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Twitching and your carbon footprint.

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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 16:19   #1
Mannix
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Twitching and your carbon footprint.

Looking at another thread made me ask myself the question about carbon footprints. I personally am not 100% sure that global warming is man made, but for those who do, do you think that all of the miles driven and flown by twitchers is actually helping to damage the very thing that they love?
I have no actual problem with people driving where ever they want to for what ever reason they want to as I reckon if I were a twitcher I would jump in my car at every opportunity. Just thought that it might be a good topic for discussion. For instance are there any twitchers who have tried to lessen the amount of miles they do or who have taken to sharing cars with other twitchers? What's the general feeling?
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 16:36   #2
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Because of the factors you mention, I do not do much twitching, and when I do twitch I generally limit it to birds within an hour's drive (which is a pretty short distance by U.S. standards). I also moved to an area where there is a good diversity of local birding.

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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 16:40   #3
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An interesting topic, and one that causes a lot of us some guilt. I blame the birds, and propose that rarities turning up on our shores should be shot on sight, to eliminate the carbon emissions of the thousands of birders who drive and fly to see them. Next time you self-find a Canada Warbler or Pacific Murrelet, reach first for your bins, and then.....
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 16:59   #4
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Thanks to my health my driving license was revoked several years ago now, so for me it's a relaxing sit in the hide in the garden or a slow meander to Siddick Pond which is just 2 mins walk out of my front door and onto a disused railway line which is now a concrete path. I'm one of the lucky ones to be so close says I.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 17:22   #5
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Hi,

If I go for a bird, I try to fill my car with other birders or join in with another car load. Not only does this reduce my carbon footprint (which I don't give a damn about), it makes economic sense.

However, the carbon footprint from twitching is not even a drop in the ocean of carbon emmission. What about birders jetting off to see birds around the world or this couple who are going for the world year list record ? On a broader front, the Chinese are apparently building two power stations per week. Wait till India and the rest of Asia really get going, and what if Africa gets it's act together.

Wether you believe global warming is all man made, partially man made or nothing to do with man, the real problem (which will exacerbate the effects of global warming, whatever it's cause), is world overpopulation. Uncontrolled and unabating, population growth will ultimately destroy the wildlife we enjoy today through habitat loss, pollution, causing and/or exacerbating the effects of climate change etc etc. Apparently by 2050 their will be the equivelant of two more Chinas in the world, what's that going to do to the global carbon footprint, to say nothing of the other impacts which will be increasingly felt.

Politicians love to bang on about climate change and global warming (they can easily tax us for that), but there's not much political mileage in mentioning the emotive subject that the planets environment and wildlife is going to be screwed if population is not managed.

I personally think that nothing will be done until it's too late (the WWF announced recently that we've lost about one third ? of the world's wildlife in under forty years), so I'll enjoy what I can while I can. I don't see the point in worrying about my carbon footprint, whilst twitching a bird, when the world is going to be screwed anyway.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 17:23   #6
Jos Stratford
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mannix View Post
do you think that all of the miles driven and flown by twitchers is actually helping to damage the very thing that they love?
No, the opposite.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Allan View Post
What about birders jetting off to see birds around the world ?
Across much of the globe, forests, marshes, ecosystems, species exist largely due to their financial value.

Locals want to survive, several choices:
1 - replace the ecosytem with a cash crop/subsistence crops. Result, biodiversity loss.
2 - exploit through logging, harvesting, etc. Result, usually biodiversity loss.
3 - expolit through tourism. Result protection of biodiversity.

If you don't think so, think a few seconds about the huge national parks across Africa (20% of land area or more in regions), think survival of Gorillas, think anywhere you want. These survive not due to a collective love of wildlife, the countries are not rich enough to have that luxury. They survive due to the vast incomes generated by tourism, usually amongst the largest sectors of each country's GNP.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 18:09   #7
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Originally Posted by Johnny Allan View Post
However, the carbon footprint from twitching is not even a drop in the ocean of carbon emmission. What about birders jetting off to see birds around the world or this couple who are going for the world year list record ? On a broader front, the Chinese are apparently building two power stations per week. Wait till India and the rest of Asia really get going, and what if Africa gets it's act together.
But that kind of reasoning can be applied to any particular source of carbon pollution. The Chinese or Indians can say we are nothing compared to the big industrialized nations like the United States, Japan, and Western Europe -- and our per capita carbon footprint is much smaller. So there is no point in us trying to reduce until these other countries reduce first.

