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#52 Mar 16 2012 at 8:37 PM Rating: Default
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Guenny wrote:
"Green" means something that creates as little of a carbon footprint as possible, and is usually in relation to something else, ie x is greener than y.


When the hell did "carbon footprint" become not just a nutty extension of environmentalism, or even a part of environmentalism, but is now the defining characteristic? "Green" simply means any product or activity that is good for the environment. It's specifically in reference to the idea of organic growing things being "green" compared to stuff made via industrial activity. You're free to think that lowering carbon footprint helps make something green, but it's not even remotely close to the definition of green. That's just a crazy redefinition to fit a single current issue (and a pretty crappy one to boot).

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I don't know if cotton could be considered "green" to any other cloth fiber plant.


I just found it strange that someone would think of one plant as being a "green alternative" to another. They're both plants. They're both quite similar plants in fact (cotton having nettles as well). The only thing that makes cotton less green is that it's easier to make into fibers suitable for making clothes out of and thus it's used more often in ultimately industrial processes. There's nothing stopping you from growing cotton in a completely "green" fashion, and you'd presumably get much more value out of it as a crop than growing stinging nettles. It's not the plants that make it green, but how much the plant is used by industry.

Wave a magic wand and make stinging nettles the plant used by the clothing industry, and it will become the less green option. It's not about the plant, so if we're debating which to grow in a small environment like this one, we should stick to the one that will be more productive and easier to harvest.

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Things like hemp, bamboo, etc, are easier to grow and much more sustainable (require less water, pesticides, fuel, etc). Polyester is "green", because instead of putting plastic into landfills we are reusing it in a creative and effective way.

Silk and wool, well, these come from live animals and with silk many die in the process. I supposed that would make wool more sustainable, but I'd bet herds of alpaca create a bigger carbon footprint than silkworm larvae.


Honestly? I think you're responding to cherry picked information telling you which products are green and which aren't, in a completely inconsistent manner (except perhaps which industries lobbied the right politicians to get onto a list). Really? Polyester is green because we're recycling plastic? Other things are green because of water consumption? Yet others based on animal use? You really don't see how patchwork the results are?


I could probably come up with a reason why *any* product or process can be considered green. If we're going with such inconsistent terminology, that is. It really is a meaningless word IMO. May have meant something once, but today the label "green" has more value and weight than whatever actually makes something green.
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#53 Mar 16 2012 at 8:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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Gbaji, you are completely nuts if you think I'm going to tear apart that post for its inaccuracies.
#54 Mar 16 2012 at 9:34 PM Rating: Good
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Guenny wrote:
Gbaji, you are completely nuts if you think I'm going to tear apart that post for its inaccuracies.

That's his debate style: exhaust the opponent trying to dig out of mounds of bullshit and just drown in it instead.
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#55 Mar 19 2012 at 3:18 PM Rating: Good
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Conventionally produced cotton is not generally considered "green" - while it is reasonable to suggest most crops if they were produced on the same scale as cotton would probably end up with similar problems, at the moment conventional cotton is one of the least eco-friendly textiles out there. I've read that a lot of US cotton farmers have greatly improved practices but from what I've heard and read cotton production in developing countries is very chemical intensive.

Also, I don't particularly like GM crops, and cotton, as far as I know, is the only textile with much/any GM crops in production.

That said I buy most of my clothes used because I am cheap so I don't worry about it too much.
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#56 Mar 19 2012 at 5:06 PM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus wrote:
Conventionally produced cotton is not generally considered "green" - while it is reasonable to suggest most crops if they were produced on the same scale as cotton would probably end up with similar problems, at the moment conventional cotton is one of the least eco-friendly textiles out there.


Sure. But it's not the cotton that is not "green". It's the processes used to grown and harvest cotton in the large quantities required to keep up with world demand that make it so. I just think that sometimes people really need to step back from the labels and think about what the hell they're doing.

