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Offline ridhi

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« on: 02/03/2009 12:46:53 »
We all should encourage the use of natural and environment friendly objects at our homes and other places.  Letís stop using products that are harmful and work towards a greener and healthier environment.


 

Offline dentstudent

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« Reply #1 on: 02/03/2009 12:54:49 »
By "harmful", do you mean "unnatural"? Do you mean therefore that all natural things are not harmful?

Please could you put some meat onto your post? It needs feeding.

But only with bio-eco-organic food, of course.

Oh, and make your post into a question eg: "Should we all encourage the use of ....?" if only to appease the wrath of the mods.
« Last Edit: 02/03/2009 12:59:31 by dentstudent »
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #2 on: 02/03/2009 13:33:37 »
By "harmful", do you mean "unnatural"? Do you mean therefore that all natural things are not harmful?

Please could you put some meat onto your post? It needs feeding.

But only with bio-eco-organic food, of course.

Oh, and make your post into a question eg: "Should we all encourage the use of ....?" if only to appease the wrath of the mods.

Is there something wrong with not using products that are harmful? Should we not encourage the use of "natural and environment friendly objects at our homes and other places"?
 

Offline dentstudent

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« Reply #3 on: 02/03/2009 13:50:15 »
First part - it depends. Second part - it depends.

I'm just trying to find out what the point of the thread is, and what is meant. I want to understand the poster's association between natural and environmentally friendly. When it is read, it appears to be mutally inclusive, whereas I don't see it that way. In the second part, I've no idea of what is meant by harmful. Harmful to whom or what?

All I'm doing is asking questions in an effort to understand what is supposed to be discussed (if anything). At the moment it's just a statement that to me appears unclear because it is too broad.

 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #4 on: 02/03/2009 14:40:16 »
First part - it depends. Second part - it depends.

I'm just trying to find out what the point of the thread is, and what is meant. I want to understand the poster's association between natural and environmentally friendly. When it is read, it appears to be mutally inclusive, whereas I don't see it that way. In the second part, I've no idea of what is meant by harmful. Harmful to whom or what?

All I'm doing is asking questions in an effort to understand what is supposed to be discussed (if anything). At the moment it's just a statement that to me appears unclear because it is too broad.

Maybe we will have to wait for clarification and also maybe for an actual question. I hope there will be further discussion. I know you have a bone to pick with those who favor organic and natural methods. I tried to counter your arguments you posted in a long comment regarding "organic eggs" but you never responded.  Too bad. It took a long time to write my post. :(

 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #5 on: 02/03/2009 14:52:48 »
In the meantime:

When is a good time to use harmful products? (Assuming harmful means: Damaging to people and the environment in the long and short term.)

and

When should we discourage the use of "natural and environment friendly objects at our homes and other places" ?(Assuming natural means: made by and can be processed by living organisms without long-lasting damaging effects; Assuming environmentally friendly means: Does not damage the environment humans require to live well and for several generations)

Yes, I am trying to drag you into a discussion.  ;) I am still on vacation an have a bit of extra time.
 

Offline dentstudent

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« Reply #6 on: 02/03/2009 14:55:26 »
Karsten - I'm sorry if I didn't respond to your post - I assure you that it wasn't through any conscious effort. I tend to look in at work, and so miss some of the answers. My apologies - I will look for your answer and respond accordingly. (Probably with a big fat raspbery ;)).


I'm at work now, and have a presentation to give tomorrow, so I'm afraid that my response will be a little slow.

« Last Edit: 02/03/2009 14:59:12 by dentstudent »
 

Offline dentstudent

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« Reply #7 on: 02/03/2009 16:50:46 »
"When is it time to use harmful products? (assuming harmful means: Damaging to people and the environment in the long and short term)"

And at home and other places...

One that instantly springs to mind are various cancer treatments which are harmful to people. They are very aggressive and not at all pleasant to the "user". And it's probably time to rush people to the hospital in order to treat them, in some sort of vehicle. And also to use expensive electronic equipment to monitor these people and to keep them alive, that through the development and building of the machines created a great deal of CO2 and uses a lot of plastic that probably won't be recycled, etc etc.

But maybe these aren't the kind of products that the poster had in mind. I don't know. It seems to me though, that if you look at the complete cycle of virtually any product from its cradle to grave, they will illicit some sort of "harm" to someone somewhere, and therefore, I don't think that you can just say "Let's stop using harmful products".

What's a non-harmful product? (Semi-rhetorical)
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #8 on: 02/03/2009 19:28:34 »
"We all should encourage the use of natural and environment friendly objects at our homes and other places. "
What does "natural" have to do with it?
People are natural and they are about the biggest environmental disaster the world has ever known.
Coal and Oil are natural- using them as fuel has not, at least in many people's opinion (including mine), been particularly environmentally friendly.
 

