PDA

View Full Version : Ukes and endangered woods.....shouldn't we care more?



pepamahina
12-29-2010, 10:06 AM
I've read a lot of talk here about woods of various kinds and which woods are better for what sound, and so on and so forth....but I can't find any discussion at all about wood choices in ukuleles and their environmental impact. Mahogony, for example, is a terrible choice in terms of the effect on world rainforests. When I was looking for my current uke I wrote to Kala asking them about where they source their woods and what they had to say about environmental impact, and they didn't even respond. I chose an acacia uke because I read a guide from rainforestrelief.org that said that acacia was a good alternative wood in its list of woods to avoid. You can see the pdf that I read here:
http://www.rainforestrelief.org/documents/Guidelines.pdf
I'd like to see more people talking about this issue here. So what do you think? Do environmental considerations ever enter in to the equation when you are choosing a uke?

roxhum
12-29-2010, 10:20 AM
I have not bought ukes based on environmental considerations. Thank you for bringing this subject up because it is a topic near and dear to me since I live in the giant Redwood forest region and we are very familiar with environmental concerns on our forest. I did not realize that Mahogany was a wood that impacted the rain forest. Thank you for turning a light on my ignorance. I just bought an acacia wood uke so I blindly made the correct wood choice but because it was so economical I am concerned where in China and by whom it was made. I think this is a good discussion to have and I know I would be willing to pay a little more money to know I was supporting fair trade and meeting environmental concerns.

Roxhum

TCK
12-29-2010, 10:32 AM
Would certainly love to see more of these around...so I could play one before I pull the trigger- coolest idea ever I think
TallGrass Ukuleles (http://www.tallgrassukuleles.com/products/tall-grass-bamboo-concert-ukulele-with-personal-soundhole-tg-cs?utm_source=google-product-search)

pdxuke
12-29-2010, 10:45 AM
I've read a lot of talk here about woods of various kinds and which woods are better for what sound, and so on and so forth....but I can't find any discussion at all about wood choices in ukuleles and their environmental impact. Mahogony, for example, is a terrible choice in terms of the effect on world rainforests. When I was looking for my current uke I wrote to Kala asking them about where they source their woods and what they had to say about environmental impact, and they didn't even respond. I chose an acacia uke because I read a guide from rainforestrelief.org that said that acacia was a good alternative wood in its list of woods to avoid. You can see the pdf that I read here:
http://www.rainforestrelief.org/documents/Guidelines.pdf
I'd like to see more people talking about this issue here. So what do you think? Do environmental considerations ever enter in to the equation when you are choosing a uke?

Good reason to buy vintage! :-)

jellybean
12-29-2010, 10:47 AM
RS Muth is a guitar maker in NY who is using sustainable wood.

Model S15 and has been dubbed the “New Yorker” since all of the woods were obtained in my home state of New York. This guitar features Adirondack Spruce soundboard and bracing, quartersawn black walnut back and sides, butternut/hard maple/black walnut neck, fumed pear fingerboard and bridge, hard maple binding, butternut linings and birdseye maple burlwood accents.


OTHER IDEAS
Dogwood would work for fret boards. Dogwood was used in the past for making roller skate wheels and spindles for the woolen mills. It is very tough and wears smooth. Holly, hornbeam and persimmon would also work well for fret boards. Although the color is light on these woods for fret boards and may need to be stained to help hide dirt and oil. "Ebonized" maple was used for economy string instruments.

Butternut is very good neck wood. It is light and strong and carves nicely. Working with butternut is like working with cedar. Walnut and ash would also work for necks.

Ash, cherry, birch, locust, walnut would work for back & sides.

rem50
12-29-2010, 10:49 AM
Thanks for the thought. Never really considered it.

bbycrts
12-29-2010, 11:04 AM
From the FAQ on Kala's website:

Q: Does Kala use environmentally sustainable wood sources?

A: Kala only uses woods that are from environmentally sustainable sources. We comply with all of the Lacey Act requirements regarding this issue. Our woods are common woods that are in good supply.

Tudorp
12-29-2010, 11:15 AM
to be honest, I never gave it much thought either.. I do believe that the good Lord gave us what we need on this earth, and we should use it, including to make music. But, saying that, I feel we should NOT abuse what God has blessed us with. Our over use and abuse of earth's resources does irriversible damage to our planet, and that is not being good stewards of God's gift to us. I am the same way about eating meat. I am an avid meat eater, and lover, but disagree how we abuse the animals we depend on for food, and over harvest for the sake of commerce.

All that said, I am sure musical instruments do impact precious woods, but I still bet it isn't near as much as other industry. Simple old growth pines no longer exsist due to over harvesting to built anything common like homes, furniture, siding, just about anything. Even particle board is made from pine pulp. Other hard woods, and even exotics are used in high end furniture, paneling, flooring, and so many industries outfitting the rich with their furnishings and comforts, that I still think that the woods used in musical instruments pale in comparison as far as impact. Just food for thought as well..

Plainsong
12-29-2010, 11:16 AM
No, it's not something any of the uke players I know are willing to talk about, and yes, we should care more. I'm guilty of two koa ukes and will probably have a third eventually. Then there's the D-VI for my husband (eventually), and that will be four. Past that, I really don't want to use that as a tonewood anymore. I feel guilty enough for those already. Doesn't the impact of mahogany depend on where it's sourced? Please correct me if I'm wrong there.

And of course as you point out, no one wants to discuss where it's sourced. :( I'm also concerned about factory conditions of the more budget ukes out there. It's a happy instrument. Wouldn't it be horrible for it be made in sweat shop conditions? But no one asks, no one knows, no one discloses. I've heard some of the factories are nice. But it was just some random internet thing I read. Anyone could type that with no source to back it up.

/Getting Mainland _Mahogany_ tomorrow. Guilty. :/

janeray1940
12-29-2010, 11:23 AM
I'm also concerned about factory conditions of the more budget ukes out there. It's a happy instrument. Wouldn't it be horrible for it be made in sweat shop conditions? But no one asks, no one knows, no one discloses. I've heard some of the factories are nice. But it was just some random internet thing I read. Anyone could type that with no source to back it up.


I've given this a lot more consideration than the actual environmental impact. When I first started playing I thought I would only buy vintage, but that turned out to be more of a "lifestyle" than I was willing to deal with (intonation issues, cracks, etc). I ended up with a made-in-China uke until I could afford my first Hawaiian one, and never really felt right about it. So I've committed to buying only Hawaiian or custom in the future.

As far as the environmental impact goes - I've seen bamboo ukes (http://www.guitarsite.com/news/other/new_solid_bamboo_ukuleles_from_cordoba/) out there, which I think is one of the most sustainable woods? They don't sound half bad, and the grain is kind of cool looking.

haolejohn
12-29-2010, 11:40 AM
Plainsong makes a great point. There have been many debates here and many locked threads about wood and factory conditions. I know that koa is an endangered wood but if i'm not mistakem all the koa used to make ukes is coming from supplies that were harvested years ago.
There is a point that we can get all hippy but unless you are willing to pay the price then there is a point that you have to understand that things have to be done. Think about this, If we all decide to not buy instruments b/c of where the wood comes from then what happens to the wood? It rots:)

OldePhart
12-29-2010, 11:41 AM
Like "rosewood" the vast majority of "mahogany" used in instruments today does not come from endangered rainforests. There are many species of wood loosely called "mahogany" and "rosewood," and most of what's currently being used is from pretty sustainable sources.

