My Bi-Annual WOW Guilt Trip.

LDS folk are so motivated by guilt. Its like....marrow in our bones, you know? That's why I'm back with my bi-annual guilt trip.

Its amazing how often someone asks you, "why did you become vegetarian?" when you actually have become vegetarian. In all honesty, I'm starting to become confused about why I initially took the plunge. There are basically three reasons to become vegetarian.

1) Diet - Doctor says I should cut back on my cholesterol, risk for heart disease, etc.
2) Extreme Pacifism - In a true Tolstoyian fassion, someone becomes passionate about not causing harm to any living thing.
3) Environmentalism - this one is often over looked, and will, obviously, be the subject of this post.

The first two reasons are easily comprehended by most folks - "I get it - you don't want to hurt anything.." or, "I get it, you can't eat meat or you will die." Stuff like that - but how is eating meat hurting the environment? After all, people have been eating meat for....ever, basically, and the world hasn't crashed down yet.

This is true. The world hasn't crashed down, and human beings, by definition, are omnivorous. What we are failing to take into consideration is that:
a) There is a whole lot more people on the earth to be eating meat now than ever before - and the population is continually rising dramatically.
b) There is a whole lot more affluent people on the earth to buy way more than their fair share of meat. People like meat, and they will eat as much of it as they can logically afford.
c) The earth has never had this unprecidented demand for meat to have to try and satiate.


The stats are easy to find. Any Google search will bring you, basically, the same information that I'm posting here:
- in the USA, people consume some where between 170- 270lbs (depending on who you ask) of meat (not including fish) per year.
- Americans are spending, on average, $550 per person per year on red meat purchases.
- 1 in 6 people go hungry each day.
- The U.S,China(25% of total world pop) plus Brazil and the EU consumes over 60 percent of the world's beef, over 70 percent of the world's poultry, and over 80 percent of the world's pork.
- Deforestation
- The world's range land covers nearly twice the area as the world's cropland.
- As the Beef consumption increases, the current rangelands are being pushed to their production limits, causing intense slash and burn policies, especially in places such as South America
- Beef production drives 60-80% of the Amazon's deforestation.
- Roughly 80% (in 2003) of Brazil's cattle production was for exports (to Europe and US)
- Amazon produces 20% of the world's oxygen.
- Between 1990-2005, Brazil lost 8.1% of its forest (15 years.) at that rate of deforestation, the Amazon will largely be gone in about 100 years.
- The very land threatened by deforestation (due to beef production) is the same land that is home to most of the world's biodiversity (plant and animal species) (in Brazil and other tropic countries.)- many of which are projected to be pushed through to extinction within the next hundred years.
- Cattle account for 28% of the methane emissions in the world (according to EPA - 20% of US methane emissions).
- pound for pound, Methane is 30 times more damaging for environment than CO2
- internationally, livestock accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gas emitions - and that is not including emmisions produced in the transportation of livestock or grain.
- In order to produce 1 lb of meat, livestock must eat around 10lbs of grain - which could go to feed all those starving folks mentioned earlier.
- One third of the world's cereal harvest is fed to farm animals.
- 95% of US soya production (nearly 100 million tons per year) is used as feed
- 73% of maize, 95% of oilmeals and 93% of fishmeal is fed to animals - all of this "feed" could be used for human consumption.
- More that 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the United States go towards animal agriculture. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuel input as a calorie of plant protein. - Vegitarianism would help more than a hybrid car.

I've left out facts and statistics about overfishing, ocean polutants, and algae endangerment (which accounts for up to 80% of the world's oxygen) - keep in mind, some stats are deflated, and some are inflated - I tried to go with the middle ground in what I've collected here.

I just don' think that people realize the environmental impact meat consumption has. If we lived in small communites and every community had one or two cows - if we were like our neolithic ancestors, meat consumption wouldn't be so bad - but with the grand levels of mass consumerism we are living today, we simply can't afford to eat meat. If The world produced enough meat for every human to consume as much meat as the average american, something like 90% of habitable land would need to be used simply for meat production - it simply couldn't happen. There isn't enough room on this planet to feed cows to the point that everyone can eat like Americans. So maybe Americans should keep that in mind next time they get the craving.

Our beloved Ensign to the Nations,...the Word of Wisdom, reads as follows: "Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." Nothing new there - but, We should remember, the US, Brazil, much of China, and the EU are emphatically NOT experiencing famine. However, much of the world is, and guess what? They are the ones that don't have access to meat at all. Why is that? Well, because we are eating it all. Compare these stats - US is number 1 meat consumer with around 150kg of meat per year, vs. India - #35 highest poultry consumer (.7kg) and #49 highest beef consuming country (1.5kg) ANd that's not the end of the story, because there are 195 countries in the world. Beef, its whats for dinner.

120 comments:

Stephanie said...

Well, I do think that "we" collectively eat too much meat in the U.S. And I read the word of wisdom to mean that my family is personally eating too much meat. One of the verses in the WoW that stands out to me is All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life. That's what we are working on - making grains the "staff" of our diet.

Aileena said...

Looking for delicious vegan/vegetarian recipes? I share some of my favorites on my cooking blog. http://stewiestastebuds.blogspot.com I've got all kinds of recipes all without the use of meat. I've been vegetarian for about 3 years now, and I've experimented with vegetarian recipes for a really long time-so take a look. And feel free to share a recipe too! Honestly, there are so many amazing things you can eat without meat. And its really cheap! Also if you are interested in more environmentalism ideas or concerns you can check out our newly started eco blog. ecofamily365.blogspot.com

jenny said...

Aren't the majority of Indians vegetarians because of Hinduism? The diets of many people across the world appear to be cultural. I agree that meat should be eaten sparingly. I guess everyone has their own interpretation of what "sparingly" specifically means. Literal famine?

Rick said...

Most mondern hindus aren't actually vegitarian - they don't eat beef, but usually they aren't all vegitarian - Jains are totally vegitarain, but they are an extreme minority - and there are lots of muslims, hindus and christians in India - the telling part is that India - being, "supposedly" vegitarian is the number 35/49 country out of all the more than 100 countries of the world - that means most of the countries of the world aren't really eating any meat. And they aren't Hindu either.

mfranti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackson Howa said...

Nice post, Rick. I have been marginally aware of the environmental impact of meat-eating for some time now, but I confess I haven;t been able to convince myself to kick it entirely. I have made a conscious effort to eat less meat though, I usually only have meat about 3 meals a week, max; the rest are vegetarian.

The Faithful Dissident said...

This was a great post, Rick. Even if people don't feel inclined to give up -- or at least cut back significantly -- their meat consumption on health or compassionate grounds, it's hard to ignore the environmental factor.

Jenny mentioned how everyone has their own interpretation of "sparingly." To me, it means keeping it to a minimum, like only when you really need to.

Rick said...

I'm going to be kind of a jerk right now, and do a little bit of devil's advocating. I'm not really a jerk

I want to call some of you out. Jenny, you say, "everyone has their own interpretation of what sparingly specifically means. Literal famine?" I don't think that line of reasoning works. Does that, then, mean that I'm perfectly entitled to interpret the rest of it how I like?

In that case, "wine or strong drink" - well, of course he doesn't really mean wine - he means something like 90 proof liquer.

"-Tobacco is not for the body or belly" - yeah, but he doesn't mean "at all" - I mean a pack a week is probably just fine.

No, no - these actions, I'm sure, would lead to the loss of a temple reccomend - because I was deciding what "I" thought they meant,and not going with what the actual scripture says.n As long as the Church is interpreting the Word of Wisdom as binding, it follows that all of it should be seen in that light.

So what gives us the right to do the very same thing with the herbs, grains, fruit, veggies, and meat? I mean just because these things never had a political motive behind them doesn't negate their importance.

When the world distribution of meat is so uneven (take a look at the link I've posted above), I can only blame "conspiring men" - and when the ecological well being of the planet is in such dire straits, I can only think of mankind's failure to live up to his "stewardship" - governments aren't doing alot to help us along, but this is still a very political matter - The US habits of overconsumption are what make us seem so much the entitled oppressors to so many of our neighbors. To really help our image overseas, we need to cutback. If I could, I'd call on the current administration to give us a meat tax. As that won't happen, I'd hope to appeal to people's religious sense and come to see that there is a stewardship we are held to, that we are failing, and there is an apperant "law" that we are just giving the most convenient interpretation to. I don't see how we can justify our lax interpretation when people all around the world are starving.

By the way, "Aileena" who commented above is my wife, and I'd just second her invitation to visit our two other blogs if you need help/support/or ideas for living a more vegitarian or eco-friendly lifestyle.
ecofamily365.blogspot.com
stewiestastebuds.blogspot.com

Lula O said...

Hi there, good post. I'm a vegetarian, so I say this with great carefulness.

Your argument is a good one, but there also has to be a balance between all things in the food chain. If more people suddenly ate say, in the United States, more plants than animals, a whole other set of problems come into play. More land would have to be used to grow more crops, and less organic fertilizer (hence from a decreased animal population), would mean more chemical fertilizers would be needed to get a high enough yield to sustain more people.

More fossil fuels would be used to transport said yields around the country, because some states are more suited to grow different things than others.

So, as far as the environment goes, are we really helping it by encouraging others not to eat meat, or just creating a whole new set of problems?

mfranti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Lula - interesting:
1) crops require far less area to produce food on, and plant farm land is much more sustainable (if rotated properly) cattle grazing land.

2) The Majority of fertilizer used isn't organic anyways. Its in organic - there is lots of other sources of organic fertilizer - Sheep (wool sheep) for instance would be a huge source of organic fertilizer. Also, Compost created from fruit, veggie and grain waste is everybit the fertilizer that fecis is.

3) Yes, we'd have to transport more grains, but...not that much more - by living a vegitarian lifestyle, my wife and I haven't really increased the amount of veggies we eat - we do eat more peanut butter, nuts and soy - tofu - so We might use more fossil fuels to transport those - but think about how much more tofu can be transported per truck load than cattle.

Good points, but I think they in no way justify not making the switch - way to be thoughtful. Yes, we would still need mass transport, etc,etc,etc...but not to the level of inpracticality that they are currently being empoloyed.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I don't know, Lula O. I agree that there would be an increase in CO2 output from the production and transportation of plant-based materials, but even if this were to increase significantly, would it be more than what's currently being used to transport livestock feed, livestock to slaughter, meat production, plus the transportation of meat products to consumers? Not to mention the methane gas that comes from the animals themselves. It would, I'm sure, present new challenges. I just find it hard to believe that things are better now.

I'm just thinking about my meals and how they've changed since I stopped eating meat. Basically, they're the same, just minus the meat. I wouldn't say that I've drastically increased my intake of any substitute foods, except perhaps more legumes as an alternative source of protein and some soy. But then again, my meat consumption was never really large to begin with. It was more an accent to my meals (i.e. chunks of chicken in a stir-fry) than what the meal revolved around (i.e. like a huge steak with a few veggies).

Lula O said...

Agreed, but sheep can't make enought fertilizer for an entire population of plant eaters, and made from plant waste-it requires a shot in the arm from carbon to quicken it into compost, or else it takes forever.
I've done it both ways, without organic matter it's slooow.

I'm not arguing your points as I think they're valid - Once again, I don't eat meat. I haven't since grade school. I also have a degree in environmental biology, and I know that there's an intricate balance to things, how energy is distributed. A vegan utopia where no one in the world eats meat seems unrealistic.
I think teaching people about organic gardening, supporting local farmers that sell produce, ranchers that feed cows grass instead of corn, raise chickens that are free range, etc. To me, that's more realistic.

mfranti said...

. A vegan utopia where no one in the world eats meat seems unrealistic.
I think teaching people about organic gardening, supporting local farmers that sell produce, ranchers that feed cows grass instead of corn, raise chickens that are free range, etc. To me, that's more realistic.

k. i wish you would have said this in your orig comment. i feel better about your comments but at first, i was thinking that you just didn't get it.

look, we eat meat. as a species, we wouldn't have made it without it but the way and the amount of meat consumption in the western world is ridiculous.

if you think that you are entitled to eat meat(which is a very american sentiment) every night of the week, you've got something very wrong (not saying anyone on this board)

Rick said...

And, Lula, If we all ate free range grass fed cows, had happy chickens and Turkey, and consumed them on a roughly once a year basis, then I'd be fine with it - humans are omnivores. I still wouldn't eat meat, cause I am to Tolstoyian now, but I'd not look down on meat production as I do currently. We could definately cut way back, thats all I'm saying. And as good stewards of the earth, we need to cut way back.

I think its strange and telling that the only people responding to this post are either a) already vegitarian or b) aware of the issue and working on it in their lives. Where are our carnivores? Am I just "that right" that we have no argeument?

mfranti said...

rick, you are right. you have teh science and facts to prove your point.

unless you want to compare 'opinions' with the carnivores...there's not much they can say to you.

thanks again and sorry for deleting most of my comments.

matt said...

I'm your carnivore Rick. We eat meat at least once every day. It was bbq pork back ribs tonight. Ummm Ummm good. I will agree that we eat too much meat. I witnessed the slaughter house in the Philippines and it is pretty gruesome. I think it comea down to a lack of understanding of how meat gets to us.

Rick, my only "beef"(he he)with your comments are that you say the WofW isn't up for interpretation.
Couldn't I say the same about "following the prophet"? just a thought.

I think many of us will have to learn to be vegans if the economy crumbles and we're all living on food storage and gardens.

