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The Wheaton Eco Scale

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The time has come for me to more formally define this.    I have eluded to  this rough idea in the past with some numbers I pulled out of my butt.  I now flush those numbers and clearly define these new numbers. 

Further, while in the shower this morning, I decided that I am obnoxious and arrogant enough to come up with something and put my name to it.  I also give everybody else licence to come up with their own scales for whatever they want.  I just need to express myself, so I need ..... SOMETHING! 

wheaton eco level 0:  about 5 billion people
wheaton eco level 1:  about a billion people
wheaton eco level 2:  about 100 million people
wheaton eco level 3:  about 10 million people
wheaton eco level 4:  about a million people
wheaton eco level 5:  about 100,000 people
wheaton eco level 6:  about 10,000 people
wheaton eco level 7:  about a thousand people
wheaton eco level 8:  about 100 people
wheaton eco level 9:  about 10 people
wheaton eco level 10: Sepp Holzer

Observation 1:  most people find folks one or two levels up took pretty cool.  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.   I find the latter reactions to be inappropriate.

Observations 2:  most people find folks one level back are ignorant.  Two levels back are assholes.  Any further back and they should be shot on sight for the betterment of society as a whole.  I find that all of these reactions are innapropriate.

Finally:  I can put whoever I want at the spot of eco level 10.  I choose the mighty Sepp Holzer and I don't give a damn if you think somebody else should sit in that spot on my scale! 

Here are some possible attributes of people on the scale

Level 1: is thinking about the environment. Bought fluorescent light bulbs. Is trying to do a good job of recycling. Reads an article or two. Buys some organic food. Their power bill is less than average.

Level 2: 30% of purchased food is organic

Level 3: Has an organic garden and 80% of purchased food is organic

Level 4: Grow 40% of their own food. Studying permaculture. Got rid of all fluorescent light bulbs

Level 5: has taken a PDC and/or grows 90% of their own food

Level 6: Living a footprint that is 10 times lighter than average. Maybe living in community. Maybe living in something very small.

Level 7: Permaculture teacher

Level 8: Doing things that are currently improving the world in big ways

Level 9: masanobu fukuoka, paul stamets, art ludwig, bill mollison, ianto evans ....

Level 10: the mighty, the glorious, the amazing Sepp Holzer







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Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
Ya lost me.

So what is the scale rating?

Is it like a perfect Eco world would only have Sepp on it?  The world is currently below level 0 because there are more than 5 billion people?  I'm a bit lost here I think?


TCLynx
[url]http://www.tclynx.com/[/url]
[img]http://www.permies.com/permaculture-images/2692_740/Avitar.jpg[/img]
Sheryl Hatfield


Joined: Feb 03, 2010
Posts: 14
That's good, Paul! Your observations (1) and (2) made me laugh. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
TCLynx wrote:
So what is the scale rating?


The idea is that some people are more eco than others. 

I think a lot of people would call themselves eco and they are barely at level 1.  They think they are eco because they bought fluorescent light bulbs. 

I think that if a person takes a PDC, they qualify for level 5 if not higher.

I think a person that gets 90% or more of their food from their own garden/farm, they qualify for level 5 if not higher.


Sheryl Hatfield


Joined: Feb 03, 2010
Posts: 14
What's PDC (Professional Developers Conference, Pacific Disaster Center, Public Disclosure Commission, Primary Domain Controller, Pioneer Drilling Company...)?
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Ah, I get it!

It's like categorizing people based on their percentile ranking of SAT score, except that:

a) the scale isn't about standardized test performance, but ecological habits, and

b) in contrast to the linear scale, where each percentile is as common as any other, the scale is logarithmic, so that each level up, people making that grade are several times rarer.

It might be that a minority of people are responsible for the majority of ecological harm done. I think that's the case, so a Hollingsworth scale might go like this:

-10: Richard Bruce Cheney and Thomas Midgley, Jr.
-9:  The 20 people who sold their souls to get to -10, but were cheated. 
-8:  200 or so who've been extremely influential in a negative way.
...
-4:  The 2 million people who give civilization a bad name.
...
-1: 2 billion people who mostly can't be bothered to make ecologically responsible choices.
0:  The one person who is most nearly average. This title shifts around a lot, more because the individual who held it has changed than because the average shifted out from under them.
1:  2 billion people who lack the power to act on their ecologically responsible intentions.
...
8: 200 people we've never heard of, but to whom most of us owe our lives.
9: Maybe 3 of these 20 people are famous...I'd guess Will Allen, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and Masanobu Fukuoka, but that's not a particularly well-informed guess.
10: These two people and their associates were killed, and quietly erased from history, but the changes they made live on far longer than their memory.