Also, instrument building in general has a very, very minor impact on supply. Even if one counts all of the instruments being made of wood, from flutes to harps to guitars and ukes, the total hardwood used is a tiny fraction of what is consumed by the furniture and cabinetry industries. You could probably make thirty ukes from the hardwood used in one good dresser, for example. And, while we tend to get tunnel vision and think of musical instruments as a major consumption of resources, in reality there are far more expensive dressers and wardrobes made every year than fine instruments. I.e. there are far more pieces of furniture than instruments produced every year and each piece of furniture uses enough wood to make many instruments.

It's not hard to find good Koa because the uke builders used it all up, it's hard to find Koa because furniture and cabinet makers used it up! :)

Furthermore, wood consumption is no longer even the primary motivation that is causing deforestation (frankly, I'm not convinced it ever was). Most of the deforestation is caused by clearcutting for agricultural purposes - i.e. expanding cropland - in an attempt to feed a burgeoning population. Sure, it's easy, or used to be, to find places where loggers were hauling off entire hillsides of trees. Now, that is less common but deforestation hasn't slowed - it's just that now most of the wood either gets used locally for construction or is simply burned off. Is burning off the forests more environmentally sound than harvesting the wood? Probably not... :)

Now, I'm certainly not against being environmentally responsible, but I think true environmental responsibility has to address industries in direct relation to their actual impact. It kind of reminds me of a Mad Magazine (is that even still published?) item thirty or forty years ago that showed a bunch of hippies demonstrating outside a power plant - then they piled in their VW flower busses and departed belching clouds of oil smoke... That wasn't just humor - it was actually a very accurate picture of the situation existing at that time - when that item was published the amount of airborn pollution from power plants was a tiny fraction of what was emitted by the millions of automobiles on the road. But, what did everybody want? Those dirty old power plants shut down. It wasn't until oil got really, really expensive in the 70's that we discovered that, hey, you can actually reduce pollution while increasing fuel economy - and thereby make a huge, huge impact on air pollution!

John

whetu
12-29-2010, 11:43 AM
In NZ we're pretty serious about conservation (http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-plants/) of our native forests. They were (ab)used by early European settlement and even to this day by Australians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Brushtail_Possum_%28New_Zealand%29). Once we cottoned on to the damage we were doing, we made it illegal to cut down native trees and their forests. Typically permission has to be gained to use wood that has naturally fallen over. Subsequently most of our everyday wood is from pine plantations, and our luthiers tend to import specialty woods, use swamp wood, or use recycled wood sources where possible, usually because that's the most accessible way to get the good stuff. We have a healthy recycled wood products industry, mostly furniture based.

That said...


Do environmental considerations ever enter in to the equation when you are choosing a uke?

To be honest, not really. However, if I was buying in a higher price bracket, then yes, it would enter the equation. And I would probably be buying from a local luthier rather than a more mainstream manufacturer, so I'd have the opportunity to background check where the wood used originated from

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-29-2010, 11:49 AM
Again, cattle is why koa isn't as plentiful as it should be. Want to save a koa tree? Give up eating beef. Cited from several sources on the Internet:
Koa in NOT an endangered wood. While Koa grows only in Hawaii, it is still the second most common tree in the State. There are presently over 100,000 acres being grown commercially. Current projections of Koa industry consumption require less than 6,000 acres on a sustainable basis. Hence, there are currently significantly more acres of Koa available than the industry will use. That being said, much of the original Koa forest land from old Hawaii had been converted to cattle pastureland in the past century.
All of the growers/harvesters I know are also required to replant.
Anyone want to try playing an uke made of cow leather?

pulelehua
12-29-2010, 12:11 PM
When I was going to get my MP custom made, I decided that I was going to source the wood myself from a "good" source. I looked at some sources in Oregon and Tasmania. I didn't have luck with either. I then went and looked at an endangered wood website, and got a bit despondent when I discovered the name of EVERY wood I was considering on their list. Ironically, as Chuck points out, Koa is not endangered. But I wasn't considering Koa. (The site in question said that koa will most likely become endangered before too long) The reality is that the world of rainforest hardwoods has been seriously exploited, and it is those woods which tend to be best for instruments. Not that other, more local favourites, like spruce, aren't endangered. It's a minefield.

In the end I went with zebrawood, which is not great. Lots of it is harvested by small groups of locals, so there's an argument that it is a good local economy wood, but there are boycotts on its use in cars (Mercedes used to use it on interiors). It was really an acoustic then aesthetic decision. And Mike could source it himself, so it was convenient.

From everything I've researched, if you got all the scrap of all the rare woods and used it to make ukuleles, you'd never have to cut down a tree for our own community needs. Well, tenors might be more of an issue, but a couple timber suppliers said that soprano-sized spares are common.

I do think this is an important issue, mostly because industry is eventually going to create either the mass shortages, or else the reactionary political will, to affect what woods we have access to.

swervy jervy
12-29-2010, 12:15 PM
I've read a lot of talk here about woods of various kinds and which woods are better for what sound, and so on and so forth....but I can't find any discussion at all about wood choices in ukuleles and their environmental impact...

I think I'm in love with you.

Oh, and Bean Sprout uses environmentally responsible materials for their instruments, too.

peewee
12-29-2010, 12:17 PM
Here is an opportunity for UU members to give back, regardless of whether koa ukes are truly a significant part of the deforestation problem:
http://www.ponotree.org/index.html
I don't know anything about the organization, but looked into the sustainability issue before buying a koa uke despite my concerns..

JoshFromTallGrassUkes
12-29-2010, 12:23 PM
We make & sell bamboo ukes with the hope of lessening our impact on the planet. It is true that instrument makers are not the primary reason that global tonewood supplies are dwindling. But all the same I'd prefer to see that fine koa in the hands of Chuck Moore or the Kamaka family or [insert fine Hawaiian brand here] instead of being shipped the extra distance to create a just-ok instrument.

haolejohn
12-29-2010, 12:24 PM
wow. I never knew. All the years I lived in Hawaii, I was always told that koa was endangered by all the aunties and uncles and tutus. I stand corrected. This is why, one should do research before telling things they heard as "fact":)

KevinV
12-29-2010, 12:25 PM
Here is an opportunity for UU members to give back, regardless of whether koa ukes are truly a significant part of the deforestation problem:
http://www.ponotree.org/index.html

I like the fundraising aspect of it too. If UU set up an account they'd get $20 for each tree planted...money I'm sure would help to maintain the site.

