Weird

What an odd world we live in when environmental activists feel the need to write about how horrible grass and open parks can be for the environment.

You may recently have come to accept that lawns are bad for the planet.

Isn’t it amazing someone can assume his readers accept this statement so much that he can use it as a starting point?  He goes on to discuss when public spaces are and are not bad for the environment.

It is incredible to me that somehow we have reached a world where absurdly dense urban living a la Manhattan is considered the most environmentally friendly way for humans to live.  All just another way in which an obsession with CO2 has corrupted the environmental movement.  I have predicted it before but will say it again — some day, the environmentalists will look back on their global warming hysteria as a couple of lost decades in their own movement, when focus on real environmental issues were kicked to the curb in favor of going all in on trace concentrations of carbon dioxide.

59 thoughts on “Weird”

  1. You’re absolutely right. Why is environmentalism so obsessed with CO2? It’s as if there are no factories belching industrial poisons into waterways in developing countries making our plastic cups. To them, everything that’s wrong with the world can be cured by reducing CO2, and that’s it. Environmentalism is a worthless exercise now.

  2. Mass brainwashing by radical environmentalists spread by a corrupted media reminds me of China under Mao, as chillingly related by Jung Chang in WILD SWANS, a personal account by three generations of a family. WE HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING YET, IF WE CONTINUE TO ALLOW OUR CHILDREN TO BE MOLDED BY PEOPLE WHO HATE PEOPLE.

  3. What gets me is every article about the recent Climategate and IPCC issues mentions the trouble, but make a point to say – even though these issues are occurring many decades of science support global warming. It is crazy much of the foundation was built on the East Aglia research. With the base research now invalid every paper based on it is invalid.

    It is sort of like if Jones said in the near future pigs will fly. And I write a paper on this – When pigs start flying we will all have to carry umbrellas to avoid getting hit by pig droppings. Well my research is absolutely true and valid assuming the base assumption is valid. Finding out that pigs will never fly and my research based on that assumption also goes up in smoke.

    I too would much rather spend my eco $ on cleaning up Indian and Chinese air and rivers, because that pollution does affect us in the USA believe it or not.

  4. Counting Cats linked to a bizarre article about marital disputes over green issues. Basically middle class imbeciles who have managed to turn environmentalism into a quasi-religion with its own sins that include owning a dog and using toilet paper.

    Presumably I am in the clear because I keep digging up sections of my evil, polluting lawn to grow vegetables, meaning no one can get on my case about “food miles” either, the journey of the food on our plates can be measured in feet.

    Truly it can be said that environmentalism is becoming a form of insanity.

  5. Well, I am a sinner. On the highway to Hell, even. I own a dog and a cat. I cook on a charcoal grill. My house uses electricity from natural gas power plants and it uses natural gas for heating and cooking. And I’m just smart enough to know that Man is a powerless litlle bug against nature, which heats up and cools down in spite of whatever we do.

  6. The CO2 obsession, and its opportunity costs, is something I have written about for a few years.
    How much toxin reduction could we have achieved with ~>$50billion wasted on AGW hype?

  7. Now just a minute – this article is from California, and the Bay Area at that, and in a MSM outlet. Of course it is crazy. It’s not fair to blame all environmentalists for the foolishness and fascism of the majority. How about that minority that just wants clean air and water and a few birds, bugs, and flowers? Not every environmentalist is a self-absorbed moron who wants to make our lives more miserable, it just seems like it.

    Grassy areas in city parks make a lot of sense – grass is tough, can take a lot of foot traffic, and is perfect for sports and naps. However, it isn’t the best wildlife habitat. The well thought-out addition of shrubs and flowers can make city parks less monotonous, more wildlife friendly, and decrease environmental costs.

    Our obsession with home lawns, however, is just as crazy and mindless as the current CO2 madness. The amount of water and chemicals dumped on home lawns is beyond belief and the noise pollution from maintainence drives me up the wall. I completely agree with the leaf-blower rant in the comments – and here I have to listen to them all winter because they blow snow with them too.

  8. At the core of progressivism is misanthropy. The various memes are all just off shoots of this core belief. Defining religion or true belief broadly: any integrated worldview or partial integrated worldview, which relies on faith or belief (faith being theistic, belief being unprovable).

    The core of the religion is hatred of man and for the individual hatred of self. The manifestations are misanthropy, environmentalism, over population, acid rain (now discredited), animal rights, global cooling (now discredited), woman’s rights (now abandoned), abortion, and global warming, among others.

    These misanthropists believe the cure is containment of man and ultimately partial or complete elimination of man. The urbanization issue, park and open space issues, along with wilderness areas and the like are containment. Elimination of beneficial chemicals like DDT, anti-vaccine campaigns, abortion, peace/antiwar activism among others are elimination campaigns or pogroms if you wish. Some of these are mainstream beliefs while others are fringe. All are deadly and must be fought to the bitter end.