And that is just the reason we need to resist being seduced by that kind of reasoning. Only if we ALL accept some responsibility, and stop saying it is the other guy's problem and/or I cannot make a difference myself, can the problem be solved.

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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 18:16   #8
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Originally Posted by Jos Stratford View Post
No, the opposite.




Across much of the globe, forests, marshes, ecosystems, species exist largely due to their financial value.

Locals want to survive, several choices:
1 - replace the ecosytem with a cash crop/subsistence crops. Result, biodiversity loss.
2 - exploit through logging, harvesting, etc. Result, usually biodiversity loss.
3 - expolit through tourism. Result protection of biodiversity.

If you don't think so, think a few seconds about the huge national parks across Africa (20% of land area or more in regions), think survival of Gorillas, think anywhere you want. These survive not due to a collective love of wildlife, the countries are not rich enough to have that luxury. They survive due to the vast incomes generated by tourism, usually amongst the largest sectors of each country's GNP.
I think most people distinguish bird or ecotourism from "twitching". To my mind, twitching involves a direct response to a report of the sighting of a rare bird just so you can tick it for your list. Going to another country or location just to see birds that are regularly there is different from twitching. I do not really have a problem with bird tourism, because it has the benefits you allude to and because it is typically something done at least in part via mass transportation and only once or twice a year.

Best,
Jim
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 18:24   #9
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I do not really have a problem with bird tourism, because it has the benefits you allude to and because it is typically something done at least in part via mass transportation and only once or twice a year.
Bird tourism is good because of the benefits alluded to and because it is only done once or twice a year? Isn't there a slight contradiction here? I'd say that if accepted, on balance, that it is good, then why good because only done once or twice a year? More equals better.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 18:32   #10
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Bird tourism is good because of the benefits alluded to and because it is only done once or twice a year? Isn't there a slight contradiction here?
No there is no contradiction. If all birders took a hundred major trips a year, then the increased carbon footprint would outweigh the other benefits. My main point, in any event, was to distinguish bird tourism from twitching, which is often done much more frequently.

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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 18:37   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Moore View Post
I think most people distinguish bird or ecotourism from "twitching".
Agree to a certain degree, but original poster mentioned miles driven and flown, another poster raised the question of birders jetting off around the world.

However, I'm not totally convinced there is such a big difference between the concepts of twitching and 'normal' birding if the latter is travelling the globe to see specific species? He drives to a North Norfolk reserve to see a a vagrant, I fly to Uganda to see a Mountain Gorilla. He pays an entry fee, I pay an entry fee, both fees go towards preserving the wildlife of the area. I stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants, he does the same, both encourage locals to value their wildlife and maybe get more involved in their protection.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 18:44   #12
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If all birders took a hundred major trips a year, then the increased carbon footprint would outweigh the other benefits.
I would not necessarily agree. The carbon footprint might well be zero if that led to more areas being protected, not logged, etc, due to the understanding that they were worth far more economically as a tourist pull. One hectare of additional rainforest equals how many seats on a plane in terms of CO2 balance?
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 18:51   #13
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But that kind of reasoning can be applied to any particular source of carbon pollution. The Chinese or Indians can say we are nothing compared to the big industrialized nations like the United States, Japan, and Western Europe -- and our per capita carbon footprint is much smaller. So there is no point in us trying to reduce until these other countries reduce first.

And that is just the reason we need to resist being seduced by that kind of reasoning. Only if we ALL accept some responsibility, and stop saying it is the other guy's problem and/or I cannot make a difference myself, can the problem be solved.

Best,
Jim
Jim,

you are putting words into my mouth. Overpopulation is my problem as well as yours. I'll support any sensible solution to save the environment and wildlife from the effects of overpopulation. If world population continues to grow as it is, the environment and wildlife will be destroyed by habitat loss, intensive farming, overfishing, pollution, man made climate change etc etc etc at an ever increasing rate. To me the latter are symptoms caused or greatly exacerbated by overpopulation. If rising overpopulation isn't tackled, the symptoms will continue to deteriorate.

My carbon footprint is low, not because I think it will make a difference, but because of the life style I lead. If you want someone to set an example, why not ask, for example, Tony Blair or millions of his ilk to bring their carbon footprint down to my level. I won't hold my breath.