You are right Rick, we carnivores need to cut way back. I let you know if I can get my wife to use less meat. She actually "needs" it more than I.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I'm not vegan, although I really respect those who are. The reasons why I'm not vegan are, first of all, a fairly lousy selection of vegetarian products where I live, plus the fact that a vegan lifestyle, IMO, although feasible, takes careful planning and variation in order to be healthy. Certain essential vitamins (especially B12) are found only in animal products (not just meat, but dairy, etc.) and so I'd be leery about cutting out all this stuff when I don't have sufficient replacements in my area.

I personally have no problem with using certain animal products (i.e. milk, dairy products, eggs), but try my best to make sure that they are organic and free range. I think that most vegans cut these things out because of the unethical practices of the dairy and egg industries. I agree with them on that and that's why I can support a vegan lifestyle, although I don't personally believe that dairy and eggs in moderation are horribly unhealthy, as some portray it to be.

My "ideal" world would be no meat consumption. However, I would still have farm animals, living as freely and organically as possible, to produce eggs, milk, and ingredients for products for our use. The key is that it would be in moderation. We wouldn't all be drinking a gallon of milk a day (like my brother) or multiple eggs every single day, but we would still have need for animals. There just wouldn't be so many of them because they're aren't being slaughtered daily on a grand scale.

I wish I knew more about this stuff. I'm sure there are some big kinks to work out, like the fertilizer problem that Lula O mentioned, but I certainly think that mankind could make some big improvements.

I know that many in the Church think it's horrible that I should say this, but I think that the whole "multiply and replenish the earth" thing should also be used in moderation. I'm not saying to not have kids. I'm just saying don't be like that octuplet mom and then be totally apathetic towards environmental issues. I heard this past week that the world's population is approaching 7 billion soon. It's hard to use the earths resources in "moderation" when the world's population is not following suit. And it's only growing -- exploding in some areas.

Stephanie said...

The parts of the world where population growth is "exploding" are Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The World Bank issued a World Population study. The exploding world population mid-century was primarily due to a drastic decline in death rates thanks to modern medicine.

The overall population in developed countries has declined in the past 10 years, although the world population has grown. Stabilizing birth rates and increasing death rates have decreased the populations of Italy and Germany. Spain and Japan are next. In Europe, the fertility rate is below replacement levels, so the population will continue to decline. In the U.S., immigration and the fertility rate of the immigrants (primarily hispanic) is what is keeping our fertility rate barely above replacement level.

The entire population of the world is expected to stabilize at 9-10 billion by the end of the century.

The projected increase of the world's population from the current 6 billion to 9-10 billion at the end of the century will be attributable almost entirely to population growth in developing countries. Thus the share of the developing countries in the world's population will increase from 84 percent to 88 percent or more. Rapid growth of the world's developing population, particularly in the next 50 years, poses many economic, social and environmental challenges, not only for those countries, but also for the entire global community. Whether those additional billions of people get access to adequate education and health services, are able to find gainful employment, and manage to avoid poverty and hunger will be critical for the possibility of global sustainable development.

So, I have to agree with FD that the world population is growing and that this has the potential to negatively impact the environment (with unwise stewardship). However, I fail to see why this would translate to members of the church who believe the commandment to "multiply and replenish the earth" applies to them curtailing childbearing because of concern over world population growth.

Also, for gospel perspective, the church's "official" perspective on birth control is this:

Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity . . . The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife. God has a plan for the happiness of all who live on the earth, and the birth of children in loving families is central to His plan. The first commandment He gave to Adam and Eve was to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The scriptures declare, “Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Those who are physically able have the blessing, joy, and obligation to bear children and to raise a family . . . Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children . . .

If you want to talk about the women who gave birth to octuplets and compare it to a gospel perspective, first, she shouldn't have had children without a husband, and second, she should have considered her ability to provide for the necessities of her children. But, contrast that with the Duggars who just had baby number 18 and support all their children. They are teaching them to grow up to be responsible, contributing members of society. How exactly are they negatively impacting the earth?

Couple that with D&C 104:17 that says: For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

I agree with Rick that "we" (collectively) are being poor stewards of our environment. Things like destroying the rainforests of Brazil so we can eat more meat are not being wise stewards, IMO, and we need to do a better job of keeping the commandments (WofW) to prevent negative consequences like that. But, I don't think the solution for us is to stop having kids because our kids will make the environment worse. It is to become better stewards of the world around us.

Stephanie said...

Article from the Ensign addressing population control concerns.

Here's another one.

mfranti said...

"How exactly are they negatively impacting the earth?"

because it's the americans/westerners or peoples living in mdc's that are doing the most damage to the earth...

not the 5.5 million people living in the ldc's.

the world cannot sustain the american/western way of life.

and a projection is not a prediction.

yes, you are right, the death rate is lower, thanks to western intervention. but the problems isn't with "those" people. it's with us.

we rape their lands and consume their resources so that we can live comfortably.

we live at their expense.

Stephanie said...

Um, mfranti, did you read the report, particularly the part that said Rapid growth of the world's developing population, particularly in the next 50 years, poses many economic, social and environmental challenges, not only for those countries, but also for the entire global community.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, so, mfranti, let's be better stewards of the environment. Since I agree with you on that, I fail to see where the hostility is necessary.

Stephanie said...

Plus, mfranti, my question was how the Duggar children are negatively impacting the earth. Your answer is essentially that they are Americans, and Americans are destroying the earth. So . . . what? Americans needs to stop having kids? We need to commit population suicide to "save the world"?

Stephanie said...

Our way of life is so "evil" that we need to cease to exist?

mfranti said...

" world's developing population, particularly in the next 50 years, poses many economic, social and environmental challenges, not only for those countries, but also for the entire global community."

yes, i know.

the growing world instability, or the rapid amount of failing states is going to have severe repercussions....be we caused it.

we rape them to support our lifestyle.

or do you not see that?

steph, this is my chose field of study. i am madly/deeply passionately in love with this subject and it's the most depressing thing you can ever imagine.

ever growing populations/ rapid environmental damage, the desire to push western ways/democracy into the 'developing' world, and ever powerful patriarchal society.

it almost feels hopeless. and when i hear people say that global warming doesn't exist and that they aren't environmentalists because...who knows why,it breaks my heart.

everything you care about is tied to the environment. your way of life, the food you eat, everything

and it's tied to those lesser develeoped countries. sure the technology comes from here, but the mfg comes from elsewhere. (same w/ meat production)

you talk about good stewardship...well, you may think you take good care of your home/environment but does your way of life support the earth? (it's not fun to think about be you are just an animal in an ecosystem. and we humans are the most populous large animal in existence.

imagine another large animal having the same presence we had in the world, you might be inclined to call them an invasive species.)

tough, uncomfortable questions. i know.

mine doesn't always. it sucks. i'm a hypocrite because i'm an American--because everything i own was manufactured at the expense of some person in a developing country.


so..to bring this back around, grow you own food, participate in csa's food coops, get involved in community gardens, plant a tee and be mindful of your consumption and teach your children that everything they consume comes at the expense of another's quality of life and the environment.

mfranti said...

sorry guys for all the typos, i keep my house at 56-58 during the day and my hands are frozen.

Stephanie said...

Well, you are a true environmentalist, mfranti (with the freezing house). :)

Here's the thing, mfranti. I am trying to do my best to live the gospel. I believe that if we all did that, the world would work out just fine. That includes growing my own garden (or trying - we haven't been too successful), trying to eat according to the word of wisdom, living providently. And I am teaching my kids that. And also that "where much is given, much is required". We have a responsibility to give back and help others.

I don't have a desire to push the "American way" (particularly of immorality, excess, greed) onto other countries. I don't have a desire to continue to support the level of consumption in America (and, ironically, the so-called stimulus bill does just that).

But, I reject the idea that I live at the expense of someone else, and I won't teach my children that they live at the expense of someone else - that their being born somehow hurt the earth. I particularly reject this idea: i'm a hypocrite because i'm an American. These are very liberal ideas. I really dislike this notion that Americans are so evil and are ruining the world, particularly if that extends to every baby being born in America being evil and contributing to the problem.

Stephanie said...

In terms of doing, mfranti, I really respect all that you (and Rick, etc.) do to preserve the earth. I recognize that I probably don't do enough for you, but I feel pretty good about what I do and where I am trying to improve (except using sandwich bags in lunches - we really need to make some major improvements there).

mfranti said...

you don't want my opinions on the duggars or american reproduction.

mfranti said...

i never said anyone was evil. you assume that because i critique our consumption.

we are just living out our worldviews. (to borrow from a professor)

and your world view is very common amongst americans. most people don't even consider their WV unless it's brought to their attention.

i'm looking for something that compares our eco footprint in acres to our actual biocapacity in acres.

and science isn't liberal.

Stephanie said...

Science is often manipulated to produce the desired results.

mfranti said...

i never said anyone was evil. you assume that because i critique our consumption.

we are just living out our worldviews. (to borrow from a professor)

and your world view is very common amongst americans. most people don't even consider their WV unless it's brought to their attention.

i'm looking for something that compares our eco footprint in acres to our actual biocapacity in acres.

and science isn't liberal.

science is fun!!!

mfranti said...

"Science is often manipulated to produce the desired results. "

so what are climate change scientists and biologists and the like trying to gain from advocating proper care and conservation of the earths, very finite, resources?

what info are the manipulating to get their desired results and for what cause?

Stephanie said...

Yes, mfranti, I am interested in your opinion about American reproduction, particularly because the fertility rate in the U.S. is at 2.0 - exactly (or slightly below) replacement level. Here is a website that breaks down fertility rate by country. With a fertility rate that equals replacement in the U.S., what is your complaint? The population in the U.S. is too high and needs to decrease? Do you realize that is economic suicide?

Stephanie said...

There is a difference between advocating proper care and conservation of the earth and imposing fines and restrictions that transfer power and wealth, which is what people like Al Gore are looking for, IMO. It is too bad that advocates like him and his "global warming" get in the way of real environmental issues.

Stephanie said...

I am not discounting environmentalism. I am grateful for all the work environmentalists do. However, I think that some people with alternative motives (like increasing the power of a world governing body, or taxing the U.S. to transfer wealth to other countries) use environmentalism to try to accomplish their designs. I believe there are secret combinations at work, and I believe this is one tool they are using.

mfranti said...

"I believe there are *secret combinations at work"

talk about a thought stopper. well, i'm out!

i can't discuss science and geography and environmental issues and history and fact with that.

off to buy some chicken feed for the biddies...using my car that will emit more emissions into the atmosphere and cause my dh more respiratory issues.

i can't win!

Stephanie said...

Example of how data on "global warming" is manipulated:

But how will we know whether the earth is warming or cooling? Today, it all depends on the data source.

Two authorities provide us with analysis of long-term surface temperature trends. Both agree on the global temperature trend until 1998, at which time a sharp divergence occurred. The UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Center for Climate Studies Had-Crut data shows worldwide temperatures declining since 1998.According to Hadley's data, the earth is not much warmer now than it was than it was in 1878 or 1941. By contrast, NASA data shows worldwide temperatures increasing at a record pace - and nearly a full degree warmer than 1880 . . .

The other two widely used global temperature data sources are from earth-orbiting satellites UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems.) Both show decreasing temperatures over the last decade, with present temperatures barely above the 30 year average.


Hmm. So, three out of four data sources show a decrease over the last decade and one shows an increase. Why the discrepancy? Why does NASA's data show so much more global warming?

One clue we can see is that NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards - which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming. Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre has been tracking the changes closely on his Climate Audit site, and reports that NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again . . . The pre-1970 temperatures have been nearly uniformly adjusted downwards (red below green) - and the post 1970 temperatures have been adjusted upwards (red above green.) Some of the yearly temperatures have been adjusted by as much as 0.5 degrees.

Hmm. Why is NASA revising their numbers to show a warming trend?

Looking at the NASA website, we can see that the person in charge of the temperature data is the eminent Dr. James Hansen - Al Gore's science advisor and the world's leading long-term advocate of global warming.

Problem solved. There have been enough other scientists calling the global warming "science" junk to warrant at least a skeptical eye.

Plus, didn't we have an ice age scare in the 70's? This article says there was also a global cooling scare in 1924, a global warming scare in 1933. And so the cycle goes.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I don't think that people who have lots of children are "evil." I have no idea who the Duggars are, I'm sure they're fine people, whoever they are. I'm not pointing the finger at anyone in particular, not even people who have 18 kids, but my point is that most people are pretty apathetic about the environment. How many people in the western world go about their days thinking about how their choices impact someone on another continent? They don't, for the most part. And since they don't, their kids probably won't either.

From a solely American perspective, a lot of Republicans are mostly in denial about global warming, and yet the main base of their party (Mormons and other conservative Christians) are those who are having lots of kids, not liberals. And it's frustrating to environmentalists to think that whatever dent we make in our global warming problem will be erased by possibly another generation of people in denial that the world has a problem, while they continue to overconsume resources of all kinds. And yet I don't think that many liberals think the solution is for them to have more kids, despite the article that I'll paste at the end of this comment.

So, I don't think that we have to teach your kids that we're living at someone else's expense, but I do think we should be teaching them that some of the choices we make can affect people around the world negatively, whether it's because we eat too much meat, waste too much gas, or don't consume in moderation. That people don't care to teach their kids about the environment around them and how what do do affects others, both people and animals, is what bothers me more than the number of kids that they have. If that octuplet woman teachers all her 14 kids to be environmentally-conscious and they don't grow up being apathetic to this stuff, then I say hey, that's great and the world needs 14 people like that. But what are the odds?

Here is an article that a friend sent me a while back. He sent the link as well, but it doesn't work anymore. It was from the SF Chronicle, 2003, I believe.

"If you're a liberal, here's what you can do to make Karl Rove a very happy man: Get yourself a labradoodle. Or any other kind of dog, for that matter. Even a cat will do.

Just don't have children.

