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Living Green

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This may be the most controversial episode of Geeks and God to date. In this episode we say, "Go Green!" and we're not routing for our school colors. This is an episode about technology and our interactions with the ecosystem we live in. We talk about why it matters and talk about a start to what we can do about it.

If you are itching to respond to our episode links or the topic in general we ask that you listen to the episode first. For some reason this topic seems to bring out a lot of arguments. It's become a political fire zone. It's a topic filled with opinions and passion. We attempt to take this topic outside the usual context and this difference matters.

In an effort to share some love of Gods creation, what ways do you see that we can live in better harmony through technology with this ecosystem we live in?

Before we dive in to this firestorm topic, we respond to some listener feedback including an opportunity to look at word of mouth in the online world.

Transition movement

Hey guys! Great to see more people talking about these issues. One think you guys didn't talk about enough in my opinion was global warming. I understand that you say that it isn't really your thing, but I think that it should be! The two most important issues that face us at the moment are in my opinion:

  • Global warming
  • Peak oil

I think that people who have listened to this episode really should know that what you have discussed is only the start of what people should be doing.
I am part of a movement called the Transition Town initiative (http://transitiontowns.org/). This initiative aims to tackle the above problems through grass root change. At the moment most of the towns are in England but I hope it will spread to America and the rest of the world too.

Why we stayed away...

Yeah, you're right, we stayed away from global warming. The reason? There were a few:

  1. Global warming is a big political issue...we didn't want all the political wrangling that happens to impact our point: The reason to Live Green isn't political...it's about Faith and Respect for The Creator
  2. Not everyone believes that human created Global Warming is real. Now, let's not argue whether it is or not...that's not the point here. We are dealing with the reality that not everyone is convinced...therefore, we knew we could make our points without touching this issue

Again, in these comments specifically, let's try and keep from getting political (not saying you were Sam) and keep this dicussion within the realm of pleasing God with our behavior and our care for creation.

Checking out transition towns now...sounds interesting!

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Why We Didn't Talk About That

There was a reason we didn't talk about this. Global Warming has become a very political and debated issue. I'm not about to go join in on that debate. We want to put the focus on God and his creation here. If people learn to live well within their ecosystem and pursue treating Gods creation as a good steward would I'll be happy enough.

Global warming does have two fairly large dangers that go along with it. Many Christians want to be eco friendly to stop global warming. First, we get into the idea of stopping climate change (over time the climate is in constant change). For some it has become about controlling the thermostat on the earth. I've talked to a number of people who have trust issues with God and want us to control it ourselves. A second issue has to do with purpose. Christians should want to live well within their ecosystem because that's what God calls us to do. We need to be careful not to put something in the place of God here.

I don't mean to discount carbon emissions and their impact in the eco system. Much of the system that carbon plays into has been underplayed (like it's relation to algae in our water supply). But, we need to be careful to put God first as our purpose. Personally, when I do that I don't need any other motivation to try to live well within my ecosystem.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

I understand perfectly

Maybe the main problem here is that in America, global warming is a lot less mainstream than here in Europe. Please don't take offence because all I'm trying to say is that in Europe everybody's mind is made up (pritty much) that global warming is happening and it is our fault. I can see that in America, voicing such an opinion would make you seem very political and activisty (is there such a word?). I guess this is all down to that "communications barrier that isn't language" concept you talked about a while ago (except that was between geeks and non-geeks I think).
Loved to see it talked about, it is something us energy hungry Christian geeks need to think about.

I think you're exactly right

Hey Sam...
Yeah, I think you're exactly right...I think it's a cultural thing. Here in the States, talking about global warming leads (within a couple seconds time) to a political discussion, which totally discounts a discussion about God and His role in all of this.

So, I can see why our international listeners may scratch their heads when we treat this issue with such Kids Gloves.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

International

We are an international podcast with listeners all over the world. We shouldn't think of this as kiddy gloves but trying to be sensitive to a number of different cultures.

At the same time I do see a couple potential dangers with global warming for Christians. The first, and foremost, is putting the global warming movement as a Christians reason for taking care of the environment. Our reason for living well within our ecosystem should be because of Gods guidance and not an earthly movement. Our focus should be on him. It's a danger to move our focus from God as our reason.

