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The Wheaton Eco Scale

Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
So be tolerant of those around you and push our own comfort zones to both the "way out there" and the "novice silly beginner" .

Maybe each is more than the title I just applied.  And each has something to share. 

I have found that once in a while if I just shut up and watch I can learn something from someone "who doesn't know any better".  Some of my best horse keeping protocol came to me that way.
TIMOTHY TIMOTHY


Joined: Feb 27, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: GREAT STATE OF IDAHO
where would you put me at on this scale?  If someone starts on your scale at a -8 and makes it all the way to 2 on the scale,  is he as great as your god?  for he has changed his environment for the positive and impacts the earth much less.  believing that sepp is the answer to all the problems seems silly.  everyone on the planet cannot farm their 5 acre land and live off it.  most due to lazy,  some because the first snow, flood, or rabid squirrel would kill them.  living responsible to me and most of my kind would include setting out 3 cans instead of 4 on garbage day,  shooting 2 elk each year,  recycling only when the price goes up, and burning 15 cord a year. 

susan.


IF EVERYONE OWNED A GUN,  WOULD THERE BE ANY CRIME?
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
well i know where I am on a Paul Scale..about 4.95..haven't yet been able to get to a permie course but have studied it on my own for as long as i can remember (but that doesn't say much as my mind does tend to fail me from time to time)..and at least i recognize most of the names mentioned (like who the H is Thomas Midgley JR?)

Fallen down the scale after our housefire as I used to grow a lot more food before we lost a lot of our land in the  "deconstruction"...but am rebuildinig the gardens and orchards up to pre fire stages as they mature


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Dear suzie-Q,

First, I think it is important to point out that because you are such a puny little fella, you make a smaller impact on the planet than your big brother.

I think nobody starts at anything less than zero. 

As for my god, I think I do a good job of leaving my religious beliefs out of this forum:  too much fuel for fires.

I do not say that sepp is the answer.  I do say that I think sepp is number one in accomplishment according to my standards.

"everyone on the planet cannot farm their 5 acre land and live off it. "  I don't see any case where I said anything like this.  Is this one of those things where I didn't say anything that you can sink your teeth into, so you make something up?  Little brothers can be so annoying. 

I think that you are at a zero, although I can see you moving closer to a one someday soon.  Not because of the sake of the overall environment, but because it would be thrifty.  I think hunting and fishing are things that can earn a good eco score.  I think good forestry selection for wood burning when combined with using a good wood stove well does a lot to help cut pollution. 

I think there are a lot of folks living a lean life that get some points on my scale even though they don't care about what is eco.




sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Oh, and susan,  you make a damn good point:  I think that most of the time, when a person moves from level zero to level 1 they do far more for the environment than somebody moving from level 3 to level 4.

TIMOTHY TIMOTHY


Joined: Feb 27, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: GREAT STATE OF IDAHO
TIM 1, PAUL 4336
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
i agree Sepp Holtzer is amazing..we all have a long way to go to get there
                        


Joined: Jan 28, 2010
Posts: 175
I don't know where I am on the scale either.  I saved up my money.  I bought my own land.
I retired (not exactly voluntary).  O.K. now I can do what I started out to do.  Hmmm.
But right now Im so frustrated by invasives - Im back to Level 1 or Level 0.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Well, have you started a thread about your invasives problem yet?
                        


Joined: Jan 28, 2010
Posts: 175
Nope.  Good idea, though.
Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
Great thread.  Says a lot about intent, individuals and society. And plenty about how the dynamics of a group, any group, operate.

Love the scale.  A philosopher's mind asking the deeper questions.  Funny how we all have scales.  It is finding the balance that is always most elusive.
                          


Joined: Mar 14, 2010
Posts: 41
The scale isn't that useful because most of the people who score low (think Sarah Palin or Paris Hilton) don't give a crap about the scale and aren't going to change their lifestyle to rank higher in eco-piety.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
mos6507 wrote:
The scale isn't that useful because most of the people who score low (think Sarah Palin or Paris Hilton) don't give a crap about the scale and aren't going to change their lifestyle to rank higher in eco-piety.