70sSanO
12-29-2010, 12:32 PM
Again, cattle is why koa isn't as plentiful as it should be. Want to save a koa tree? Give up eating beef. So I guess this is a good time for...

http://www.chick-fil-a.com/#thecows

John

bottlegreen
12-29-2010, 12:33 PM
I'm so glad people are willing to talk about this. If you really want to see a change, you have to vote with your dollar. I'd love to be able to support a luthier who hand-builds my uke in the most sustainable way possible... but my wallet and my noobishness dictate otherwise for now.

For future purchases I would LOVE to see a thread dedicated to eco-friendly ukes made with non-endangered wood and fair labor. It'd be pretty heartbreaking to discover that a thing which gives me so much joy was made by an underpaid and abused worker. It would be wonderful to have a reference for that, and might encourage people to take the green approach. For instance, I found Captain's Ukuleles in NZ, who use reclaimed wood (I know, you guys already know!). Every piece has a story to tell, and they're lovely. I totally have my heart set on a Backpacker!!

itsme
12-29-2010, 12:44 PM
This article from Fretboard Journal is a good read.

A Guitar Lover’s Guide to the CITES Conservation Treaty - An updated look at how the CITES treaty affects musical instrument collectors (http://www.fretboardjournal.com/features/magazine/guitar-lover%E2%80%99s-guide-cites-conservation-treaty)

OldePhart
12-29-2010, 01:08 PM
It'd be pretty heartbreaking to discover that a thing which gives me so much joy was made by an underpaid and abused worker.

While there are certainly labor practices that are outright abusive in some places; much of what we think of as abusive is actually an improvement for the workers concerned. I've spent a little time in asia and often within the lower classes those "abused" factory workers have things pretty good compared to their neighbors. One can debate whether that's "right" or not - but it's "what is" and when well-meaning people call for mass boycotts and so on the most common result is that a factory closes and the (former) workers are worse off than before.

Much of what is considered "abusive" was actually common place in our own (US and European) history. The 19th century was not a pretty place in urban America - we had sweat shops that would rival anything you see in China and India today. The reason we don't have them now is not because outsiders boycotted our industry - it's because our own national policies created a more skilled work force that was then able to negotiate with management. Ironically, the trend is reversing. Places like India, Korea, and China, and to a lesser extent Indonesia, have been investing heavily in education and creating a more skilled workforce while here in the US we are largely allowing our education system to lapse into third-world quality.

Personally, I think we as a nation have already turned a rather disheartening corner - once we exported jobs because other countries were a cheap source of labor. That still happens, but we are now exporting the highly skilled jobs to places like India and not just to save money, but because our own high school (and even college) graduates don't have the basic skills our industries need. I work in a highly skilled field and it's very, very difficult to find qualified candidates to fill positions - even in a crappy economy with rising unemployment. I used to do the telephone pre-screenings for my manager when we were hiring and it was mind boggling how many degreed candidates we'd get that were functionally illiterate. It's pretty sad when an East Indian or Chinese with English as a second language can communicate better, both written and orally, than any of the candidates born and educated here in the US.

John

JoshFromTallGrassUkes
12-29-2010, 01:14 PM
It'd be pretty heartbreaking to discover that a thing which gives me so much joy was made by an underpaid and abused worker.

If you're judging the pay of instrument builders in developing parts of the world by the same standards you apply to your own pay, I'm afraid you're going to be pretty disappointed. That said, the working conditions and pay of these workers has gone up dramatically in lock step with their skills.

So much so that, in the next five years, you're going to see a lot of manufacturing for North American-bound products move to Mexico. Even if SE Asian wages don't reach parity with Mexico's, the benefits (no import duties, more lax customs checks, better terms of payment, much shorter shipping times & distances) will make up the difference.

When that happens it will be a big win for Mexico as well as for the environment––an uke that travels a thousand miles is much more eco-friendly than one that travels three thousand. Since our goal at Tall Grass Ukes is to continually shrink our footprint, for us it's not a question of "if" but rather "when."

haolejohn
12-29-2010, 01:22 PM
While there are certainly labor practices that are outright abusive in some places; much of what we think of as abusive is actually an improvement for the workers concerned. I've spent a little time in asia and often within the lower classes those "abused" factory workers have things pretty good compared to their neighbors. One can debate whether that's "right" or not - but it's "what is" and when well-meaning people call for mass boycotts and so on the most common result is that a factory closes and the (former) workers are worse off than before.

Much of what is considered "abusive" was actually common place in our own (US and European) history. The 19th century was not a pretty place in urban America - we had sweat shops that would rival anything you see in China and India today. The reason we don't have them now is not because outsiders boycotted our industry - it's because our own national policies created a more skilled work force that was then able to negotiate with management. Ironically, the trend is reversing. Places like India, Korea, and China, and to a lesser extent Indonesia, have been investing heavily in education and creating a more skilled workforce while here in the US we are largely allowing our education system to lapse into third-world quality.

Personally, I think we as a nation have already turned a rather disheartening corner - once we exported jobs because other countries were a cheap source of labor. That still happens, but we are now exporting the highly skilled jobs to places like India and not just to save money, but because our own high school (and even college) graduates don't have the basic skills our industries need. I work in a highly skilled field and it's very, very difficult to find qualified candidates to fill positions - even in a crappy economy with rising unemployment. I used to do the telephone pre-screenings for my manager when we were hiring and it was mind boggling how many degreed candidates we'd get that were functionally illiterate. It's pretty sad when an East Indian or Chinese with English as a second language can communicate better, both written and orally, than any of the candidates born and educated here in the US.

John

Not to hijack but the quality of our education system is way better than 3rd world countries. The problem witho ur education system is the lack of support in the right places.

hoosierhiver
12-29-2010, 02:06 PM
I remember these topics being touched on before. Just in the past year or so US Customs has finally implented the Lacy Act which among other things prohibits the import of endangered or threatened species. It is very specific about certain wood and where they come fromn including the ban of woods from threatened rainforests/areas. Most if not all legal mahogany now is coming from Africa and is a diffeent species from S American mahogany. The same is true for rosewoods. I started selling mango wood ukes as a green alternative. Mainland will be coming out with some new models this year that are from more common mainland tonewoods.

GreatGazukes
12-29-2010, 02:08 PM
Hey has anyone checked the Piano forums to check on the debate on ivory and ebony keyboards??

But in a serious tone, the issue for me is sustainability, and how to rationalise it in practical day to day living. I bought a zebrawood uke and DID consider what I was promoting and, honestly, I was not completely happy with the moral implications, this tone wood not being sourced from plantations. But it is my decision to not purchase further ukuleles....if I play this one till I am dead, and it gets passed on to someone else who plays it for a long time, then the wood has had a good life and been well utilised.....for it to sit around and not be used would be the crime! Shipping and packaging all take their toll when combined with production of Ukuleles that are under-utilised and only bought to fill "unmet needs" (which I suspect are not uke related, meaning our ukes gives us status)(no intent to offend)

I take my hat off to those who are experimenting with sustainable materials and am anticipating the development of instruments that harness the qualities innovative materials and fabrications can bring us.

ukejoelele
12-29-2010, 02:33 PM
Anyone want to try playing an uke made of cow leather?

