Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Environmental Activism and Recycled Urine

I don't understand why some people (most notably Republicans) are so anti-environmental. I mean, I have heard some, not all, Republicans say basically if they can afford to pollute the environment, by golly, they should be able to pollute the environment.

Were I Republican, I think my stance would be, "Hey, I like clean air, clean rivers, a healthier Earth, just like everybody else. I just don't want to waste my time putting money on environmental issues that don't have decent pay-offs." To me, that sounds like a reasonable Republican.

When I was in college, I was an environmentalist. That was back when most environmentalists were either putting paint on furs or ramming boats into whaling vessels. And the early environmentalists, including me, were a little bit on the fringe.

Early environmentalist: "We need to save water by taking three minute showers."

Modern day environmentalist: "Don't take baths regularly."

It is not about not using any natural resources – it is about minimizing our footprint.

I have a friend who is an environmentalist. But get this, he and his wife have four cars (two drivers, four cars, none of them are used for anything besides transportation – I sort of get collecting cars, if you have a lot of money and garage space), two of which are hybrids, one SUV and one minivan. Now purchasing additional cars that are more environmentally safe really doesn't help the environment too much. The additional cars cost energy and materials to make, and some even don't have very good gas mileage, as odd as that seems.

All of this reminds me of Apartheid – it was sort of big when I was in school as well. And if you did not want to deal with companies that prospered because of South American exports (Apartheid), you had to exclude many companies. We are talking oil companies, pears, pineapples, puffins (yes, canned birds that are sort of like penguins), all sorts of exports. But if you boycott oil companies, perhaps you should boycott companies that deal directly with oil companies – drilling companies, for instance. And you can see this goes on and on.

The same thing with the environment.

First, you are just forced to purchase low flow toilets – which I sometimes call "two flush toilets." Before you know it, some environmentalist is telling you to recycle your own urine because it is 90% water, after all.

Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. I actually saw Al Gore give a speech when he was vice president. He reminded me of a goofball. Completely different than the current VP, who will be more likely to shoot you than make you laugh. When I think of the Nobel Peace Prize, I think of Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer. People of substance. Al Gore just does not seem to be in the same class, and his contribution to help disseminate global warming information does not seem to impact world peace. There, I said it. Environmentalist that I am.

I don't know if Al Gore recycles his own urine in his 10,000 square foot house. But I wonder if his private plane is a hybrid.


LarryLilly said...

I am an environmentalist, and I work for the EPA in wastewater. I dont see anything wrong with the City of Atlanta taking their sewage discharge and sending it to their drinking water plant. I know, everyone will say "Oh Yuck, thats Gross, No way"

But actually, its being done now, and by some that dont even know it. If your city/town is on a river, and you get your drinking water from that river, the town upstream of you is discharging their potty waste below THEIR drinking water supply point, but upstream of YOURS.

All along the major rivers this is done. But when local conditions like the southeast US has no water in its lakes etc, well, there is that option.

Communities in the west are doing it now, and more will do so in the future. And along with that, there will be other changes, like gray water systems, where your washing machine water will go to a separate tank, and be used to supply your toilet, cause lets face it, why do we flush DRINKING water town the toilet to flush away our "stuff". That makes no sense, but our rules, standards and the rest were based when we had ALL the water we ever needed.

Those days are over.

The best bumper sticker about environmentalism is this:

Think globally, act locally!

reduce, reuse, recycle!

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Leesa,
most of the tap water in Cambridge is recycled water. Yes, we drink our own (or someone else's) recycled urine.

I agree having to flush twice, does make the low flush toilet (or put a brick in the cistern) an ambiguous 'environmental' concept.

Having a hybrid car and an SUV or 4x4 for off road fun is fine, of course as you point out you cannot drive more than one car at once, but it still consumes ebergy to produce the car (even if it is made of plastic).

The thing is not so much that Republicans think they have the 'right' to pollute, but that it is good for business to consume. Use more Oil (petrol) good for the oil industry, buy more cars good for the car industry, buy more laptops and mobile phones is good for business, buy more clothes and shoes is good for business, buy more food or eat out more is good for business - and who doesn't have someone in the family whose job directly or indirectly depends on one or other of the above.
We are all inextricably linked.

