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Author Topic: A Card essay about water being removed from the environment in water bottles?
philnotfil
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Anyone, anyone? I vaguely remember this and someone joked about it today, so I thought I would pass it on to them, but I can't find it anywhere. Was it just a thread?

Thanks,
Phillip

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TommySama
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It was on hatrack.

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2006-08-13.shtml

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philnotfil
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Thanks.
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Aris Katsaris
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This is one of the very few places where I really don't understand if OSC is being satirical or serious -- a pretty good advice "dude, why not pour leftover water over a plant, rather than waste it?" is combined with so utterly ludicrous an image as "swimming through an ocean of plastic water bottles, continually opening bottles to scavenge water, one ounce at a time."

OSC has combined reason with utterly ludicrous unreason before, so I don't even know if this is yet another instance of the same, or a parody of the excesses he perceives in others (without ever perceiving them in himself).

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TomDavidson
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I'm pretty sure he's joking, but has a legitimate complaint about water bottles.
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Dave at Work
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In the last three paragraphs of the section about water bottles he is making a call for individual action. Is his description, in the paragraphs preceding them, of the problem he is trying to solve satirical? Possibly. Is it a real problem? I think it is, and I think his suggesting that we take a moment to make sure our water bottles are empty before discarding them, preferably by recycling them with the cap removed, is a reasonable one. I take it a step further and use bicycle water bottle which I refill from the tap at home or a water fountain at work.

I generally only use the "consumable" water bottles on road trips or in other similar situations where I might not have access to a fresh water supply for longer than a bicycle water bottle or canteen could reasonable be made to last. And then I recycle them with the caps removed.

Here are those last three paragraphs.

quote:
Since the timeframe of the emergency is so far removed from the present political cycle, it is unrealistic for us to expect our politicians to take action. But each of us can do our part to prevent this catastrophe by making sure to empty water bottles before discarding them, thus releasing their water into the wild.

Whether you pour out your water bottle over a thirsty plant or simply dump it onto asphalt or concrete, it will eventually evaporate and rejoin the rest of the planet's hydrosystem. Thus you will be helping, an ounce at a time, to stave off global disaster.

And if you make sure to deposit your empty bottles into the recycling system, you will truly have done your part to prevent unthinkable calamity.


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Shrewed
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I use this article as an example of people who allow too much credibility for the lunacy of the environmentalists. [Disclosure: My position is that we are stewards of the earth, and omelets cannot be made without breaking a few eggs.]

A few drops of water entombed in a plastic coffin can never be a true concern on an earth where 70% of the surface is water. The total volume of water on earth is calculated to be about 326 million trillion gallons.

Perhaps he is referring to a decrease in desalinated water. Even still, the volume of uncollected rainfall would certainly be greater than the number of water bottles used by people that would actually follow this advice.

Another problem with this hypothesis has been mentioned on another board. Although the plastics may take hundreds of years to decompose, they harden and crack open after just a few days in the sun. Even buried they get crushed, punctured, and burst.

This is a classic example of the intelligentsia professing to be so much smarter than the unwashed masses that they fail to critically review their claims.

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Shrewed
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AND, no, I don't think OSC was being facetious. Look at his follow up articles and comments in Hidden Empire that discuss how politicians don't look at the extreme long term.

He makes another ridiculous claim in Hidden Empire that we can set up an alert or defense system against meteors. He claims we can put it a million miles out, to give us time to respond. Has he considered the area to be covered when you get that far out. Consider the ability to defend your home from wild animals, as opposed to defending the borders of your state.

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OpsanusTau
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quote:

A few drops of water entombed in a plastic coffin can never be a true concern on an earth where 70% of the surface is water.

*blink*

Available fresh water will be THE scarce resource of the near future.

For perspective, if OSC's figures are anything close to accurate, the amount of water so trapped every year is right around 6000 cubic meters. Which is still a small fraction of the total freshwater available for human use, but also enough to imagine how it's a real waste.

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scifibum
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Ops, don't you think the replenishment from precipitation will obviate the matter? If not trapped in those bottles, that water would either drain or rain into the ocean before long, and I don't think we could confine enough even if we tried to seriously disrupt the amount we get back via precipitation on land.
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OpsanusTau
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Wellllll...

You know, I don't know enough about the water cycle to answer that with a strong statement.

A lot of bottled water (all of it? I'm not sure) is groundwater. It seems like it would eventually be replenished but it's hard to know how long that would take. In my opinion, the floating continent of plastic garbage in the middle of the Pacific is a far better reason to quit drinking bottled water right now.

My point (such as it is - it isn't much) was just that there's less available fresh water out there than some people think.

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Shrewed
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quote:
Originally posted by OpsanusTau:
You know, I don't know enough about the water cycle to answer that with a strong statement.

That was the point all along. People take off with an idea that sounds like one that requires urgent action, without considering the likelihood of the issue actually occurring.

It is true that much of the bottled water comes from groundwater, but a large percentage comes from lakes and rivers. The greater issue truly is the volume of trash that is piling up, but even that is totally overblown. With current recycling and waste management facilities, we are already reducing the impact of waste on the environment and increasing the usability of it.

Technology, ingenuity, and free enterprise have solved our waste problems of the past. How can we be so short-sighted to think they will not work in the future?

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scifibum
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quote:
Technology, ingenuity, and free enterprise have solved our waste problems of the past. How can we be so short-sighted to think they will not work in the future?
You have a peculiar definition of "short sighted" if by that you mean "don't assume all our problems will be solved by technology, ingenuity, and free enterprise." It's really almost contrary to the concept of planning for the future.