A sane adult will be a little uneasy interacting meaningfully with anyone who has a magnitude above 6. People with a magnitude of three or so feel a lot of pity for the people nearer the center of the scale, and are often mean-spirited to those with roughly equal magnitude but opposite sign. 8 and above spend a lot of time trying to keep 4 from getting in their way: half of this work is to escape organized opposition, and the other half is to prevent sympathizers from behaving counterproductively.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
permutations wrote:
What's PDC (Professional Developers Conference, Pacific Disaster Center, Public Disclosure Commission, Primary Domain Controller, Pioneer Drilling Company...)?



Permaculture Design Course.  Typically 14 very long days of intensive study in permaculture.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Joel,

You are correct on a and b. 

While I got a good laugh out of the score of -9, I'm a goofball about permaculture.  So I leave out the negative scores. 

Besides, the real point I needed to make was about how people that are on the eco path tend to despise the people behind them and think the people way ahead of them are nuts. 

                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
You guys all make it sound like being nuts, weird or crazy is a bad thing?

I'm kinda proud of the fact that half the neighborhood thinks we are crazy as we hoard their bagged leaves to go dump them on our yard

It seems to me that I I were trying to convince some on less ecological than I that people who are ahead of me are crazy, well that is like advertising for them which is a good thing.

But to me personally, being ecological isn't about people and personalities, it is about what we do and how we do it.  Perhaps to the masses of people it might help if some celebrity were to tell them how they recycle and use green energy and avoid products with excessive packaging and to eat local.  But we are not the masses.  We don't need some celebrity to tell us what to do, we can think about it and look at nature and hopefully figure it out for ourselves perhaps with a little trial and error to help us fine tune what we do.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
there is alot of truth in all this! love the scale paul. I don't have a clue on the actual numbers or specifics but the sentiment and observations are right on imo.


[img]http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n52/havlik1/permie%20pics2/permiepotrait3pdd.jpg[/img]

"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think the eco witch hunt thread spells it out a bit.
Sheryl Hatfield


Joined: Feb 03, 2010
Posts: 14
I'm new to this forum - came here by way of my interest in cast iron. I'm a long-time tree-hugger and environmentalist, but I had to google "permaculture" to learn what it meant.

I know the scale was mainly social commentary, but do you think you could put examples of what people at each level would do and how they would live? Maybe that's too much trouble, but I'd be fascinated to see it. It would give me a much better idea of what permaculture is about.

I used to live in Vermont and had an organic garden and composted my kitchen waste and heated with a wood stove, but now I live in NYC and there's not much I can do beyond recycling, walking or biking rather than driving, buying organic sustainably produced produce, and using CFL bulbs.

Edit: I see the forum software automatically made the word "permaculture" in my message a link. Very cool! How do you do that? I run SMF on my own site and I know it's not built into the forum software.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
permutations wrote:
Edit: I see the forum software automatically made the word "permaculture" in my message a link. Very cool! How do you do that? I run SMF on my own site and I know it's not built into the forum software.


For a clue, take a look at my much bigger website, JavaRanch.


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Level 1: is thinking about the environment. Bought fluorescent light bulbs. Is trying to do a good job of recycling. Reads an article or two. Buys some organic food.

Level 2: 30% of purchased food is organic

Level 3: Has an organic garden and 80% of purchased food is organic

Level 4: Grow 40% of their own food. Studying permaculture. Got rid of all fluorescent light bulbs

Level 5: has taken a PDC and/or grows 90% of their own food

Level 6: Living a footprint that is 10 times lighter than average. Maybe living in community. Maybe living in something very small.

Level 7: Permaculture teacher

Level 8: Doing things that are currently improving the world in big ways

Level 9: masanobu fukuoka, paul stamets, art ludwig, bill mollison, ianto evans ....

Level 10: the mighty, the glorious, the amazing Sepp Holzer

Sheryl Hatfield


Joined: Feb 03, 2010
Posts: 14
Interesting, thanks. I guess that puts me at Level 3 (except I no longer have an organic garden because I live in NYC).

paul wheaton wrote:
For a clue, take a look at my much bigger website, JavaRanch.