    Progressivism is the enemy. It is just a place in the spectrum ranging from free markets, regulated markets, progressivism, fascism, and ending in socialism. Individual freedom and personal responsibility are complete within the free market sphere. They are zero in socialism. Choose wisely.

    Mark Sherman

  9. Ooooohkay, classic strawman.

    The above article does NOT “write about how horrible grass and open parks can be for the environment.” That’s Mr. Meyer. Rather, the article states that UC-Irvine “found that urban green space generated, through fertilizers and gas-powered mowers, three times more greenhouse gas emissions than they stored in the grass and soil.”

    The fix? “Switching fertilizers — or using less — and eighty-sixing the leaf blowers could change the equation significantly — not to mention shrinking lawns in favor of native landscaping.”

    Pretty moderate. Is it accurate? Who knows. Certainly no one here does.

    The problem, in other words, is not with “environmental activists” or grassy spaces, but what we do to the soil and the machinery we use. At no time does the article suggest we need to be live in some sort of Manhattan-esque dystopia. Again, that’s Mr. Meyer.

    At some point someone is going to accuse alarmists of strawman arguments and distortion. It’s inevitable. But no one blinks twice when Mr. Meyer builds his own strawman and spins into distortion.

    And is Mr. Sherman really summing semiotics and Dawkins? Now that’s weird.

  10. The above article does NOT “write about how horrible grass and open parks can be for the environment.” That’s Mr. Meyer. Rather, the article states that UC-Irvine “found that urban green space generated, through fertilizers and gas-powered mowers, three times more greenhouse gas emissions than they stored in the grass and soil.”

    So if they can’t be “horrible for the environment”, why bother to change any practices? Or maybe you don’t think those net emissions of ghgs “can be horrible” for the environment either.

    Seems to me you’re missing the whole meaning of “can be”, and what some environmentalists really do believe about lawn grasses.

  11. “So if they can’t…”? Ummm…’fraid that’s another “huh?” Not sure what you are saying there, mon frere…usually you’re quicker on the upkeep, Mr. M. I thought I made my idea clear…

    Let me try again: the article does not say that green spaces are horrible for the environment. The article says that the way we treat green spaces – the fertilizers and devices we use to landscape the green spaces – are bad for the environment. The net result of using said fertilizers and devices counteracts any environmental good that green spaces may provide because said fertilizers and devices actually produce more ghgs than the grass and soil can naturally remove.

    And, in any event, the bigger issue is the spin Mr. Meyer puts on the story, not the story. (I ‘spect you actually know that…)

    *****”what some environmentalists really do believe about lawn grasses”

    Which environmentalists? What do they believe? And do they really believe grass is bad? Or do they believe that artificial landscaping is demonstrably damaging to the environment? Little bit of a difference there.

  12. Wait a minute, again. The article clearly states:

    “According to a recent (and recently corrected University of California at Irvine study, they’re not [good for the planet]. The study found that urban green space generated, through fertilizers and gas-powered mowers, three times more greenhouse gas emissions than they stored in the grass and soil.”

    This clearly equates the production of greenhouse gasses with ‘bad for the planet’. Sure the UC Irvine study report linked is crazier, and this article does take a bash at Southern California and claim they could do it better in SF, – but the only straw dog I see here is the usual AGW misdirection: blame CO2 or other gases and ignore the real environmental problems.

    Urban and suburban landscapes are an ever increasing fraction of the Earth’s surface – and the area we grass over is of minimal use to the flora and fauna we are displacing. Sure it is better than asphalt or concrete, but the problem isn’t the grass or the CO2, it is the lack of habitats for anything but sod webworms and the like and the waste of water and runoff of chemicals that perfect lawns demand. (That and the noise pollution that I hate).

    Truthfully, I don’t see how anyone who is really concerned about the environment could let themselves be snowed (literally this winter) by AGW lies and misdirection. Next time you have the urge to equate a city green space with CO2, take a look at Al Gore’s estate or Buckingham Palace’s swards and over-manicured beds.

  13. Waldo:

    “The article says that the way we treat green spaces – the fertilizers and devices we use to landscape the green spaces – are bad for the environment. The net result of using said fertilizers and devices counteracts any environmental good that green spaces may provide because said fertilizers and devices actually produce more ghgs than the grass and soil can naturally remove.”

    You’re missing the point.

    Since the units of ‘environmental good’ are neither quantifiable nor objective, the argument above is based on a subjective calculus which gives some arbitrary weight to the impact of climate change, and gives some weight to all other environmental concerns. In the writer’s judgement, the negative value of GHG emissions outweighs all the other positives. (Hypothetically, the positive aspects of lawns and parklands are a plus 8, but the GHG emissions are a minus 10, so they’re a net negative.)

    This presumes that GHGs are actually a substantial negative factor. If, perhaps, the negative value of GHG emissions were being overstated, and in reality the impact was substantially lower, then the above calculation would yield a net positive result. (e.g. if the GHGs were a minus 4 instead of a minus 10.)

    Under these skewed objectives, treating sewage instead of dumping it into rivers would be “bad for the planet” because treatment consumes energy which emits GHGs in its production.