Secondly, I often hear Global Warming go hand in hand with climate control. I'm a control freak. Anyone who really knows me knows I tend to like things in just such a way. Is climate control about us being in control of the earth or about us taking care of our presence in the ecosystem and living within that? I think this is a difference in how we view things and it can be a danger to want to be control freaks.

Maybe this goes back to the growing view that there is no God and fear or a runaway system with no one at the helm.

Please notice that I didn't talk science or CO2. This is about our personal context and the reasons behind what we do. According to the bible our reasons, our heart, matters to God.

On a side note, why don't we talk much about the rest of the CO2/Oxygen cycle? Like the role algae plays in it and the ways we impact our water system which cascades down to CO2 to Oxygen conversions.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Controversial Episode?

This can be a pretty controversial topic, but I think you guys handled it pretty evenly. I'm pretty sure that WYSIWYG Editors was still your most controversial episode. ;-)

A couple of quick comments here:

First, I gotta give props to Pastor Dion Garrett. On his Earth Day episode of The Six Podcast, he framed the whole discussion of the environment between God's cursing of the Earth in Genesis 3:17-18 and the New Heaven and New Earth foretold in the Revelation. That has really changed the way I view our stewardship responsibility as occupants of a decaying planet.

Second, I have a really long commute. I don't speed, but I do tend to stop on the accelerator to get up to speed limit. Lately, I've been trying to remind myself to always drive as if I were on fumes and trying to make it to the gas station. I don't always succeed, but I try. I should go back to tracking my gas mileage at every fill-up. That would probably encourage me to stretch the miles as far as possible. Remember to check your oil and keep tires properly inflated.

Third, you've inspired me to look into practical solutions for recycling batteries.

Fourth, server consolidation using VMware (or similar) can help reduce electricity consumption in church (or other) data centers. For churches with larger networks, there have been some good discussions about power monitoring and conservation over on the Church IT Podcast. IIRC, this included some talk about which cost savings were actually too small when compared to lost productivity.

Micah

I like the ideas for churches

I think it would be good for churches to look around and see what they can improve on. How many churches use little Styrofoam cups for coffee? You know, that Styrofoam that just doesn't break down.

There are a million little things we can do differently.

I was thinking about it. Back when people didn't have garbage trucks to haul away all their trash to piles that were out of sight the whole out of sight out of mind thing wasn't a factor like it is today.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Amory Lovins - a green man!

This episode reminded me of a set of talks given by Amory Lovins on the topic of "Energy Efficiency". These are a great place to start thinking about the future of the planet.

Amory Lovins is the "Chairman and Chief Scientist" of the "Rocky Mountain Institute". He has also appeared on a Charlie Rose conversation and there is also a video of a talk from TED, the Technology Entertainment Design Conference.

Also, you might like to listen to: "Google's Solar Photovoltaic System".

Journey to work stats

There is something that could be better than both hybrids and used cars, for some at least. And here are some geeky stats to back it up.

The US Census Bureau publishes stats on how people get to work along with their regular census materials every 10 years. One of the things I ran across recently was info on how we get to work. So I looked at Philadelphia, the closest big city to my home.

In 1980, 60% of the Philly population drove to work alone in a car. In 1990, it was 69%, and in 2000 it was 73%. With that trend, this year we should be up to 75 or 80% of the population alone in their cars driving to work every day. The numbers in other big cities are similar.

All of the other categories of traveling to work went down, like car pooling, train, bus, walking and bicycling (my personal favorite). In addition, the number of miles traveled to work went up, and the amount of time spent commuting went up. Something like 10 million people commute more than an hour each way.

To me, this is insane. We are moving farther away from the city, but also expect to get into the city every day in our cars, in privacy. Needless to say, the amount of resources we expend doing this, is enormous.

If more of us moved closer to our jobs, or at least closer to a mass transit terminal, we could make a big positive impact.

Totally Agree

As someone who has a long drive to work (30 minutes) I completely agree. The amount of time lost driving is ridiculous. Plus, all the waste that happens because of it. Living the problem really makes it evident.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Green at our church.

