't consume (and WASTE...fuck, there's *tons* of waste) resources, the world would be a much better place.

But how do you do that? You can educate people to change (think globally; act locally) but what about corrupt gov'ts and corps. with shitloads of money? [I feel a major rant of my own coming on...excuse me...]

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