When people protest here against building more airports or extending existing airports - the first reply is always - it will create jobs. And of course the building contractors don't really care what they build, whether an airport or a hospital, or a hotel, another runway or another motorway. What they want to do is build, unless you want to pay them NOT to build - now there's an idea.
Like when in Europe we used to set land aside, and pay farmers NOT to grow food.
When we had become so efficient thanks to EU subsidies, that we had wine lakes and butter mountains, we could not sell (or give away)

Oh and when we have too much Beef, when we 'grow' too much beef, and it is not cost effective to sell beef below a certain price, we just release BSE - and the government pays farmers £1,000 per head of cattle - we slaughtered and burnt six million last time. But there was no visible shortage of beef in supermarket shelves

QUASAR9 said...

Ok so humans produce CO2 and pollution, too many humans and too many cars produce too much CO2.

Climate change may cause another bug flood. Where is the problem, can you think of a more humane way of reducing population.

- Only Kidding

Of course it is not such a big problem if it happens somewhere else, but it's pretty shitty if you live in the wrong side of New Orleans.

And it's getting harder to get house & home contents insurance on those cute cottages, if you live in the flood plains in little Ole England.

QUASAR9 said...

PS - I hear Al Gore thinks does his bit for the environment by removing the chemical toilette in his private plane - he now pisses thru a hole which allows him to irrigate the forests below as he flies past.

I wonder how many forests he would have to plant to compensate for his carbon footprint and air miles

Joe said...

After reading the comments above, I must admit that I was much happier 30 seconds ago before I realized that I'm probably drinking someone's else's recycled urine.

And you know...I wouldn't be any more comfortable knowing that it was my own...

As for Gore, I think he got it for raising the collective conciousness about Global Warming, but it still seems pretty weak in comparison to some other winners.

Ian Lidster said...

This was good, Leesa, especially your comments on the hypocrisy that abounds in the enviro movement. Also, great themes must present themselves to great minds like yours and mine, since I cover similar ground today, and hadn't checked your blog before I wrote mine. You might want to have a look.

kathi said...

I'm giving up water.

seattledrizzle said...

Hmmm...conservation all starts at home:

LarryLilly said...

Kathi, you may give up food for a week at least, but without water, well, you wont last three days.

And the water we buy in plastic bottles, that is regulated by the Food and Drug administration, the same people that wait weeks to do food recalls, and other nasty coverups. I have no problem with bottled water, I have a problem with the bottles. They are worldwide. If people are really looking for an alternative to bottle water, get an under the sink RO (reverse osmosis) unit. We generally have safe water with no harmful levels of metals, organics and bacteria, but for most its taste and odors. NO fiber filter, activated carbon filter etc will remove odor or taste. Those are created often by the "turning" of lakes or by the treatment plants use of chlorine. Only a RO unit will remove that. Of course, the RO unit takes a gallon of water and turns it into 0.7 gallons of pure water, and 0.3 gallons of chunky water. The chunky water goes down the drain, and that is the trade off in plastic bottle waste landfill and the like.

A side benefit of an undersink RO unit, it only treats the water you want to drink. They are not cheap, 125 for a good one, more if you want more bells and whistles, but its much more earth friendly than plastic bottles.

At my dungeon, we buy RO water in reusable 3-gallon jugs from a place that has a large commercial RO unit, and we have used those same jugs for over 7 years now.

Leesa said...

larry: I love wastewater plants - they have the best birding at those places. Oh, and the recycled urine I mentioned in my blog was urine that is recycled on site, not at a plant.

quasar: I understand. Well, it really all comes down to motivation. What motivates us to do things - how we are rewarded.

joe: if you wanted to name one person who raised awareness, I would think the prize would have gone to Rachel Carson (writer of Silent Spring).

ian: thanks for the head's up.

kathi: funniest comment I have heard all day. Thanks, sweetie.

seattle: funny.

larry: I just thought about the plastic bottles the other day.

Katherine said...

I took feel there is a certain double edged sword going on with political actions. People like Al Gore promote Environmentalism yet love the spot light. Even more soak it up like a sponge and its getting too soggy.

Check out what regular joes are talking about at This bill has the potential to includes the best fuel economy standards ever (35 mpg by 2020) and a renewable electricity standard (15% by 2020) that guarantees the growth of renewable, clean energy... if passed by Congress. Help spread the word and do this for ourselves and the planet.

seattledrizzle said...

Here is the text of England and Wale's High Court Justice Burton's ruling regarding An Inconvenient Truth