Erm, if its you that makes it, yes?! lol

ukejoelele
12-29-2010, 02:40 PM
Going back to the point of the thread though, it is a good point that if im honest I hadnt considered in my rush to fix my UAS.. I usually try to consider such things in my purchases.

Bradford
12-29-2010, 03:06 PM
Thanks Chuck for explaining the koa situation, I thought that was the case, but you are much closer and more involved in it than I am. To further complicate the issue, people need to understand that it not just a matter of whether a wood is endangered or not. Lutherie many times requires old, mature trees. I'm sitting here on the beach in Oregon surrounded by large Sitka spruce trees. None of them would be suitable for instrument grade wood. They grow too fast down at sea level, the space between the annual rings in a three foot diameter tree is between 1/4 and 3/8 of an inch. Our local Port Orford cedar has another issue, the local Indian tribes that control most of the existing stands are trying very hard to protect them, but they are being killed by disease. It is a complex issue, in many cases in poorer countries, the local timber is an important source of income for the local people. Do the richer nations have the right to tell them, you can't harvest those, they are endangered? In any case, if this is an issue that concerns you, talk to some of the smaller local luthiers in your area, they are perfectly capable and willing to build instruments out of sustainable woods of your choice.

Brad

Pippin
12-29-2010, 03:09 PM
The Koa used in Hawaiian ukes today is all deadfall. There is limited resource due to the harvesting of those deadfalls, moreso than the supply of live trees, but, still, with the demand for Koa what it is, lots of Hawaiian ukulele makers are careful about their sources. The Chinese imports have no problem with their supply of mahogany. Even Martin is using Mexican sourced mahogany on their S-0 model. There is little worry of depleting non-Koa materials any time soon.

We asked readers about "Green Ukes" in Ukulele Player Magazine and had little if any interest. I am pretty sure that most people aren't concerned about it.

pdxuke
12-29-2010, 03:19 PM
Al of SpruceHouse ukes builds with sustainable woods and advertises as such. And his ukes are reasonably priced, luthier built, quality instruments.

I've had the basic SO for a year and have thoroughly enjoyed playing it. It may be re-homed (on the marketplace) soon because of an.. um.. all mahogany instrument coming in. BUT, I've been told that the mahogany used is from renewable sources..

mendel
12-29-2010, 04:30 PM
I don't think that abstaining from purchasing an already made instrument will help. I think the issue is larger than that. Not sure how to fix it, but te truth is that if you don't buy the Uke, someone else will.

rasputinsghost
12-29-2010, 05:13 PM
I don't think that abstaining from purchasing an already made instrument will help. I think the issue is larger than that. Not sure how to fix it, but te truth is that if you don't buy the Uke, someone else will.

What? Consumer boycotts, when organized, can be pretty powerful.
Moreover, people shouldn't compromise their ethics just because their one action won't cause a whole company to fold.

rasputinsghost
12-29-2010, 05:17 PM
While there are certainly labor practices that are outright abusive in some places; much of what we think of as abusive is actually an improvement for the workers concerned. I've spent a little time in asia and often within the lower classes those "abused" factory workers have things pretty good compared to their neighbors.



So it's okay for buy goods made by virtual slaves as long as they aren't on US soil, as long as they're relatively better off?
Please don't use quotation marks around 'abused' as though it's not an actual reflection of working conditions all over Asia.
Thanks.

mendel
12-29-2010, 05:23 PM
Don't get me wrong- I'm not asking anyone to compromise their values or ethics. To each his own... I don't believe in consumer boycotts. I think that there is always going to be someone willing to buy... Especially once prices drop due to decreased demand. The producer is not the enemy... It is the consumer. It is the nature of the beast.

Give it a shot... Ask every UU member not to buy wood of a specific type. See if anyone stops buying it. If it works, I'm in. I want my son to have a planet to live on. I just don't think people will really commit to it.

haolejohn
12-29-2010, 05:41 PM
So it's okay for buy goods made by virtual slaves as long as they aren't on US soil, as long as they're relatively better off?
Please don't use quotation marks around 'abused' as though it's not an actual reflection of working conditions all over Asia.
Thanks.

It may be the conditions all over Asia but remember that is their culture. It's not ours. Do you support troops in Iraq? Or even Afghanistan? You don't have to really answer those but the point is that Americans tend to look at world issues through our eyes, not the locals.
I don't agree with the slave camps around the world but is that stopping me from buying goods made in China? No. Why not? B/c I can't buy all American goods. They are too expensiveand the amount of money on gas I'd have to spend to get to a location that sells all American goods would offset the "good" that I am doing.

But I understand the whole "abused" thing:)

itsme
12-29-2010, 05:49 PM
Wow, this seems to be going political real fast.

If anyone bothered to read the article I linked above, the fact is that the burden is on the companies that sell the finished instruments... they are up against all kinds of walls importing goods made with certain woods.

If you buy an uke from a US retailer, odds are it complies with the CITES/Lacy laws.

haolejohn
12-29-2010, 06:04 PM
Wow, this seems to be going political real fast.

If anyone bothered to read the article I linked above, the fact is that the burden is on the companies that sell the finished instruments... they are up against all kinds of walls importing goods made with certain woods.

If you buy an uke from a US retailer, odds are it complies with the CITES/Lacy laws.

i agree. As mentioned earlier I have read many threads on this and they always get locked. They are interesting though as long as they stay civil.

ukularwarhead
12-29-2010, 07:36 PM
Thank goodness wood is a renewable resource, eh?

ADD
12-29-2010, 09:49 PM
Would certainly love to see more of these around...so I could play one before I pull the trigger- coolest idea ever I think
TallGrass Ukuleles (http://www.tallgrassukuleles.com/products/tall-grass-bamboo-concert-ukulele-with-personal-soundhole-tg-cs?utm_source=google-product-search)

I pulled the trigger and pleased that I did. Have had mine for almost a week now. It is not a fancy uke, but I think there is beauty in simplicity. Well made, bright, resonant, good sustain, perfect intonation to the 7th fret and loud, with the side sound port, I can really hear what I'm playing. And the price, more than reasonable. I would recommend it, especially to anyone that likes the idea of using a smart renewable resource wood. One caveat, there are only side fretmarkers at the 5th, 7th and 10th fret.

Pippin
12-30-2010, 01:25 AM
Agreed. Yep, we have some serious issues with our educational system.

johntz
12-30-2010, 01:29 AM
Again, cattle is why koa isn't as plentiful as it should be. Want to save a koa tree? Give up eating beef. Cited from several sources on the Internet:
Koa in NOT an endangered wood. While Koa grows only in Hawaii, it is still the second most common tree in the State. There are presently over 100,000 acres being grown commercially. Current projections of Koa industry consumption require less than 6,000 acres on a sustainable basis. Hence, there are currently significantly more acres of Koa available than the industry will use. That being said, much of the original Koa forest land from old Hawaii had been converted to cattle pastureland in the past century.
All of the growers/harvesters I know are also required to replant.
Anyone want to try playing an uke made of cow leather?