Offline Phil1907

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« Reply #9 on: 03/03/2009 10:51:21 »
biggest environmental disaster?  quite emotional - and silly.

Suggest you think as a scientist and not allow yourself to be manipulated be the enviro lobby.  If there were such a scientific concept - the development/evolution  of photosynthesis and it's subsequent oxygen "pollution" would probably be the "biggest."
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #10 on: 03/03/2009 12:50:29 »
Phil, I don't understand you comment. What is wrong with oxygen for the survival of humans?

 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #11 on: 03/03/2009 13:30:09 »
What does "natural" have to do with it?

That is a good question. It was originally connected with an "and" to environmentally friendly, but does it have to be natural (whatever that means) to be environmentally friendly? Can it be natural if it is made by human beings? Or are human beings and what they create "unnatural"?

I guess, "unnatural" COULD be something that has been created by a species that no living organism can digest or break down without technology and is therefor destined to stay in the environment for a really long time until it is taken care of with technology. Is "unnatural" a linear process rather than a cycle?

By that definition, can something UNNATURAL be released into the environment in any amount that is at the same time no problem for a balanced environment which still supports human life? Examples?
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #12 on: 03/03/2009 14:35:03 »
"When is it time to use harmful products? (assuming harmful means: Damaging to people and the environment in the long and short term)"

And at home and other places...

One that instantly springs to mind are various cancer treatments which are harmful to people. They are very aggressive and not at all pleasant to the "user". And it's probably time to rush people to the hospital in order to treat them, in some sort of vehicle. And also to use expensive electronic equipment to monitor these people and to keep them alive, that through the development and building of the machines created a great deal of CO2 and uses a lot of plastic that probably won't be recycled, etc etc.

But maybe these aren't the kind of products that the poster had in mind. I don't know. It seems to me though, that if you look at the complete cycle of virtually any product from its cradle to grave, they will illicit some sort of "harm" to someone somewhere, and therefore, I don't think that you can just say "Let's stop using harmful products".

What's a non-harmful product? (Semi-rhetorical)

Another very good question. What is harmless? Many romantic environmentalists seem to think that something is harmful when it does harm cute, furry animals or obviously does damage to humans. Or it is harmless if native people did it. Or if it is natural. Of course this does not work for the bugs you kill to eat your vegetarian diet. Or for the bison you chased down a cliff. Or the naturally growing mold you are inhaling. Or the trip by plane to visit a eco-tourist center. Or for the many activities that result in slow damage or damage in areas that we don't look at very thoroughly.

I guess, I would equal harmless with sustainable. If the product/material/action can be applied by all equally and for an unlimited time than it is harmless. Example? Hmmm... Breathing? Maybe locally creating a basket from willow branches and using it for several decades is sustainable/harmless. Use rainwater to flush your toilet rather than drinking water. Maybe growing vegetables in your own garden fertilized with your own compost or manure is harmless. Live like some people live in some places in Africa? (Note: I have never been to Africa and don't know which culture on this planet actually lives a life that is sustainable. I am afraid it is not even close to the North American/Australian/European life style)

We have a dilemma right now. There are a lot of human beings on this planet and the way some live (and most others want to) is just not sustainable. Any example I could give would result in much fewer humans on this planet even though it may be sustainable and harmless to do. It is maybe not as much a question of what we could do that is harmless but rather a question of what we could stop doing and still live. Maybe it cannot be harmless to waste as much as we do in USA/Europe

For instance, ending agriculture based on fossil fuels and switching back to agriculture based on cyclical methods and renewable resources would result in huge population losses but would be sustainable. Of course choosing a method that result in widespread death and famine is difficult to see as "harmless", but the current method of food production is not sustainable and will result in population loss as well. Later. Unless we find something we have not found yet.

How can you not create harm to individuals if you offer opportunities for individuals to come to existence based on methods that function only for a while? How can the promotion of a life-style based on limited resources be considered harmless if it results in population growth, dependency on the same limited resource and the destruction of renewable resources?

Any person will do what is in their power to survive. Of course they may choose aggressive cancer treatment without regard of the environment or their long-term health. They just want to survive the next few years for now. Same with the trip to the hospital with the ambulance or the equipment. That is just self-defense. You have to talk to the people who are not struggling to survive. What could/would they give up? Is it possible for 6.7 billion people on the planet to not struggle for survival and have living a sustainable life at the same time?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #13 on: 03/03/2009 20:01:32 »
biggest environmental disaster?  quite emotional - and silly.

Suggest you think as a scientist and not allow yourself to be manipulated be the enviro lobby.  If there were such a scientific concept - the development/evolution  of photosynthesis and it's subsequent oxygen "pollution" would probably be the "biggest."