You need a plan, not just faith in progress. The lack of a plan is short sightedness. Planning to quit throwing away so much crap heedlessly is one plan - I don't think that's short-sighted.

What's the better plan that makes this not a big deal? Is the Pacific garbage patch not still growing?

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OpsanusTau
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quote:
Is the Pacific garbage patch not still growing?
No, it's still growing.

[Frown]

Though my biggest personal plastic-related sadness is the tiny fragments all through the ocean, both from bigger pieces that have been degraded into little bits and from things like exfoliating body washes (who knew that the exfoliation came from tiny plastic beads?).
Tiny sea creatures filter-feed and ingest little plastic bits (or bigger sea creatures ingest bigger plastic bits) - the bits are indigestible but often too big relative to body size to be passed through, and their digestive tracts gradually fill up with plastic and they starve to death.

I guess that's what will eventually happen to the Pacific garbage patch.

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Shrewed
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When one can no longer make a credible defense, it is not helpful to change to a different subject. The issue at hand is whether encapsulating water in plastic bottles impacts the environment.

Trash is a problem, ipso facto. This thread is not debating trash; whether we produce too much, produce the wrong kind, manage it effectively, or process it sufficiently. There are so many unknowns in the above claims regarding the impacts of trash on animals and the environment that it would make sense to start a new thread.

Now, to respond, I agree with having a plan. But, it is worthless to cobble together a hasty plan and never review it or assess its effectiveness. The plan to save the water droplets from being buried alive is a bigger waste of time than scouring the streets for pennies. While penny-searching can eventually net you a return, the time wasted could be used for far more lucrative and beneficial planning and acting.

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OpsanusTau
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I wonder what would be an appropriate way to get people to stop drinking bottled water.
In some stores, there are those machines where if you bring your own bottle, you can fill up with fancy water for a small cost. How expensive do you think bottled water would have to be before people chose to go that route (or the route of spending thirty seconds filling up a water bottle at a tap) instead?

I feel very confused whenever I think about someone intentionally buying a case of 24 bottles of water for home use. Why would you do that? Seriously.

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jasonr
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I was just starting to get smug about the fact that I don't drink bottled water when I realized that I'm busy drinking a big Diet Pepsi out of a 600 ml bottle. The earth is doomed...
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OpsanusTau
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Well, the earth is probably doomed regardless of your Diet Pepsi.

What your Diet Pepsi is probably dooming is your metabolism. [Smile]

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Shrewed:
When one can no longer make a credible defense, it is not helpful to change to a different subject. The issue at hand is whether encapsulating water in plastic bottles impacts the environment.

Trash is a problem, ipso facto. This thread is not debating trash; whether we produce too much, produce the wrong kind, manage it effectively, or process it sufficiently. There are so many unknowns in the above claims regarding the impacts of trash on animals and the environment that it would make sense to start a new thread.

Now, to respond, I agree with having a plan. But, it is worthless to cobble together a hasty plan and never review it or assess its effectiveness. The plan to save the water droplets from being buried alive is a bigger waste of time than scouring the streets for pennies. While penny-searching can eventually net you a return, the time wasted could be used for far more lucrative and beneficial planning and acting.

I wasn't trying to change the subject. You appeared to be broadening the subject and dismissing it all at once. Despite your clarification in the quoted post, I still don't see how your original comment about short sightedness could be taken as anything but dismissal of environmental concerns - especially when taken with the description of environmentalists as lunatics and the idea that we need to break some eggs.

But I'm glad to know we agree that we need a plan. [Smile]

I'm not sure if you're talking directly to OSC with your criticism of hasty plans that are never later assessed, or what. OSC's not talking about implementing some kind of expensive bottled water reclamation project. Even if he's entirely serious - and he's really not, but for the sake of argument - he completely discounted the possibility of anything like that. The "hasty plan" amounts to a request for people to empty their bottles. There's no danger there, Shrewed...no reason to say this exemplifies whatever it is you see as the problem with other environmental causes.

I think we're all in agreement that we have much bigger environmental priorities than water trapped in plastic bottles.

(I have to say, it seems a little ironic that you're asking us to consider a parallel between this essay and the Empire material as evidence that OSC is displaying a symptom of the "intelligentsia." Because if you're actually familiar with his writings, you know he totally has it in for the "intelligentsia" and is rather blatant about his confirmation bias in trying to dismiss favorite causes of the class like gay rights and global warming.)

[ April 07, 2010, 09:17 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

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Omega M.
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quote:
If present trends continue, it is estimated that within the next four hundred thousand years, not only will all the planet's carbon be tied up in the plastic of these discarded water bottles, but also the entirety of the world's oceans will be locked up inside these bottles.
Of course, the chance of present trends continuing to this point is almost zero, right? So he must be trying to be funny here, but by making such an ludicrous statement he's obscuring the fact that constant discarding of plastic water bottles could create an ecological problem in far less time.
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Shrewed
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I don't see the irony or humor in what OSC or others have written. The whole Global Warming fiasco is comprised of numerous anecdotes and quasi-scientific snippets of information.

OSC does a great job of taking on the intelligentsia in many cases, and I applaud him for it. However, there are still too many cases, such as the one in this thread, where many people still try to debate that it is a serious point; as is obvious in this thread. My point is to question the claims of "green" theories because far too many of them are accepted on faith, or perhaps as a concession for all of the ones that have been fully discredited.

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