That way you'll maintain a fertility gap that already is invisibly working to guarantee the political right will outnumber the left by an ever-growing margin.

Over the past three decades, conservatives have been procreating more than liberals -- continuing to seed the future with their genes by filling bassinets coast to coast with tiny Future Republicans of America.

Take a randomly selected sample of 100 liberal adults and 100 conservative adults. According to an analysis of the 2004 General Social Survey -- a bible of data for social scientists -- the liberals would have had 147 kids, while the conservatives would have had 208. That's a fertility gap of 41 percent. Even adjusting for other variables like age and income, there is a gap of 19 percent.

Now superimpose this on a map of the United States. The highest fertility rate is found in the most Republican state, Utah, home to the Mormon Church. The lowest fertility belongs to Vermont, a state liberal enough to be the first to sanction gay unions.

The states with the next highest fertility rates, according to the latest National Center for Health Statistics survey, are Arizona, Alaska and Texas, otherwise known as "red states." States with the next lowest fertility rates are Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, all "blue states."

So what does it mean that the birth rate in Salt Lake City far outstrips that of liberal San Francisco (where dogs supposedly outnumber children)?

"Liberals have got a big 'baby problem,' and it risks being the death of them," contends Arthur Brooks, professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs. He reckons that unless something gives, Democratic politicians in the future may not have many babies to kiss.

"When secular-minded Americans decide to have few, or no, children, they unwittingly give a strong evolutionary advantage to the other side of the culture divide," writes Phillip Longman, senior fellow at the New America Foundation. "If 'Metros' don't start having more children, America's future is 'Retro.' "

But wait, you may say: the attitudes of the parents don't determine what ideology or political party their offspring will adopt as their own. Yet they usually do.

Political scientists have long found that 4 out of 5 people with a party preference grow up to vote the way their parents voted. In fact, while many people experience a temporary rejection of their parents' politics in very early adulthood, virtually nothing is more predictive of your political ideology than that of your parents -- it's more of a determining factor than income, education or any other societal yardstick.

There are exceptions: While only 20 percent eschew their parents' ideology, they do, after all, add up to a lot of people. And despite ample instances of Republicans in Southern states being raised by parents who once identified as Democrats, those parents were actually conservative Democrats who became Reagan Democrats and ultimately migrated to the GOP. The party labels changed, but the political ideology remains consistent from generation to generation.

"Right now this theory really applies to political parties as well as ideology, because the parties have become incredibly well sorted by ideology," says Marc Hetherington, associate professor of political science at Vanderbilt University who studies political identification. In other words, in 2006 a conservative is going to find a cozy home in the Republican Party, and a liberal can expect the same in the Democratic Party.

Thus Democrats will breed Democrats, and Republicans will breed Republicans -- the blue states reddening every day.

This phenomenon has prompted writer Steve Sailer to offer a prescription for ensuring a GOP majority to his readers in the American Conservative. "Because Democrats win when Americans don't marry and don't have children," he notes, "publicly label them as what they are: the party that thrives on loneliness."

In truth, it's more complicated. As far as sex goes, liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats report having it with equal frequency, according to an online survey taken in November by Ken Berwitz, partner in the market research firm National Qualitative Centers Inc. Liberalism doesn't induce celibacy or frigidity, any more than conservatism can be mistaken for an aphrodisiac.

So how else to explain the fertility gap?

Limited space is one consideration. Liberals are most concentrated in cities, but such urban dwellers pay more for far less real estate than do rural dwellers -- meaning they have less money to pay for the costs of children, and fewer rooms and smaller yards in which to put them.

Religion is another factor. Some of the most ardent conservatives are religious fundamentalists who believe they have been bidden by God to go forth and multiply. These conservatives, now overwhelmingly Republican, see large families as blessings, abortion as sacrilege, birth control as potentially sinful. Indeed people who attend church weekly are twice as likely as those who seldom attend to say their ideal family size is three or more children. (This "relentlessly pro-natal" orientation, Longman contended in a recent issue of the journal Foreign Policy, threatens a not-too-distant future in which zealous Christians and radical Muslims inherit the Earth and usher in "new Dark Ages").

Conversely, other influences depress the number of children born to liberals. Liberal women are statistically more likely to delay childbirth into later years than are conservative women, and they may also be more open to abortion, although the data is unclear. Gays and lesbians, who vote Democratic by a roughly 4-1 ratio, are much less likely to have children than heterosexuals. And some on the left advocate fewer children as "socially responsible" to lessen the toll on the planet's finite resources.

When it comes to California, the wildcard is our burgeoning immigrant population. Here, the highest fertility rates are among Latinas, an ethnic group that is historically liberal on economic issues and allied with the Democratic Party. This might seem to suggest that time is on the side of liberals in the Golden State, which already has become bluer since the Reagan years.

Conversely, the highest fertility rates are among Latinas who are in the country illegally, lacking voting rights. As they move through the cycles of first-, second- and third-generation immigration, their fertility rates drop and they may become more economically conservative precisely at the time they are more likely to vote. Already they identify as conservative on social issues such as abortion and gay rights.

So are their offspring destined to be liberal or conservative?

"Therein lies the interesting political question," observed Michael Alvarez, professor of political science at the California Institute of Technology. "Depending on how the political parties react to Hispanics in the near term, and the future, they could largely gravitate to one party over the other -- or they could evolve into a swing electorate."

Such uncertainties about behavior and demographics make some experts like Alvarez wary of forecasts that liberals will become an endangered species.

Demographics are, almost by definition, processes of distilling complexity into generality, messy diversity into neatly tied bundles of averages. Several caveats could belie a liberal "baby bust." Party identification could wane, or a third party emerge.

And a cataclysmic political event might shake up the sorting that makes the Democratic Party indisputably for liberals and the GOP the only choice for conservatives, prompting offspring to remain faithful to their parents' ideology while switching parties. Example: Another major terrorist attack might prompt the GOP to nominate a candidate like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is also pro-choice on abortion and a supporter of gay rights and gun control.

In the meantime, liberals might mull over their options for thwarting Rove by bridging the fertility gap. In the Italian city of Venice, vendors sell tourists wishing to feed the ubiquitous pigeons bags of birdseed surreptitiously laced with birth control. But infiltrating the water system in Salt Lake City seems a rather diabolical tactic in pursuit of political domination.

Syracuse's Brooks offers this suggestion to Democrats instead: Quit having pets."

Lula O said...

Finally a new conservative view point. Science is the devil and not at all credible, manipulated to increase big government and global domination. Those tricky scientists. It's so easy for them to fake results. No one ever checks their work. They never have to back up anything they say. They can make up whatever they want and call it "real science".

Poor Charles Darwin. Good thing he's dead. Why are we acknowledging his birth this week anyway? He didn't do anything important. He probably made it up.

Stephanie said...

Lula, my BS happens to be in science, and my husband has a PhD in science. We are a big science family. But, being a scientist, my husband in particular knows how data can be manipulated, and also how it changes as new information and procedures are discovered.

Stephanie said...

So, besides NASA (which just got debunked), where is the "credible" evidence of global warming? Someone post a link, please.

Stephanie said...

Lula, are you aware of how pharmaceutical companies can manipulate the data on their drug trials to make drugs appear safer than they actually are? I'm not sure why you think it is so smart to defend all science as credible.

Stephanie said...

Well, there may be hope for the Republican party after all, FD. :)

Stephanie said...

Plus, even if the earth is warming, who is to say that is caused by human activity? It would likely warm whether humans were on the earth or not because it goes through natural cycles.

Look - we should cut pollution. No arguments there. I want cleaner air and cleaner water. I just don't buy "global warming" as the reason to do so. I think we should do it just because it is the right thing to do.

Stephanie said...

I was just talking to my husband about this conversation, and he told me of this article he saw the other day.

London is warmer because lower pollution has reduced the fog and haze, which has warmed up the air and land because of more direct sunlight. However, The warming trend due to less fog will ease, however, in the future because when it comes to air pollution governments can only make the skies so clean, he added.

Interesting. So, while Governments and researchers across the world are exploring ways to try to slow rising temperatures that experts say will bring heat waves, droughts, more powerful storms, species extinctions and higher sea levels, one thing that should "stop" the warming (stopping pollution) is actually adding to it.

Is it possible, just maybe, that these droughts and heat waves and powerful storms have another explanation? Like maybe because these are the last days and the scriptures tell us that there will be droughts, famines, ecological damage in the last days? I just don't think that these governments and researchers are going to make much headway. I think they (figuratively) are banging their head against the wall.

And yet, I still think we should continue to reduce pollution, even if it warms us up.

Stephanie said...

My biggest problem with Al Gore is that I believe he is in the global warming biz to become wealthy, and my biggest beef is with carbon credit trading. Plenty of people on both sides agree. Here's an article outting "Al Gore's carbon crusade and the money and connections behind it":

the carbon market exists only because government's imposition of a cap creates an artificial scarcity in the right to produce energy . . .

The most radical environmentalists reject cap-and-trade. They say it allows polluters to continue polluting by purchasing carbon credits . . . The real problem is that every country's government has an incentive to cheat on behalf of its domestic producers . . .

Carbon offsets provide even more opportunities to cheat . . .

To its critics on both the free market right and the environmentalist left, carbon offsets are no more than a marketing gimmick. "Carbon offsets are the modern-day indulgences sold to an increasingly carbon-conscious public to absolve their climate sins" . . .

But President Bush is unwilling to call for mandatory nationwide emissions rules, and instead favors voluntary emissions cuts in the private sector. This is deeply frustrating to all the brokers, wheeler-dealers, and interest groups that want to jump on the cap-and-trade bandwagon. There are billions of dollars to be made in trading emissions credits. But first the federal government must force everyone to play the game.


So, that is pretty much why I am opposed to Al Gore and his type of "environmentalism". I liken it to selling the emperor "new" clothes.

Here's a pretty radical environmental group that wants an end to fossil fuel exploration but who also opposes carbon trading:

CARBON TRADING IS CONTRARY TO SOCIAL JUSTICE
THE LARGEST RESOURCE GRAB IN HISTORY
You can't trade in something unless you own it. When governments and companies "trade" in carbon, they establish de facto property rights over the atmosphere; a commonly held global commons. At no point have these atmospheric property rights been discussed or negotiated - their ownership is established by stealth with every carbon trade.

THE CARBON TRADE WILL STRENGTHEN EXISTING INEQUALITIES
Market shares in the new carbon market will be allocated on the basis of who is already the largest polluter and who is fastest to exploit the market. The new "carbocrats" will therefore be the global oil, chemical, and car corporations, and the richest nations; the very groups that created the problem of climate change in the first place. What is more, with the current absence of "supplementarity", the richest nations and corporations will be able to further increase their global share of emissions by outbidding poorer interests for carbon credits . . .

CARBON TRADING ENCOURAGES COMPANIES TO PROFIT FROM EFFICIENCIES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED ANYWAY
Because we cannot know the future, we can have no certainty that any project selling carbon credits has really reduced its emissions further than it would have done without the intervention. Profit competition and technical innovation ensures that industry consistently reduces its energy costs. A carbon market can provide an automatic cash subsidy for any investment in low energy technology. If such incentives exist they should be explicit, targeted and accountable . . .

"HOT AIR" TRADING IS AN ACCOUNTING FRAUD
Russia's economic collapse since 1990 has reduced its emissions by 30%. Russia is intending to sell this incidental windfall (often call "hot air") as international carbon credits- potentially swamping the market. If countries subsidise their emissions with these Russian credits, the final global emissions will end up being exactly the same as they would have been without a carbon market or a Kyoto protocol.

HUGE INCENTIVES FOR CHEATING
There are strong incentives for cheating and creating bogus credits that do not represent any real reduction in emissions. The vendor gets the cash without having to change anything and the buyer gets cheap credits. There are similar incentives for misdeclaration, and "leakage"- transferring polluting activities to areas that are not accounted . ..

THE REAL REASONS FOR CARBON TRADING
Supporters of carbon trading will argue that these are not problems- they are challenges. "Just because it is hard, does not mean that we should not take action", they say. Let's be clear that carbon trading is not being supported because it will solve climate change. In fact it will undermine even the pathetic emissions reductions already proposed. The real reasons for carbon trading are:

1. Governments want to be assured of a cheap way to buy off their failure to meet their Kyoto targets which will keep public and corporations quiescent.
2. Brokers, accountants, and financial institutions are extremely excited at the thought of the size of their cut in a new $2.3 trillion speculative market.
3. Corporations and other major polluters want pliant governments who don't punish them for their emissions and hand over public money to pay for any emissions they are forced to make.
4. Oil companies support carbon trading as a way to avoid making any cuts in oil production.
5. Academics and financial consultants see rich pickings from becoming "experts" in the new market.


I believe all that, and this is probably enough quotes already. It goes on to say that carbon trading undermines the real solutions.

Stephanie said...

Overall, I view the whole system as companies in the U.S. continuing to produce just as much pollution but paying other countries for that right. If you believe that this pollution is causing global warming and wreaking havoc on developing countries, it's like saying, "Well, I am going to continue to pollute and ruin your life, but I am going to pay you for it". How is that a real solution? Al Gore wants the United Nations to regulate all of this. I view that as a transfer of power and wealth away from the United States, and Al Gore benefits (he is even invested in a carbon trading company).

Stephanie said...

Instead, let's just cut back on emissions. Let's just reduce our pollution for a healthier environment for everyone. Easier said than done, I know, but I find carbon trading to be bogus.

mfranti said...

http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/07/how_to_talk_to_a_sceptic.php

pick your reason(s) and have a look.

Rick said...

Well, I'm happy this exploded a bit. I'm neither a scientist, nor an ecologist. I'm just a moralist, and this is the way I see it.