For a start, I am a scientist and therefore think like one by definition.
For an encore, is life the biggest environmental disaster ever? This was a perfectly good ball of wet rock until life came and invaded just about every bit of it.

The point I was making is that we are natural so everything we do is, arguably, natural.
Describing us as the biggest disaster might not be technically correct, but it's reasonable hyperbole and I'm not often acused of being influenced by the enviromentalist lobby.
 

Offline Phil1907

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« Reply #14 on: 03/03/2009 22:35:18 »
You'd fool me mr "scientist".   

Nice dancing on the point .  Grow up little guy.
 

lyner

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« Reply #15 on: 03/03/2009 22:43:02 »
ridhi
I think you have been jumped on here by a lot of bullies!!! That's telling you chaps.

There have been a lot of  complacent comments which seem to dismiss possible 'harmful' products which we could find ourselves using. I guess they have forgotten the fact that flour used to have plaster of Paris put into it and that wine has often had antifreeze added in order to make it taste better. Not to mention asbestos being used in houses and lead in petrol. All this in the interests of someone making money!
We should continue to be very wary.
 

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« Reply #16 on: 03/03/2009 22:49:56 »
BC:
You have rendered the word 'natural' totally useless by your definition. I think it has to be allowed its place in the language and we 'all' know, basically, what it means.

It is not just fancy which causes people to worry about environmental hazards. Any significant changes which humans introduce could tip the balance of many environmental factors and produce conditions which we would not like to have to put up with. That would constitute 'bad for us'.
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #17 on: 03/03/2009 23:04:35 »
Phil, I still don't understand your first comment.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #18 on: 04/03/2009 19:32:03 »
Among the things that scientists do is very carefully define what they mean by the terms they use in any question they ask.
If those definitions are left so loose as to be potentially meaningless then the question doesn't have a well defined answer.

Unless you define what is "environment friendly" and what is "natural" then  you are not going to get far trying to answer my first question which was "what does natural have to do with it?"


Incidentally, I think Phil is referring to the fact that when photosynthesis first got successful it generated lots of oxygen. Oxygen is toxic to a lot of bacteria (and animals, including humans, at high concentrations).
That massive rise in oxygen levels that accompanied the widespread use of photosynthesis probaly wiped out a lot of life forms.
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #19 on: 05/03/2009 01:19:03 »
(...)
Unless you define what is "environment friendly" and what is "natural" then  you are not going to get far trying to answer my first question which was "what does natural have to do with it?"
(...)

I suggested a definition for "unnatural" since I cannot find a good one for "natural" or "unnatural" anywhere else:

I guess, "unnatural" COULD be something that has been created by a species that no living organism can digest or break down without technology and is therefor destined to stay in the environment for a really long time until it is taken care of with technology. Is "unnatural" a linear process rather than a cycle?

How about it? Is this something we can work with? Natural =  proven to be cyclical without human help? Unnatural = Human-made and not proven to be cyclical without human help?

Of course we can continue to discuss the validity of a definition forever and not get anywhere. It is a matter of wanting to solve a problem. Work with me here!
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #20 on: 05/03/2009 20:14:06 »
Since nothing that I can think of meets your criteria for unnatural, your definition seems as pointless as the one I gave (and I did it for effect). I may be mistaken, what man made object would survive geological subduction? Most wouldn't do well in a decent forrest fire.

However "natural" does have another opposite- it means "not supernatural".
I think the original post was using "natural" as if being "natural" had some magical benefit beyond being environmentally friendly, which seems ironic to me as that's the opposite of natural.

As I see it the problem that needs to be solved is why bother to ask if something is natural (by whatever definition) when we should be worried about the effect it has rather than it's origin.
I think part of this problem is that people have, historically, not thought of themselves as part of the environment. For practically the whole of humanity's existence we have thrown "away" stuff we didn't want without realising that there is no "away". That's why the CO2 from fossil fuels and the lead in petrol or whatever have come back to haunt us.
The sooner we realise that we are part of the environment the better.
If I chose to point that out by saying that we are bad for it then that seems to me to be a reasonable way to make that point.
If we were not part of the environment we couldn't harm it- we do, so we must be.
Since we are part of it, we ought to look after it.
The question of what is or isn't natural doesn't seem to matter much and blaming "unnatural" stuff (whatever that might mean) is a distraction we don't need.

 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #21 on: 06/03/2009 02:12:44 »
I completely agree with this:

I think part of this problem is that people have, historically, not thought of themselves as part of the environment. For practically the whole of humanity's existence we have thrown "away" stuff we didn't want without realising that there is no "away". That's why the CO2 from fossil fuels and the lead in petrol or whatever have come back to haunt us.
The sooner we realise that we are part of the environment the better.
(...)
If we were not part of the environment we couldn't harm it- we do, so we must be.
Since we are part of it, we ought to look after it.