Chuck is right on. When in Hawaii last month I talked to many high end wood workers about the scarcity of KOA. The answer was the same, KOA is very plentiful but the "GOOD" KOA is very scarce. When I asked what that meant, they all replied 100% the same. The high end woodworkers (artists who make the very expensive bowls, furniture ,etc) are all after the old, very curly (compression curl if they can find it), high grade wood. That stuff is what is very scarce as that is the stuff that has so much beauty that when made into a bowl someone is willing to pay $3K for it. As an artist who will spend the same amount of time and effort making a KOA bowl no matter the grade, they obviously want to make it out of the best wood possible to get a premium for the final object. So I think every time you hear about the scarcity of KOA that is what you are hearing about.

rasputinsghost
12-30-2010, 01:52 AM
It may be the conditions all over Asia but remember that is their culture. It's not ours.

But I understand the whole "abused" thing:)

Who is this 'we' we're talking about?
I'm Asian-American, so yeah, I'd consider Asia that to be part of 'my culture.' Thanks for assuming that, I guess? Moreover, I don't buy cultural relativism in general, and I'm not even sure how that excuses the insane double standard we have going on here. But really, I'm fine with accepting the fact that working conditions abroad are awful. However, what others seem to be doing is NOT recognizing how bad it is over there and write it off as, 'oh, they're not REALLY abused.' That's abhorrent.

Tor
12-30-2010, 02:26 AM
If you are concerned about deforestation in general then you should boycott any and all products containing palm oil. It's used in food, and cosmetics, and many other places. The demand for palm oil is the driver for large scale deforestation, see e.g. http://www.orangutan.org.au/palmoil.html
It's also just about the most unhealthy oil you can ingest so you shouldn't really eat any food containing palm oil in the first place. The problem is that most of the time food or other products are not even labeled as containing palm oil - so the other thing you could do would be to support such labeling to be required by law.

hoosierhiver
12-30-2010, 05:07 AM
Who is this 'we' we're talking about?
I'm Asian-American, so yeah, I'd consider Asia that to be part of 'my culture.' Thanks for assuming that, I guess? Moreover, I don't buy cultural relativism in general, and I'm not even sure how that excuses the insane double standard we have going on here. But really, I'm fine with accepting the fact that working conditions abroad are awful. However, what others seem to be doing is NOT recognizing how bad it is over there and write it off as, 'oh, they're not REALLY abused.' That's abhorrent.

You can't assume working conditions are always horrible either. For example, I personally know that the workers at our factory get several paid weeks off for Chinese New Year and are appreciated for their expertise.
I think large corporations like Nike who have alot of unskilled labor are more likely to abuse their employees. I have a sisiter-in law that worked at a Nike factory for about $4.50 a day.

UncleElvis
12-30-2010, 06:35 AM
Anyone want to try playing an uke made of cow leather?


If YOU made it?

Abso-bloody-lutely! *grin*

UncleElvis
12-30-2010, 06:38 AM
Erm, if its you that makes it, yes?! lol

Darnit, you beat me to it!

ukejoelele
12-30-2010, 06:50 AM
Darnit, you beat me to it!

HaHaHa Yea hands off UncleElvis! I couldn't miss a chance like that one.. talk about unique :)

GrumpyCoyote
12-30-2010, 07:13 AM
So far so good - but watch the judgmental posts folks. Be respectful of each others opinion or I will shut this thread down.

70sSanO
12-30-2010, 07:14 AM
So far we have covered, conservation, deforesting, exploiting labor, exporting jobs, education deficiencies, and I'm sure a few more.

I figure we're a page or two from tackling world hunger and then hammering out a middle east peace plan.

Good work!

John

haolejohn
12-30-2010, 07:25 AM
Who is this 'we' we're talking about?
I'm Asian-American, so yeah, I'd consider Asia that to be part of 'my culture.' Thanks for assuming that, I guess? Moreover, I don't buy cultural relativism in general, and I'm not even sure how that excuses the insane double standard we have going on here. But really, I'm fine with accepting the fact that working conditions abroad are awful. However, what others seem to be doing is NOT recognizing how bad it is over there and write it off as, 'oh, they're not REALLY abused.' That's abhorrent.

I agree with you. It isn't good, but are we (the general popualtion) willing to make the sacrafices that it would entail to change it?
But it is funny b/c most of us that think things need to be changed in Asia are against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which are in essence changing things over there. That is the double standard that I am talking about.

haolejohn
12-30-2010, 07:28 AM
So far we have covered, conservation, deforesting, exploiting labor, exporting jobs, education deficiencies, and I'm sure a few more.

I figure we're a page or two from tackling world hunger and then hammering out a middle east peace plan.

Good work!

John

Good Point, hopefully we get that resolved before the lock happens:)

clayton56
12-30-2010, 09:23 AM
So you would rather have koa, mahogany, ebony, and rosewood trees rot in the jungle untouched rather than make them into ukuleles and guitars, or violins and clarinets and oboes?

What separates humans from animals is we harness the environment to improve our quality of life. We don't just sit there and let it go to waste.

I'm all for conserving and farming rare woods and exploring alternative woods, but not to the point of letting those resources just sit there. I can't think of a better use for those woods than to make high end musical instruments.

And if roads need to be cut through a jungle to get at them, so be it. There's nothing sacred about a jungle, and if there's easier transportation and communication, there would be a lot less starvation and poverty in those areas.

By the way, once those roads are no longer used, a jungle will take over the area within just a few years.

whetu
12-30-2010, 09:53 AM
So you would rather have koa, mahogany, ebony, and rosewood trees rot in the jungle untouched rather than make them into ukuleles and guitars, or violins and clarinets and oboes?

What separates humans from animals is we harness the environment to improve our quality of life. We don't just sit there and let it go to waste.

I'm all for conserving and farming rare woods and exploring alternative woods, but not to the point of letting those resources just sit there. I can't think of a better use for those woods than to make high end musical instruments.

And if roads need to be cut through a jungle to get at them, so be it. There's nothing sacred about a jungle, and if there's easier transportation and communication, there would be a lot less starvation and poverty in those areas.

By the way, once those roads are no longer used, a jungle will take over the area within just a few years.

I recently went on a guided tour of our local water catchment area, which is basically a large valley that has been cordoned off, has active pest control etc but is otherwise untouched native forest. There are trees there that are thousands of years old. While we were walking along I noticed that a large Kauri tree had fallen across the track and they'd simply cut and moved a section out to the side of the track, simply in order to clear the track. I asked why they hadn't harvested it because it was absolutely beautiful wood just waiting to be used for producing similarly beautiful things. The answer was that because the area had been relatively untouched by man and, as such places are far and few between, the legislative mandate had come down that no flora or fauna was to leave the catchment area.

There was a Department of Conservation ranger from another area of the country there who was keen on gathering some seeds to transplant onto the island that he looked after, and he was denied by his own colleagues, the rules are that strict. One of the other rangers piped up and said that there were fellow rangers who were not too fond of the rules, because to their eyes there was perfectly good firewood going to waste.