    By over-emphasising the importance of GHGs, activists are overshadowing other very real environmental concerns which could potential deliver far more ‘environmental good’.

  14. Well Dave,

    ****”the only straw dog I see here is the usual AGW misdirection: blame CO2 or other gases and ignore the real environmental problems.”

    The article didn’t say anything of the sort. That is a strawdog. You are inferring things, first off, and then we somehow get into another set of problems (earthworms, displaced flora and fauna, chemical runoffs) that have nothing to do with what the article says. This is simple misdirection and has nothing to do with a very simply stated case. The article does not say anything for or against other environmental factors that may effect ghgs or anything else. It is very clear what it says. CO2 problems are not offset by screwing up other aspects of the environment.

    Then we get to some template denialist dogma about “lies and misdirection.” Once again, the real issue here is that your man, Mr. Meyer, misrepresented the statements from a extremely short newspaper article and now you are making some fairly vast generalizations based on denialist group-think. I will not even ask if you have actually read the study which you so vehemently denounce here.

    If you have the a priori belief that CO2 is a red herring in this instance, and therefore any statements about the production of ghgs is an automatic falsity, then I would have to ask you what you know that the scientists of the world don’t?

    And then we get to this, “Next time you have the urge to equate a city green space with CO2, take a look at Al Gore’s estate or Buckingham Palace’s swards and over-manicured beds,” which always makes me ask: are you sure your problem is not with climate science but with Al Gore?

    I often wonder what the CS tribe would think if James Danforth Quayle or Lord Monckton had declared global warming a liberal threat to the planet. Would you all respond the same way? Is your science really politics?

  15. *****”Since the units of ‘environmental good’ are neither quantifiable nor objective, the argument above is based on a subjective calculus which gives some arbitrary weight to the impact of climate change, and gives some weight to all other environmental concerns.”

    Say what? There seems to be a sudden supply of people attempting to write in some sort of high academic style. How is the UC Irvine study neither “quantifiable nor objective”? Have you read it? Do you know something about its methodology that we don’t?

    *****”By over-emphasising the importance of GHGs, activists are overshadowing other very real environmental concerns which could potential deliver far more ‘environmental good’.”

    Once again, you are strawdogging a very short and simple piece of information. This may be true, but can you objectively quantify it? What evidence do you have that this is the case?

  16. Again, we see that by judging all enviro positions based on CO2, a great deal of time and effort are wasted.
    There are good reasons- many- to allow wildscapes to grow over careful landscapes.
    CO2 happens to be one of the least important ones.
    Perhaps a study could be done regarding how much CO2 is generated by AGW trolls trying to deconstruct skeptical reviews of AGW bs?
    It might be proportionally variant on how high up in the AGW hype community the troll is.
    Gore, and his famous ‘do as I say, not as I do’ lifestyle comes to mind, as does this famous pal of his:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/20/pachauris-teri-institute-golf-course-water-hog-in-a-city-desparate-for-fresh-water/
    What are the chances? Two guys, continents apart, sharing the same Nobel Peace prize, making millions off of AGW hype, neither climate scientists, living lives of spectacular hypocrisy, and defended to the death of reason by AGW trolls worldwide.
    But oh boy: Any critique of AGW had best meet the approval of those same trolls or else!

  17. Poor Waldo,

    He’s convoluted what was a simple statement to the point where he once again has to argue from confusion and the casting of insults.

    Let’s try this again, Waldo ol’ boy.

    What an odd world we live in when environmental activists feel the need to write about how horrible grass and open parks can be for the environment.

    The article’s author spends half his/her time arguing exactly that (unless, as I’ve said, you don’t think lots of ghg emissions are “horrible for the environment.”

    And it really stretchs credulity for you to pretend not to know about enviromentalists who argue that lawn grasses are bad for the environment.

    You seem to love to pretend to be confused, and your vocabulary seems limited to the word “denier”, so expand your world. Look up the word “can” and see if you “can” understand all its various and intriguing meanings.

    However, let’s not get you further confused by using meanings as in the following sentence:

    “Waldo is so desperate to derail the argument, that he constantly pulls interpretations and perceived slights out of his can.”

  18. Yes, alas, Waldo seems to be another true believer who can only see the world through his one fixed belief and feels the need to manipulate the truth from afar. Any challenge or criticism of that belief results in stereotyped responses that involve name-calling and paranoid claims of conspiracy – ludicrously so, as in “your man, Mr Meyer”. Sure Waldo, he’s my man and a tool of the vast denialist conspiracy. All people who try to think independent of dogma are by their very nature dishonest and evil. Whereas, only you can read the article correctly (you have the true knowledge and belief). And really, the article and the linked UC Irvine report have nothing to do with claiming that greenhouse gases are THE environmental problem. That’s why they discuss nothing else except why urban green spaces result in the production of too much CO2 and nitrous oxide – nothing else counts.

  19. ****“Gore, and his famous ‘do as I say, not as I do’ lifestyle comes to mind”

    Once again, we’re actually talking politics here, not climate science.