However, I think what you say here should be regarded more carefully:

Since nothing that I can think of meets your criteria for unnatural, your definition seems as pointless as the one I gave (and I did it for effect). I may be mistaken, what man made object would survive geological subduction? Most wouldn't do well in a decent forrest fire.

For all practical purposes it seems valid to look at what happens to any material in our environment during the next, say, 1000 years. This has nothing to do with origin, the fact that something may last in our environment for 1000 years or longer is an effect on our environment. Certainly not by geological standards, but probably by human standards. Of course, 100000 years from now any currently human-made material may be completely benign, but it seems strange to consider this when discussing human welfare today and in the near future. BTW, I would not be surprised if a decent forest fire would change a few human-made materials in ways that are not really to our liking. I believe dioxins were a result of burning trash, but I do not know if that can be compared to the temperatures of a forest fire.

As I see it the problem that needs to be solved is why bother to ask if something is natural (by whatever definition) when we should be worried about the effect it has rather than it's origin.
(...)
The question of what is or isn't natural doesn't seem to matter much and blaming "unnatural" stuff (whatever that might mean) is a distraction we don't need.

I agree that the effects of any material and action may be more relevant than its origin, however, the origin is not irrelevant. You need to know where and how mistakes may have been made in order to avoid them in the future. We cannot continue to worry about the effects of materials and action only after it has been shown that the effects are negative. It may be paralyzing to our want to innovate, but it seems that slower progress may be wiser than our fast pace developments of the past. This includes human-made materials and their effects (and duration in the environment is one). If human made materials and  human procedures are thought through to the end (that is back to the beginning), maybe we would have fewer problems. This is not a distraction, this is being honest about human technology history. It is an important part of the learning process. Without it mistakes will be repeated. Analyzing it will not solve problems - it will however reduce the chances for creating similar problems again.





 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #22 on: 22/03/2009 21:36:25 »
Karsten I agree with you in that we need 'objective' supervising and longterm  testing, especcially when it comes to genetic and nanno innovations. There is a long way to go before anyone can say that they know what our genes f ex. really do. To lift forward just one gene and say that 'this gene is responsible for this' is something we seem to do often those days, and then we patent it and try it out:) but my guess is that there is a lot interconnections between genes we don't know a thing about, just as an example. and the same goes for nanno materials, at least as far as they are new combinations to nature and biological material (us:). What facility can today guarantee that they don't have any 'spill' when it comes to that size of material. The more advanced we get in our manipulations, the better our control needs to be it seems to me.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #23 on: 23/03/2009 20:24:43 »
Dioxins (more specifically chlorinated dibenzodioxins) were created in forrest fires long before man came along. They are exactly the sort of natural thing you might worry about.

We may need to worry about dioxins in our environment even though they are natural.

As I said, the origin isn't the issue; the effect is. Sunlight is natural, does that mean we don't have to worry about it causing skin cancer?
What you ought to do is (so far as I can tell) to look at the risk from all these things (and many more of course) and also the benfit that they produce.
Then do a risk benefit analysis and seee what the outcome of that analysis is. The origin simply doesn't come into it.
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #24 on: 23/03/2009 20:45:26 »
Dioxins (more specifically chlorinated dibenzodioxins) were created in forrest fires long before man came along. They are exactly the sort of natural thing you might worry about.

We may need to worry about dioxins in our environment even though they are natural.

As I said, the origin isn't the issue; the effect is. Sunlight is natural, does that mean we don't have to worry about it causing skin cancer?
What you ought to do is (so far as I can tell) to look at the risk from all these things (and many more of course) and also the benfit that they produce.
Then do a risk benefit analysis and seee what the outcome of that analysis is. The origin simply doesn't come into it.

We might be splitting hairs here.

I consider the origin of a material relevant since it points out who is responsible for its existence. It allows us to control the substance/effect better. What would be the point of investigating a material that is found in nature but not where it comes from? You find out it is undesirable and then? You need to be able to pin point the source. Of course the source ALONE means nothing (and way too many people think that anything human made is evil). But the risk/benefit analysis serves nothing if you have no knowledge of the origin. You will need to know if the material is undesired (in order to possibly limit more of it) or if the material is desired (to not protect the source or figure out how to make more).

I did not know that dioxins can be a result of forest fires. Interesting. However, according to wikipedia 80% of dioxins are a result of:     
* Coal fired utilities
* Municipal waste incinerators[1]
* Metal smelting
* Diesel trucks
* Land application of sewage sludge
* Burning treated wood
* Trash burn barrels
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioxin#Sources_of_dioxins

Is that sort of knowledge about the source for this stuff not relevant? The origin simply does not come into this?
 

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