While it is true that many people don't care about eco-piety, many people do care about things like saving money.  And some are open to the idea of improving things for everybody provided it isn't a hassle or it doesn't cost them anything.

I think it would be a worthwhile effort to make a list of all of the reason a person MIGHT move from eco level 0 to eco level 1.  I think that even if the few of us reading this thread were to have read such a list, it could make some significant changes.



paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I was writing to somebody today about this scale and it occurred to me that there is another property:

Recalling a piece of observation 1, "People three levels up look a bit nutty.  People four of five levels up look downright crazy.  People six levels up should probably be institutionalized."

Therefore, if you try to move a person from eco level 0 to eco level 6, they will just think you are crazy.  Therefore, when talking to somebody at eco level 0, I think it would be wise to limit the conversation to eco level 1 or eco level 2.

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
It seems kind of exclusive or elitist.    I can't afford a permaculture course but have been studying and practicing permaculture for several years.  Not sure if that gives me any "points" 


Idle dreamer

Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
I gotta ask where I sit on da scale paul just for bragging rights

1- all my vehicles run biodiesel unless its too cold for it to flow but I do put 25k a year on the lil one
2- don't care less about the organic label not sure organic row crops are better and only buy local produce when I can make it cheaper (getting better at that)
3- I hate CFL's but thats cause I use lights mostly in cooler months when the waste heat off an incadcent ain't going to waste
4-bought my acre got my goats lots of work to go shaping the land
5-canno afford PDC but gonna try and convince the VA to pay for it (GI bill)
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
loved # 5, would try that with my hubby if he didn't have a mental disability from a head injury..(i could borrow his books)
travis laduke


Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Posts: 163
paul wheaton wrote:
While it is true that many people don't care about eco-piety, many people do care about things like saving money.  And some are open to the idea of improving things for everybody provided it isn't a hassle or it doesn't cost them anything.

I think it would be a worthwhile effort to make a list of all of the reason a person MIGHT move from eco level 0 to eco level 1.  I think that even if the few of us reading this thread were to have read such a list, it could make some significant changes.



While I've always been on team care, I didn't start staying up all night reading permiculture forums until I realized(read an article) that I'd have to somehow save up a million bucks by the time I'm 50 or 60 if I want to retire and that probably I won't be able to do that.
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
I'm thinking I am low on the Wheaton scale but have improved since I learned of hugelkultur.


- Glenn -
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
Brenda Groth wrote:
loved # 5, would try that with my hubby if he didn't have a mental disability from a head injury..(i could borrow his books)


You need to talk to a VA rep you should be able to use his GI bill. If he was in after 9/11 the benies.available are impressive if its been more than 5 years since you talked with a VA you may ne suprised at how helpful they have become. I like to thinly our disabled vets are getting every benny they earned
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Ludi wrote:
It seems kind of exclusive or elitist.   


It is nothing more than a tool to try to better understand some issues.

And, of course, you are always welcome to make up your own scale.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
paul wheaton wrote:
It is nothing more than a tool to try to better understand some issues.




ok.  One issue might be that there is a perception in the greater world that permaculture requires an expensive course and because of this is a scam.  Those who are in the sort of permaculture circles might not be aware of this attitude toward permaculture in the "outside world." 
                          


Joined: May 10, 2010
Posts: 34
I am not certain I have anything to add to this conversation; but I find it interesting and want to read the next couple of posts, so as not to miss them, I am posting.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Eric, you don't need to post, you can just click on the "notify" button.

Ludi,

You said "there is a perception in the greater world that permaculture requires an expensive course" - Please help me understand how this applies to the scale?  Perhaps your intent is to start a new thread?  Once you start a new thread, I would like to ask you to qualify your statement to be less absolute by saying "there may be" or "there is a perception by many people ..." - otherwise your point is easily shot down.