It's not the first time I've heard someone make a statement that seems to make sense based on labels and common understanding, but are pretty ludicrous if you step back and look at the whole picture. I remember listening to some radio show and they had some female celebrity on talking about organic foods. For the most part, what she said made sense right up until she started talking about how if more people bought organic, the price of organic food would come down and be competitive with the regular stuff in the grocery stores and wouldn't that just be wonderful cause then we could get away from all those pesticides and big farm equipment and whatnot!

Of course, the difference between what we label as "organic" in our grocery stores is entirely about the process of growing. And to grown enough food in sufficient quantity to provide for our population, we'd have to adopt the same "non-organic" processes used today. That's *why* they exist. What makes food "organic" is that it's grown in small farms, with no pesticides or hormones, and no preservatives, and using smaller farming equipment. If more people bought organic, then the price would go *up* not down, because demand would outstrip the amount of food that can be produced that way (or they'll just change the meaning of "organic").


That particular example always struck me because it showed someone praising the use of non-industrial techniques, while clearly failing to understand what that really means. Industrial processes benefit from increased scale. It costs less per unit of production the more production you have. Thus, costs go down as volume goes up. Non industrial processes do the opposite. As volume goes up, prices go up. But this spokeswomen seemed to think that you could "go organic", leaving behind the dirty industry of food production, while somehow magically retaining the volume price effects. I just always thought that was amusing, and very telling about how people often get so caught up in labels that they forget what the label means.


If you produce and harvest sufficient stinging nettle to be an "alternative to cotton", you will need to use the same techniques to do so, then it is no more or less green than cotton. There is no magic bullet. Just labeling something "green" doesn't mean you can just make more green products and magically avoid the environmental effects. It doesn't work that way.
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#57 Mar 19 2012 at 9:25 PM Rating: Default
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Oh great, a huge rant about something you heard on the radio years ago?

You really have some serious issues.
#58 Mar 19 2012 at 11:55 PM Rating: Excellent
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Elinda wrote:
Seattle is developing a 7 acre 'Free to Forage Food Forest' in an urban area.

Sounds like a great place for some anonymous gay sex.

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#59 Mar 20 2012 at 5:47 AM Rating: Good
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trickybeck wrote:
Elinda wrote:
Seattle is developing a 7 acre 'Free to Forage Food Forest' in an urban area.

Sounds like a great place for some anonymous gay sex.


In blackberry bushes?

Kinky........

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#60 Mar 20 2012 at 7:30 AM Rating: Excellent
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Elinda wrote:
It's not cottons fault!
He had his shins shot off when he was killin' fiddy men. Smiley: crymore
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#61 Mar 20 2012 at 12:26 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:

Of course, the difference between what we label as "organic" in our grocery stores is entirely about the process of growing. And to grown enough food in sufficient quantity to provide for our population, we'd have to adopt the same "non-organic" processes used today. That's *why* they exist. What makes food "organic" is that it's grown in small farms, with no pesticides or hormones, and no preservatives, and using smaller farming equipment. If more people bought organic, then the price would go *up* not down, because demand would outstrip the amount of food that can be produced that way (or they'll just change the meaning of "organic").


I'm not so sure it is that cut and dry in terms of yield. For example, in 2005Cornell university came out with a 22 year study that showed no real difference in the yields between conventional and organic soy and corn production, largely because the organic farms performed better in drought years than conventional farms.


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"First and foremost, we found that corn and soybean yields were the same across the three systems," said Pimentel, who noted that although organic corn yields were about one-third lower during the first four years of the study, over time the organic systems produced higher yields, especially under drought conditions. The reason was that wind and water erosion degraded the soil on the conventional farm while the soil on the organic farms steadily improved in organic matter, moisture, microbial activity and other soil quality indicators.


