View Full Version : The Story of Stuff

12-16-07, 12:21 PM
What is the Story of Stuff (http://www.storyofstuff.com/) by Annie Leonard

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

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iTulip Comment: Good presentation. A few criticisms.

It is not necessarily true that workers for factories in 3rd world countries are forced into unsafe jobs due to environmental destruction that makes their previous mode of earning a living impossible. Usually the factory jobs, as bad as they are, are less harsh than the subsistence living conditions that the workers are escaping from. This was true in the US at the end of the 19th century and in many other nations.

China is a special case. Communism is Slavery for the State. China's new system of State Capitalism, which within the Communist party in China is called "Scientific Communism," is an improvement as it is less repressive but still leave a lot to be desired.

01-17-08, 07:01 PM
I'm not sure I buy the statistics tossed out w/o source, such as "we have less than 4% of our original forests remaining(in the usa)".

I live in a suburban area, formerly used as farmland, and even here, where they slash/burn to build subdivisions and malls, you'd be hard pressed to say that only 4% of the original "forest" is gone.

Even accounting for replanting, I suspect far more than that has never been touched. Mountains, even just rural areas near cities. Nobody's cleared my lot before I moved here. It's all woods still.

I'm assuming this is based on some bizarre definition of what an original forest is. If they mean vast areas untouched by man at all, perhaps. But I think it's misleading, and this kind of propagandized presentation makes me suspicious of any other conclusions they come to.

Whatever happened to unbiased research? (people don't travel the world for 10 years without a pre-determined agenda, btw)

01-17-08, 08:01 PM
The best source I have come across on this topic is Deforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis (http://books.google.com/books?id=mW8Fl2ieJFsC&dq=deforesting+the+earth&pg=PP1&ots=1LeIVomgty&sig=seIGHGhTvk8Pjk0YYdjIhevN9H8&hl=en&prev=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Deforesting+the+earth&btnG=Search&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail#PPR11,M1)

01-18-08, 11:48 AM
(people don't travel the world for 10 years without a pre-determined agenda, btw)

Of course, as I always point out when somebody accuses me of this, the fact that somebody has an agenda doesn't mean their facts or wrong. Or their agenda.

This filmstrip was first passed to me by an environmental organization I'm a member of, and while I realized at the time that it was guilty of hyperbole -- implying that the worst case scenario is the usual scenario -- but you must admit, it does happen (http://www.infochangeindia.org/features320.jsp). And not just in communist China, but in places like India and Brazil, which are supposed to be wholeheartedly Capitalistic... it happens often enough that we must consider whether this is a feature of the system, rather than an aberration. The only reason it isn't happening much here in the U.S. today, is because it was all basically completed 100 years ago.

And hey, citing your anecdote about living in suburbia is just as biased as anyone with an agenda. It doesn't prove anything about forests. I split my time in-between downtown Los Angeles, downtown San Francisco, and Santa Fe, NM (which barely owns a single tree). As far as I can tell, it appears I'm more well-travelled than you, and from my own experience, America has 0.00% of its original forest left. There, see? Disprove that. I don't think I've seen a tree taller than 6 feet since last October, unless you count plastic Christmas trees. Anecdotes don't prove anything.

The greater point is that, even if her 4% statistic about forests is wrong, that doesn't disprove her point that America and the world has engaged in a systematic program of deforestation. It's what people do, it's how we settle land. The greater point is, people like us who participate in and control the massive world economy, formed our values and our practices decades ago -- and these values and practices were passed to us from centuries ago -- when there probably weren't enough people to really permanently damage the planet's ecosystem. Today with six billion people we are definitely "bumping up against the limits" of this planet which is all that sustains us, and it'd only be prudent to take stock of our practices before we damage it irreparably, rather than after.

One is perfectly justified in being suspicious about "biased" research, but one does have to answer the facts a researcher with an agenda raises -- and address their larger, thematic points. If nobody ever acted with an agenda in mind, there would be no progress. If bias automatically disqualifies someone then I think the current U.S. Administration should have been tossed out on its ear eight years ago...