Out In Nature

The forest is doing well.

Felton has certainly changed since my grandparents arrived in the early 1940s. So many more homes have been built around their formerly isolated home on Ashley Street. A supermarket and two big drug stores are within walking distance of Downtown. There are more people and traffic here in Felton now than there were in Sunnyvale when they left.

Wow, Sunnyvale has certainly changed as well.

Yet, nature is still natural. The second growth redwoods are getting to be eighty years older than they were back then. So are some of the old oaks and firs. Otherwise, the forest and all the flora and fauna in it function now like they did back then.

Dogs enjoy nature too.

It has been slightly more than a year since I wrote ‘Fake Environmentalism‘, about the misconception that homelessness is more detrimental to the environment than domestic lifestyles are. That article was more about how domestic lifestyles affect the environment in ways that few of us give much thought to, rather than the relatively minimal impact of homelessness.

We all have seen pictures of the most horrendous of homeless encampments, which are typically inhabited by those afflicted by functionality compromising mental disorder. Encampments such as these exemplify homelessness no more accurately than the White House exemplifies all domestic situations. They are rare, and still less polluting than average domestic lifestyles.

Most homeless encampments are not much to get pictures of. Many homeless people leave nothing where they sleep for the night, but instead take everything with them when they leave in the morning, even if they return at the end of the day.

I could see no evidence of encampments while walking with Rhody through an area where a few homeless people live. I might have found minor evidence if I had looked for it, but that was not my intention. If I had wanted to see evidence of human habitation, we would have walked on one of the several suburban streets in town.

Coastal Cleanup Day – Saturday, September 21, 2019

Coastal Cleanup Day is an ‘international day of volunteer action’; but we notice it most locally, as volunteers are out collecting trash and debris throughout the watershed of the San Lorenzo River. So much gets cleaned up and taken away in just three hours from 9:00 a.m. to noon!

Because there are fewer of us in our small Group than there had been before, there are fewer of us to attend. Two who so dutifully participated annually, as well as with most other cleanup events, now reside in Copperopolis, so will not participate locally. Another is temporarily in Morgan Hill, and works on Saturday.

This year, only one, or perhaps two from our Group will be participating, but will likely be going to Capitola to do so with friends. Of course, there are often those who do not plan to attend, but end up directing participants to areas of significant debris accumulation, and helping with the collection of such debris.

Statistically, for our small Group, that is still rather good attendance. If we estimate that there are about fifteen of us now, and one of fifteen participates in Coastal Cleanup Day, that is 7% of our total. 7% of the approximately 4,000 people of Felton would be 267 volunteers! There would not be enough trash and debris for that many to share.

In the past, when there were approximately twenty of us, at least two of us participated annually. There were more typically three or four of us. That is a minimum of %10.

Perhaps one of the few disadvantages to the many advantages of several of us procuring employment and housing, and some of us relocating to do so, is that there are not quite so many of us to participate in events such as the Coastal Cleanup Day.

Hypocrisy – Fake Environmentalism

Fake environmentalism is a HUGE topic, so for now, will be limited to fake environmentalism as justification for the eviction of homeless encampments.

The yellow triangle in the picture above was the site of the Hero’s Camp, which was more commonly known as Ross Camp, and located behind Ross Dress For Less in Gateway Plaza in Santa Cruz. It is gone now. This satellite image was taken by Google Maps prior to the development of the Camp. I did not get pictures of the camp while inhabited, but you have likely seen enough other camps in the news to imagine what it looked like.

It really was as big as it looks, and really did exhibit all the problems that you hear about in the news, although not to such an exaggerated degree. Not everyone there used syringes to inject illicit narcotics. Not everyone there was an alcoholic. Not everyone was violent, from somewhere else, or a criminal. This is not about such issues anyway. It is about how the two hundred or so unhoused people who lived here affected the environment.

Was there trash? Of course there was. Was it more than what two hundred people who live in homes generate? No. Houseless people do not generate as much trash as the housed, simply because they lack resources to purchase the commodities from which so much trash is generated. The houseless certainly do not waste as much as the housed. Their trash just happens to be more visible for outsiders who do not know any better to see.

Furthermore, what is so typically described and perceived as trash is actually the belongings of those who live in such camps. Without closets, cabinets or furniture, our belongings would look about the same, except much more voluminous. When we take just some of the belongings that we don’t want or need and put them out in front of our homes, it is a garage sale, and likely amounts to much more than individual homeless people own.

The satellite image from Google Maps below shows the neighborhood where my grandparents lived in Felton, less than seven miles north of where the picture above was taken. Their old home is right in the middle of the picture. There were not so many other homes there when they arrived, just as World War II was ending. They lived a relatively modest lifestyle, on a small suburban parcel. They were not concerned about the environment.

Why should they have been? Even now, the people who live in homes here can generate as much trash as they want to, and no one will complain about it. They can fill their homes with their belongings, and put them neatly away in closets, cabinets and drawers. There are alcoholics in this neighborhood, as well as a few who are addicted to illicit narcotics. Some are criminals. Some are violent. Few are native. Again, this is off the main topic.

None of that is visible in this satellite image anyway. What it shows instead is how the lifestyles of those who live in homes are more detrimental to the environment than the lifestyles of those who lack homes. This picture is the same scale as the picture above, so you can see that only a few homes would fit into an area comparable to that in which about two hundred unhoused people lived. Only a few people live in each of these few homes.

What that means is that two hundred people like those who lived at the Hero’s Camp live dispersed over a much larger area, on land from which trees and vegetation needed to be removed. They all live in homes that are made of wood derived from trees that grew in forests. These homes are furnished with synthetic plaster, carpet, paint, glass, vinyl, metals and all sorts of materials that needed to be quarried, processed or manufactured.

It doesn’t end there. These homes consume energy for heating, lighting and whatever else that gas and electricity are used for. Cars driven by those who live in homes are also constructed from raw materials, and then need fuel to function. Water is consumed as if it were not a very limited resource. Much of it gets mixed with soaps and detergents before going back into the environment. Chlorine volatilizes from chlorinated swimming pools.

Then there are the landscapes and gardens, the parts of domestic lifestyles that we actually believe to be beneficial to the environment. They contain exotic (non-native) plants that compete with native species, and interfere with natural ecological processes. Irrigation of the landscapes stimulates growth of redwoods, and accelerates decay of oaks. Soil amendments, fertilizers and some of the pesticides change the chemistry of the soil and ground water.

Just compare these two pictures. As bad as the mess at Hero’s Camp was, the two hundred people who lived there were less detrimental to the environment and the local ecosystem than those who live in just a few of the homes visible in the picture below. Those who claim to be concerned about the environment should be more concerned about the ecologically detrimental lifestyles of those who live in homes than those who lack homes.

(Incidentally, the title was changed slightly from the original post [in another blog] to conform to the meme of ‘Hypocrisy’.)