Friday, July 4, 2008

Chaos Theory

Due to the way my work load is structured, I have had a proportionately greater amount of free time at the office in the past month or so. Rather than explore the limitless possibilities of youtube entertainment or hone my skills at the multitude of flash based games on the internet, I began digging through the Observer-Reporter's website. In doing so, I discovered an entertaining past time: arguing with strangers about any topic you can imagine in the “comments” section of the daily poll question. This venue has afforded the dotted one the opportunity to impart, though the magic of electronic osmosis, snapshots of my own infinite wisdom and sagacity to millions (ok, more like a dozen or so) of thirsty citizens. This has not been without its miniature controversies. Due in part to our nature of being political animals, both in the traditional Greek sense and the flawed, but still valid, modern connotation of the phrase. I have been labeled a bleeding heart liberal, a bible thumping neo-con, an idiot, and a “patch and lunchbox AO, JA, LMNOP.” I have puzzled over those contradictions and wondered how I could appear so differently to different people. I have concluded that it's my approach. My goal is to lead people from the cave not by persuading them to the virtues of life in the light, but by arming them with information and letting them find their own way out. The problem with information is that it is often without bias. It is a blank slate, onto which you can project what you want the information to tell you. As with just about any event, it reminds me of a story.

There once was a farmer. He was a non-traditional type of farmer. He grew not corn, nor cattle, but tended a forest. He had his property mapped out on a grid and would harvest trees in a manner that ensured that his forest was always thick with standing timber. His trees were a natural mix of oak, pine, birch, elm, walnut, and others. His walnut would be crafted into traditional-looking heavy furniture with a shine and weight that were not equaled. His oak would be fashioned into thin boards that would serve as a polished floor in houses far and wide. His pine would assemble picnic tables and white picket fences in the quaint little suburbs around his farm. Whatever was left over... the scraps, the dust... would go to a paper mill and be squeezed into paper. But a movement was brewing... the world was going green. People had caught onto the idea that if you eliminated your need for wood, you wouldn't have to cut down trees. The trees could then remain standing, scrubbing our atmosphere and holding back hillsides from erosion. It made sense... how could it not? So they bought furniture made of polymers. They installed flooring made of bamboo and cork and laminate materials. Their fences became vinyl and never needed painted again. And they recycled their paper. People stopped asking for trees from the tree farmer. His forest grew thick and wild. Everything was working... everything, that is, except the tree farmer. He, too, had switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs, but it was harder to keep them on, what with no money to pay the electric bill. He suffered, his family suffered... but his forest flourished. Then, one day, there was a knock at the door. On his porch stood a swanky New York type, a real estate developer. He wanted to build a shopping center on the farmer's land. It would have a home improvement store that sold green building materials. There would be an office supply store that would sell only recycled paper products. And there would be a furniture store that sold polymer furniture guaranteed to last for years and not cause the felling of a single tree. The buildings themselves would be state of the art with solar panels, water reclamation systems, and it's very own windmill. But the price... Oh! The price! The amount of money offered to the farmer, not for his trees, but for the dirt they grew in... it was staggering. The farmer would be crazy to turn down the offer. He accepted, and moved his family to Florida. Now, the only farming they do is pick fresh oranges and lemons from their orchard. But what became of the tree farm? It was clear cut, bulldozed, and paved over. The buildings went up and people flocked from all around.

I will be honest and take a position. I am all for recycling, conservation, and advancing technology to reduce our impact on the environment. But with this issue, more than any other because of its global scale, you have to take into account what possible order can come from the chaos. The scenario I detailed above is not right or wrong. It is something that could simply happen. There are very few “easy” answers to any problem. We must consider how our actions could affect things... not just how we want them to affect things. We live in a dynamic world that is getting smaller. What was it now... 132 years ago that 5 guys penned a declaration... look how the dominoes have fallen. From many, one? From parchment, power.



Blogger Monique Ringling said...

Morning E,
202 yesterday. not bad for a day that is the last one before a long weekend. I'll text you tomorrow today's stats.


July 4, 2008 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

You are a superstar... if it takes any longer than like 6 seconds to find the stats, don't worry about... enjoy the holiday... I will just assume that it is 5,674,678 :-)


July 4, 2008 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Monique Ringling said...

lol. I'm a geek! Luv stats. We just had our ceremonial tapping of the keg so I have to take care of business while I still can. If you know what I mean ;o)

Have a good one,

July 4, 2008 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

... Your farmer argument is flawed from the very beginning.

All those varieties of trees will not grow in the same place. Birch, for example, does not grow where oak trees grow. Everything that follows the flawed beginning went down the drain.

July 4, 2008 at 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

alright... there weren't any birch there... it was poplar. You got me.


July 4, 2008 at 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you find your writing hailed by those on both sides of the issue as supporting their cause, you have achived success.

July 4, 2008 at 11:03 AM  

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