                            


Joined: Nov 07, 2010
Posts: 3
I'm definitely a 0 on the scale, maybe in the upper 5 Billion though. I'm new to this forum and I think that you hit it (me?) on the head with your statement "While it is true that many people don't care about eco-piety, many people do care about things like saving money.  And some are open to the idea of improving things for everybody provided it isn't a hassle or it doesn't cost them anything. "
I live in FL on 2 1/4 acres all wooded and in the middle of the boondocks. I grow about 20 - 30% of my own food including chickens ducks turkeys and rabbits. I make my own compost and recycle all grey water. But as a card carrying conservative I doubt that you could call me conservationist or eco-pious.
I plan on moving to southern Missouri/northern Arkansas in 3 years with my wife. I am trying to become more simple in my habits and more self sufficient. That is what led me to this forum. Basically, I'm tired of the rat race.
Although I doubt that I will voluntarily change to florescent light bulbs, I will use whatever practical tools I can to achieve those ends. Maybe I'll even get to move up on the list.
                            


Joined: Sep 12, 2010
Posts: 4
I don't have the facts and numbers and I realize it can be a touchy subject, but a person who choses to have one or even no children, limits his or her ecological footprint in a rather significant way - it is not my scale - but in my opinion this should be a significant factor, if not the most significant factor, in an eco scale.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I gathered some video footage a while back thinking I might make a video of what are great eco achievements.  I asked "what is the most eco thing you can imagine somebody doing".  It started with not having children, then it moved into suicide stuff. 

While I agree that not having children is one of the most significant, and the suicide stuff certainly makes a point, I think a person could do far more for making things better than if they didn't exist.  But that might not come until level 6 or so.

CDM,

You might be further up the scale than you realize.  And while there are a lot of liberal folks here, I know there are a lot of conservatives too.  Since I don't allow discussion on politics or to suggest anybody on the site is less than perfect, the liberals and the conservatives (and others) get along just fine.

Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
Achieving the level of thinking that not having children or using suicide as a means of being top on an eco-scale is by far the most extreme and off putting thoughts I could imagine.

The purpose of learning about permaculture and implementing it for all its intended benefits, does require knowledge being passed from person to person, one generation to another.  While the absence of people might allow the planet to restore itself to a harmonious natural state, I wonder what purpose it would serve to have this orb floating in space with no human life forms.  If evolution is to be believed, then another race of us would come forth to mess it up all over again in a couple billion years.

My feeling is to be a good steward of what we have right now, and to improve the ways we use those things in order to achieve sustainability.  We don't have to jump to the top of the list overnight.  we can't, actually.  Most of us have lives that are intertwined with making a living and raising families.  I believe we can make small conscious steps, taken with careful consideration, that will lead to a better environment for all, including humans and all life.

I only discovered permaculture for the first time on this site.  It was by accident when wanting to improve my lawn.  Now I have made steps to improve the use of my small bit of land to provide for the animals that are here, while receiving the benefit of improved soil for growing our own vegetables. 

We can't jump to the top of the list where we presently live.  My neighbors would run us out on a rail, and I'm sure we would be in violation of some local laws. But we can do what we can do.  And that makes us feel like we are making a difference.

CDM, the root of conservative is conserve.  We tend to forget that, and sometimes think it is left of center to be responsible to care for all that is around us.  Also sounds to me like you are doing a great job.  Keep it up.
                            


Joined: Nov 07, 2010
Posts: 3
Thank you Paul and Al. Good to know there is a place I can go and just be me AND get along with everybody. I promise I was not trying to bring politics into it.
I've read most of your articles, and I've got to say Paul, You are spot on with your chicken raising article. I do have a couple of suggestions on your 'new breed' idea, that I think will help. Im not sure if this is the forum to tell you, to start another thread, or if there is a response section to your article. I'll go check now.
Thank you all for the warm welcome.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3112
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
zanna wrote:
I don't have the facts and numbers and I realize it can be a touchy subject, but a person who choses to have one or even no children, limits his or her ecological footprint in a rather significant way - it is not my scale - but in my opinion this should be a significant factor, if not the most significant factor, in an eco scale.

paul wheaton wrote:
I gathered some video footage a while back thinking I might make a video of what are great eco achievements.  I asked "what is the most eco thing you can imagine somebody doing".  It started with not having children, then it moved into suicide stuff. 