It's a Catch-22, isn't it.
1) The world population is expanding in underdeveloped countries? why? because westerners have supplied them with the medical means to save lives of mothers and chilren out of charity, but we haven't been able to supply them with responsible mentality, methods of birth control, our own personal system of morals (which is so high) or anything esle that might see that they treat their populations with repsonsibility. So they have these enormous families because they can. Not be cause they should, but simply because the kids won't die....
2) We as the light-giving chosen people (sarcasm) should have provided them with means and understanding that would curb the vast population growth. These growing populations, incedentally, are the very same populations that are unable to have meat. - that are unable to have almost any of the "perks" of living in developed countries. They're basically poor, naked and starving - - many, if they are lucky enough to have jobs, do menial jobs that pruduce products that support our way of life.
3) We are fat and happy, living in our palaces, eating food that was reserved for emperors and Kings, driving our chariots around overcrowded cities, and daily creating waste in volumes formerly produced only by the most decidant of spenders.
4)While we are doing that, we (the westerners) who are eating most of the meat, producing most of the garbage, and causing the emmition of most of the poisonous gasses are leaving an ecological footprint of mammothine proportions, while exploding populations are going hungry.
5)Were we to bring their standard of living up to our own, the world could definitively not sustain us - the only answer, then, is to bring our standard of living down, and share what we do have with others. This will not be done effectively by governments, because governments are self serving by nature - it will be done by individuals emassing a large scale change.
6) It is just fine to sincerely believe that ecological changes are just signs of the times (not the wording that works best for me, but still, if it i works for you, by all means). If that is your belief, then you have to understand, God doesn't just throw curses at us to see what we will do. He lets us produce our own consequences. If in the last days the world will have famines and floods and earthquakes in diverse places - then these are warnings from God about our lifestyle and western entitlement, in the same way that this is a warning: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" - - This is an apt description of the western/American mindset of entitlement that we are currently fulfilling. How can you say that our life(style) doesnt' come at the expense of someone else? This scripture describes our lifestyle (OURS as a people living the way we live) to a T. It is our covetous, bosting, without natural affection lifestyles that have put the world in the condition that it is in, and if we want to "stand blameless before God at the last day" then we have to correct that lifestyle, and see that others attempt that too. Yes, Steph. Your lifestyle, and my lifestyle, and the lifestyle of everyone I know (except my homeless uncle) comes at the expense of someone else - we just don't see those folks. We are far removed from them, so it is easy for us to shrug them of as non-existant. But they are real, and teh problem is real.

Rick said...

mfranti - I too keep my apartment at around 58 - I never thought of that being the cause of all my typos - I think I'll use that from now on :)

Stephanie said...

Okay, mfranti, once I got through the snide tone, here are the points the author considers consensus among scientists:

1. The earth is warming
2. The major cause of most of the observed warming is rising levels of the greenhouse gas CO2.
3. the rise in CO2 is the result of fossil fuel burning
4. if CO2 continues to rise over the next century the warming will continue
5. a climate change of the projected magnitude over this time frame represents potential danger to human welfare and the environment.


Okay, fine. Assuming all of that is true, the real question is then, what to do about it? Obviously, cut C02 emissions by reducing fossill fuel burning. How? That is where things really break down. The author of this site you linked to seems to think that Kyoto is the answer. Plenty of environmentalists don't agree, and I fail to see how cap and trade would actually reduce any emissions or cut down on pollution. I think it is a corrupt system. I suppose that if that were dropped, I might take the likes of Al Gore more seriously. When it was revealed how much electricity he uses, he said, "But I buy carbon offsets". You know what? Just use less electricity. Or are only the poor expected to do that?

I think investing in green technology is a good idea. I'd like to free our country from its grip on oil for many reasons beyond just environmental. That's an "investment" I like to make with my tax dollars. I think it is in the best interest of our national security, economic security AND environmental security.

mfranti said...

Rick,

I stand and applause. Good work!!

Stephanie said...

Well, Rick, then let's just take mfanti's suggestion. All the people in America should stop having children. Since we create all the world's problems, eliminating our population would surely solve them.

Lula O said...

Sweet site MFranti.

mfranti said...

stepahnie, i hadn't noticed a tone. I just read the rebuttals.

(interesting how that works, no?)

i dont' know much about carbon offsets but my prelim opinion is that i dont' like them.


it is my understanding that some don't agree w/ kyoto because the time frame is too large (i'm open to correction because i haven't checked my sources) change has to come immediately. And I agree, but if i had to chose between no change and a goal in 30-50 years, i'm shooting for 50. make sense?

as for trade, you know how much food we produce here in the us, right? well it doesnt stay here. we ship it to anohter country and then buy the corn/wheat/meat from another country. this is just one example.

now, it doesn't make any sense to grow and produce corn here in iowa and then ship it to nz and then turn around and buy it from mexico (and possibley sell it again)

we did that because oil was cheap.

cheap oil means more burning/consumption and more emissions.

mfranti said...

lula, at first i thought you were referring to my own blog-the one i don't post on but then i figured out you meant 'a few things ill considered'

yeah, it's pretty awesome. can you believe he gathered all that information?

Rick said...

I totaly missed the "site" you two are referring to - what is it?

mfranti said...

"I never thought of that being the cause of all my typos"

my fingers freeze and they just don't move across the keyboard properly.

maybe i have arthritis too and i just haven't noticed?

58 aint so bad when i'm moving around, cleaning, or getting ready for school. it's dang cold when i'm sitting at the puter w/ hardwood floors underneath.

i hate taking a shower because of the cold. (of course, i do anyways)

Rick said...

Steph, snide sarcasm after a well thought out and logically/doctrinally following post shows me that you have no real recourse but...snide sarcasm.

mfranti said...

http://tinyurl.com/6pyshd

try that if that doesn't work cut and paste this:

http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/07/how_to_talk_to_a_sceptic.php

Stephanie said...

Rick, let's look carefully at what you said:

1 and 2. The population growth in other countries is our fault for giving them medical expertise that would prolong their lives without giving them information on birth control. Then you go into how the people can't have meat or any of the "perks" of living in developed countries. They're basically poor, naked and starving - - many, if they are lucky enough to have jobs, do menial jobs that pruduce products that support our way of life.

So, what is your point? That we shouldn't have shared any medical information? That their lives aren't of high enough quality to warrant prolonging them? You mock the idea of us being a "chosen" people to help them, so I am not sure how else to read that.

3 and 4. More stuff about how we live at the expense of others.

5. the only answer, then, is to bring our standard of living down, and share what we do have with others. This will not be done effectively by governments, because governments are self serving by nature - it will be done by individuals emassing a large scale change.

I partly agree. We do need to share what we have with others, and it won't be done effectively by governments. But, I don't think we need to "reduce our standard of living". I suppose that depends on how you define standard of living. I don't necessarily find eating a lot of meat to mean a high standard of living. It generally leads to high cholesterol and obesity, which I don't think lead to a higher standard of living. I think we need to change our perception of what a quality life means. It currently seems to mean materialism and overconsumption and having a lot of "stuff" in the U.S. Like Dave Ramsey says on his show trying to get people to get out of debt, "Where the paid off home mortgage replaces the BMW as the status symbol of choice". Wickedness and selfishness have defined our lifestyle - the idea of "keeping up with the Jonses". Yeah, I agree we need to change. A good standard of living to me means good health, a good education, a safe environment, good experiences. I am not about to deprive my children of any of that, and I do think that we can raise the standard of living of others to that without lowering our own.

6. I agree that the signs come because of all kinds of wickedness - the root of which is selfishness. But, I still fail to see where that translates to me living at the expense of someone else. A big difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals tend to view things as a fixed pie. If I take a big slice, that leaves less for you. Conservatives believe we can create wealth and prosperity and give a bigger slice to everyone.

mfranti said...

the world is finite.

the resources, finite.

so yes, it is a pie. and once it's gone, it's gone.

were doest he wealth come from? where do the resources come from?

see, capitalism is based on growth and that worked well for places like the US in the late part of the 19th (and into the 20th) century because we had a huge country just ripe for expansion...but as we run out of land here and elsewhere, the world becomes smaller and smaller, what comes next?

do you own shoes with rubber soles?

do you own a cell phone, computer, tv?

do own wood products, consume paper, plastic, oil?

all of those things don't come from your country and country men. they come from the 'developing' worlds temporary resources. we take from them. and not in a kind way.

capitalism is built on growth and expansion but we are running out of places to expand.

eventually, we will have used up all the wood, ore, rubber--whatever.

and then what?

Stephanie said...

Yes, there are a finite number of natural resources. Wealth is created through labor and innovation by adding value to something, so wealth is not finite.

Stephanie said...

Renewable resources are not finite. If we can cultivate sources of renewable energy, we could power the whole world so no one would have to be comfortable at the expense of anyone else.

Rick said...

There we go - good response :)

The problem with the conservitive approach, is its a nice dream, but not real. The pie isn't the gift that keeps on giving. The pie is fixed. There is a limited amount of space and resoures on the planet - as much as we may want it to, it doesn't go in indefinately.

As far as what you want your kids to have good health, good education, safe environment and good experiences - I agree - those are all things that we need, and that human beings are entitled to. And, Stephanie, I applaud you. For some reason, all your conservative back up has gone MIA, (as has most of mine, for that matter). So I'm left to just pick on you because you are the local conservative. However, I feel that, at least from what you've said about your family, you do a great job and are to be applauded. If only everyone I knew did as much, or thought as much as you - - we'd be in a very different place - and I sincerely believe that. When I attack the American way, I'm not attacking you as an individual.

You said: I still fail to see where that translates to me living at the expense of someone else - I tried to use meat as an example, becuase it seems pretty clear. Of course, I think no one should eat meat. My honest feeling, but as of right now, Meat is considered pretty basic food. Most of the meat (which is overproduced) is eaten by a few developed countries - as most of the meat is used by us - WHO DON'T NEED IT (at least according to D&C 89) there isn't enough left to provide valuable calories and protein for those who are starving - thus my meat consumption consumes the food that would otherwise be available for their use.

Conspiring men - the whole reasoning behind D&C 89 -
This category includes the men that are the corrupt heads of governments of most nations, the big wigs at capitolist enterprises (such as meat, oil and tobacco) and lobbyists who are the go between of the two. - to avoid any of the guilt, we have to avoid that whole system, IMO.

Stephanie said...

Thank you, Rick. I am right there with you on the conspiring men and corruption (except that I don't think the capitalist system is the source of the corruption). Yes, there are a finite number of natural resources, but again, not of wealth.

I can see the argument that consumption of some things comes at the expense of others. Yes, I see how buying cheap stuff at Walmart is coming at the expense of cheap labor in other countries. I can see how eating too much meat can come at the expense of other countries (although, if we all reduced our consumption to "sparingly", we could support our own meat needs in the U.S.)

But, it seems that you guys keep saying our very lives and existence come at the expense of someone else on the planet. That somehow my breathing is hurting someone else. That any child born in the U.S hurts the population in Indonesia. I don't think the solution to the world's ills is for people in the U.S. to stop having kids (particularly since we are barely at a sustainable rate). The solution is to change our lifestyle.

Chandelle said...

I'm not Mormon, but the lovely mfranti sent me over here so I thought I'd drop a line.

My family has been vegan for about four years, since our first child was three weeks old. Our two kids have been vegan since birth and they're both very healthy and normal. While I don't believe that veganism is a viable option for everyone in the world, I do believe that for privileged folks in the West, it's one of the best things we can do from an ecological and ethical standpoint.

My family consumes a whole foods diet. I noticed in one comment that someone references vegetarianism not actually increasing their intake of vegetables. I think that's a shame. By focusing on simple, fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds from one's own ecosystem (i.e. local food), veganism can become a tremendously sustainable choice. Highly processed fake foods produced far away are not essential to a vegetarian diet, for pleasure or practicality.

I'm studying nutrition in school so I'd like to clear up one comment by FD, who says:

"Certain essential vitamins (especially B12) are found only in animal products (not just meat, but dairy, etc.) and so I'd be leery about cutting out all this stuff when I don't have sufficient replacements in my area."

B-12 is not innately an animal product; it's a soil microorganism. Because our food and living environments are so sterile, it's essential that vegans consume B-12 as a supplement, and it's also wise for vegetarians and meat-eaters to do so because of various health issues that can interfere with B-12 production, absorption and utilization. But there are no other nutrients that make it essential for animal products to be consumed. Vitamins, as FD references, are the most plentiful in plant foods. Minerals, a few of which are prevalent in animal foods, are also plentiful in plant foods, as are essential fatty acids. Special combinations of plant foods are not necessary - just a diverse, whole-foods diet.

This is evidenced by children who grow up on a plant-based diet. Though anecdotal evidence doesn't count for much, most anyone who has met my children can attest to their health and vibrancy. Some parents enter into vegan parenting without the proper information, just like so many vegetarian and omnivore parents do. This can lead to deficiencies and ill health. But it's not so complicated to have a healthy diet, no matter what you eat. Keeping processed foods, sugar and restaurant meals to a minimum are some basic rules. Having a good mix of proteins, fats and complex carbs in every dish, plus a rainbow of colors and fruit for dessert, is also a good idea. It's sad that the myth of complicated veganism continues to be perpetuated. It really is not complicated if you eat simple, delightful, fresh foods and really pleasure in the growing and preparing of them.

My family is vegan for so many reasons; ethics is definitely up there. I believe it's wrong to destroy a life when it's not essential for our survival. In the West, it is absolutely not essential for animals to die so we can live. The conditions of most animals in food production are appalling, and "free-range" or "cage-free" are common misnomers for production arrangements that are only marginal improvements. Byproduct animal waste, water contamination, air quality, deforestation, removal of indigenous populations, and feeding animals with foods fit for human consumption are all good reasons to make the switch to a plant-based diet.