Kind regards

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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 20:02   #14
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I always find this depressing, because it's true, the underlying problem of all this is overpopulation. And I really don't believe that much can be done about that, most people just won't stand for any kind of government-mandated control on population growth. We can set aside all the land we want, reduce emissions, etc., but if the human population continues to grow as its current rate, at some point in the future the situation will be so desparate that it will all go out the window.

All that being said, I do try to minimize my own carbon footprint, partly for ethics and partly for saving money. This goes for most things in my life, not just birding. Not too many mega-rarities really show up in or near Arkansas anyway, so it's just as well for me to stick with mostly local bike trips and the occasional driving trip several hours away. I definitely don't have the money to hop a plane to the coast to see the Curlew Sandpiper, for example... similarly I can't afford a plane ticket anywhere for a more generalized birding trip. And while there is a semantic difference between the 2 activities, I would agree that the net carbon footprint of the 2 probably does not differ.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 20:48   #15
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Angry

Jim, and Johnny Allen

Well said, both of you. A pregnant woman leaves a bigger, carbon footprint
than ten-thousand twitchers.

Bob, USA
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 20:53   #16
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I always find this depressing, because it's true, the underlying problem of all this is overpopulation.
I would respectfully, but strongly, disagree with that statement. If you look at this list of the world's top carbon dioxide emitters by country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...xide_emissions), you will see that there are vast differences in the amount of carbon dioxide produced per capita between various countries. For example, in 2004, the United States, with about 30% of India's population, produced four times as much carbon dioxide. This is a pretty clear demonstration that the amount of carbon dioxide emission has much less to do with the number of people than it does how they live, and what sorts of technology they use. When it comes to global warming, I really think these are the issues we need to be focusing on. Those in developed nations need to change the way they live and adopt more environmentally friendly technologies, and those in developing nations need to take steps to ensure they do not make the same mistakes as the developed nations and instead develop in a more environmentally friendly way.

Here is another chart showing carbon dioxide emissions per capita by country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ons_per_capita

Cordially,
Jim
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 21:01   #17
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Jim, and Johnny Allen

Well said, both of you. A pregnant woman leaves a bigger, carbon footprint
than ten-thousand twitchers.

Bob, USA
Not sure why you are lumping me & Johnny together--we disagree with each other. Did you actually read my posts?

Jim
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 21:08   #18
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"and those in developing nations need to take steps to ensure they do not make the same mistakes as the developed nations and instead develop in a more environmentally friendly way."

There is such a thing as living in the real world.When governments have the "bottle" to tackle over population,then we will be heading in the right direction.At long last vast swathes of scientists are questioning the whole area
of so called global warming by man.
They just need the media to stop supporting
some of the wild accusations being made,and allow the alternative views to be aired.

POP
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 22:17   #19
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We've wandered into the Great Questions here. The only Government in the world that has, through legislation, attempted to tackle the problem of overpopulation through legislation is China. They've had some success in slowing down population growth, with some very unpleasant side-effects, to put it mildly. And they've come in for much criticism as a result. We know there are too many of us. We suspect that the technology we use has at least contributed to Global Warming, and causes lots of other environmental problems in any case. Other human activity is causing havoc with fish-stocks, ecosystems, etc. etc. But Mannix originally started the thread about Twitching and Carbon Footprints. To keep it specific, should we, or shouldn't we, use fossil fuels travel in order to twitch a rare bird? I put my hands up...I've done it. I can make all kinds of excuses, like the fact that I moved house in order to be able to cycle the kids and I to school/work, so I don't burn oil commuting. But that's not the point. I drove 280km or so to Cork last year to see a Sabine's Gull 'cos I'd never seen one (it was, if I'm using the correct term, a "blocker"). I burned a tank of petrol to unblock it. Was that ethical? I don't think so. But the temptation was great and I succumbed. What future generations will make of such debonair extravagance is anyone's guess.

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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 22:51   #20
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...... For example, in 2004, the United States, with about 30% of India's population, produced four times as much carbon dioxide. This is a pretty clear demonstration that the amount of carbon dioxide emission has much less to do with the number of people than it does how they live, and what sorts of technology they use. ..........
It demonstrates nothing. How they live is the critical bit here. A large proportion of India live in poverty, and therefore are incapable of producing much carbon dioxide. Sure the USA can do a lot better, but you can't compare that country with India.

Over population is by far the biggest danger to the planet. In a few years time, we'll be fighting wars not over oil, but over food..... Maybe sooner than we think.