Just listened to the cast. And no, I am not offended that you did not play my comment on the show (this is Rick.) I think I was rambling a bit anyways :) and since it is your show, you call the shots.

I volunteer at my church in the A/V department. We have started to find places to cut to get back on costs. One of the really costly things that we are watching now are those really expensive projector bulbs. We have four large projectors that normally are used on practice and then during the service. Something SO simple that we realized is that two of those projectors was just a copy for the congregation to sing along. Guess what, they are not there during practice! So that saves us 8 hours of life per week just by keeping them off. That is about $400 a year. Talk about easy.

Progammable thermostats. One thing that I think that you should know is that you do not want the heat to go up too high in a room. Reason being is that sometimes, depending on how hot it is, it will take more energy to cool it down, than to keep it at a contant temperature. In Arizona, where I live, our utility company recommends keeping the temperature within 8 degrees because it is more efficient AND it also takes less toll on the energy production systems. Imagine what happens when a half a million people come home and kick on the A/C at 5:30pm after work. So, depending on where you live, check with your utility company to see what is more effective and efficient for your locale.

So, I appreciated the show and hopefully others see what you are trying to say. Taking care of God's creation. There are a lot of things that are painless.

ZicherD
Linux 25%/Windows 50%/Mac 25%
100% Geek

Used cars rock!

I love used cars, like my dad got (I picked it out) a 1996 chevy blazer (and shall I mention it had a lot of aftermarket parts?) and its better (IMO) than any new cars out there. Other than having to fix a lot of things, I LOVE IT. Some of the new cars..... are just plain weird. I'll probably never buy a new car in my life...

My last two cars, errr

My last two cars, errr trucks were bought new because of my commute each day I wanted a vehicle I knew had no problems. The only way was to have a new one.

I have a couple old cars my wife prefers to drive, a 1961 VW Beetle and one which is probably the complete opposite of green, a 1967 Chevy Camaro (it has no AC, I think that helps) :)

i'm OK w/USED CARS

I've bought one new car and driving it around for the first few months made me feel real nifty. Unfortunately new cars don't stay new for long.

With some collector cars (including '67 Camaros) their value ebbs and flows with collector interest. However, the vast majority of vehicles depreciate quickly. By starting with some miles on the clock, you can leverage this lower cost, saving yourself a bundle of money.

Personally, I've gone a little further and adopted a "cash only" approach. This prevents me from driving the type of car my credit rating would allow me to, but it's nice never having a car payment. Also, I'm not tempted to spend "Only $35/month (or whatever) more." $35/month for 60 months is $2100 (+ interest). Funny how seemingly insignificant extras can add up. Also, I'm not trying to sound too spiritual...but for me...by spending only what I have, I feel more dependent on God to provide both the resources and a vehicle.

Repairs come sooner when somebody else has already taken the trouble-free years and I can't strut around like before sucking in that nue-car smell. None the less, I'm happy with the trade and don't think I'll ever buy another new car.

Just my .02.

Blessings!

-NP

Digital Newspaper and Magazine subscriptions

This helps with the huge paper waste that comes from newspapers. I used to use Newstand to subscribe to the USA today. Everymorning I would wake up to the cover of USA today on my desktop. These are full versions, exactly like the print versions. You can highlight and search text and web links are all hyperlinked.

Runs on both PC and Mac but limited amount of mac publications at this time.

This is one way to go a little greener.

My part

Rob & Matt, I wholeheartedly agree with your position on conservation. I've met far too many Christians who could care less about God's creation. I used to be one...

Four years ago, we moved into our home and began recycling. To my shame, the only reason we did is because they would pick up the recyclables for free but it cost $2.17 per can of trash. In the ensuing years, I have really come to see the value of it. We now recycle more than we discard.

We wait to run the dishwasher and washing machine until they are full, turning off lights and other electronics we’re not using, turn down the thermostat (or up…and retreat to the basement on really hot days) and sometimes ride bikes for quick shopping trips. All of our yard waste and some table scraps are composted.