Further along we saw another tree, a Pohutukawa, that had fallen over in a storm a few years ago. Its carcass was teeming with life with all sorts of saplings and ferns growing out of it. That was given as a reasonably good example as to why trees that fall over were left to rot - in order to encourage and sustain new growth, and to foster the wildlife that lived in the area.

Yes, harvesting deadfall is a sensible way to gain endangered wood resources, but at the same time you're still breaking that chain in the ecosystem (I didn't want to say "circle" for risk of invoking choruses of "The Circle of Life", I'm too hungover for Disney tunes :) ), you could say that you may as well just cut the trees down because the end result is the same.

I can appreciate your point of view, and on any other day I'd agree with you, but there's another side to the coin here :)

southcoastukes
12-30-2010, 10:05 AM
I have a rather intimate knowledge of this situation. I have spent most of my career in furniture, a decade of it overseas, including a bit of work in timber exports. I have ridden through forests, selecting the trees we would saw, mill and dry for our furniture exports. I have negociated with landowners and loggers.

Although I was offered a contract in China, I never went. What I'll say here is from a Latin American perspective. I know enough about other markets, however, to be able to say it applies in most other places as well.

First, wood products of any kind have almost nothing to do with deforestation. As others have suggested, it is conversion to agriculture that has done away with so much forest land.

You can, however, make an argument about not using certain endangered woods in the name of biodiversity. Boycotting them, however, is the best way to drive them toward extiniction.

The best way to keep forests is to keep value in forest products. Whether it is a wealthy landowner, or a poor campesino, if the forest cannot generate an income for him, then agriculture or cattle land, even the poorest sort, is where most will turn.

Prized timber is one of the valuable resources of the forest. It should not be cut wholesale, of course, but managed. Good forestry practices can make it a constant source of income.

Our small countries are trying to promote other sources of income as well, but without much budget or success. Probably can't find Iguana meat anywhere near, I imagine. Yes, I said Iguana. They live in the natural tropical forests, not cleared land or timber plantations, are much tastier than beef, and would be another substantial source of income for forest owners if we could develop a market. Every little piece of income means less chance of conversion to farm or pasture.

So please, look for Iguana steaks, bugers or whatever you can find (serious), and try to buy all your ukuleles made from rare tropical woods. That way you'll really be doing something to save our forests.

Plainsong
12-30-2010, 10:07 AM
You can't assume working conditions are always horrible either. For example, I personally know that the workers at our factory get several paid weeks off for Chinese New Year and are appreciated for their expertise.
I think large corporations like Nike who have alot of unskilled labor are more likely to abuse their employees. I have a sisiter-in law that worked at a Nike factory for about $4.50 a day.

I'm quoting Hoosier because the people who built this new Mainland I just got did a great job. It beats the pants off of other ukes I've had. We know that in such a factory, they don't get paid US scale, but my hope is that it's a nice place to work, conditions are what you expect from a nice place to work, and the hours are reasonable for a human being to tolerate, and it's generally the kind of place where you get an honest day's pay for an honest day's work in conditions that are not sweat shop slave labor.

As far as it is possible to do, would it be possible to post information on the Mainland site as to how the ukes are made? Obviously I know you wouldn't want to give anything away, or overlap with any other brands. It would be something that the competition isn't doing, if you want to look at it that way. I know Ko'olau has talked about it openly though. I can't find anything on Kala though. It's easy enough to see on sites like Alibaba who is possibly making some brands of ukes, but that's never the whole story. Another way to look at it is: These people are building us fine ukes, let's recognize them.

I realize the factory or the other brands involved in the factory may not allow it, but why sweep things under a rug if there's no need to. That's my thinking. And cheers for bringing us these fine ukes. :)

ukejoelele
12-30-2010, 10:38 AM
I agree Whetu I was going to post similar. A rotting tree in a forest is far from a waste in my eyes, its the breakdown of the nutrients it holds that feeds the forest. Been some interesting points/views raised in this discussion! Dont want to set an arguement lol but im pretty sure other animals 'harness' their environment also? I do agree they dont make such nice instruments out of their environment though :) And I agree the power of jungles to retake areas as you say, as long as they arent damaged too critically.

Ukuleleblues
12-30-2010, 10:43 AM
If YOU made it? abso-bloody-lutely! *grin*Might want to rethink the cow skin ukes http://www.renewable-energy-news.info/cow-flatulence-accelerates-global-warming/

ukejoelele
12-30-2010, 12:08 PM
Might want to rethink the cow skin ukes http://www.renewable-energy-news.info/cow-flatulence-accelerates-global-warming/

The leather was from the jungle conquering cows so its ok! plus if your making leather it means you have killed a cow, stopping global warming and saving the world? I hear they are planning on introducing kangaroo enzymes on cows digestive systems that prevents such problems.. (i wonder if the cows would miss a good trump?)

Chuck, im trying to rationalise it still in the hope you have been busy making it? lol

ichadwick
12-30-2010, 12:29 PM
Mahogony, for example, is a terrible choice in terms of the effect on world rainforests.
Good points, but be sure the wood that is named is the same as that on the concerned or endangered species list. Several different species are labelled "mahogany". But as Wikipedia notes,

The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany.[1]

The term was next applied to the wood of Swietenia macrophylla, which is closely related, and known as Honduras mahogany.[2]

Both are from the Meliaceae family.

Today, all species of Swietenia grown in their native locations are listed by CITES, and are therefore protected. Both Swietenia mahagoni, and Swietenia macrophylla were introduced into several Asian countries at the time of the restrictions imposed on American mahogany in the late 1990s and both are now successfully grown and harvested in plantations in those countries. The world's supply of genuine mahogany today comes from these Asian plantations, notably from India, Fiji, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.

Species of Swietenia cross-fertilise readily when they grow in proximity; the hybrid between S. mahagoni and S. macrophylla is widely planted for its timber. Mahogany is the national tree of Dominican Republic and Belize. It also appears on the national seal of Belize.

"Mahogany" may refer to the largest group of all Meliaceae, the fifteen related species of Swietenia, Khaya and Entandrophragma. The timbers of Entandrophragma are sold under their individual names, sometimes with "mahogany" attached as a suffix, for example "sipo" may be referred to as "sipo mahogany". Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile), a close relative, is sometimes called New Zealand Mahogany.

The term "genuine mahogany" applies to only the Swietenia mahoganies, wherever grown. The term "true mahogany" applies to any timber commercially called "mahogany" with or without qualification that is derived from the Meliaceae family. In addition to Swietenia mahoganies this applies also to Khaya (African Mahogany) and Toona (Chinese Mahogany) which are both from the Meliacae (Mahogany) family.

In addition, the US timber trade also markets various other FTC-defined species as "mahoganies" under a variety of different commercial names, most notably "Philippine mahogany", which in reality is actually a Shorea. This wood is also known as Luauan or Meranti.
My guess is that the mahogany used by most American companies and luthiers will be of the plantation kind.

Ingrate
12-30-2010, 02:10 PM
..in a word, no.