    **** “And it really stretchs credulity for you to pretend not to know about enviromentalists who argue that lawn grasses are bad for the environment”

    Well, I have heard that golf courses are bad for flora and fauna, and I’m willing to believe that lawncare methods are in fact environmentally unsound when all is said and done, but I have not actually read about “environmentalists” per se who make lawncare a study. I was just wondering if you had. I’m not sure you have, and yet you have a pretty hardened opinion. Typical.

    And no, Mr. M, the article does not say ‘lawns are bad,’ it says that methods in which we do lawn upkeep are bad. It says this pretty clearly. What I am trying to figure out is why this irks anyone –

    Does the article claim that CO2 is the ONLY climate forcing and / or the only problem facing the environment? Nope. That’s you guys. You could follow the links on the post and find more indepth discussion, but I suspect you want to stay here, where people write what you want them to write (until you get to me, of course).

    Does the article, which is only slightly over 220 words, mention Al Gore, AGW, IPCC, or even go into depth about the study in the least? Nope. But you fellas have inferred a great deal of template, uninformed, reactionary neocon ideas from it. Again, typical. Clearly you have buttons which anything even slightly green pushes.

    Does anyone here back up their apparent challenges to this study and the experts from a university of no small repute? Nope. They stay safely in the cyber-deniosphere where any sort of vague argument is happily received – you all would be shot down anywhere else. In fact, you are getting shot down here but stubbornly refuse to see it.

    But Dave’s response is my favorite. Can anyone say “Beam in your own eye”? Even if it true, Dave, that I am a “true-believer” (which I am not – I believe the truth of AGW is a long way from being proven) you are the one now calling names and slinging stereotypical responses. Seems you’re even a little PO’d here and venting. So please, no one on my end is fooled – you are not one of the “people who try to think independent of dogma.” That entire response is boilerplate dogma – nothing original whatsoever. You are towing the party line as fast as anyone. You are your own true “true believer.” Apparently you don’t see that, which is very interesting.

    And I was not aware that I was insulting Mr. Meyer by calling him “Mr. Meyer.” What should I call him? Coyote Ugly?

    PS – you were kind of funny back on the House of Cards thread, Mr. M, but that last attack was pretty lame. Relax, just let it flow, and in the mean time take several deep breaths before you post – might make your syntax and meaning a little easier to follow.

  20. Waldo,

    Thanks for providing me insight into the religion of AGW. Sometimes I have trouble following your logic but your repeat posts finally explain your the twisted path you weave to make your point. I am also concerned about the environment, however my activism is mostly focused on bringing manufacturing to developed countries where resonable environmental laws are followed. As opposed to developing insane laws that force manufacturing to undeveloped countries.

    On the brigher side, now I can understand where my childrens teachers are coming from easier.

  21. Hi Ms. D. “Activist”? Really? Oh my.

    Just curious – what is my twisted path?

    And yeah, these posts are a little confusing, but I find the arguments I am rebutting a little confusing too, often even nonsensical, usually boilerplate (like your “religion of AGW” above) and always reactionary (like your “religion of AGW” above). Somehow we got away from my very simple “logic” that Mr. Meyer spins and distorts a very simple statement in a very short newspaper article. I might suggest that I’m not the one who twisted our discussion here.

    Always there is an us-vs-them mentality that causes the most dogmatic people to accuse me of being dogmatic (at some point I’m going to go back through these threads and tabulate how often I have posted that I don’t necessarily believe in AGW but that the distortion here represents the worst part of the debate by the most unqualified people).

    I do not, however, understand why you think I am teaching your children anything, although it might be good if I did.

  22. Us-vs-them mentality? Hmmm, you don’t suppose your use of terms like “deniosphere” has anything to do with that, do you?

    Anyway, with regard to your reply to me, now it’s my syntax that’s confusing you? Oh well, then I’m puzzled by why you no longer want to talk about this very simple sentence.

    What an odd world we live in when environmental activists feel the need to write about how horrible grass and open parks can be for the environment.

    You’ve now rephrased it so often that it’s no wonder you’re so confused.

    As far as environmentalists not liking lawn grasses, Really now, you persist?

    OK here’s some sites for you.

    I’m allowed one “live” link, so I’ll use it for the best one.

    http://tinyurl.com/google-lawn-book

    Here’s some others, which you’ll have to cut and paste into your browser.

    nytimes.com/2008/02/10/fashion/10suburbs.html

    But the problem with suburbs, many environmentalists say, is not an issue of light bulbs. In the end, the very things that make suburban life attractive — the lush lawns, spacious houses and three-car garages — also disproportionally contribute to global warming. Suburban life, these environmentalists argue, is simply not sustainable.

    And these guys?

    lawnreform.org/online.html

    You can spend hours looking through that one.
    Gee, I wonder if any of them are “environmentalists”.

