Frequently Asked Questions
Do you really believe that "your share makes a difference"?
Yes, we do. Please see blog post 12/29/2009 - 'Renaming ysmad - does your share make a difference?' for a lengthy statement.
Why did you start this site?
How do you like that: "Because we only have this one planet?" :) Well seriously, there is a need to do something. The trigger probably was a discussion, where the opinion was held that "we don't need polar bears, they are sufficient to have in zoos" and that "global warming is not man-made, consider that 'greenland got its name because it was green' and 'solar variation might as well cause current global warming'".
While all this might be true (!), I think it neglects
a) that for almost no species you can make a statement like the former, unless all interdependencies in nature are understood (which of course they are not). Do we know for sure what "side effects" the loss of the polar bear or any other species will have? There are tons of examples of mis- or not understood cycles. Until we know more, it's probably better to play safe - see also the quotes to the right!
b) the broadly accepted consensus of science, that the very likely reason for global warming are human activities; the same cause for what is considered the "sixth mass extinction" of species (and the first conscious mass extinction by the way).
Discussions like that and the i.m.o. unawareness of global environmental problems made us start "ysmad". And of course one more point, which made us start collecting "green tips": assessments like "I (personally) cannot do anything anyways". That's too easy we think, as it is pretty well-known that you e.g. can save a little bit of rainforest each time you choose a stew instead of a steak (vegetable stew, of course!). Globalization not only causes remote impact, it also allows remote action!
Why are you still driving a car and eat steaks?
A valid question, huh? Why don't we do more? Someone might expect us to always go by bike and live completely green. However (and we by the way hope you judge us by no other standards than yourself's!), it seems we are in a phase where we first need to raise awareness and a willingness to act.
As long as there is too little attention/consideration to this matter, i.e. there are too few people willing to sacrifice a tiny share of their current lifestyle for future generations (humans and non-humans alike), demanding this would leave the ones who care with a gross disadvantage in our society, while little is gained. Again: there primarily is a need to get mainstream support.
If it then turns out the majority - after appropriate information - does not support the efforts of environmental protection - so be it. If it turns out the majority does want to change - we are all for it. We will gladly accept any gas price including environmental costs, will subsequently go more by bike and will reduce meat consumption to whatever is deemed appropriate by all. Until then, we leave the heating below 66° and the AC above 88°F, buy local and in-season products, support rainforest protection, save resources; and maintain this site for information.
Who decides what "sufficient" contribution is?
The catchword of course is "sustainability", although hard to measure and sufficiently vague for everybody to live with. Basically it's politics that needs to set the bar. But as politicians depend on the will of the majority, and we tend to be oblivious to anything which brings inconvenience and/or takes money, little is happening. Sure, sustainability could mean less convenience and higher energy costs - which does not mean we can ignore its need. So in the end, we need to start and support it ...
Here is a suggestion: until politics does change we may just start trying to live below the average eco footprint. If everybody joins in and succeeds, this will inevitably lead to sustainability - it's math! ;)
And besides, we are sure - to make a completely unfounded and unscientific statement - we could easily reduce our footprint by 20% without having any significant reduction in quality of life.
For concrete ideas see ysmad's green tips. This - again - includes the step to convince a majority of a need at all, along with it politics. Sure, a few "green tips" won't be the solution - but for now these are the most readily available, plus quite effective measures to slow the impact on our environment. See also the blog post from 12/29/2009 regarding this.
Isn't all this ... a little bit ... hypocritical?
Remember, this is the preachy site! However, we practice what we preach - almost all of the "green tips" on ysmad.com we put into practice our own (few exceptions e.g. for reader contributions).
I.m.o. it would be hypocritical to demand more than you are willing to give yourself. That's not the case. Just to realize it needs more than a group of conservationists, and aiming for a majority before you go 100% for a change I don't consider "hypocritical". I fact that's more the rule than an exception.
I do accept such critics from people who on balance better meet sustainable lifestyles than we do. For all others:
Either you are convinced there is a need to act - then we are on the same page and we will be happy to discuss what can be done better.
Or you are not convinced - but then we should not discuss about the how, but the why.
Either way: wouldn't it truly be hypocritical to egoistically exploit and spoil resources, talking about "a better future for our children", but then pretend the risks weren't known or we didn't know about countermeasures?
We are 'the preachy site' - hence take that!:
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir
Uh - got another one related to point 1a) to the left:
"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." - Chief Seattle
Seems in the 1800s they knew more about sustainability than we do today ...