Ukuleleblues
12-30-2010, 03:44 PM
The leather was from the jungle conquering cows so its ok! plus if your making leather it means you have killed a cow, stopping global warming and saving the world? I hear they are planning on introducing kangaroo enzymes on cows digestive systems that prevents such problems.. (i wonder if the cows would miss a good trump?)

Chuck, im trying to rationalise it still in the hope you have been busy making it? lolI agree 110%

pulelehua
12-30-2010, 04:20 PM
The thing which seems to come out of this thread is:

1. We have really done a lot of damage to the world.
2. We really don't know how to fix it.

Comforting. La plus ça change.....

haolejohn
12-30-2010, 04:24 PM
The thing which seems to come out of this thread is:

1. We have really done a lot of damage to the world.
2. We really don't know how to fix it.

Comforting. La plus ça change.....
that about sums it up

OldePhart
12-30-2010, 05:08 PM
..in a word, no.

BWAAA-HAAA - succinct and to the point!

John

EDW
12-31-2010, 01:48 AM
So you would rather have koa, mahogany, ebony, and rosewood trees rot in the jungle untouched rather than make them into ukuleles and guitars, or violins and clarinets and oboes?

A good site which gives valuable info:

http://www.blackwoodconservation.org/

roxhum
12-31-2010, 03:51 AM
So far we have covered, conservation, deforesting, exploiting labor, exporting jobs, education deficiencies, and I'm sure a few more.

I figure we're a page or two from tackling world hunger and then hammering out a middle east peace plan.

Good work!

John

Pour me another drink and I will be right on that one.

Roxhum

hoosierhiver
02-03-2011, 09:14 AM
We recently got in a new shipment of ukes. When they spray on the finish, they use any sort of scrap to stuff inside the sound hole to prevent "overspray"( spraying the inside of the uke). Sometimes we find paper or pieces of foam inside the sound hole that they neglected to remove.
In this batch I was surprised to find someones old timecard inside a uke. I always thought our factory treated their workers pretty well and this helped me to be sure of it. The timecard had the workers 8 hour day, an hour lunchbreak as well as overtime pay listed on it.

Plainsong
02-03-2011, 09:23 AM
Well that's a relief. :) Do you think one day you'll be able to visit there in such a way that you can get an honest look at it? I understand when asking that, that it's a big step and there's some hoops to jump through and you're not made of money...

My hope is that with the factories making nicer instruments, that they're naturally are looking at keeping people who work at a higher caliber, and common sense dictates that your keep your factory a nice place to work if you want to keep your skilled workers.

But that's our common sense. OTOH, I also know plenty of Chinese people, and they're really proud of what they can accomplish, even if, like us, they don't always see eye to eye on what changes need to be made, if any.

The people involved in making my Mainland did a bang-up job (not literally!), and I hope they know that just like if we were buying a Western-made instrument, that we really appreciate it.

Nickie
02-03-2011, 09:46 AM
Thanks for bringing this up, and thanks to everyone else who posted information here. Being a tree-hugger, this is very important to me. It's not enough to emotionally care about the environment, you need to be informed of the facts. I was in Forestry college many years ago, but dropped out when I found out all I was gonna do was sell wood for buildings we don't need.
I love eating beef, but I have cut back. I have considered buying a bamboo uke, but it seems that they are more expensive than tree wood ukes (why?) and I don't find the keyboard color attractive.
The problem is that most (Americans) don't give a damn about the environment. Less than 10% of the population recycles here. They're too lazy to even save pop cans. It all goes into the landfill. I hate those plastic shopping bags (made of petroleum) that I see blowing around the streets and hanging in the trees, and I wonder what they do the fish? Is waste the American Way?
You can go to Chicobag.com and get their colorful little reusable grocery bags. I can get five of them in my purse, and they are washable.
BTW, the tactic most used against the Rain-forests is called "Slash and burn". I saw it once in Oklahoma, and it made me cry.

OldePhart
02-03-2011, 12:41 PM
BTW, the tactic most used against the Rain-forests is called "Slash and burn". I saw it once in Oklahoma, and it made me cry.
If you really want to cry, visit the strip copper mines northeast of Tuscon, AZ! I am not a treehugger and that travesty makes me want to kill someone (figuratively speaking, of course). They have torn down mountains and made barren valleys where nothing, I mean nothing, will grow. Then they have the nerve to put "scenic pullouts" on the highway so you can view their great accomplishments. The world needs copper, badly. We wouldn't have half of what we do today without the copper mined from that region. But, there was absolutely no need to strip mine, it was just the most "cost effective" way to get the copper out of the ground.

But the slash and burn you mentione was kind of the point I was making about musical instruments, and even furniture, not being a cause of deforestation - in fact, by passing international laws banning the export of endangered hardwoods the environmentalists actually contributed to the pollution problems! The pressure that is destroying the rain forests is not need for wood - the pressure is from increasing populations and increased agricultural needs.

In the past, these pressures resulted in deforestation, but the first step in clearing land was logging the valuable timber. Only then the remaining brush, etc. would be "slashed and burned." Now, it is no longer profitable to log much of the wood even for local consumption so that much more material gets burned in the big bonfires, contributing to atmospheric pollution. And, of course, it's much easier and requires far less labor to slash and burn than it does to harvest logs and mill timber - so the local population which is usually at subsistance level anyway loses their livelihood.

Sadly, this is a pretty typical example when well-meaning people, most of whom have "soft" degrees, if they are educated at all, push through laws without considering all the ramifications. Because they had not analyzed the situation well enough to realize that the pressure on rainforests was actually local population growth and agricultural needs, not nasty westerners and their demand for luxury furniture, they passed laws that both hurt the local population and caused more environmental damage - without slowing deforestation even a tiny bit.

John

pulelehua
02-04-2011, 09:20 AM
Sadly, this is a pretty typical example when well-meaning people, most of whom have "soft" degrees, if they are educated at all, push through laws without considering all the ramifications. Because they had not analyzed the situation well enough to realize that the pressure on rainforests was actually local population growth and agricultural needs, not nasty westerners and their demand for luxury furniture, they passed laws that both hurt the local population and caused more environmental damage - without slowing deforestation even a tiny bit.

John

This is a bit inflammatory, methinks. "Well-meaning people" of all stripes, with all sorts of degrees (I assume from your comment, BTW, that I have a "soft" PhD - Music, not even a real subject), have often done things without adequately considering the consequences. Self-righteousness and arrogance are hardly exclusive qualities, and all of these people tell us that their actions will make things better. And often they are wrong, be they left, right, centre, parochial, secular or otherwise.

This isn't really a forum for bashing environmentalists. Or anyone else for that matter.

philpot
02-04-2011, 09:49 AM
I'm not a tree hugger. I'm not an environmentalist by any means. I believe our planet is self sustaining. It can dang well handle itself. Its made to flex, adapt, and grow. There is nothing wrong with using natural resources for something as beautiful as making music. What else are we supposed to do with it? Yes, there is such a thing as controlled harvesting, but its taken to the extreme nowadays. Its really not as big of a deal as people seem to think it is...
And to the person who said something about overpopulation... LOL. thats all I have to say. Head out to the north woods sometime, or any area of wilderness really, look at the vastness of the world in which we live and tell me theres too many people on the planet, tell me we can't fit a few more in. Thats the kind of thinking that led to eugenics and forced sterilizations. Don't go down that path.