    Of course, since the links aren’t exclusively about getting rid of lawns, you’ll probably claim that they’re not relevant. I’ve noticed that as another one of your tactics. Demand references, and then when the references aren’t to your liking or 100.00% exclusively and exactly on point, denigrate them, often with a “huh?”

    Sorry you didn’t like my joke. Have you considered more fiber in your diet?

  23. Mr. M you fascinate me. You are clearly an intelligent if irascible(and not always articulate) man. Yet you almost exclusively base your information on irrelevant sources.

    And sure, I’m willing to believe environmentalists dislike lawns – I just wasn’t sure you know what you are writing about. So, you have provided me with some links. I’ll quote part of the first url below:

    “To an environmentalist, though, that carefully nurtured green-sward is an ongoing ecological crime, and its owner – you – an enemy of the planet, a villain. The green lawn is anti-Green.
    “Next to having a nuclear power plant in your yard, having a lawn is about as environmentally incorrect as you can get these days. Immense quantities of noxious chemicals are employed to keep lawns thriving. In addition to the four horsemen – pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and petrochemicals – they use inordinate amounts of that increasingly endangered resource, water.”

    And so on.

    Yeah, that’s pretty balanced, intelligent commentary there. And to think I doubted you. Or to put it another way – this is, in fact, irrelevant. It is irrelevant because it was written with a guy like you in mind. It was written so that conservatives like yourself can feel good about your political beliefs because the prose is so sarcastic. Did you get goosebumps?

    I’ll look at your other sources later. I’m sure they are also very enlightening.

    And I’m sorry my “huh?” threw you so badly – you seem to have taken that one very personally.

    Cheers.

    PS – Nope. That last joke was again lame. Keep trying though – I, at least, am enjoying watching you chase the punchline.

  24. Waldo is the gift that only the truly ignorant can keep on giving.
    Thanks, Waldo, for the great entertainment value you give us with every post.

  25. Don’t mention it, hunter. Every time I come here I find that I am needed a little bit more. Just look at me as a kindly disciplinarian keeping all you young-uns in line. It’s not pretty, I’ll admit, but someone’s got to do it.

  26. Since it’s a movement primarily based on emotionalism rather than intellect, it’s hardly surprising that something as indulgent as a lawn would be seized upon by many environmentalists as a ‘sin’. It’s just another example of the fundamentally anti-human nihilism at the heart of so much of the modern environmental movement, based on the anti-humanism of the Teilhard de Chardin and Arne Næss “Deep Ecology” ideology that forms the basis for so much of what we mistakenly call ‘environmentalism’ today. It’s actually not environmentalism at all, but rather a Religion of Nature Worship, and it’s fundamentally Anti-Human.

    No surprise here at all.

  27. Woah. That’s some, uh, interesting commentary there, ADiff.

    So, you can trace a direct line between the UC Irvine authors and “Deep Ecology” publications? You know for certain that they have been influenced by Chardin and Naess? Do you know the names of the UC authors? (one can find them if one traces the links above).

    By the way, I know very little about “Deep Ecology,” but are you sure you understand it correctly?

  28. Thinking back to my days with the old Earth First! gang, back when Ed was still kicking and Dave hadn’t hooked up with those Oakland whackos, I think I know a thing or two about the evolution of the whole movement…I seem to recall a few discussions with folks like the President of the Sierra Club and the Chairman of the WWF on the issue….

    Yeah, I think I got it down pretty much right. Pity most folks who think of themselves as ‘environmentalists’ still don’t though. Most of them remain far more deceived than deceiver, far more sinned against than sinner.

    It isn’t about the environment, it’s really about them (of course!)…but then, as the french might say “Plus ca change, c’est la meme chose”. ‘Climate Change’ is just the latest ‘end of the world’ fad, in the recent line of environmentally flavored such fads. It certainly isn’t the first, and won’t be the last.

    Deep Ecology, of course, posits worth, or value, of some kind, in Nature, independent of human beings. It’s an emotionally appealing concept, useful in many ways. And yet it’s senseless. And the word is chosen purposefully: senseless.

    “There is no such thing as ‘Meaning’ in nature.” – Fridtjof Nansen

  29. Sooooo the answer would “no,” you cannot definitively trace Deep Ecology to the authors of the study in question.

    And we have your word that you talked to Sierra Club presidents and WWF Chairmen at some unspecified point in the past. Well, last week Mr. Meyer and I had strudel and he admitted to me that he hasn’t done much actual physics since 1984 when he graduated from college. Believe me? And yeah, there is no point in nature that doesn’t have humans crawling around somewhere, does it?

    I’ll ask again, are you sure you understand “Deep Ecology” philosophy?

  30. Waldo,
    Just because you are too dim to follow the issue does not mean those you cannot follow are wrong.
    But do keep on giving. It is a tough day, and your entertinament is a pleasant distraction.

  31. Most, if not all, current environmental activists views are clearly colored by aspects of Deep Ecological ideology, based to at least some extent on arguments to the effect that nature should be saved for “itself”, or to some end other than the value and utility it has (now and in future) for human beings. No attribution or citations are needed, nor meaningless academic exercises in pedantic details of how this or that specific individual or work exhibits this infection of current environmental thought.