While I agree that not having children is one of the most significant, and the suicide stuff certainly makes a point, I think a person could do far more for making things better than if they didn't exist.  But that might not come until level 6 or so.


I'm with paul wheaton on this one.  sort of.  for folks who are living the typical Western consumer lifestyle, reproducing will likely lead to more ecological damage.  but humans have the capacity to integrate positively into their ecosystems and regenerate and improve them.  it isn't common, but it isn't impossible, either.

if folks live in such a manner, propagating their lifestyle would be a good idea and would improve ecosystems.  one traditionally popular way to do that is reproduction, which also has some ingredients that many folks seem to enjoy.  it can go all wrong, though, so to really cover one's ecological ass, it should probably be avoided.

adoption is almost certainly a better bet as far as I can tell, but there are substantial economic and bureaucratic hurdles to adoption.  hurdles that would be very difficult to clear for the truly ecological human.


find religion! church
kiva! hyvä! iloinen! pikkumaatila
get stung! beehives
be hospitable! host-a-hive
be antisocial! facespace
                            


Joined: Sep 12, 2010
Posts: 4
As ways of reducing the stress on our planet, I don't consider murder/suicide as being in the same league as responsible propagation.  Those topics, detestable to most, detract from the very legitimate question of whether it is ecologically responsible to have multiple offspring.  Having one child who then has one child who then has one child etc. .  replaces your own footprint - more or less.  Having two children who then each have two children who have two children etc exponential increases your footprint - by the third generation there are 8 individuals for your one footprint.  Huge ecological difference from just one additional child.

If someone were to consider that their eight great grandchildren all together had to split  the same sized "pie" as that person survives on now, I'm sure he or she would not want that.

Earth is finite.  As the population continues to expand, the pieces of pie get smaller and conflict increases.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
zanna wrote: Having one child who then has one child who then has one child etc. .  replaces your own footprint - more or less. 


Which isn't sustainable as we currently live. The present population uses the resources of more than one Earth.   



http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/
                            


Joined: Sep 12, 2010
Posts: 4
Ludi - I agree that earth's present population is not sustainable.  Further I believe the world will continue to see increases in conflict until the population stress becomes understood and addressed.  But getting public opinion to change on this issue  - - well that is quite an undertaking.  All I can do is try to get a few more people, here and there, to think about the actual future outcome of choosing to have more children now.  Many people never think that ONE more child NOW could represent an eightfold increase  for the population of their great grandchildren's world. 
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3112
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
zanna wrote:
As ways of reducing the stress on our planet, I don't consider murder/suicide as being in the same league as responsible propagation.  Those topics, detestable to most, detract from the very legitimate question of whether it is ecologically responsible to have multiple offspring.   Having one child who then has one child who then has one child etc. .  replaces your own footprint - more or less.  Having two children who then each have two children who have two children etc exponential increases your footprint - by the third generation there are 8 individuals for your one footprint.  Huge ecological difference from just one additional child.

If someone were to consider that their eight great grandchildren all together had to split  the same sized "pie" as that person survives on now, I'm sure he or she would not want that.

Earth is finite.  As the population continues to expand, the pieces of pie get smaller and conflict increases.


could just be a misunderstanding, but your math isn't quite adding up for me.  by the most common arrangement, it takes two folks to make a new person.  if each two people make just one new person, the population would decline after a lag of a few years of increase as current children grow to reproductive maturity.

if each two people make two new people, the population would still decline, but after a much longer lag and more slowly.

depends on mortality rates, but what's sometimes called the replacement rate is, I believe, right around 2.1 children per couple.  that rate would lead to steady population, after a lag.  if you're not thinking in terms of couples, then things would be different.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
More important than the absolute population, in my opinion, is how we live.  It is so destructive of the biosphere.  I'm not totally convinced we couldn't support a large population if we all lived permaculturally, including restoration of all degraded forests and watersheds.  So in concert with family planning and full person-hood for women, we need to stop destructive activities (no more cutting down rain forests, no more mountaintop removal mining, etc) and engage fully in restoration of degraded lands.