(my personal opinion? God planted the Koa tree with the express purpose of ukuleles in mind. ;) ...)

sailboats
02-04-2011, 10:07 AM
I almost hate to jump on this thread....but I am here.

I will say I am very undereducated in the wood matter. (and thanks for this thread it has sparked my interest to read up on the issue)

I do not believe the planet is self sustaining due to human interaction. I mean, there is not a replenishing source of fossil fuels (well not fast enough to compete with consumption.)

Over population does not necessarily mean there is not enough space for people though. It also means there is not enough food/necessities too. I am not saying we should sterilize anyone....but our increasing population can/will be a big issue in years to come.

philpot
02-04-2011, 10:17 AM
I do not believe the planet is self sustaining due to human interaction. I mean, there is not a replenishing source of fossil fuels (well not fast enough to compete with consumption.)

Over population does not necessarily mean there is not enough space for people though. It also means there is not enough food/necessities too. I am not saying we should sterilize anyone....but our increasing population can/will be a big issue in years to come.


I'm all for renewable energy. Fossil fuels are well past being useless and too expensive to be practical.

There is plenty of food and necessities for the entire planet. The problem is distribution. If you have ever seen/been to a 3rd world country, we have a missionary in our church who lives in central Africa. He says there are plenty of funds coming in to feed and care for all the villages he works in, but they are wasted. The people live in huts, while the government buildings are huge mansions. The problem is not overpopulation, just corruption. If we had even distribution of food every person on earth would have FAR more then enough. Think of all the food we wealthier countries throw out every year that could feed them. We are in no way running low on necessities.

OldePhart
02-04-2011, 06:40 PM
This is a bit inflammatory, methinks. "Well-meaning people" of all stripes, with all sorts of degrees (I assume from your comment, BTW, that I have a "soft" PhD - Music, not even a real subject), have often done things without adequately considering the consequences. Self-righteousness and arrogance are hardly exclusive qualities, and all of these people tell us that their actions will make things better. And often they are wrong, be they left, right, centre, parochial, secular or otherwise.

This isn't really a forum for bashing environmentalists. Or anyone else for that matter.

Sorry - it does read a little inflammatory, though I didn't really mean it to. Nor am I "bashing" environmentalists - those who are truly environmentalists are heroes - but most of those had little to do with the worst of these laws. Unfortunately, a lot of mere activists have become self-proclaimed environmentalists - they mean well but they are frankly dangerous.

When I speak of a degree in a "soft" discipline I'm talking about fields where one is not usually taught a methodical approach to problem solving. I didn't mean to imply that such folks were somehow inferior, and I'm sure your PhD is far superior to my own education and experience - but can you honestly say that you were trained to evaluate the myriad variables in something as complex as a socio-enviro-economic system with an eye towards achieving a particular goal without unintended consequences? Probably not. Neither, for that matter, can I (though I am trained in the techniques, all of my experience is in aerospace where we try really hard not to do something silly that will have airplanes dropping out of the sky unexpectedly - and, yeah, I'm fully aware we aren't always successful at that).

But my point was that those who pushed for some of these ultimately harmful laws cannot lay claim to such knowledge, either. The part that's sad, is that even in retrospect most of them aren't capable of the kind of dispassionate scientific "hard" analysis to see how their actions have either escalated problems they meant to solve or have had unintended consequences that were completely out of proportion to the small effect on their original problem space.

I am 100% behind laws that actually solve environmental problems without introducing other problems that are as severe, or even more severe, then the problem originally addressed. Unfortunately, many of the laws passed under the umbrella of "environmentalism" don't pass that test.

Regards, and keep on strummin',
John

pulelehua
02-05-2011, 08:02 AM
Sorry - it does read a little inflammatory, though I didn't really mean it to. Nor am I "bashing" environmentalists - those who are truly environmentalists are heroes - but most of those had little to do with the worst of these laws. Unfortunately, a lot of mere activists have become self-proclaimed environmentalists - they mean well but they are frankly dangerous.

When I speak of a degree in a "soft" discipline I'm talking about fields where one is not usually taught a methodical approach to problem solving. I didn't mean to imply that such folks were somehow inferior, and I'm sure your PhD is far superior to my own education and experience - but can you honestly say that you were trained to evaluate the myriad variables in something as complex as a socio-enviro-economic system with an eye towards achieving a particular goal without unintended consequences? Probably not. Neither, for that matter, can I (though I am trained in the techniques, all of my experience is in aerospace where we try really hard not to do something silly that will have airplanes dropping out of the sky unexpectedly - and, yeah, I'm fully aware we aren't always successful at that).

But my point was that those who pushed for some of these ultimately harmful laws cannot lay claim to such knowledge, either. The part that's sad, is that even in retrospect most of them aren't capable of the kind of dispassionate scientific "hard" analysis to see how their actions have either escalated problems they meant to solve or have had unintended consequences that were completely out of proportion to the small effect on their original problem space.

I am 100% behind laws that actually solve environmental problems without introducing other problems that are as severe, or even more severe, then the problem originally addressed. Unfortunately, many of the laws passed under the umbrella of "environmentalism" don't pass that test.

Regards, and keep on strummin',
John

I'm afraid the best long-term consequence my degrees enabled me to see was that if you have C#, but not F#, you're probably in D minor... ;)

Thanks for the friendly, intelligent response. Another reminder that this is a good forum. My favourite philosopher on politics BTW, is Machiavelli, much misunderstood pragmatist. His whole thing was, throw "morality" out the window, and look at what actually happens. You might want to achieve X, but you may get Y, and if you do, don't repeat that exercise and act surprised when you get Y again. There's an Einstein quote in there somewhere... Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I love history, but it doesn't make you feel very good about the human capacity for decision-making.

pulelehua
02-05-2011, 08:08 AM
I'm all for renewable energy. Fossil fuels are well past being useless and too expensive to be practical.

There is plenty of food and necessities for the entire planet. The problem is distribution. If you have ever seen/been to a 3rd world country, we have a missionary in our church who lives in central Africa. He says there are plenty of funds coming in to feed and care for all the villages he works in, but they are wasted. The people live in huts, while the government buildings are huge mansions. The problem is not overpopulation, just corruption. If we had even distribution of food every person on earth would have FAR more then enough. Think of all the food we wealthier countries throw out every year that could feed them. We are in no way running low on necessities.

There are a lot of people a lot smarter than me who disagree with this statement.

Though I think you're right about waste. There was a study done, and Americans use something like 7 times their "share" of the earth's natural resources. That is currently balanced by the fact that less developed countries "under-utilise" their share; Afghans, for instance, use 1/10. But there is a natural evolution toward higher standards of living, and you can see pretty easily that if India and China reach the standard of living that they are very much headed toward, we will need to either lower consumption generally, or somehow generate resources which currently don't exist.

The fact that the world's deserts are getting bigger and fisheries are being wiped out doesn't help matters much, of course.