I believe very strongly in individual needs as far as diet goes. I also believe that if one does not oppose slaughter on principle, some animal products can be consumed in moderation with few ill effects. But I also believe that even a cursory understanding of nutrition, ecology, economics, politics and social devastation would encourage a humane heart to consider vegetarianism as a well-rounded decision. It's not a perfect decision - there is no such thing! - but it's a pretty safe one.

One last comment and then I will be quiet. It is extremely frustrating to me that conservatives like Stephanie throw up the smokescreen of pointing judging fingers at Al Gore or global warming to dissuade people from adopting an ecologically-conscious stance. I haven't seen Gore's movie and he doesn't define my environmental ethics. I don't care if global warming really exists. If our economy suffers for declining population, so be it. What is right is often uncomfortable. I'm willing to accept a severely reduced lifestyle to leave a healthier world for my children. Commenting on Gore or carbon offsets or even global warming are simply distractions, negative distractions that simply stall discussions and lead them down a worthless path. Sometimes these issues can kick people in gear, and that's a positive thing. But the question of leaving a beautiful, healthy and compassionate world should always, always be answered in the affirmative. This is not a complicated question. It's very commonsense to look at a packed freeway or our jobs or the food we eat or our entertainment and ask ourselves, is this right? Is it good? Is it humane? Is it lovely? If it's not, we should do away with it. We can live with so little and still have so much pleasure. An iPod is a wasteful tool and it's not essential. Someone may have died to make it, in body or spirit. We can turn aside from it and say, What I have already is good enough. And that's the most basic and most beneficial attitude we can have about all of these questions.

Stephanie said...

One last comment and then I will be quiet. It is extremely frustrating to me that conservatives like Stephanie throw up the smokescreen of pointing judging fingers at Al Gore or global warming to dissuade people from adopting an ecologically-conscious stance.

Please point out where I discourage people from being ecologically conscious.

Chandelle said...

Stephanie, it happens by default by the way you direct attention to your favorite distractions.

Stephanie said...

chandelle, perhaps you failed to see the comments where I 1. agreed that we need to reduce our meat consumption and 2. agree that we need to reduce our pollution. Or that I agree that environmentalism is an issue we should be concerned about. Just because I don't buy every argument and solution fed doesn't mean that I am "distracting" from environmentalism. It means that I am critically thinking about the situation. If you want more converts to your cause, you might want to try working on areas of commonality instead of just rejecting someone's thoughts as "distracting" because they are "conservative".

Chandelle said...

I didn't hear anybody mention Al Gore. YOU brought him up. YOU also brought up global warming, which was hardly mentioned in the OP. What was mentioned were major issues of deforestation, land use and grain use, which I didn't see you address at all. So it is quite difficult to see your comments as anything by distracting, especially when I just did a search and the only person mentioning Al Gore or "his brand of environmentalism" was you. It IS distracting to converse in that way. And the entire second half of my comment was about commonality. I won't respond to you again if you continue to be so hostile and not really address what I said in my comment (i.e. continuing to be distracting :).

Stephanie said...

Actually, mfranti brought it up when she said

it almost feels hopeless. and when i hear people say that global warming doesn't exist and that they aren't environmentalists because...who knows why,it breaks my heart and science isn't liberal.

(This was in response to my comments about overpopulation which were in response to FD's comment). So, I was explaining why I don't buy all the global warming hype, and Al Gore is a key part of that.

Chandelle said...

Okay, I can see that.

Honestly, I understand why the Gore and global warming issues bother you. There are few things people despise or thrive on as much as a hypocrite. And global warming is such a contentious issue, with lots of investment in its truth or falsity on both sides. To me, arguments in favor of global warming feel like a bribe, or a threat. Do this or that will happen. Do that and you'll get this. I bristle at such treatment because it insults my intelligence, and my basic goodness. The bottom line of my argument was to say that we should be good to our earth because we're a part of it. We're good ourselves and we should be conscientious of what we're leaving behind. These are very basic precepts and I would hope that they could transcend base arguments about global warming or "liberal hypocrites."

Stephanie said...

The bottom line of my argument was to say that we should be good to our earth because we're a part of it.

Amen to that. I agree 100%.

matt said...

I wish I had time to back you up steph, but it took me any hour just to skim through the comments.

If I were an environmentalist I would be appalled to have Al Gore anywhere near the issue much less the "spokesman for global warming". He is in it for nothing but the mula.

The best way to spread environmentalism is to live it by example and not put people on a guilt trip.

If find it interesting that we live off the expense of developing countries. Yes, it's true American compaines don't pay much to these countries, but how many much more poverty would abound if these jobs were not provided at all.

I also find it interesting that "global WARMING" is now "global climate change". Hmmmmmm.

Stephen Schneider, lead 2007 UN IPCC report author and climate alarmist said, "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us had to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest."

Let's all lead by example and help educate others instead of using "scare tactics" to further either sides agenda.

Capitalism is the only successful way to run a truly free country. Unfortunately it does have to be responsible capitalism, and that is where we go wrong.

Rick said...

I want to throw this out there - I also have never seen "Inconvenient Truth" or "11th Hour" or anything else - honestly - My reasoning for becoming vegetarian were originally WOW based, followed by Tolstoy and Gandhi based (one can't read Tolstoy's later works and not want to become vegetarian. After that, environmentalism and Health entered into it - Now, however, after years of self education, the environmental and global reasons are probably a bigger influence on my way of life.

Chandelle - I have a question for you - If one has assurity that one is truly eating "free range" happy eggs, or milk (I don't know, maybe your neighbor gives them to you, or something, and you see how they are farmed) - then what is the problem with eating those? Is there a downside to eating animal products at all, if "no animals were harmed" in the making of that product? I don't really see it, if there is.

Rick said...

Oh Matt, you are so wrong. I know for a fact that "responsible communism" and "responsible dictatorships" "responsible tetrarchies" and responsible "oligarcies" and "responsible anarchies" all are just as successful as "responsible capitolism" in running truly free countries. unfortunately, we know that, "it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion." - thus, according to the Prophet, all of those "responsible" systems of government and economic systems are fictitious.

Chandelle said...

"If one has assurity that one is truly eating "free range" happy eggs, or milk (I don't know, maybe your neighbor gives them to you, or something, and you see how they are farmed) - then what is the problem with eating those? Is there a downside to eating animal products at all, if "no animals were harmed" in the making of that product?"

The only way to be sure of the treatment and ecological health of animals raised for food is to have them oneself or, as you said, to get them from a neighbor. Neither circumstance is tenable for most people. Even in getting them from a friend, the risk is taken that the animals are not receiving proper treatment when we're not around. And there is still the issue of raising an animal simply for the purpose of exploiting their natural production for our own unnecessary desires.

If one avoids animal products for ethical reasons, there are certainly many causes for concern even for backyard animals. Dairy cows, for example, don't just magically produce milk for no good reason. They produce it to feed their offspring. Humans
benefit from that milk because mother cows are usually separated from their calves before they would naturally wean, sometimes within 24 hours of birth. This is an extremely cruel experience for both parties.

Dairy cows are forced to reproduce to create milk for humans, who happen to be the only species on the planet who regularly consume animal milk after the age of weaning, never mind from another species altogether. Depending on the operation, dairy cows may be artificially inseminated under very cruel conditions, on a device called a "rape rack," which is just about as charming as it sounds. And dairy cows are almost constantly pregnant when they are not producing milk, which is an unnatural condition that tends to wipe out the animal in a short amount of time. Even in small-scale operation, this circumstance is deemed essential to make it worthwhile to keep the animal around. This is the way that animals will be necessarily treated when we view them as a commodity.

Veal is an essential byproduct of dairy; male calves have almost no viable purpose in a commercial or home-based operation. If the only issue were veal, that would be reason enough for me to avoid dairy products.

And the sad fact is that slaughter is essential in every aspect of animal production. Wasted animals are killed. Extra animals are killed. Animals who no longer produce are killed. Animals who cannot reproduce are killed. In egg operations, any male chicks who are born are slaughtered almost immediately after they emerge from the egg - millions of chicks are killed this way every day, by suffocation, gassing or being passed through a "macerator," a device much like a wood chipper. For a time we would buy eggs from small-scale organic farmer at our local market. One day I thought to ask with they do with male chicks. The circumstances were the same on this small family farm. That was the end of our neighborly egg experiment. The basic fact of animal slaughter is inescapable throughout every element of animal production.

I am not so idealistic that I don't realize that animals get sick and die. I've always felt that if my dog were to get very sick with cancer or something, I would just have him put down rather than forcing him to endure treatment. But when we raise animals for food, we must realize that the end result is the destruction of that animal. We have raised that animal just to have it killed, even if we only take its eggs or milk. And that, to me, is so terribly vicious and wrong, to raise an animal just to steal from it and destroy it, when that animal never asked to exist in such circumstances and would not, if given the choice, willingly give its milk or eggs to a human. I felt very struck when I realized that even though I was a vegetarian for some years because of compassion, I was actually perpetuating some of the worst cruelties by eating eggs and dairy. The animals who produce eggs and dairy often exist in even worse conditions than meat animals, and they tend to live a little longer, too.

After four years of intense nutritional studies, I do believe that there is good reason to avoid dairy products regardless of whether the milk is "organic" (a label which has very little significance). The only dairy products I would consider even remotely healthy are plain, unsweetened yogurt or kefir (which are easy to make from plant milks). I actually consider dairy products a bigger health risk than some meats.

So I suppose that my bottom line is that there's no such thing as an animal product in which no animals are harmed. There are way too many byproduct variables.

I would hesitate somewhat to apply that entirely to eggs, however. I worked in a farm animal sanctuary for a while and that's where I learned that chickens lay eggs whether you want them to or not. Apparently, if left to their own devices hens will eat most of their own eggs, if they are not fertilized. This keeps the hens healthy by returning those nutrients to their bodies. One of the reasons that hens in commercial operations end up wasted so quickly is because they don't have the benefit of eating their eggs.

At first that really grossed me out; I thought of it like a form of cannibalism. But after a while it made perfect sense. Whatever eggs weren't eaten by the hens themselves were fed to the dogs on that farm. It was an excellent symbiotic relationship and, it would seem, nobody got hurt. In such a situation I can see how, perhaps, extraneous eggs could be eaten by people with a minimum of damage to the hens.

I hope this doesn't sound overly propagandistic...I'm just trying to answer the question succinctly and honestly. I do recognize individual interpretation and I respect that others have different ethical standards. I recognize my own hypocrisy and imperfection. But I do consider animal compassion to be one of the keys to developing expansion of heart for the rest of the world. Animals are the weakest among us, even those who could trample us. When we open our hearts to animals and make the promise to them that we will not force them to exist for our unnecessary benefit, we can turn that same heart of compassion to our fellow humans and treat them the same way. Veganism is what turned me to social justice and ecology. If it were not for considering how animals were treated for the food on my plate, I may not have considered how humans were treated for my computer screen or my bananas. It also made me consider my parenting practices very deeply, and also my chosen profession.

When I became a vegan I was really hateful of people for a long time. I hated that people I knew and loved would willingly turn a blind eye to the suffering of these creatures. I hated to see factory farms in the distance and know exactly what was going on there. I was very bitter and resentful and I harbored terrible guilt for what I had abided for so long, for which I maintained staunch ignorance. It took me a while to get over that, and it was truly through the compassion I felt for animals that I eventually came to feel compassion for people. Maybe that sounds really sad, but it's hard to express how nihilistic and angry I was for a long time; even as a Mormon, I found it very hard to find goodness in other people or to be kind and free of condescension. I'm by no mean perfect now, but I have at least set my intentions in that direction, and opening my heart to animals, and then to social justice and the planet, really helped me find that direction.

Okay, end sappy soapbox preaching. :)

Chandelle said...

Oh my, that was long. I'll quit monopolizing the conversation now. :)

Rick said...

No, its an interesting approach, and I really appreciate your stance on it. I'm studying psychology - particularly depth psychchology - and it had alot to do with concsiousness vs. instincts. Its interesting, because as you start to look at the animal world, you see that some animals seem to have a lot of individual "consciousness" while some have very little - a dog vs. a worm, for example. That's why I've justified using animal products such as dairy and eggs - Dairy and eggs have no consciousness - nothing is being killed - but your feelings about exploitation are very insightful.

I've had alot more guilt about my dairy consumption than my egg consumption - because - like you said - hens are producing eggs anyways. But dairy - it really is basically a dirty business - I hope to turn away from my dairy dependance in the near future. (when I return to the states). However, I think I'm going to stick around with eggs for a while longer ;)

How do you feel about wool, by the way? I've always been curious about that. - -right now, I use wool, because I think it has less of an environmental impact than synthetic production does. I mean the sheep are going to produce wool anyways.

A thing I've felt for a while, having to do with Hens, Sheep and Cows, particularly (and dogs, I guess) is that we've bred these animals through thousands of years to become dependant on human beings for their survival - they virtually have no natural defenses left, because we've had this symbiotic relationship with them for so long - so if that relationship stopped, wouldn't it be rather cruel, because they would be left to their own devices (which we've bred out of them) - - for that reason, I can't condemn the use of all animal products - But I definately condemn the cruel stuff.

Rick said...

