Friday, April 18, 2008

General ramblings.

I'm going to be doing a couple posts today, on different subjects. I wanna keep them separate, because then I can link them in the sidebar easily. One will be the Vogue Knitting review, probably. If not today, then tomorrow. The other is some information about bast fibers, because I had a couple requests after yesterday's stuff and since it involves plants, I find the subject interesting.

As for the environmental rant yesterday, I didn't mean to come across as saying we should all say 'fuck it' and knit with anything and pollute all we want. Nor did I mean to come across as some kind of purist who lives on nuts and berries in the woods. It was due in part to my education with plants, and in part just because I'm frustrated by any type of situation where people say/think one thing and do another. (I know, that makes us human. Cut me some slack. I've got a sinus infection and quite dislike being human at the moment.)

I do all I can for sensible consumption, re-use, sustainability, and all that. I drive as little as possible, knit with fibers I think are earth-friendly (and bio-degradable), use dyes and mordants that are safe and break down into even more safe chemicals. It's stupid not to; the safe stuff is as affordable and easy to find, often moreso. I just don't think that all these 'green' fads are doing much, if anything, to save the environment. When governments are filling in lakes or draining them, radically altering coast lines, and encouraging the blasting of chemicals into the atmosphere, whether or not I use plastic grocery bags really doesn't mean jack shit. I hate to be a downer, but there it is.

Take a look at this:

That's the Aral Sea in Russia in 1973. Then people started diverting rivers for cropland, for power, for larger and larger cities and every damn thing. And now it looks like this:

Actually, that photo was taken in '04, so I'm sure it looks even worse now. But you get the idea. With crap like that going on, I seriously doubt the planet gives a shit what yarn I knit with.

This sort of thing isn't new, either. We've been filling in the Persian Gulf for twelve thousand years; all that irrigation has washed most of the topsoil down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers into the Gulf. The coastline has changed hugely. The island of Java has been terraformed so extensively by humans, for so long (mostly terraces on the mountains, for farming), that geologists aren't quite sure what the original form was.

And then there are things like this:

Dubai's building resorts in the shape of date palms with dredged soil in the Gulf. Each 'tree' is expected to house HALF A MILLION people. There are at least two of them that I know of. (They're visible on Google Earth.) At least in the stone age we altered the environment so we could EAT, not so we could have nice fancy resorts with lots of coastline for our oil-guzzling yachts.

So, I hate to be a downer, but until governments get involved, really involved, what I do or don't do has little to no impact on the environment. But I still won't bury car batteries in the back yard, I promise.


Catie said...

I agree that we can make little difference, but perhaps it is for our mental health that we do at least something. Though I definately agree that the contradiction of a hummer and cloth bags is hilarious in a bad way.

Barbara said...

I'm very disturbed by the hubris and total economic, not to mention ecological, foolishness of dredging and making those palm tree islands in the Persian Gulf. What makes them think they can alter things like that without generating catastrophic consequences? I'm all for using earth's resources but really, use some sense, people.

merel said...

Yes, what each of us does individually does not make much difference, but if millions of people would take their own shopping bags with them so that they don't have to take the plastic ones, then that WOULD make a difference. So I've started bringing my own bags, and I'm hoping the rest of the world will join in ;)

Samantha said...

They're making a third one in dubai, called the world . With islands in the shape of countries.


Amy Lane said...

Okay, honestly? It's stuff like this that makes me recycle my plastic bags (I go grocery shopping for six people twice a month...You could outfit a sailboat with that much canvas and I have nowhere to put it)...because the ENORMITY of how badly we fuck up the plant on the basis of government hubris makes me long for some modicum of control for this problem. Recycling plastic bags and not using pesticides on my snail-friendly yard gives me that tiny illusion that dumb-fuck rich people are not going to screw up the earth and then crap all over me when it goes south...

Bells said...

someone should bomb dubai. Oh, did I just write that?

Courtney said...

The upside to being a knitter? You can knit cottom parket bags. The downside to using your handknit market bags at the grocery store? People assume you're using it because you knit it and not because it is a good idea.

Hubris was one of the worst crimes/sins/bad-things-to-do in the myths and history of the ancient world. I hope I'm not around anymore when the Powers That Be decide the arrogant and the ignorant get their comeuppance in the form of large-scale ecological disasters.

Courtney <--- knits with wool and hemp

Kim said...

Thank you for posting the pictures of the Aral Sea and you I'm sure know it's only one example. Look at Lake Chad which irrigation and changing rainfall patterns have all but dried up. The palm tree in Dubai is absolutely freaking ridiculous. (NOVA did a program on this a while ago) It is the little things we do like driving less or using non-toxic products that make a difference. Now on PBS (it's the only station I get) did a program a few weeks ago about making commercial/office buildings energy efficient and that if we were to invest this way in our infrastructure it would save a whole hell of a lot of energy and oil. I do a lot of little things but like you do not think the Universe cares what I knit with because the wool jacket I made will hold up a long time and you can get more than one shearing out of a sheep.

NeedleTart said...

Speaking of shopping bags, The Husband has been using canvas bags since before we met (1980). As a family we have always joked that when he dies we will have a table of books a as "lovely parting gift and reminder". Last night Elder Son suggested that we could sew his shroud out of the canvas bags. Handles and all. Best part of this...we all laughed like mad.