    There are many varying views of Deep Ecology, but all of them have one thing in common (which is what makes them all ‘Deep Ecology’, in fact): that Value exists outside of human beings, i.e that nature…all those majestic Redwoods, all those fuzzy Polar Bears, all those cute little baby seals….have some kind of worth or value just in themselves, and that their worth isn’t totally and absolutely dependent on the value placed on them by people. Seductive idea, yes…but completely wrong.

    The only value, worth or meaning they possess is completely determined and entirely a product of the human beings. Without that they are the qualitative equivalent of dry moon dust, not theoretically, but in point of fact.

    “There is no such thing as ‘Meaning’ in nature.” – Fridtjof Nansen

  32. Haven’t read all the stuff on here but I think this old story from new scientist is relevant.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327261.800-better-world-move-to-the-city.html

    Adiff says: ‘The only value, worth or meaning they possess is completely determined and entirely a product of the human beings.’

    I disagree. Animals most certainly have interests. They have values and needs which motivate their will just like humans. Peter Singer would argue that the denial of these needs in favour of the needs for humans is prejudiced and inconsistent with our ethics.

    Why do you think values are only determined by humans?

    You speak so matter-of-factly about this but the issue is not at all settled in environmental philosophy.

  33. Value exists only as a human concept. Worth and meaning exist only as human concepts. Without humans animals have all the meaning of inorganic chemical reactions. That is to say, none at all.

    The only possible way anything, anywhere can be of any value is if it’s of value to human beings. Beyond that they have all the value of unobserved asteroids colliding somewhere in the Oort cloud of some dead solar system somewhere…. None whatsoever.

    On the other hand, at least Shills does very correctly understand the subject’s proper domain: philosophy. Very good Shills, I’m impressed. Although I believe you’re completely off-track about animals having any interests beyond those we care to consider, at least you properly frame the discussion.

    On the other hand, I’d be very careful about citing Peter Singer, it might cost you considerable credibility….

    Have a good one!

  34. Riiiiight. It’s a philosophical question. The question as ADiff has framed it is either epistemological (How do we know nature is good?) or axiological (the value study of the aesthetics of nature). Very deep.

    Okay, so I ascribe value to natural beauty in all its various forms. I am worried that technocracy is damaging nature. I am worried that human cupidity is damaging nature. We are not concerned with the flora or the fauna because they are not human. I as a human, however, am seriously considering the possibility that humanity is damaging nature. Furthermore, I am considering the possibilith that humanity and nature are not necessarily incompatible, and I am seriously considering the possibility that humanity can co-exist with nature without humanity giving up a great deal. I believe that this is close to a Deep Ecological position, no? According to my friend ADiff, this position is apparently anti-humanist.

    Why? I do not know.

    Nevertheless, I like nature. I, as a human being, ascribe value to it.

    Mind you, this notion of yours ADiff strikes me as so ridiculous it is almost not worth commenting on. But I’m willing to play. I want healthy nature, ADiff, why shouldn’t I do whatever I need to do to ensure that my interests as a human being are being met? Shouldn’t I rally behind scientists who seem to be concerned with the same things I am?

    And thanks, hunter, I aim to please.

  35. By the way Waldo, for someone who continually whines about ad homs and “we vs. them”, you have a remarkable capacity to dismiss what you don’t like with a remarkable mean-spirtedness.

    Yep, the author of that gardening book sure sounds like someone who was born to feed read meat to a neanderthal.

    About the Author
    Abby Adams is the author of An Uncommon Scold (1,000 quotes from women) and, with her husband, High Jinx and Transylvania Station. Born and raised in New York City, she has at various times lived in San Francisco, in London, in Woodstock, New York, and on Fire Island. She has always gardened.

    Feel good about yourself?

  36. @ Adiff:

    Why couldn’t values exist for other sentient life forms? such as baby seals and polar bears. I sense you think rationality and reflective thought are req. for value making, but why is this so?

    Peter Singer. Can’t remember everything he did/ said (something PETA related?) but I like his stuff on animal ethics. I think he is very citable.

  37. “someone who was born to feed read meat to a neanderthal.”

    Now that’s funny. I’m going to have to remember that one. Although I think the neanderthals were largely vegetarian, weren’t they? Don’t quote me on that.

    Okay, let’s be clear here, there is a difference between an author and her persona. Ms. Adams wrote a book with a persona that would appeal to a certain niche audience. I compliment her on making a rhetorical choice that will sell. I do not admire this, however, as this is also the tactic of the Limbaughs and Coulters and Becks of the world. So yeah, I feel pretty good about myself right now. And you?

    I find it somewhat surprising that you are so suddenly sensitive to others’ sentiments. Aren’t Hansen and Mann people too?

  38. OK Waldo, kindly show me where I have given any indication that I don’t think Mann and Hansen are “people”.

    And what does pointing out your hypocrisy have to do with sensitivity, anyway?

