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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 11-21-07, 10:44 AM   #1
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Do we owe anything to the future?

There's been an interesting discussion on Andrew Revkin's blog at the N.Y. Times. it was inspired by this letter:

Hello, Mr. Revkin — I very much appreciate your terrific reporting on global climate change issues. And I was curious: Knowing what you know about the pace of change — and how what we’ve already dumped in our atmosphere is going to have an irreversible impact for decades to come — what is your personal belief on the issue of what sort of lives we in the first world should live in the here and now?

What I mean is: I get so sad for the state of our planet and the environmental damage we’ve done to it, and I’m actively doing what I can to minimize my “footprint” on the Earth. But then sometimes I think: NOTHING that I do for the remaining decades of my life is going to have even the most infinitesimal impact on reducing the greenhouse effect in my lifetime.

So why bother? I don’t have any children of my own, and never will. In your opinion, does it really just boil down to doing it for the sake of other people’s children and their children? Thank you for your time!


What do you all think?



(Posted November 9, 2007 on DotEarth, in case the link expires.)
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Old 11-21-07, 11:45 AM   #2
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Interesting question Roody. Like the OP on the blog, I am child-free. As far as I can tell that is the overall best thing that I can do for other peoples children.

A neighbor's experience illustrates the power of this. My neighbor in La Quinta was a lovely woman in her nineties. She had no kids of her own. Her sister though had 100 descendents; Children, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. Now no matter how my neighbor might litter and drink from styrofoam cups, there is no possible way that she could equal the ecological damage done by her sister's descendents.

My response to being child-free and trying to be Earth friendly, is that I try to live a simple life and preserve things as I can, but I don't get too stressed when I'm not too pure. Everyone, including myself are "other people's children" so I do try to give back to the community. It's my only way to influence things. I suppose that I could just not worry and live it up. But that goes against my grain. Any benefit from doing that is very temporary.

Perhaps ironically, it also drives me as a space activist. In the long view, sustainability requires a human population living off planet, untimately, we need to expand beyond the solar system and even the Milky Way.

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Old 11-21-07, 10:45 PM   #3
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My response to being child-free and trying to be Earth friendly, is that I try to live a simple life and preserve things as I can, but I don't get too stressed when I'm not too pure.
I too am child-free, and the above statement strikes a chord with me. I do what I can, and a I'm very conscious of the disposable items that I can avoid, if possible.

And I too am frustrated, when I see people handle their consumer purchases/interactions, in an opposite manner to what I consider diligent and responsible. But then I have to remind myself that my decisions are my decisions, and everyone else has that right as well.

Mother Earth is my home, and I take responsibility for my actions. That is all I can do. It is infectious though. And it can result in a chain reaction. My present actions are merely the results, of previous interactions that I've had with people, whom have shown me why it is important to act with an environmental conscience.

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Old 11-22-07, 03:50 AM   #4
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Save The Earth For YOUR Future!

I try to pollute less because pollution is ugly. By not polluting now, the environment around me is cleaner for me and everyone around me right now. That is my payoff. Burning less gasoline keeps the air cleaner around me and others.

I started working on bettering myself spiritually about eighteen years ago. During that time I have learned that people really do live more than one lifetime. We do come back. Not always immediately but we do return. I recall several different lifetimes on Earth.

Until you actually recall one of your past lifetimes and experience reliving parts of it you will have a hard time believing anyone who tells you such things. The best you will be able to do is believe the testimony of someone you trust. The time between lifetimes is very interesting to experience too.

So save the Earth for YOUR future lifetimes.
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Old 11-22-07, 06:50 AM   #5
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I try to pollute less because pollution is ugly. By not polluting now, the environment around me is cleaner for me and everyone around me right now. That is my payoff. Burning less gasoline keeps the air cleaner around me and others.

I started working on bettering myself spiritually about eighteen years ago. During that time I have learned that people really do live more than one lifetime. We do come back. Not always immediately but we do return. I recall several different lifetimes on Earth.

Until you actually recall one of your past lifetimes and experience reliving parts of it you will have a hard time believing anyone who tells you such things. The best you will be able to do is believe the testimony of someone you trust. The time between lifetimes is very interesting to experience too.

So save the Earth for YOUR future lifetimes.
+1,000,000...

I was looking for a way to say that without totally sidetracking the thread. Although I haven't relived any past-life experiences, I know I've been here before.

Well said smallwheels
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Old 11-22-07, 07:02 AM   #6
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We owe nothing to the future, being that it hasn't happened. But we are responsible for good stewardship. Unfortunately, a concept completely alien to most people.
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Old 11-22-07, 07:17 AM   #7
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We owe nothing to the future, being that it hasn't happened. But we are responsible for good stewardship. ................................
That pretty much sums it up and not for god, future generations or fear of punishment in an afterlife but just 'cause.
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Old 11-22-07, 07:46 AM   #8
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We owe nothing to the future, being that it hasn't happened. But we are responsible for good stewardship. Unfortunately, a concept completely alien to most people.
Agreed! I work for a company that has been around for over 65 years in pretty much the same form. The main reason because it is privately owned and it is owned with a sense of stewardship and forward thinking. If more people would think in terms of the fact we are only here for a short time and need to leave things in a better condition than we found them...

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Old 11-22-07, 12:36 PM   #9
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Interesting question Roody. Like the OP on the blog, I am child-free. As far as I can tell that is the overall best thing that I can do for other peoples children.
Can we get a child-free forum? I'm sure we can relate it to cycling, somehow.
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Old 11-22-07, 12:47 PM   #10
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Do we owe anything to the future?