Here are some of my favorite quotes. To me, they are scripture:

"For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." --Pythagoras (6th century BC)

"We pray on Sundays that we may have light/To guide our footsteps on the path we tread;/We are sick of war, we don't want to fight,/And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead." -- George Bernard Shaw

"The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion." --Mahaparinirvana (Buddhist)

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men." - - St Francis of Assisi (The Life of St. Bonaventura)

"If we are to be nonviolent, we must then not wish for anything on this earth which even the meanest or the lowest of human beings cannot have." Gandhi

"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields" Leo Tolstoy

"A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses." --George Bernard Shaw

"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite." --Leo Tolstoy

"Man is the only animal who can remain on friendly terms with the victim he intends to eat until he eats them." - - Samuel Butler

"Now I can look at you in peace; I don't eat you any more." - Francis Kafka to his pet fish

"How can you eat anything with eyes" Will Kellogg (founder of Kelloggs Food)

"This is dreadful! Not the suffering and death of the animals, but that man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity—that of sympathy and pity toward living creatures like himself—and by violating his own feelings becomes cruel. And how deeply seated in the human heart is the injunction not to take life!" - Leo Tolstoy

Stephanie said...

At the risk of stroking ire, I am linking to this article (on a conservative site) that came out today and talks about how some extreme policies on global warming are actually hurting the people of Sub-Saharan Africa (it is co-written by WillieSoon, chief science adviser for the Science and Public Policy Institute and author of numerous papers on climate change). I just want to find out the truth about what is going on in the world, and I want to truly help people, so I am interested in what you think about it. The basic premise is that although Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of Earth’s most impoverished regions. Over 90% of its people still lack electricity, running water, proper sanitation and decent housing. Malaria, malnutrition, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and intestinal diseases kill millions every year. Life expectancy is appalling, and falling., policies enacted by the U.N. and Europe (and even African authorities) to protect the environment and prevent global warming are perpetuating poverty and its accompanying problems.

Here are a couple of quotes:

Abundant, reliable, affordable electricity could power homes, offices, factories, schools and hospitals, create jobs, bring clean running water, and generate health and prosperity. But Rainforest Action Network and other pressure groups oppose coal and natural gas electricity generation on the grounds of climate change, and hydroelectric and nuclear power for other ideological reasons. They promote wind turbines and solar panels that provide electricity unreliably and in amounts too small to meet any but the most rudimentary needs.

So, basically, the people can't have access to energy.

Biotechnology could produce bumper crops that overcome droughts, floods, insects, viruses, and even global warming and cooling. But Greenpeace and Sierra Club oppose this precision hybrid-making technology, and instead promote land and labor-intensive subsistence farming.

So they are still starving.

DDT and insecticides could slash malaria rates that al Gore and other climate alarmists falsely claim are rising because of global warming. But Pesticide Action Network and other activists stridently oppose their use, and the European Parliament recently imposed new pesticide restrictions that will further restrict African access to life-saving chemicals . . .

So people are still dying from malaria even though it is preventable.

Few climate actions, however, come close to the travesty being played out in nearby Chad. There the government has banned the manufacture, importation and use of charcoal – the sole source of fuel for 99% of Chadians.

“Cooking is a fundamental necessity for every household,” its Environment Minister pronounced. But “with climate change every citizen must protect his environment.”

The edict has sent women and children scavenging for dead branches, cow dung, grass and anything else that burns. “People cannot cook,” said human rights activist Merlin Totinon Nguebetan. “Women giving birth cannot even find a bit of charcoal to heat water for washing,” said another.

The government admitted it had failed to prepare the public for its sudden decree, but announced no change in plans – saying only that scarce propane might be an alternative for some. When citizens protested, they were violently dispersed by police.

“We will not give up,” a women’s group leader said. “Better to die swiftly than continue dying slowly.”


That last one particularly bothers me. I just don't think that taking away coal and leaving the people to fend for themselves is a humane thing to do. The author also says this:

Past colonialism sought to develop mining, forestry and agriculture, and bring better government and healthcare practices to Africa. Eco-colonialism keeps Africans “traditional” and “indigenous,” by insisting that modern technologies are harmful and not “sustainable” in Africa.

Not picking on Rick, but that sounds kind of like what Rick was saying that our American lifestyle is not sustainable around the world. And yet, is it right to keep Africa down for environmental reasons while America continues to prosper (which is perpetuated by carbon trading, IMO)? Rick's solution is to reduce our standard of living in America, and I agree that we need to reduce the excess to a reasonable standard. But, is it right for these countries to be kept in poverty while the technology is developed instead of just using coal and other sources to improve their standard of living now? It doesn't feel right to me. I think there needs to be a balance. We need to develop alternative energy sources and discover ways to be more green, but in the meantime, the people of Africa deserve access to existing energy sources and technology that will immediately improve their standard of living. This seems like an example of environmental extremism - when the environment becomes more important than the people.

Stephanie said...

mfranti, I was thinking about something you said (I can't find it right now). You said that imports of crops have increased because of low oil prices. I don't think that is the only reason. I heard this on the radio the other day, but I can't find it.

It said that part of the New Deal was to pay farmers not to plant crops as a way to raise prices. It is still done today. However, what happens is that the farmers are paid not to plant something (rice, for example), so they plant something else (which often gets exported), and the rice gets imported. That seems like a lot of unnecessary transporting to me. We ought to stop subsidizing the farmers.

mfranti said...

stephanie, about subsidies,

yes! i left that out because i wasn't thinking about it... but that's another "issue" for me.

chandelle can tell you lots about it, bet

mfranti said...

"Even in getting them from a friend, the risk is taken that the animals are not receiving proper treatment when we're not around."

i assure you that my chickens (and eggs) have been cared for with lots of love. they have free roam of the backyard all day, i even dig holes for them so they can eat bugs and worms. I check them frequently for parasites and i have become quite astute at poop samples.

yes. any eggs you get from me come from fat and loved biddies.

Quimby said...

Stephanie, I'm a bit reluctant to wade into it with you, but I have to ask - Have you considered the implications of the article you quoted on Africa?

Have you ever watched the movie "Silent Spring"? These pesticides that claim they can "cure" malaria are not safe and create as many problems as they solve. Mosquito nets have been proven effective in fighting malaria. And they don't have the nasty side-effects.

Have you studied agriculture in Africa? Do you know the problems posed by GM crops? Do you know the problems caused by farm subsidies in the West and their effects in Africa? Subsistence farming has been practised for hundreds if not thousands of years in Africa. It is more sustainable, and far more empowering.

Large-scale farming as per the American model will not work in Africa. It just won't. The climate is different, the land is different, the diseases are different, etc. If you'd like to read a really good novel that touches upon some of the issues I suggest "The Poisonwood Bible."

Your entire premise seems to be coming from a place of cultural imperialism - this belief that the West has a better lifestyle, and that everyone wants to live like us. If you'd like to watch a really good short film about this, I suggest "Binta and the Big Idea." It will make you laugh like never before and it will make you think deeply about these very issues.

Have you ever been to Africa? I have. Let me tell you, once you've been, it changes everything. Nothing in your life will ever seem the same again. I'm not convinced that we're on the right track at all, to be honest with you. A very big part of me would love to chuck it all in and move to West Africa. There is a sense of satisifaction there that I have never felt anywhere else in the world - a sense of oneness with each other, a sense of joy. And I think that is precisely because there is no "want" in the Western sense of the word. No "affluenza." No sense of having to keep up. Yes, they are poor, and they know they are poor, and they know there are other places where people have more; but because they don't see it on a daily basis, it is hard to conceptualise; and since everyone they see is as poor as they are, everyone is as wealthy. The genorisity of spirit - the genorisity of everything, really. Complete strangers coming up to you on the street and offering you money - OFFERING you money, not asking for it. There is nothing like it.

So, you can go on believing that we in the West are blessed. And in some ways we certainly are. I would love to see every African child provided with a mosquito net and with the vaccinations they need, schooling, all of those things that we take for granted as basic "rights". But in other ways - they've got us beat by the truckload.

Quimby said...

Just to give you one very small "for instance" on why Western-style farming won't work in Africa - In the west, biotech companies like Monsanto have a monopoly on seeds and in fact have made it illegal in some countries for farmers to use self-propogating seeds. This means that farmers must purchase new seeds every year. The cost of doing so is absolutely prohibitive for African farmers. To insist on GM crops for Africa would be to further bankrupt already poor countries, or to sentence them to an eternity of dependence on Western food aid.

Quimby said...

An economic theory that I believe will appeal to Stephanie, as first explained to me by an 80 year old man who worked most of his adult life in Africa as an agronomist:

The concept of saving (money, food, etc.) is something that evolved out of economic necessity. It's an anathema to much of Africa, but the further north you go, the stronger the tendency to save. This is because in a temperate climate like Africa you don't have to save: you can produce or find food year-round. Whereas, in a European climate, you only have a set period of time during which you can grow and harvest crops; it becomes necessary to save crops for the winter months, when you cannot eat if you do not save.

A Western-centric person might say, "Well, Africa should learn to save, and then it will be better off." But in many places in Africa if you save it, you lose it - the climate and critters do not lend itself easily to saving food. Thus it becomes pointless to save.

Just something to think about . . .

Quimby said...

I just realised I didn't really finish that thought very well. What can I say, I was interrupted by a crying baby and a sick kid.

Anyway - to continue on with savings -

In Europe, saving food was essential for survival. Saving food gave way to saving money, and that laid the groundwork for capitalism.

There really is no such thing as organic African capitalism. The theory is that this is because the concept of savings is so foreign: no need to save food means that the concept of saving money never developed means that capitalism as an economic force never took hold.

The entire cultural context of Africa is so very different to the European/American cultural context, that European/American ideas simply don't make sense in that environment. Without understanding that you can never really understand why things like large-scale agriculture or coal-powered plants just don't work there.

Stephanie said...

interesting points, Quimby. So would that make the gospel principles of provident living applicable to church members in all countries?

Quimby said...

I think the principle of provident living would look different in Norway than in Ghana; but then it would also look different in Utah than in Manhatten. There is no one-size-fits-all way of doing it.

In some countries it's illegal to stockpile food; in some countries it's not practical. Some areas lend themselves more easily than others to gardening. And so on. I believe there is enough flexibility in the principle to allow it to be carried out differently according to environmental and cultural demands.

Stephanie said...

Good blog post I read called "Is Having More than Two Children Selfish"? Here's the BBC news article it is based on.

Honestly, I feel that the root of movements like this is Satan trying to disrupt God's plans. I highly doubt God would agree that the population of the world needs to be reduced to 1 billion.

Stephanie said...

Interesting thought I found in an Ensign feedback to an article I posted in an earlier comment (it relates to both the WoW and population control!):

A great source of food could be found through using the vast amount of land being diverted for the production of tobacco, coffee, tea, and grains for alcoholic beverages. Even if most people in the world don’t know or care about the Word of Wisdom, doesn’t it seem likely that they would give up these supposed luxuries in order to feed themselves or their neighbors? Satan manages to infiltrate all good things (like ecological concern) with corrupt ideas (like population control). Can anything but the restored gospel bring about the changes of heart and mind necessary to end all forms of pollution, which ultimately is caused by the corruption of men and of their institutions?

Are the environmentalists calling for population control (or for an end to meat production) also calling for an end to the production of coffee, tea, grains for alcohol, drugs? If these substances are always treated as free agency choices, why not the choice of how many children to have?

More interesting church articles related to population control:

Editorial: Population, Pollution and You

The position of the Lord on this matter has always been clear. In a letter dated April 14, 1969, the First Presidency reiterated it: “We seriously regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity.”

That letter added, “… we feel that men must be considerate of their wives who bear the greater responsibility not only of bearing children, but of caring for them through childhood. To this end the mother’s health and strength should be conserved and the husband’s consideration for his wife is his first duty. … It is our further feeling that married couples should seek inspiration and wisdom from the Lord that they may exercise discretion in solving their marital problems, and that they may be permitted to rear their children in accordance with the teachings of the gospel.”

Latter-day Saints, or for that matter all thinking persons, should not be panicked into any movement that would curtail or penalize the right to bring God’s spirit children into this world.

At the same time, there is a very special obligation to do everything possible to create an environment in the world that will be warm and hospitable for these new spirits. The problems of population are mostly the problems of our abuse of the land, the air, and the water. It may be that more of us should work more vigorously to preserve and replenish the earth that God has given us.


That is a call for the kind of environmentalism I can believe in and agree with.

Be Not Ashamed: Facing the Issues

What if …
If each family had had only two children—

John F. Kennedy (3rd child) would never have been president.

Mohandas Gandhi (4th child) would never have been the great spiritual leader of India.

George Washington (5th child) would never have been “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

Robert E. Lee (7th child) would never have been the gentleman hero of the Southern States.

David (8th child) would never have been king of Israel.

Benjamin Franklin (10th child) would not have been a diplomat, printer, statesman, inventor, philosopher, and genius.

Joseph (12th child) would never have fathered Ephraim and Manasseh.

President Spencer W. Kimball (6th child) would not be our current prophet.

Nor would there have been an Enrico Fermi (3rd child), nor a Johann Sebastian Bach (8th child and father of 13), nor a William Shakespeare (3rd child), nor a Thomas Edison (7th child), nor a Thomas Jefferson (3rd child).

How about you?
Wanted: Young Latter-day Saints with sharp minds to serve their fellowmen and possibly win Nobel Prizes for the following:

1. Find a way to eliminate rats, thereby increasing the food supply in some areas by 25 percent. Technique must be safe for use in areas of heavy human population. Solution needed as soon as possible.

2. Find a way to cheaply convert salt water to fresh, thereby turning many deserts near oceans into productive farm lands. Hint: Solar power? Patent rights should provide financial security. Solution needed as soon as possible.

3. Find a way to make tractors and tools available to more farmers in more areas, including equipment that is suitable for small farms. Solution needed yesterday.

4. Find better ways to prevent spoilage of food in underdeveloped areas, thereby reducing waste and feeding millions more. Please hurry.