Other ideas include simply buying less. It takes energy to manufacture and distribute everything we purchase. So let’s use less stuff. When you do want something, check out resale. Quality varies dramatically depending on your area, but we buy many of our clothes second-hand. I have a fond affection for the Aloha (or Hawaiian) shirt. I can go to the mall and get a national brand for $40 or I can go to the resale shop and find authentic ones made in the islands for $6. The question which now begs to be asked; As I have a basement crammed full of stuff; why not give it away to friends, sell, or donate to charity and share some of my excess?

On hot days, I like to BBQ outside. This keeps the oven off and the a/c bill down. On cold days, I put the plug in the kitchen sink while the (portable) dishwasher is running. The sink fills up with hot water and that heat is not sent down the drain. The next morning I pull the plug all the room temp water drains out. (Gents beware: When I tried this energy tip with the shower, my wife freaked out.)

Remember when we used to wear suits? A suit was supposed to be dry cleaned not more than two times a year. So why do we have to wash everything we wear every time we wear it? At the end of the day, take a look. If you only wore your shirt for a few hours consider hanging it back up and giving it another go. Once you're OK with that, ask yourself if you really need a shower every single day. If you do, you might need to see your doctor.

After washing bath towels, hang them up to dry and allow them to become cardboard-stiff. Then, place them in the dryer with the next batch of color-appropriate clothing. They will still come out nice and fluffy but you didn't have to burn a bunch of BTUs to get them that way.

Someday I’d like to tackle solar cooking.

Blessings!

-NP

Green IT -- reuse, reuse, reuse!

Another way to make your IT operation more green is to stretch the use of old equipment instead of following the trend to buy new every three years. Groups like Free Geek (www.freegeek.org) work to rehab old computers and make them useful again -- and provide valuable tech skills training in the process.

There are so many discarded computer resources around that, if done right, one could build an entire church IT infrastructure on re-used equipment -- saving both the environment and a lot of cash.

Free Geek

Curtis, thanks! I'd not heard of Free Geek, but they look great.

Just thought I'd add they have additional locations outside Portland:
* Free Geek Arkansas (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
* Free Geek Central Florida (Orlando, Florida)
* Free Geek Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
* Free Geek Columbus (Columbus, Ohio)
* Free Geek Michiana (Michigan/Indiana)
* Free Geek Twin Cities (Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota)
* Born Again Technologies (Tennessee)
* Free Geek Vancouver (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
* Tri-States Free Geek (Keokuk, IA)

Blessings!

-NP

Another way to be more

Another way to be more green.. Buy produce and other goods that are locally grown. Locally grown items are not shipped/trucked and thus consuming resources. Plus its good for the local economy.

health

Locally grown food usually has more nutrients in it. It's healthier for us.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

eating locally is not necessarily better

I think this is a simplistic view of this issue, and not necessarily one that leads to what is better for the environment. More importantly than where the food you eat comes from is the type of food you eat because there is much more energy used in the production process before the food is shipped than is used for shipping it. Eating meat (especially beef) is a great way to ensure that the food you eat has taken a lot of energy to produce and is adding green house gases to the atmosphere (cows produce so much methane!). I'm not a vegetarian so I'm not trying to talk down to anyone but this untruth is often mentioned as an answer to solving environmental problems but is no solution at all. making better choices about one's diet and making a concerted effort to eat less meat will do more than you might think.

http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/20...
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/08...

Methane is Power

Maybe what we need to do is hook up devices to catch that cow methane. We could use it to power all our electronics. Can you imagine the stickers... for get "intel inside" we'd have "powered by cow...". You get the idea :)

Something to think about in this whole mess is how the system works. Methane and CO2 aren't bad in and of themselves. We actually need a lot of it in the world to keep our ecosystem running. For example, all the green plants we see in the world need CO2 to live. They 'breathe' CO2. The planet is setup like a closed loop control system. About 75-80% of the CO2 put out is converted to oxygen by algae in our oceans. And, when the planet gets hotter (thanks to more CO2 in the atmosphere) more algae grows to convert the additional CO2 into oxygen. It's a closed loop control system of sorts.