What's the future done for you?
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Old 11-22-07, 02:56 PM   #11
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A neighbor's experience illustrates the power of this. My neighbor in La Quinta was a lovely woman in her nineties. She had no kids of her own. Her sister though had 100 descendents; Children, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. Now no matter how my neighbor might litter and drink from styrofoam cups, there is no possible way that she could equal the ecological damage done by her sister's descendents.
I do have children and I would greatly appreciate it if their children did not have to deal with the styrofoam cups I might have used in my lifetime. But even if I didn't have children, I would feel the same towards everyone else's children. Maybe it's some deeply-ingrained, genetic response.
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Old 11-22-07, 03:38 PM   #12
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Do we owe anything to the future?

What's the future done for you?
So far it's always been there for me.
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Old 11-22-07, 07:05 PM   #13
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"We do not inherit the earth from our fathers. We borrow it from our children."

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Old 11-22-07, 07:24 PM   #14
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I do have children and I would greatly appreciate it if their children did not have to deal with the styrofoam cups I might have used in my lifetime. But even if I didn't have children, I would feel the same towards everyone else's children. Maybe it's some deeply-ingrained, genetic response.

I don't quite understand what you were saying. What would you feel towards everyone else's children?
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Old 11-22-07, 07:46 PM   #15
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So far it's always been there for me.
Just wait. Sooner or later it will let you down when you need it most.
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Old 11-22-07, 08:27 PM   #16
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I don't quite understand what you were saying. What would you feel towards everyone else's children?
I would like them to have the a planet available... preferably that little blue one.
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Old 11-22-07, 08:39 PM   #17
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Just wait. Sooner or later it will let you down when you need it most.
Well, you see, that's the great thing about the future - it really can't let me down. Either its there (great), or its not - and if there is no future, I won't be around to worry about its absence. Now a BAD future is a problem, but that's what we're trying to avoid with that funny "responsibility" thing we humans are so bad at.
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Old 11-26-07, 01:42 AM   #18
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Our present was once our future... and if you remember what we had been doing, say, fifty years ago, you'd be pretty happy that we're doing this well by now.

We've got generations that never really knew smog.
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Old 11-26-07, 08:46 AM   #19
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Let's say that you, your parents, your grandparents, and your children all live in one house. that's the only house you have and there are no other houses. It's a big house full of everything you need, but of course it's up to you to look after it and pass it on to your children in a livable state.

How would you feel if your parents treated the house with total disrespect? what if every time they argued they got into physical fights that caused structural damage to the house and rendered some rooms too dangerous for human habitation? what if they dumped their garbage in such a careless way that it contaminated the plumbing and the water out of some of the faucets was too polluted to drink? What if their lifestyle choices damaged the a/c and the refrigerator so that you couldn't be sure that the food was going to be OK to eat? - and what's worse they're aware of the consequences of their actions but refused to change their ways? would you feel entitled to criticise them? would you feel entitled to speak out and ask them to start behaving responsibly? I sure would.

This planet is our house, it's the only one we have, it's the only one our children will have. Do we want us and our future generations to live in a comfortable house that's structurally sound? that has good plumbing delivering fresh, clean water? a well stocked kitchen full of wholesome nutritious food?

It's up to all of us to do the maintenance on the house, to clean up after ourselves or better yet - not make a mess in the first place. We're all in this together, unfortunately some people just don't get it and won't get it untill the house burns down, but it'll be too late then.
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Old 11-26-07, 09:45 AM   #20
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I don't quite understand what you were saying. What would you feel towards everyone else's children?
Since I've had my own children, I've found myself to be more protective of all children, not just my own. I can't really explain it, so it must be a hormone-induced altruism of some kind (but what do I know).
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Old 11-26-07, 10:26 AM   #21
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Since I've had my own children, I've found myself to be more protective of all children, not just my own. I can't really explain it, so it must be a hormone-induced altruism of some kind (but what do I know).
It just means you're a decent human being.
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Old 11-27-07, 01:39 PM   #22
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I like to think that, by being carfree (along with other measures), I'm "making a difference" in the future of the planet. But in fact, the difference I'm making is so small that it really isn't a difference. If there are 120 million cars in the USA alone, what's the point of one less car?

Why should I bother?
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Old 11-27-07, 04:21 PM   #23
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I like to think that, by being carfree (along with other measures), I'm "making a difference" in the future of the planet. But in fact, the difference I'm making is so small that it really isn't a difference. If there are 120 million cars in the USA alone, what's the point of one less car?

Why should I bother?
Whenever I start thinking that way, I remind myself that there are probably millions of people who are thinking the same thing: "What's the point, since I'm only one person?"

Taken together, those are a lot of "just one person"s.
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Old 11-27-07, 11:52 PM   #24
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...the difference I'm making is so small...Why should I bother?
Because in addition to the direct payoff of your efforts, you are making it a little bit easier for the next person to go car free.
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Old 11-28-07, 12:08 AM   #25
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the difference I'm making is so small that it really isn't a difference. If there are 120 million cars in the USA alone, what's the point of one less car?

Why should I bother?
they reckon that out there, somewhere, amongst the amazon rainforest, there is a tree

if this tree was to be cut down, the whole interconnected eco-system would collapse

on the other hand

there is a person on this planet (it might even be YOU!)

and when they 'wake up' and realize they apart of the whole, and that their actions DO make a difference

well when that person wakes up ... we all wake up ?

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just got to beleive in yourself
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