103 – Eco Poser Test

Published 12 years ago in Permaculture , Podcasts - 0 Comments

Paul and Jocelyn are here after a few weeks without podcasts. Paul’s been accumulating things he wants to put in a podcast, but he’s been too busy to sit down and make one. The web) empire continues to grow. It’s hard to decide whether to put energy into making new stuff, or promoting the stuff that he’s already made, like his hugelkultur article.

Somebody complained about him going on and on about CFLs, which is just one of many, many topics. Recently he’s gotten some good feedback on that, on top of all the greenwashing hate mail.

Common Sense. Paul rejects this term. The people who use the phrase often don’t seem to have common sense. Anyway, if it’s defined by being “common,” why is this something to be valued? Many times, people described as having no common sense are doing some deeper, more creative thinking.

Normal vs Abnormal. Sometimes abnormal is the better thing. For example, re-using items is not “normal,” but it’s far preferable even to recycling materials.

Agreement vs disagreement. If somebody agrees with Paul on 9900 things, but disagrees with one hundred, they tend to completely reject him as “crazy.” They can’t focus on the 9,900 things on which they agree. Jocelyn thinks maybe it’s part of the American culture to be less accepting of people for wacky or out-there ideas.

Reddit. Paul has been banned from 3 subreddits for “posting his own stuff.” They are unhappy that he is linking to his own stuff. Many forums have this sort of rule, banning self promotion. You could make a sockpuppet account and have them post links, that’s totally OK, apparently. But Paul can’t, for example, post a link to his hugelkultur article. (Ed: this would make more sense if the hugelkultur article were selling something.)

Podcasts and links (and Google). Paul started making podcasts when people begged him to do this. Those people were supposed to post links to these things on Reddit, instead of Paul posting links. He stopped posting links, and nobody picked up the slack. His traffic dropped by half. (Ed: you, dear reader, could still help with this, if you have a Reddit account.) There are people who are posting things, and they are helping, it’s just not as many as Paul was hoping for. The great thing about Reddit is that it’s a link aggregating site, showing people what’s cool on the internet. Just recently, somebody posted a link to his rocket mass heater article on Reddit, and he got 5000 views from that. Facebook has much lower click-through levels, more like one view per posting (on somebody’s wall). Right now, Paul’s lawn care article is in position 16 when you google “lawn care.” Those 15 in front of Paul’s article have likely employed “thousands of people in China” to make links to game the google search function, and so now when people look, they don’t see Paul’s article on the first page. You could help, by making your own blog, and linking to Paul’s stuff, to help his Google-fu.

Hugelkultur article. He wrote the article in 2005, and as of 2012, it has reached 64,000 people. Paul really thinks it needs to reach 50 million people. Here’s another way to help: you could post a link to the article to your local permaculture email list, or Meetup group.

The Age of Stupid: the movie. It’s a documentary that starts with the perspective that it’s 2055 and humanity is nearly extinct. From there, they ask: didn’t people see this coming? Then they document actual craziness that is going on right now. But the average person hears that the environment is being destroyed, and they feel like since they’ve bought a cfl they’ve done their environmental thing for the day, they can get some pizza! Most of the movie is showing our modern reality, the construct helps the movie be more entertaining. There’s a family who are learning, and are making hard choices to make things better, but there’s another family who feel like they are helping, but they are actually making things worse! There’s a fight over a wind farm, where a rich lady whose second home would be near the proposed windmills fought the project, as an “environmentalist.” They said the windmills would be too noisy. Paul and Jocelyn actually tried to hear a windmill, but even though they got really close to one, they still couldn’t hear it over the noise of the cars on the road. There’s a terrible bit about Shell Oil in Africa, drilling for oil. They just burned all the natural gas they found, making massive clouds of black smoke that sickened locals. A village that protested was massacred.

Watching that movie inspired Paul to write his article about “Are you an eco-poser?” It’s gotten him a lot of hate mail. We do tend to think that if we’re participating in various greenwashing activities, that makes us “green.” He proposes that to decide whether someone is an environmentalist, you should simply look at their energy use. If you spend less than $1000 per year on electricity and gas ($83/month) then you are spending less than the average American and thus, you can call yourself an environmentalist. If not, you can’t! So there! Jocelyn points out that Paul’s test doesn’t take transportation energy use into account. It doesn’t take food sourcing into account. Paul counters that a truly accurate test would “fill a library” and would change daily. It’s just an eye-opening thought, to poke at those who think themselves green because they are now 20% more efficient than they were 3 years ago. Paul thinks that being an environmentalist is just being kind to your neighbors.

Back to the Hugelkultur article. Paul thinks this article has the best chance to really change the world. If he can get people to stop throwing away waste wood, stop hauling it away, stop burning it (in a pile, a rocket mass heater is something else, obviously), stop chipping it, that could really make a difference in the world.

“People keep telling me what I HAVE to do.” Folks don’t realize how many hundreds of people are all telling Paul what to do, and how the things they demand are in complete opposition to each other! Paul can’t even come close to getting his own stuff done, don’t try to add to it. Jocelyn says well, is this just the price of being a celebrity? The river of email that Paul gets is endless and entrapping. People want to get Paul to broadcast their stuff in his persuasive voice, via his empire and such. He can’t. There’s too much to do.

There are cool ideas about rocket mass heaters, that need to get done. There were 4 cool T-shirt designs that they came up with, but the guy making the t-shirts unilaterally decided that Paul’s investment needed to go from $200 to $1000. That was the end of that project.

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs. This is something that Paul feels he NEEDs to crusade on. It’s the quintessential example of greenwashing, that the thing people think is green is actually making things worse. Even Geoff Lawton told Paul to drop the topic, that it’s beneath him, but he feels like SOMEBODY needs to point out this hypocrisy. These things make people sick. Paul guesses that about a third of people have adverse reactions to them.

Paul shares a story about a guy who wrote a scathing letter to the editor about his CFL experiment. Paul was able to call him on the phone and in person, get his point across. The guy thought he was an environmentalist and was very offended that Paul was attacking these green things, but when presented with the facts, he came around.

Finally, there’s a discussion about podcasts and publicists and promotions. If you, dear reader, were to contact the hosts of a large audience podcast that might like to learn about something from Paul then he would have an opportunity to reach thousands of new people. Paul can’t do it, and he doesn’t have a publicist to do it.

Relevant Threads

Wheaton Eco Scale
Paul’s Article on CFLs
Paul’s Hugelkultur Article

You can discuss this podcast on this thread at Permies.

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