5. Find a way to make cheap, dependable solar power available in all areas as a replacement for nonrenewable energy sources. Should provide millions of jobs for others, good pay for the inventor, and a greater world food supply. Solution needed right away.

6. Find a way to make ocean food sources widely available in pleasing form at low cost. Recommend plankton steak, algae au gratin, and seaweed soup. Hungry people request that you hurry.

Other Nobel Prizes may be awarded to young Latter-day Saints for extracting water for irrigation from the atmosphere, for finding alternate energy sources, for finding better techniques for harvesting, processing, packaging, and distributing foods, for desert farming, use of ice-cap moisture, and similar projects.

Certainly there are hungry people in the world. Certainly there are problems. But shall the sharp, young minds of Zion join the doom and gloom purveyors or join in the search for answers? We are the children of divine Heavenly Parents, created in their image. We are capable of solving tough problems.


More solutions I can believe in.

Then why is there hunger in the world?

A: The reasons are many and include:

1. Distribution of food is very inefficient in some areas, especially in underdeveloped areas. (National Geographic, July 1975, page 17: “Burdened by a ballooning population, India finds shortages aggravated by self-defeating policies. To provide cheap food for the urban poor, farmers must sell part of each crop to the government at below-market prices. Result: Sales shift to the black market, where prices soar beyond the reach of the needy.”)

2. Much food is left in the fields by present harvesting technology. (Mechanical harvesting is estimated to leave up to 25 percent of some crops in the field. Given high labor costs, it is not economically feasible to retrieve that which is left. Much of what is lost is not quite ripe, or too ripe, or in the corner of a field, where machinery cannot operate.)

3. Poor food packaging and storage results in great losses of food. (Newsweek, October 4, 1976, page 12: “America, for instance, has gotten its food spoilage rate down to an average 15%. Contrast this with a 50% rate in India.”)

4. Rats eat enormous quantities of food. (National Geographic, July 1977, page 63: “In India rats eat enough grain to fill a train 3,000 miles long.” Read the entire article.)

5. Inefficient farming techniques result in low yields per acre. (National Geographic, July 1975, page 13: “Where an Asian or African spends five days in the field to produce a hundred pounds of grain, the American spends only five minutes.”)

6. Much land that could produce food is used to produce tobacco, opium, and ingredients for alcoholic beverages.

7. In some areas governments intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally) encourage farmers to raise less food.

8. Some areas use many pounds of plant protein to raise one pound of meat protein. (National Geographic, July 1975, page 15: “Meat production constitutes the least efficient use of cereal grains, yet the escalating affluence of Japan has generated an explosive demand for it.”)

What’s being done?
Helping the people of the world to feed themselves is a major concern of the Ezra Taft Benson Institute in Provo, Utah. Organized two and a half years ago, and directed by Dr. Delos Ellsworth, the Institute is engaged in extensive research in food, nutrition, agriculture, and food storage.

Numerous research efforts have been undertaken dealing with small-plot agriculture, food storage in tropical climates, home-storage options, and high-yield gardening. Yet other research is planned.

Asked if members of the Church are engaged in the work of feeding a hungry world, Dr. Ellsworth produced a directory of over 2,000 LDS food and agriculture scientists. Indeed, the Church and its people are concerned and involved.

Advice for young Latter-day Saints? Dr. Ellsworth counsels New Era readers to “follow the prophet’s advice. Get involved in gardening and home storage and all aspects of family preparedness.” He further adds, “Use good sense, and don’t follow fads.”


Sorry for the ultra-long quote, but it has lots of good ideas.

The Foundations of Righteousness by President Spencer W. Kimball (prophet at the time it was given):

The growing permissiveness in modern society gravely concerns us. Certainly our Heavenly Father is distressed with the increasing inroads among his children of such insidious sins as adultery and fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, abortions, pornography, population control, alcoholism, cruelty expressed in wife-beating and child-abuse, dishonesty, vandalism, violence, and crime generally, including the sin of living together without marriage.

Ouch.

All of these are from the 70s. It seems to me that so many "issues" of today were spoken about in the 70s when they first started emerging, almost as if our prophets are prophetic or something.

I just honestly can't find a call for population control consistent with the gospel.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Here's a question for all of you. I know some of you have several children, others come from large families. Do you ever wonder about how having more children affects the children that you already have? I'm not a mom, but I was the oldest of 5 and although I thoroughly enjoy my siblings now that we're grown up, I have to admit that it really felt like a burden when I was a kid, at least when my last 2 brothers were born. My parents were great, we certainly had everything we needed material-wise, and they were very good at spending time with us. But there are only so many hours in a day and there is only one of you and one of your spouse. The math says that the more kids you have, the less individual time you have for each one, according to his/her special needs. I think it's important for kids to have siblings, but do you think the cons outweigh the pros when they have 1 or 2 siblings compared to 3,4,5, or 10? Especially if one of those kids has a special need that requires intense love and attention from parents.

I guess I'm just more about quality than quantity. I know that some big families are amazing and extremely efficient. But a household system of order is one thing and an individual's need for attention is another. To me, it just seems logical that the more children one has, the less time one has to devote to each one individually. Especially if mom has to work outside the home to support that big family.

Stephanie said...

I think it's probably a given that each additional child means less individual attention from the parents for all children. But would that potential negative outweigh the positives of having more siblings? Maybe, maybe not. I think it depends on the mom, kids, family dynamics.

My kids get less attention from me than they would if there were only one or two, but I know they get more attention than the two kids who are knocking on our door every fifteen minutes. If these other children are not at school or daycare, they are at my house. I am not sure when their own mom spends time with them.

Here's the thing about attention and kids. First, how much attention overall does a mom devote to her children? Of that, how much does each kid get? Raising my kids is my whole life (right now). Besides church, I don't have many outside interests to take my attention away from my kids. I would estimate that my kids get probably 90% of my attention (seriously - the only distraction I still have is this website - I've given up pretty much everything else, and my church calling is minimal right now). So each of my kids gets about 22.5% of my attention right now (although that is not static - I can tell which kids need more attention at any given time. They let you know.)

I know of other families who spend a lot less attention on their kids. Of course I am making a judgement call to say this, but I am thinking of one mom in particular with two kids, and I'll guess that between work, church, traveling, other involvements, her kids get maybe 20% of her time. That would mean that each kid gets about 10%, right? So, are my kids really getting less attention because there are four (almost five) of them? I think it all depends.

Plus, different moms have different thresholds for what they can handle. Different kids have different needs for attention, time, care. One high-needs child could be more time-intensive than six low-maintenance children. For some families, one or two (or no) children may be exactly perfect. For others, it might be eight. President Monson has three.

Under normal circumstances (assuming rationality on the part of the parents), it is appropriate that parents choose for themselves what their family will look like. The octuplet mom in CA seems to border irrationality, but Bill O'Reilly had a good point on his show today. Her 14 babies under 7 couldn't have happened naturally. Nature has a way of limiting childbirth to a manageable level.

Stephanie said...

I remembered about the Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast a year ago titled "Building Up a Righteous Posterity" Here's a quote from the roundtable discussion:

And let us be mindful of the fact that in many parts of the world where people are listening to this broadcast, the idea of having children has been rejected. Or the thought is that if you have one child that’s enough and a person is just foolish or unpatriotic to have more than one child. There are plenty of ideas out there in the world that work against the gospel plan. (Elder Oaks)

Anonymous said...

This is some of the silliest tripe I've ever read. I'm not even going to waste my time going into those irrelevant stats you posted. The bottom line fact about all those stats is that you're wrong and don't know what you're talking about.

Do some Americans eat too much meat? Yeah, they do. Are most Americans fat and lazy? Yes, they are.

Is the answer to go the opposite extreme? No.

It states multiple times in the scriptures that abstaining from meat is apostasy.

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/1_tim/4/3#3

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/49/18#18

Rick said...

Anonymous - the bottom line: I have no resonse to your generalistic accusation except this - both of those scriptures (and every reference in holy writ) don't state anything like "abstaining from meat is apostacy" - they say,"whoso forbiddeth (and 'commands' in Timothy) men to abstain from meat is not ordained of God." It says nothing about an individual's choice, or an individual urging friends - it does condemn taking away the ability to choose.

Stephanie - I am the youngest of 10 children and I'll be the first to stand up and say that my parents had an irresponsible amount of chilren. But I don't think we are anywhere near "regulating" that by law - nor do I think it is especially relevant - obviously people who think its selfish to have more than two children will think that, and those who think its perfectly right and in-line with God's plan are going to think what you think - and we aren't going to change our minds - nor do I want to - I want you to appreciate the children you have and give them the lives they deserve.

Stephanie said...

And if that's how it was for everyone, Rick, I wouldn't be so concerned. But, when a group is starting a campaign to brand having more than two children as "selfish" and "irresponsible", I see that as a direct attack on God's plan. When that becomes the "norm" (maybe when our kids are starting families), it will be much harder for them to choose how many children to have in the face of scorn if they choose more than two. It will take a lot more faith for them to do the unpopular, even if they feel it is what God wants them to do (then again, we know that is how the last days are).

Rick said...

But stephanie, you have to understand that alot of that "Gods Plan" mindset is really a result of culture and time - I mean, when my parents had 10 kids, it was really popular for all Mormons to have 10 kids - when their parents had 10-14, it was really popular for that to happen too - when polygamist fathers had broods of 45+, that was the norm for Mormons too - so in our own culture, we see trends in how many kids we should have - and right now the tred seems to be going closer to 2-5 - and whats wrong with that? And in 20 years, for the next Generation, it might be vouge to have 1-2, so what? And two generations from now, maybe it will be in style to have 10 again? Who knows? But usually people's "inspiration" really is alot closer to what those around them are doing, and what they feel they can realistically support/raise - The average number will go up and down according to those trends - not according to Gods plan. - - Yes, I can agree that God generally wants people to procreate - hence our sexual organs - but as far as numbers of offspring, I think that has alot more to do with trends and plain wants - you "want" 5 or 6 kids (I can't remember how many you have) - I want 1 or 2 - so what? How is the stylistic difference, even if influenced by media or 'groups' any worry? If there is one thing living in America has taught me, it is that people will do what they want.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"...it will be much harder for them to choose how many children to have in the face of scorn if they choose more than two. It will take a lot more faith for them to do the unpopular, even if they feel it is what God wants them to do..."

Your comment here can also be applied in a different scenario. Consider how childless couples -- and I mean those who choose to be childless -- or those who choose to just have one child, in the Church feel. Do they not face just as much "scorn" from leaders and fellow members as Mormons do from some liberals? Do you think they ever feel that they're doing the "unpopular" thing in their Mormon culture, yet need to stick to their guns for personal reasons?

Stephanie's quote by Elder Oaks pretty much shoots down any Mormon who feels that no children or one child is enough for them:

"And let us be mindful of the fact that in many parts of the world where people are listening to this broadcast, the idea of having children has been rejected."

Now, conservatives hate it when liberals suggest how many kids people like them should or shouldn't have. (I try to steer away from numbers because I think it's a personal decision.) But can't you guys see how Christian conservatives are doing the exact same thing in reverse? And being Mormon all my life, I think that Mormons are the worst culprits with reversing the guilt that they receive for having big families. And they throw that guilt onto the backs of their own. There's the constant criticism of those who decide to not have kids, which everyone just assumes is because of selfishness. I think it's pretty unfair to say that every couple who chooses to be childless is doing so because they are selfish. But that is certainly the sentiment in the Church. And then if they DO have a kid, then it's never enough, then you get Elder Oaks saying "...the thought is that if you have one child that’s enough..." What he's saying is that one child is not enough.

Here's my personal opinion. Although I personally think it's a bit much to be having 6,7,10,12 kids, if Mormons want to do so then FINE! Who am I to tell them how many kids they should have? If the parents raise them to be responsible stewards of the earth, then I say knock yourself out. The problem I have is that most of those who are having so many kids are still in global warming denial, driving huge, multiple cars, and eating their meatlover pizzas. But take it from someone who is over 30, married, Mormon and has no kids. Mormons need to stop guilt-tripping other Mormons who don't have kids FOR WHATEVER REASON. Even if their decision is based on pure selfishness (which I doubt it really is in most cases), then be glad that they are not going to bring another unwanted child into the world. The last thing you want to see is people being guilt-tripped into having kids because of the pressure. This happens in the Church, believe me.

I'm sure that some Mormons I know are just dying to know why I don't have kids. I'm sure they have their assumptions but I can tell you they haven't got a clue. They would probably be surprised if they knew the whole story. I've received some pretty insensitive questions from even good friends in the Church about when it's going to be "my turn" and "when are you having kids?" blah, blah, blah. I know they don't really mean to be insensitive, but really how can I expect anything more when they themselves are popping out one kid after another and having it drilled into their heads by Church leaders that we need to multiply and replenish the earth, and certainly not with JUST one kid, and how God basically just put me on this earth to reproduce so I better fulfill that role or I'm a selfish failure. You can say that it isn't so, but you all know what Mormon culture is like.

Stephanie said...

Look, FD, I am not trying to make this personal. I am not talking about personal choices regarding childbirth. I already said I know it is a personal, prayerful choice. I am talking about the idea of population control, and of promoting it. It is not doctrinally supported. Everything I can find from the church says the exact opposite. Doesn't mean you can't still believe in it. It just means that it is not supported by the church. And, when I see things like the Britain campaign encouraging people to think that more than two is irresponsible and selfish for reasons of population control, that seems very contrary to the gospel, based on everything I can find.

Stephanie said...