The other issue which you aren't really taking into account is the fact that chemical fertilizers, which are created using non-renewable resources are... well, non-renewable. So even if industrial agriculture currently provides higher yields that organic agriculture (and with many crops the evidence suggests this may be the case) - will it continue to do so without access to the chemical fertilizers? Wouldn't we be better off trying to improve organic yields than pretending that we can continue to rely on non-renewable fertilizers forever?

Also in terms of world hunger the problem is less yields and more food distribution and the location of good food growing areas. People aren't starving in sub-saharan Africa because of organic farming (or even because we aren't producing enough food worldwide) but because the local area cannot support the number of people who are there (ongoing drought conditions etc).

And in north america, food wastage is huge (I've heard 10 per cent but I don't have proof at my fingertips) so if we wasted less food even with a decline in yields we would still be sitting pretty. Nevermind the whole issue of externalized costs - currently food production is a huge contributor to dead zones in the ocean so while the industrially produced crops might produce "more" food if you are just looking at the field itself, if you look at the effect that it has on the environment and other forms of food production such as fish harvesting, it might come out differently in terms of total biomass.

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As it stands, roughly 83,000 tons (75,000 metric tons) of fish and other ocean life are lost to the Chesapeake Bay dead zone each year—enough to feed half the commercial crab catch for a year.


Edited, Mar 20th 2012 11:33am by Olorinus
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When it comes to sitting around not doing anything for long periods of time, only being active for short windows, and marginal changes and sidegrades I'd say FFXI players were the perfect choice for politicians.

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#62 Mar 20 2012 at 1:32 PM Rating: Excellent
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Olorinus wrote:
For example, in 2005 Cornell university came out with a 22 year study that showed no real difference in the yields between conventional and organic soy and corn production, largely because the organic farms performed better in drought years than conventional farms.


You know that that feeling when you get excited to read something and track down the original publication; only to have it torn away from you at the last second because your university doesn't subscribe to that particular journal?

Yeah, living that right now. Smiley: frown


Edited, Mar 20th 2012 12:32pm by someproteinguy
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#63 Mar 20 2012 at 3:22 PM Rating: Decent
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With all due respect to the students and staff at Cornell University, does anyone really think that if farms could produce just as much food over time without spending tons of money on pesticides and chemical fertilizers that they'd spend that money anyway? Doesn't this create a conflict in the mind of the contrarian? On the one hand, you've got the need to paint big farms as greedy evildoers seeking only profit at the expense of the rest of us. But on the other, you've got the need to assume that they're conspiratorially putting chemicals in our food for no reason at all.


Which wins out I wonder? Or does common sense take over and perhaps we come to the logical conclusion that farms use the processes they do because they actually work better, and perhaps a study done by a university might just be wrong.
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#64 Mar 20 2012 at 3:34 PM Rating: Good
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Well, only if you think that chemical companies and pesticide companies are not trying to convince people to buy their products, regardless of whether they are necessary or not.

I mean, you would think that people wouldn't take anti-biotics for colds when it is a fact that colds are viruses and anti-biotics only work on bacteria - but lo and behold, people over use anti-biotics, often in cases where they do nothing at all.

It isn't much of a stretch to imagine that something similar could be at work here. Common sense is not so common, as the saying goes.

That, and yield isn't everything. A lot of it has to do with the overall way that industrial agriculture is structured, where organic practices don't fit in as well with the whole model of doing things (mechanization, structure of plots, mono-culture etc)

- And, don't forget that there are other input costs to take into account - so for example weeding using herbicides is generally less labour intensive than hand-weeding or mulching and other methods used by organic producers - so even with the extra cost of the herbicide - the industrial farm may come out ahead in terms of costs (especially since most of the harmful environmental effects of the fertilizers/pesticides are externalized - for example, borne by fisheries and those who depend on them)

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When it comes to sitting around not doing anything for long periods of time, only being active for short windows, and marginal changes and sidegrades I'd say FFXI players were the perfect choice for politicians.

clicky
#65 Mar 20 2012 at 4:45 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
With all due respect to the students and staff at Cornell University, does anyone really think that if farms could produce just as much food over time without spending tons of money on pesticides and chemical fertilizers that they'd spend that money anyway? Doesn't this create a conflict in the mind of the contrarian? On the one hand, you've got the need to paint big farms as greedy evildoers seeking only profit at the expense of the rest of us. But on the other, you've got the need to assume that they're conspiratorially putting chemicals in our food for no reason at all.