  39. I think (that I am valuable), therefore I am.

    Animals have no value.
    Human beings are animals.
    Therefore, human beings have no value
    (Except that which we give ourselves).

    If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it,
    does it lose its value? Does it sound like one hand clapping?

    It’s all a mystery to me.

  40. Taking it a bit literally, Mr. M.

    Look at it this way: a good portion of this site is dedicated to discrediting a certain group of scientists who are simply doing their jobs – Mann and Hansen foremost among them – but this does not seem to bother you. Their work, reputations, motivations, and persons are attacked, their words taken out of context, and their private communications hacked and posted. But this does not concern you; on the contrary, if nothing else you have quoted the private emails of CRU scientists as some sort of proof of their mendacity.

    But suddenly you have developed empathy toward a woman who wrote an unfairly pointed opinion of scientists who point out that lawncare might be bad for the environment. Ms. Adams does not dispute the effects of “the four horsemen – pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and petrochemicals,” she simply writes in a style that disdains people who are sensitive to these concerns. Inconvenient for home owners with lawns (which is most of us), no doubt, but is it the truth?

    I fail to see how any of this constitutes “hypocrisy.”

  41. “Fools rush in where angels feel to tread.”
    Whereas I have resisted this discussion due to its mean-spiritedness elements, I have a strong reaction to your last posting. Naturally, I am suspicious of the open-mindedneess of anyone who would post such a paragraph, but in case there are readers with open minds, I vehemently object to your characterization that Mann and Hansen “are simply doing their jobs.” Hansen has called for charging executives with high crimes and treason. Hansen has equated coal trains with Holocaust death trains. Hansen has applauded vandalism. Hansen has not followed the protocol of his office. With his cohorts, Hansen created a theaterical atmosphere to his congressional testimony. It took years to obtain data for his 1988 projections, and then we find the data different than his testimony. Hansen whined about calls to release data and model code. It is a reseacher’s job to share data that lead to his conclusions. It took action of congress to get Mann to release his data. Given what we have found when we have the information, I understand the reluctance to share the information, but it cannot be said that they are “simply doing their jobs.”
    I wonder if you would have a different opinion if you considered the e-mails to be part of a whistle-blowing activity rather than hacked. Regardless, I can assure you that I never worked in a government position or for a university where I or anyone else considered my e-mails — or any data on my computer — to be private. And when those e-mails discuss frustrating FOIA requests and destroying information, that is way beyond “simply doing their jobs.”

  42. Offtopic:

    I just stumbled on an extensive bibliography on science fraud:

    http://www.albany.edu/~scifraud

    “As soon as I started examining science, I found examples of outrageous deviance in the conduct of science. I do not mean that there were scientists who committed crimes like murder and theft; quite the contrary, I mean that there are scientists who are guilty of “misconduct” in the process of doing science itself. … This finding was unexpected and intriguing. The more I looked at the history of science, the more deviant science I found. Every stone turned up a new worm and I was turning a lot of stones.” A. C. Higgins

    It seems that Dr. Higgins has made a study of scientific misconduct. Here’s a link to to the syllabus for his course on the sociology of science: http://www.albany.edu/~ach13/soc325/index.html

  43. Shills,

    I appreciate your civil discourse on such contentious subjects.

    I think I’d rather avoid folks like Peter Singer who’ve advocated involuntary sterilization for people he, or some other ‘suitable’ arbiter, judges ‘unworthy of living’ (the terminology is purposely drawn directly from the NAZI T4 program based on the same ethics Peter Singer advocates, they having acted in accordance in advance of his moral justifications). Peter Singer’s ‘libertarian extension’ to Deep Ecology ethics easily encompasses the rationalization (at the very least!) for genocide and mass murder. No, I don’t think he’s a source I’d care to cite under almost any circumstance.

    I rather think your comments reinforce my contentions, as do those of other commentators (with some of whom I prefer not converse). You cite “sapient” species. But I think that particular word just confuses the point. If we define ‘sapient’ as exercising the ability to consciously manipulate their own models of reality, which is what makes humans ‘human’, then there just aren’t any other such species in existence. All living species are ‘aware’, that’s a fundamental characteristic of life (i.e. response to stimuli). There are many that do so in ways very similar to humans, dogs barking, wolves howling, porpoises ‘whistling’, whales ‘singing’, making easy their anthropomorphism. But there’s no evidence at all that any are truly self-aware, conscious in sense of human beings, who’s very consciousness is a model of our own making, as a species and individually. Any ‘rights’ we extend these is sentimental indulgence of our own sensitivities, only. They are not “sapient” (by this definition for that rather ambiguous term) and have no inherent rights of any kind beyond those we extend them (for whatever reasons we may see fit from time-to-time, or not).

    As the stock character ‘Spock’ opined in the pop-SciFi film ‘Star Trek: The Voyage Home’: “To hunt a species to extinction is not logical.” I’d disagree with such a sweeping contention. It could be perfectly logical in some cases. I’d gladly endorse ‘hunting’ Plasmodium falciparum to extinction. Not so the humpback whale, which seems a valuable biological resource which should rather be conserved and managed for maximum sustained yield. But at the same time, provided that, not to hunt them would be, I would contend, illogical, and to prohibit it, immoral.