For that matter, I can find 6+ articles on lds.org that say socialism is contrary to the gospel. Will that automatically change all of your minds? No. But, in a discussion on socialism, I find the articles to be relevant information because my objective in determining my opinion on political/social matters is to see if the church/church leaders have a position (in a formal capacity), and if so, to align myself with that position, and as 1 of 8 contributors on this site, that is a function that I perceive myself as filling. I represent people who think the same way.

I fully recognize that others form opinions differently. But, for the purpose of the discussion, I think that quotes from church leaders are relevant information. Particularly since there may be readers looking for information to form their own opinions.

And if you say, "My personal conscience doesn't agree. I haven't received a witness that that particular position/statement is true". Fine. Share your opinion. Share your position. I recognize that it is equally as valid as mine. I'm not trying to shut it down because it doesn't perfectly align with what the church leaders have said. But, it also doesn't negate that it was said by an apostle, and that others need to go through the same process to confirm for themselves whether or not they want to agree.

Stephanie said...

And, Rick, I totally agree that number of children is primarily determined by culture, etc. but the church's position on it hasn't changed (that I know of - besides being more considerate to personal circumstances). The gospel doesn't tell people how many or few to have. It basically says that the commandment given to all God's children is to multiply and replenish the earth, figure out between you and your spouse and the Lord how many children is appropriate for you, and don't make the determination selfishly (the quotes all seem to focus that on limiting the number, but I can also see how it applies to having too many if you can't appropriately care for them). I agree with FD that Mormon culture and inconsiderate individuals apply pressure inappropriately, but the official statements of the church are very "fair", IMO.

But, I think it is flat out wrong for this group in Britain to determine that two is the appropriate limit for everyone, and to try to sway public opinion that more than that is selfish and irresponsible. Just wrong. And if not "wrong", contrary to the message of the gospel, which, to me, makes it wrong.

Stephanie said...

And if you disagree, fine. I agree to disagree. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. :)

The Faithful Dissident said...

Stephanie, I agree with you that it's wrong of any group, in Britain or anywhere, to try to tell people how many kids is OK or not OK for them.

You said that your "objective in determining (your) opinion on political/social matters is to see if the church/church leaders have a position (in a formal capacity), and if so, to align yourself with that position," and I can respect that. If you are able to do that, then I applaud you for it because we all know it's not easy. I think, Stephanie, that you are more open-minded than many conservative Mormons and understand that sometimes our individual circumstances may cause us to disagree with certain things that Church leaders say, or to take a different personal path than the "prescribed path of happiness" that many Mormons are on, consisting of temple marriage, a large family, stay-at-home mom, etc. Unfortunately, though, not all Mormons are as open-minded and many, liberal as well as conservative, can fall into the trap of believing that what is the right kind of family for us is right for everyone else.

Stephanie said:

"I totally agree that number of children is primarily determined by culture, etc. but the church's position on it hasn't changed (that I know of - besides being more considerate to personal circumstances). The gospel doesn't tell people how many or few to have."

I agree that Church leaders have never really said that we should all have X number of kids. But I have to at least partially disagree that the Church's position hasn't changed when it comes to "family policy," if we can call it that. Bored in Vernal did a really interesting post on the evolution of birth control teachings in the LDS Church a while back. Some of you have probably seen it, but if you haven't then I recommend it. I want to just pick out a few quotes from it that show just how much things have changed:

"It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can." -Brigham Young

Wilford Woodruff seemed to indicate that those who used birth control or chose to not have children should perhaps not be allowed into the Church unless they repented of this "sin":

"As to the lesser sin of preventing conception, no general rule can be laid down, there are so many different circumstances distinguishing one case from another and such a difference in motives that each particular case has to be judged by itself and decided by the light of the Spirit. But we believe where persons sincerely repent and cease the practice, they should be permitted to enter the Church.

"Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel than to prevent or to destroy life in the manner indicated."

"I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap the disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying it is one of the greatest crimes of this world today, this evil practice."


"Possibly no greater sin." "One of the world's greatest crimes." Those are pretty strong words.

"No doubt there are some worldly people who honestly limit the number of children and the family to two or three because of insufficient means to clothe and educate a large family as the parents would desire to do, but in nearly all such cases, the two or three children are no better provided for than two or three times that number would be." -David O. McKay

Joseph Fielding Smith had some particularly strong words:

“Those who attempt to pervert the ways of the Lord, and to prevent their offspring from coming into the world in obedience to this great command, are guilty of one of the most heinous crimes in the category. There is no promise of eternal salvation and exaltation for such as they, for by their acts they prove their unworthiness for exaltation and unfitness for a kingdom where the crowning glory is the continuation of the family union and eternal increase which have been promised to all those who obey the law of the Lord."

"Those who practice birth control...are running counter to the foreordained plan of the Almighty. They are in rebellion against God and are guilty of gross wickedness."

"When a man and a woman are married and they agree, or covenant, to limit their offspring to two or three, and practice devices to accomplish this purpose, they are guilty of iniquity which eventually must be punished."


I find it interesting that a number was actually specified there. Anyways, there's no doubt in my mind that although Church leaders usually seemed to avoid stating any specific number, what they had in mind was something that looked more like Quiverfull than the "small" LDS families we see today of "only" 2, 3, or 4 kids.

I'm curious about what you all think. Do you believe:

a) that the prophets were teaching the literal truth and they only said what God instructed them to,

b) that they were inspired but were trying to pass of their personal opinions and upbringings as the word of God, whether intentionally or unintentionally,

c) what they taught really was the literal word of God back then, but things have changed,

c) they were merely stating their personal opinions and were just plain wrong.

Stephanie said...

Interesting quotes and points, FD. When you read the entire quotes on BIV's site, I think that the intent of the general message they are trying to convey is the same. The idea that "preventing conception" or limiting the number of children out of "selfish" reasons is wrong is the same. I also think that they are talking more generally about society, particularly when Joseph F. Smith says it is one of the greatest crimes of this world today, this evil practice. But, I also agree that there are some changes in the specifics of their messages.

Wilford Woodruff's comment appears to be in a personal conversation or letter, not in a official statement, so I think that is more opinion than anything else.

Brigham Young said It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. I think that the word "can" has been expanded and clarified. Even when my mom was having kids, it still was commonly interpreted to mean have all the kids you physically can with no birth control. Now, the "official" position is Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.

Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple.


That is a definite change. But, is it possible that the prophets were using literal birth control, and the idea of limiting children without the Lord's input interchangeably? Possibly. I, for one, am glad for the clarification, particularly the bit about the mother's health. I think that I would literally lose it if I had all the kids my body physically could without birth control.

Overall, from your options, I am going to go with both b and c. I think that the overall position of the Lord hasn't changed much, but our circumstances in society have. I think it is harder to have kids today than it was when our grandparents were having them, and I think our church leaders are recognizing and acknowleding that - with approval from the Lord to clarify (since the statements are "official"). And, I think that part of it was probably a bit of personal opinion. Even I, who tries to follow every command as given faithfully, wouldn't literally interpret the quotes to mean I had to have more than two or three children to make it to heaven. I think he was more talking in generalities and using examples than specifically stating a number. If the same quote were given today, I bet he would use the number zero or one to reflect current statistics, but I still would rely more on the "official" position that we need to prayerfully decide ourselves what we "can" do.

Hope any of that makes sense.

Stephanie said...

I guess that's the bottom line on most issues with the gospel, isn't it? The Lord himself doesn't change. We know that he is constant. But, what he chooses to reveal at any time may not always be the same. It may be based on the current state of society. So, which is right? The "old" stuff or the "new" stuff? In a way, I would have to think they both would be right, for that particular time in society. So, I would feel the most "safe" in going with the current revelation. But, overall, I think that changes in position can be most explained by changes in society. I feel that it is that way with the priesthood being given to every man. That's always the way the Lord intended it, but He had to wait for society at large to be ready. Of course it would have been nice for the church to be the "leader" and an "example" in that area, but it wasn't the Lord's plan. And, because of that, some leaders gave personal opinions that weren't doctrine and weren't even in line with the Lord's ideas.

It may be that way with birth control and child rearing. One thing about birth control (the pill) is that it wasn't always that safe. My grandma used it when it was new, and it made one of her pupils huge and the other small. Maybe part of the reason the church was so against it was that it was unhealthy.

Maybe the Lord gave us as much info as we needed. So, the correct guidance for my grandma was to have all the kids "she can", and the correct guidance for me is to have all I can given all my personal considerations and circumstances. And, maybe the guidance will be further clarified for our children. But, I still think the Lord doesn't change, and our most "safe" way to figure out His will is to go with modern revelation.

This recognizes shades of gray, but I think the gray is caused by man, by our own society and its failings. I think the Lord is more black and white than we are.

Stephanie said...

On the other hand, the Lord may be more "gray", meaning that there are many more forms of acceptable to Him. For example, I think the number of children appropriate for any couple could range from zero to whatever, and all numbers are acceptable to the Lord under His conditions. So, a prophet saying, "Two or three is not enough" would be setting up a more black and white number than the Lord, and that doesn't necessarily make it right or the Lord's will.

On the other hand, I think that the Lord's conditions for acceptable reasons to limit the number of children is more black and white than the world's. The world creates the gray and confusion.

Now I really don't know if I am making sense anymore. :)

Stephanie said...

Here's another idea (as long as I'm pontificating). What if having as many children as you "can" (like Brigham Young said) and not using birth control is the higher law, and it has been adapted to the current position because of our own weaknesses and failings? Like the United Order was given and then retracted because the people weren't righteous enough to live it. What if commanding us to have kids like it used to be would just bring us all under condemnation, so it had to be adapted? I think it is possible. I know I would fail at that law. And, either way, my opinion is the same: our counsel today is for us and is the best for us to follow.

Quimby said...

More on GM crops and their sheer unsuitability for Africa: In order to use the seeds, farmers must first undertake a course from the seed manufacturer. Monsanto charges around AUS$1000 for this course. They then must pay a licensing fee to use the seed; and they must pay for the seed, which is sold at a considerably higher price than normal seed. (And again, because it doesn't self-propogate it must be purchased every year.) Then, when the crop is harvested, they have to pay Monsanto a percentage of their sales. So, at every step, farmers pay through the nose. And for what? The latest bunch of GM crops does not (DOES NOT) increase yield. It is herbicide resistant; the statistic I heard was for wheat, it is herbicide resistant between 2 leaf and 8 leaf stage only. That means at any other time in the growth cycle it is not herbicide resistant and some studies suggest that it is more susceptible to herbicide than normal, non-GM crops.

As for the other points: First I would not really trust any stats from the 1970s. Things have changed quite a bit particularly in the developing world. But some of the ideas are really not feasible from a development perspective. For instance instead of eradicating rats - which would be detrimental to the environment at large (because every animal is important to the ecosystem, so you take one away and it's unbalanced; and because the only real way to eradicate rats is to use poison, and you can't really target just one animal with a poison; or else to use a disease that only rats are susceptible to, but rats would soon become immune to it) - Rather than kill rats, why not use them for a cheap source of protein? You mention using land for crops instead of opium. But if a farmer can get more for growing opium, why shouldn't he do it? Isn't that just capitalism in action? Why ask a farmer to give up a major source of income in favor for something that is simply not profitable?

Stephanie said...

But if a farmer can get more for growing opium, why shouldn't he do it? Isn't that just capitalism in action? Why ask a farmer to give up a major source of income in favor for something that is simply not profitable?

My point in sharing this quote about opium production was this: if you (not you Quimby, but you in general) want to make a big stink about meat production taking away from the production of crops that could feed people and fight hunger and famine, why not make the same case for opium production? If a farmer can make more raising cows than he can raising crops to feed people and fight famine, why shouldn't he just do it? I think the same argument can be applied to both. So, if you are going to argue for a farmer's right to raise opium, then argue for his right to raise meat, too.

Quimby said...

Ah - Okay, that makes sense. I thought you were making the argument from a "this is a way to solve world hunger" perspective - which may or may not be true; often it's marginal land that is used in the production of opium. I've got no problem with animal husbandry agriculture, so long as it's done humanely. (And often it's marginal land that is used in the production of meat, too. You can graze sheep or cattle or raise chickens anywhere. It's much harder to raise crops on marginal land.) I have a much bigger issue with practices like live export, where animals are crowded into container ships and sent to sea for weeks at a time to be slaughtered in another country, where the practices are not humane.

Rick said...

About The early Apostolate and Birth Control: - - Come on, folks - there is a time and place for every opinion - and colonial Utah (where men were basically acting as studs to fertilize the maximum amount of wives possible) was the time and place to sincerely believe that God wanted you to have as many offspring as humanly possible - so that "the church" could multiply and replenish the earth. From an anthropoligical stand point, it just makes sense to have lotsa babies. Not breeding children like cattle was akin to not...going on 4 or 4 missions - you know - road to apostacy and stuff. Was BY's feelings about child birth the literal opinion of The Lord God most High - he who causes the worlds to spin in their orbit and keeps the galaxies from colliding into each other? I doubt it.

About food production: At least the farmer who grows opium can literally "rise above" his position in life - If I had to "farm" something that wouldn't make ends meet anyways I may just pick opium - At least the side effects are enjoyable :)

The Faithful Dissident said...

I know this is an old thread, but thought that you all might find this article interesting. I first saw the headline on TV: "Brazlian doctor hailed for performing abortion" and I admit I was a bit disturbed that someone would be "hailed" for performing an abortion. But once I read the article I could see why, and I think that he does in fact deserve to be "hailed."

The Faithful Dissident said...

Here's a good article that was sent to my inbox today. Of special interest to Mormons who really want to eat meat "sparingly." Even I'm perhaps consuming a bit too much animal proteins based on what this article suggests.

isabela said...

Nem tudo no BRASIL é lindo ou maravilhoso; como a midía mostra para mundo!