It's Java?? Now I'm really confused. SMF is written in PHP, which I know because I wrote a fork to support paid subscriptions for my own site (http://normaleating.com). I also added the ability to moderate posts, though this turned out to be unnecessary once the forum became fee-based. Trolls don't pay for the privilege to be nasty. The forum is also now a one-time fee instead of a monthly fee, so I did a lot of unnecessary programming, but I digress. How did you integrate SMF with Java?

I don't know much Java, but I'm very strong with PHP and moderately okay with JavaScript.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I guess I was trying to say I know a fair bit about programming, so it wasn't that big of a deal.

Sheryl Hatfield


Joined: Feb 03, 2010
Posts: 14
You modified a part of the code that I found too complicated to touch, although there is a bug in there that drives my forum members and me crazy. If you type multiple spaces in a row (as people often do between sentences), you get question marks. I took a quick look at the code to see if I could fix it, and it made my eyes cross so we live with it. Did you fix that? I'll type a few spaces here and see what happens:      space-space   

I'm running a fork of SMF 1.1 Beta 3 - a little later than what you have here.

(Apologies for going off topic.)
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I think this whole idea is useful in some ways and divisive in others.  I mean, obviously, some people are further down "the path" than others, but assigning a number like it's a karate class, it seems to me, might lead to more insecurity (therefore defensiveness) in those further down the scale, and more arrogance further up the scale.  That is, until you get to the level (9) of enlightened being and the ego evaporates.  The rest of us are decades/lifetimes away from that point though. 

But, like I said, a useful idea nonetheless.  And I like the idea of negative numbers representing harm done, because it's true that some people have done more than their fair share of destruction.  Oh Dick.  How shall we punish you for your sins? 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My mission is not to assign everybody a number.  My mission is to clarify a problem.  I have seen this happen hundreds of times.  I think that by showing the scale, people will be more aware of the problem and, hopefully, we will have better progress.

People at level 2 might someday go to level 3.  Or they might always stay at level 2.  Or they might even go to level 1. 

I suspect that everybody at this site is level 3 or higher.  What do we do when somebody at level 2 talks about eco stuff? 

There was one person on this site at level 7.5 (or so) that found great pleasure in shaming the people at lower levels.  You would think that this would not happen.  But it is my opinion that it happens more often than not. 

Now that I have created this thread, I might direct folks to it if that seems helpful.

Of course, if lots of people reading this thread were to say "yes, I see that problem sometimes too, and, yes, I hope that folks will choose to help people at the lower levels rather than slap them."  .... well ....  if a lot of people were to say that sort of thing here in this thread, then I suspect that this would seem less like a tin foil hat and more like the voice of reason and decency.

(wink, wink, nudge, nudge ...)

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
alright alright alright.  Like I said I think it's useful.  There are people who will be drawn into the superiority trap even without really knowing where they stand, it'd be a good way to keep them in their place....  Wouldn't want to point out anyone in particular.....cause I'd embarass myself.    Oh, woops. 

I just had this funny thought of a permaculture convergence with everyone wearing a name tag and their number.  "Hello, My Name Is: John from wisconson, and I'm a level 4.3!"  It'd be like treckies, but different.  And hilarious.  (I've never been to a convergence, which is why I'm able to have dumb imaginations about them.)
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
It would be awesome to have some sort of self test where you can end up with a guesstimate of your number.  And, yes, do exactly that at a permaculture convergence. 
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Oh I don't know.....I think it's useful even if it's grossly subjectively and privately self administered.  There could be such a hullabaloo about who gets to make the test!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Well, if it is "The Wheaton Eco Scale" then the hullabaloo is eliminated, is it not? 

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
OOOOhhh, I see.  SEPP makes the test!  DUH!  He should be made to wear a giant "1" as his only identifying mark.  Maybe even a big mascot-like costume of a "1." 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
marina phillips wrote:
OOOOhhh, I see.  SEPP makes the test!  DUH!  He should be made to wear a giant "1" as his only identifying mark.  Maybe even a big mascot-like costume of a "1." 


Actually, for Seppl that would be a "WEL 10" 

                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
So essentially this is a tool to remind people that we want to help those lower on the scale and learn from those higher.  Rather than using such for exclusion and ridicule.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
oh right, dangit.  I'm used to 1 being the best.  In the Phillips scale, Sepp would be #1.   
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
TCLynx wrote:
So essentially this is a tool to remind people that we want to help those lower on the scale and learn from those higher.  Rather than using such for exclusion and ridicule.


Yes!

And to help people understand that when they may have behaved poorly, they are not the first to do so. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Something that came up several times in the last few days that I feel the need to share ....