Maybe a way to look at eco issues is not so much in what we put out but in how we disrupt these natural ecosystem processes that keep balance in nature.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

I really enjoy the podcast

I really enjoy the podcast and the G&G community, but personally, I'm really sick and tired of hearing about "being green" and "global warming".

Clarification: if you do it to save money, to be healthier, or to be a good steward, then that's one thing, but the mindset "we've got to save the planet" is decidedly unbiblical and based in an atheistic evolutionary mindset where man is not the pinnacle of creation (and worthy of salvation) but is the plague of creation (man is evil and not worth a dime).

Romans 8:19-22 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Carbon dioxide is good, without it all life would cease. Green? Then emit more co2 and you'll have a greener planet. All this effort to curb carbon emissions is like cleaning 4 seats out of a 10,000 seat stadium.

We're called to present the gospel which is about saving souls, not the earth. "The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." (2 Peter 3:10)

But regardless of your views on global warming, I suppose the real issue I had was the comment that it's uncool for republicans to be green. It's like saying that it's uncool for democrats to be pro-life. I understand it was a train of thought, slip of the tongue thing but I am tired of labels. In Christianity there are no republicans or democrats, "neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

I dunno, maybe I'm just tired today.

/ * Begin Signature */
It's a strange thing about determined seekers-after-wisdom that, no matter where they happen to be, they'll always seek that wisdom which is a long way off. Wisdom is one of the few things that looks bigger the further away it is.

Education Problem

When it comes to what it means to be a good steward there is a lot of propaganda and lack of good education. But, we are supposed to be good stewards. Instead of being sick I prefer to work on education and how to do things biblically.

For example, when we talk about C02 are we concerned with it's impact on mammals or on plants as well. Plants are growing better now because they breathe C02. The atmosphere could quadruple the amount of C02 and we would be fine. But, plants would flourish mush more. What are we concerned with being stewards of? It should be more than just people and our desires or fears.

I personally think we need to just stop pointing and talking politics and just live it. Then let people see our lifestyles and how they are different. That alone should cause some healthy conversations. It's easy to get caught up in idle chatter. It's more rewarding and healthier to live it and let conversation happen where it does.

But, that's just my 2 cents.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

But see, I think that's part

But see, I think that's part of the problem: instead of trying to be a supernatural example in this normal world, we should try to be a normal example of a supernatural world. We are aliens in this world, our citizenship is in another world (Phil 3:20).

Sure, be good stewards, if you can save some money by doing "green" things then by all means save that money and put it towards the kingdom, send it home so to speak.

But on the other hand, you're not going to "out green" someone like The Goode Family - how can you compete with someone who uses rain water to take their showers? There are wiccans, hippies, yuppies, and all manner of people who will be a better example of being green, being nice, and being a good person.

What makes us different is our faith: "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope (faith) that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). Our faith is what sets us apart, not being nice, not being green, not being whatever (and of course I"m not saying to be a jerk or leave trash on people's lawn).

How can we show that? Well, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out this week: every day there is something new that the media publishes that is going to kill us all. First it was global cooling, then global warming, then swine flu, then mercury hitting the earth, then it's our president nationalizing everything he can get his hands on (well, maybe the media doesn't publish that, but it's a concern to the Right), etc.

When someone is worried about swine flu they should be able to see that you are not. Be informed: the normal flu kills 30k people a year, so a new flu comes along, just do what you normally to do protect yourself.

When someone is having a nervous breakdown that the earth will be destroyed by a meteor/volcano/godzilla/tidal wave/carbon dioxide, they should be able to see that you are not.

When someone is angry/frustrated that our constitutional rights are being systematically destroyed - they should see that you are concerned more about giving glory to God. If at some point the leader of the world wants to dip you in pitch and set you on fire, then you will stand in the same line of those Christians that have gone before you. If freedom of speech is taken away, then I'll be in jail next to those other Christians that preach the gospel. Cold living John Bunyan style.

Anyway, just my 5.2 cents (2 cents after taxes).

Grace and Peace out.

/ * Begin Signature */
It's a strange thing about determined seekers-after-wisdom that, no matter where they happen to be, they'll always seek that wisdom which is a long way off. Wisdom is one of the few things that looks bigger the further away it is.