But it's not the priority of our society, sadly.   
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I want to go back to the beginning of the thread and emphasize that I think the going after the folks earlier in the scale with a stick is not such a good idea. 

As for cutting down the trees:  I think it would be good to show these good people that they can make more money if they don't cut down all the trees. 

As for the population:  I think the world can contain a much larger human population if the world is using permaculture.    And on another population control point:



Kane Jamison


Joined: Aug 02, 2010
Posts: 104
Location: West Seattle, WA
Paul, I think there's an important concept of this scale that hasn't been explicitly identified:

1) As you go up the scale, there is a diminishing return on your ability to reduce your own footprint.
2) As you go up the scale, there is an exponential increase in your ability to reduce other people's footprints.

Here's a simple graph:


That ability to reduce other people's footprints can be direct or indirect. 

For example, if Joel Salatin becomes the #1 chicken producer in the country, I would say he has directly reduced the footprints of all of the people he feeds. 

Pretending for a moment that you haven't already place Fukuoka at the high end of the list, if Fukuoka influences a permie farmer who goes on to form a company that supplies 60% of the world's grain, then not only would the farmer move far up the scale, but so would Fukuoka for influencing the farmer (despite never being involved with the company).


I'm Kane, I have a site called Seattle Homestead that focuses on urban homesteading.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15623
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Excellent point Kane!

Not only is moving a person from level 0 to level 1 making a large positive impact, but there are more people at level 0 than all of the other levels combined!

Here is a video of me talking about the scale in Missoula about a year ago:




Kane Jamison


Joined: Aug 02, 2010
Posts: 104
Location: West Seattle, WA
paul wheaton wrote:
Excellent point Kane!

Not only is moving a person from level 0 to level 1 making a large positive impact, but there are more people at level 0 than all of the other levels combined!


Also, I think it's important to note that getting all of the people at level 0 up to level 2 would probably mean a sustainable existence of humanity on earth.  Humanity doesn't need to take a PDC or grow their own veggies in their yard, they just need their current unsustainable lifestyle choices replaced by sustainable options that are more convenient.

This means walking, biking, & public transportation being more convenient than driving.  This also means local organic food being more affordable and accessible than the nasty industrial ag options.
Raven Sutherland


Joined: Nov 09, 2010
Posts: 128
Location: Massachusetts
keep in mind..... Paul

that every bit of knowledge is stored in our brains as pictures

so that picto-graphy is radically important

the dream state takes the days pictures whether they be in visual form from
actually seeing something in R.L.  or a graphic/photograph (art form)
and places them in our warehouse thirteen depository for later retrieval.

the more outlandish the "tag" associated with each tidbit of knowledge
keeps the placement of it at either close range or deep sixed based upon desire.

then there's the senses.....  like if you ate some south American melon that you thought
tasted outrageously good, because taste and smell trump other senses you might
remember the look of that melon much easier than others.

it's always better to teach by example.

Although as a society we have come a long long way having become addicted to
the internet and collaborative communications we're are also way more fractionalized
(my word for it)  trying to multi task so much that our attention spans have totally shrunk.

so my point of all this typing is...  do  some high speed photography of simple projects
from beginning to end....  or collage relevant pics to illustrate a theme.

then when these get collated in the dream state (later on)
they go into your brain stream
like chlorophyll goes into your blood stream...  IE  much faster.

each one should be created to suggest one complete thought or idea.

just my current thoughts this AM


Digging around on a piece of ground in my home town
waiting for someone or something to show me the way.
 
 
subject: The Wheaton Eco Scale
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books