When people talk about being green, or eco .... and they write an article or put something on tv, or whatever, a lot of their message is directed at people at eco level 1 or 2 in an attempt to convey some information that might move them further up the eco scale. 

While these efforts are very good and helpful, I would like to point something out.  Suppose there is an eco issue that is not only good for the environment, but it also saves money.  So if an article were written to describe how to save money, leaving the eco aspect out, and then direct the article to people at level zero, then it would, by definition, have 100 times more impact. 

So then, it boils down to:  is the mission to improve our global situation, or is the mission to impress our friends?

Just another obnoxious thought I had to share.


Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
how about impressing everyone WHILE saving the global situation


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
soil wrote:
how about impressing everyone WHILE saving the global situation


Well, yes, there are some writers that have the ability to appeal to a massive scale. 

I think that if the article is about being green, then it won't be read by the level zero folks. 
David Castillo


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 24
Location: IL/WI Border
Looks like I'm at a level 4 or so. Not sure I'm growing 40%, but I'm working towards it. Plus I generally purchase the majority of my food locally and organically grown.

Level 5 should be attained sometime this year. Looking to take a PDC course with Midwestpermaculture.

Never thought I'd be taking a vacation from work to...go do more work.
Aljaz Plankl


Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 323
    
    6
It's all about people being ready to hear and do something. So, let's help those who are ready for it and focus on them. That's how impression will reach those who are not doing it or hearing it. I like to impress people i don't deny it, but in the first place it's all about sharing the knowledge and showing people how to help themselves. It's all about examples, that's what 0 people need - proof.
                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
I suppose I differ in some of my opinions (well don't we all.)  This particular difference is to do with the Permaculture design courses and the whole idea that People should have to pay some one in order to share knowledge.  Yes I understand that taking a class or going to a workshop costs money.  That is all fine and good for those who can afford to take time off and spend the money to attend a workshop.

In a way I don't really feel that simply taking a class really guarantees that some one has truly become "more green" and should therefore automatically be ranked at a certain point on a scale.  I think what they do with what they learn from the course should be ranked more heavily than simply taking the course.

What about those people who can't go take the class for whatever reason but still manage (by learning on their own) to do most of the things the class might teach?  Should they still be ranked lower because they couldn't pay some one to teach them?

I must admit one of the biggest things I dislike about "permaculture" is the whole kinda tradmark culture of certain parts of it.  The whole, it isn't really permaculture cause you are not doing things exactly like so and so.  Or I can't share this info or that info because then I couldn't charge you to take the class.

Sorry that is just a little of my rant.  I do commend this forum for being one of the few open sources of permaculture sharing and wisdom.
David Castillo


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 24
Location: IL/WI Border
I hear what your saying TCLynx. Originally I wasn't going to take the class for some of the very reasons you stated. I only more recently decided to do so, and not b/c I feel it'll grant me some great title, or status, but hopefully I might actually learn additional info, I haven't already studied. Or make some new contacts/friends.

I personally am already moving forward on my own design ideas, whether I take the class or not. Then I'm going to create a plan for my parents, and then who knows where it'll take me.

And I very whole heartedly agree about the paying for knowledge part. I have a great disdain for it. Kind of ironic that permaculture is all about caring and sharing, yet you have to pay for those very ideas. 
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
Well, yes, there are some writers that have the ability to appeal to a massive scale.

I think that if the article is about being green, then it won't be read by the level zero folks.


i agree with you completely but that doesnt mean you cant do both at the same time
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
As for my scale, folks can get to the upper levels without a PDC.  I suspect that several people at level 9 never took a PDC.  I have no idea if Sepp took a PDC.

And, of course, each person can make up their own eco scale.  I needed to make this one so I could talk about other things that build on top of this.

Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  15
I'd be fond of a more objective scale...  like... one that stores 10 times as much energy as one consumes... I don't trust scales that revolve around what comes out of peoples mouths (I can be slick talker at times)... but then you'd have to somehow get credit for convincing others to store more energy then they consume... sort of like a reverse pyramid scheme.


Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15222
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think you should start a new thread and define your scale.  Different scales can be used to make different points. 

After trying to express this point a couple of dozen times I just wanted to formally write it down so it will be a stronger foundation.

Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  15
paul wheaton wrote:
I think you should start a new thread and define your scale.  Different scales can be used to make different points. 

I'll let it compost a little longer...
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
 
subject: The Wheaton Eco Scale
 
cast iron skillet 49er

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