Which wins out I wonder? Or does common sense take over and perhaps we come to the logical conclusion that farms use the processes they do because they actually work better, and perhaps a study done by a university might just be wrong.



Farmers - small farmers, at least - don't live in the "over time" margins. They live in the very slim "this year" margins. Things equaling out over time doesn't mean squat when you're in danger of losing the farm on this year's crop.
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#66 Mar 20 2012 at 5:03 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
With all due respect to the students and staff at Cornell University, does anyone really think that if farms could produce just as much food over time without spending tons of money on pesticides and chemical fertilizers that they'd spend that money anyway?

"Organic" doesn't mean you just throw some seeds at the ground and come back in twelve weeks. I'd bet that a drum of malathion costs less per plant than citrus oils or bags of ladybugs or whatever organic farms use to control pests.
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#67 Mar 20 2012 at 5:48 PM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus wrote:
Well, only if you think that chemical companies and pesticide companies are not trying to convince people to buy their products, regardless of whether they are necessary or not.


So these big profit driven farms are buying stuff they don't need because they're too dumb to know any better? I suppose that's possible, but it seems unlikely that they wouldn't figure this out and needed a group of students at Cornell to tell them they've really been doing it wrong all along.

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I mean, you would think that people wouldn't take anti-biotics for colds when it is a fact that colds are viruses and anti-biotics only work on bacteria - but lo and behold, people over use anti-biotics, often in cases where they do nothing at all.


Yes. But the average person isn't in the business of determining the most efficient and cost effective means to fight a cold. The guys who run these farms *are* in the business of producing the greatest volume of food, using the least amount of labor and cost and land possible. Seems unlikely that they'd miss something so obvious as "these chemicals and pesticides you're using don't really help your yield or bottom line at all".

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It isn't much of a stretch to imagine that something similar could be at work here. Common sense is not so common, as the saying goes.


It's a hell of a stretch actually.

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That, and yield isn't everything. A lot of it has to do with the overall way that industrial agriculture is structured, where organic practices don't fit in as well with the whole model of doing things (mechanization, structure of plots, mono-culture etc)


Great. So the Cornell study doesn't really mean anything then. Let's not forget that this study was linked to in response to my point that "organic" food production can't scale to the degree that traditional farming techniques do, so simply increasing the number of people buying organic foods would not cause prices to decrease, but would have the opposite effect. If there was a more efficient (or even equally efficient, but organic) means to produce food, the folks in the business of doing so would be using them. The reason why they use chemicals and pesticides is because that's the only way to meet the food demands required of them in cost effective way.


I never said that we couldn't produce all our food using "organic" methods. I said that it would result in a massive increase in food costs because the concept of decreased cost with higher volume applies most to industrial processes and not to the sorts of methods that make food "organic".

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- And, don't forget that there are other input costs to take into account - so for example weeding using herbicides is generally less labour intensive than hand-weeding or mulching and other methods used by organic producers - so even with the extra cost of the herbicide - the industrial farm may come out ahead in terms of costs (especially since most of the harmful environmental effects of the fertilizers/pesticides are externalized - for example, borne by fisheries and those who depend on them)



Yes. Which is... wait for it... why they use chemicals and pesticides. This was my entire point from the beginning. Mass demand for organic foods would drive prices up, not down. Because the methods used by "organic" food production does not scale the same way that the more industrial processes do. Do you agree? If so, then can we conclude that the Cornell study doesn't really change that reality?
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