Friday, December 14, 2007

Urban Green Vs. Rural Green

I was talking to a friend of mine last Tuesday, and I was telling her how I was cutting down some trees on my property. She seemed disapproving, and was kind of having the opinion that I shouldn’t cut down trees at all. Now I don’t know if she was joking or what, but she is quite environmentally conscious so for a bit, I’d like to explore what I like to think of as the differences in philosophy of Urban Green and Rural Green.

Of course, as a human, I am not free from bias, and anyone who thinks they are is deluding themselves, so I’ll just step right up and say that I am Rural Green, and am likely never to be Urban Green unless God decides I should be. I do not think that Rural Green is better than Urban Green, I don’t really take sides, all I am doing here is just saying that there are differences in philosophies and practices. Certainly both urbanites and ruraliens must be green, but by necessity, they need to be green in different ways, and different personalities and ways of life are involved.

First some definitions:

Urban Greenies are those environmentally conscious people who live in or close to cities. They typically have very little acreage to work with, likely drive small or even electric cars, are focused on minimizing consumption and increasing efficiency.

Rural Greenies are those environmentally conscious folk who live out in the country, or have some land closer to the city. They have some land, at least big enough for a substantial garden, may own a larger vehicle for farm work, but like the Urbans, try to minimize consumption and increase efficiency. They often own a number of outdoor power tools like lawnmowers, rototillers, weed eaters, chainsaws, and the like.

I am of the latter persuasion, though my pickup is of the compact variety.

The Philosophies:

Urbans are very much recyclers. They shop at organic food places, and will tend to be trendy in their groups of like minded people. They were the first to use CFLs and are the first using LEDs. They may live in apartments, sharing walls with others and saving energy by keeping everything small and together. They are the greatest share of environmental activists, those who show up at protests and rallies. They believe trees are inherently good. They often are politically active, and some dream of becoming Rural Greenies.

Rurals do not always have recycling available to them. They may grow their own organic food or get some from neighbors. They tend to be ok with being alone and enjoy working on their “farms.” They often own farm type animals such as chickens and the like depending on land availability. They tend to be very practical, often building their own systems for sustainability. They make less money. They believe the land should be used sustainably, and believe in using renewable resources like wood for heat. They are not always politically active, but write the best articles and books about what they do.

Alright so what about the question of trees that my buddy had?

Well, it goes like this. Trees are good for removing pollution, they hold the soil, they provide shelter for animals, they hold hammocks. But they also make heat. And that is one reason why I am cutting SOME of mine down. That and I need grass to make compost, and space for a future orchard and garden expansion. Trees are a resource. Like coal, only trees grow back. Environmentally speaking, in Arkansas, most energy comes from coal, and if I can heat my house without using coal, then all the better for me and the rest of the world. I grew up in a house with no central heating, only wood stoves. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that my dad installed a big swamp cooler (evaporative cooler) on the roof that we had any kind of central cooling. Consequently, even though my dad has a big shop and runs all sorts of large electrical equipment all the time, and a well pump, his power bills are always lower than mine, and my house is about two thirds the size of his and I don’t have any big electrical equipment.

Conclusion. I don’t know, I don’t really have one. I guess we all need to understand that there are different strokes for different folks. I have hundreds of trees, I have a big garden, I am planting more trees this spring, I have a bunch of grass, I think overall my carbon footprint (right) is fine. My stuff absorbs more pollution than I make, I’m not worried about it. I don’t wanna get negative, but urban greenies don’t really understand that they only consume, and that we not only consume but also produce. Without the Rurals, the Urbans wouldn’t really make a difference because they only use, if they only use less, they still use, it takes production to support consumption.

The trees produce, I consume, then I make sure that the trees can produce again. It’s called sustainability. It’s what God put us here for.


1 comment:

The Clarks said...

very interesting! I'm now a subscriber! you are a very good writer, I enjoyed reading your blog a lot.