    It may be perfectly moral to advocate the extinction of even anthropomorphic species, such as wolves. Completely wrong but not immoral or unethical. I think the advocates of such acting in ignorance, and irrationally, but not evil for such; simply mistaken (and, I believe, badly).

    To bring this all back to the subject, those who argue that lawns are sui generis, environmentally destructive, may be wrong, but their position is not evil. Those who argue that lawns (or anything else for that matter) is morally wrong because it’s environmentally destructive, are being evil. In the rush to assume that there’s some moral imperative to reduce CO2 emissions (whether such assumptions are valid or mistaken with respect to actual environmental impacts), they are exhibiting the same ‘libertarian extension’ to Deep Ecology advocated by Peter Singer, which we see in some more rabid suggestions for involuntary sterilization or even population reduction by force or fraud, to the same end. It’s just one very minor facet of a deep and deeply flawed cast that’s been extensively internalized into contemporary environmental ideology as a whole. And it’s a poison in the thought-stream of the movement, and risks destroying 1st its ‘ends’ and finally itself, if not recognized and reined in.

    PS – If we restrict your term (sapient) to its formal definition, wouldn’t we leave it rather open to doubt if there are ANY such species on Earth?

  44. An Inquirer,

    “I’m no Angel. So I’ll tread where I like.” – ADiff

    Character and motivations are not properly involved in disputing scientific arguments, which must be weighed on their own merits (or lack thereof). However when we leave the strictly scientific proposition behind, and venture into the arena of policy suggestions, of proposals for impositions on others by force (i.e. law) then both character and motivation are proper gist for the mill.

    So beyond attacks on the “work” of Hansen and Mann, which are not only proper, but mandatory to the exercise of ‘science’, to the extent either ventures into advocacy of policy (based on that work), both their characters and their motivations are very much at issue and entirely pertinent.

    Clearly both have committed scientific malpractice by concealing the details of their work, the underlying data upon which it was based, and methodology, and contriving to conceal both from independent scientific review. The motivations for this, and what it reveals of their personal character are entirely ‘fair game’ with regard to any implications inherent in that work with respect to its basis for policy decisions. With regard to the science, it doesn’t matter why they engaged in such unprofessional behavior, the evil is neither exacerbated nor mitigated by their reasons. It’s serious scientific misbehavior regardless the motivations. Beyond their scientific misadventures it’s perfectly appropriate to call what they did by its proper name: fraud, to the extent they’ve used their (flawed) “work” to advocate policy. So both certainly do seem guilty not only of scientific malpractice, but of actual fraud in arguing their flawed work supports policy.

    And let’s not even get into Pachauri, who wasn’t actually doing any ‘science’ at all, but acting as a policy making official (albeit of a thankfully rather toothless organization)…. His fraud is more naked, but perhaps less damning, for its only pimping out science, rather than actually whoring it.

  45. “Fools just plain rush in. Explains a lot actually…”

    Touched a nerve there. How dare I suggest that the oft vilified BatMann and Hansen are anything less than a pure evil!? What gall! Right folks?

    What would the assembled masses (about a dozen people really) do if they didn’t have an international organization of highly credentialed scientists to drape their conspiracy theories on? What would happen if certain accused scientists were cleared of all wrongdoing? (Something that CS is doing it’s best to ignore, interestingly enough.)

    But the funniest thing is that none of the last three posts, as vehement as they are, do anything but assert more of the same furious but unsubstantiated rhetoric. Yet Mr. M is concerned with a gardening book author from NYC. As Mr. Spock says, “Fascinating.”

  46. Adiff:

    I never used the word ‘sapient’

    You say: ‘I appreciate your civil discourse on such contentious subjects.’

    This is my point. You implied in earlier posts that the moral status of animals (or lack thereof) was a simple fact. I am saying it is a contentious issue.

    You say: ‘I think I’d rather avoid folks like Peter Singer who’ve advocated involuntary sterilization for people he, or some other ’suitable’ arbiter, judges ‘unworthy of living’ (the terminology is purposely drawn directly from the NAZI T4 program based on the same ethics Peter Singer advocates, ‘

    I don’t think it’s as bad as you make it out to be. He merely suggests that there could be cases when similar things are morally permissible from a utilitarian perspective. Can you steer me to an essay or something of his that advocates Nazi-esque ideas?

    You say: ‘But there’s no evidence at all that any are truly self-aware, conscious in sense of human beings, who’s very consciousness is a model of our own making, as a species and individually.’

    Some animals do indeed show evidence for self awareness. Plus, is the level of human consciousness even relevant? Does a forever-comatose peep have more moral status than a family dog? Why isn’t the experience of pain, avoidance of harm enough to warrant ethical consideration?

    There are arguments put forward against this but all I aim to show is that the issue is not clear cut in ethics.

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