I'm with Johnny Allen on this one, I think the World is screwed whatever action we take. Nobody will ever take over population seriously, and nobody even dare mention population control. So enjoy life while you can I say. I don't worry about my carbon footprint, though coincidently I do a lot of birding by bike and don't usually average more than 10,000 miles per year in the car, so I guess that my footprint isn't actually all that big.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 23:18   #21
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I would respectfully, but strongly, disagree with that statement. If you look at this list of the world's top carbon dioxide emitters by country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...xide_emissions), you will see that there are vast differences in the amount of carbon dioxide produced per capita between various countries. For example, in 2004, the United States, with about 30% of India's population, produced four times as much carbon dioxide. This is a pretty clear demonstration that the amount of carbon dioxide emission has much less to do with the number of people than it does how they live, and what sorts of technology they use. When it comes to global warming, I really think these are the issues we need to be focusing on. Those in developed nations need to change the way they live and adopt more environmentally friendly technologies, and those in developing nations need to take steps to ensure they do not make the same mistakes as the developed nations and instead develop in a more environmentally friendly way.

Here is another chart showing carbon dioxide emissions per capita by country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ons_per_capita

Cordially,
Jim
I agree, to a certain extent. Clearly, a relatively small number of people use a relatively large amount of the resources. But that doesn't mean overpopulation is not the underlying problem. If we all lived on far fewer resources, then the maximum human population that the earth could sustain would be much greater than it is currently. However, with continued population growth, we would still reach that maximum, and we would still be in trouble.

But of course, that's why it's important for those countries that consume the greatest per capita resources to push for changes... while it wouldn't solve the underlying problem of overpopulation, it will ease the burden on the earth considerably and buy us more time for some serious social reform.
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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 23:24   #22
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Over population is by far the biggest danger to the planet.
Population in the developed world (USA, Japan, and Europe) has been largely stable or declining, when you take out the effects of immigration, for several decades. It is a well-known phenomenon that as countries develop their birthrates decline. And China is of course famous for controlling its population by authoritarian means. I do not really see any evidence for your claim that it is by far the biggest danger (though I agree it is a concern). Nor do I understand the logic of suggesting that the presence of one problem means we should ignore others. I expect global warming, if it continues, will eliminate most of your concerns about overpopulation by unpleasant means.

And as for comparing the U.S. with India, obviously India is a much poorer country, that was part of my point. The enormous difference in carbon impact is explained by the difference in lifestyle. So it demonstrates by simple logic that changing your lifestyle can greatly reduce carbon emissions even with a much larger population. I am not saying we in the developed world need to live in poverty like most Indians, but we need to change our lifestyle so it leaves a similarly shallow carbon footprint.

In any event, this will probably be my last post in this thread, since I have more pressing matters to attend to.

Cordially,
Jim

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Old Thursday 5th June 2008, 23:58   #23
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By the way folks do any of you know what is the biggest contributor of CO2 into the atmosphere by miles?
It's the Oceans. They give it off in quantities we could never match.
Some good responses here.
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Old Friday 6th June 2008, 07:31   #24
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Overpopulation is the biggest threat to biodiversity in the world. So far the world population has disposed of 75% of the wilderness area and it is still rising. The greatest rises continue to be in the areas of least wealth, and where the distribution of wealth is least even.

Population growth has shown a tendency to reduce with improving lifestyle BUT it has also been shown there is a large time lag between the two. In that time gap the environment is trashed.

The current predictions of future world population growth show the population reaching levels that cannot avoid removing all of the wilderness that can possibly be exploited, within a hundred years. There is nothing in human history that suggests whole nations' outlooks can be altered fundamentally in that time.

It is absolutely plain, in the way that it doesn't need research to prove that the British obesity epidemic is due to overeating, that in the face of generally rising lifestyles the only room for reducing carbon use is drastic population loss.

The main hope for the environment at present is probably pandemic flu, but the real solution to the planet's problems is the condom.

John
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Old Friday 6th June 2008, 08:49   #25
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The main hope for the environment at present is probably pandemic flu, but the real solution to the planet's problems is the condom.
There I was just about to type 'Go flu bug' myself and you beat me to it!

As for the second part, decided 25 years ago not to inflict dunnokev nestlings on an unsuspecting world and don't regret it (yet!).

(Oh, and just about to give up my car for a pushbike - sickening goodie goodie ain't I??)

Seriously though, as long as there's a selfish gene in our genetic makeup, we'll muck it all up - just a shame we'll take so much with us.

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