The columnist, Mike Tidwell, says a few things that I have felt like a broken record saying, mostly about how people who consider themselves environmentalists conveniently leave our dietary choices off the table when talking about saving the planet. (Including taking Michael Pollan to task a bit, which I do enjoy.)
He makes the point that our beliefs about food may be so ingrained and, in a way, irrational, that only the most tough talk and moral imperative may sway most folks.
"All of which is to say that for people to care, the climate–food discussion must be about more than just facts, more than pounds of greenhouse gases per units of food. It’s got to be about morality, about right versus wrong. And I don’t mean the usual morality of environmental “stewardship.” Or even the issue of cruelty to farm animals. I’m talking here about cruelty to people, about the explicit harm to humans that results from meat consumption and its role as a driving force in climate change. Knowingly eating food that makes you fat or harms your local fish and birds is one thing. Knowingly eating food that makes children across much of the world hungry is another."
I think it's true. But I also think it's smart of Tidwell to talk about how easy he finds it to be veg*n these days. The first question many people ask me abotu being a veg*n is "Isn't that hard?"
It's a good article. More than that I hope it's an impactful article.
Early Monday morning, a dam containing tons of coal ash burst in Harriman, Tennessee, burying an estimated 400-acre area in a 6-foot pile of toxic sludge. The dam belonged to the Kingston Fossil plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. It produced fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning that contains troubling levels of lead, mercury and other heavy metals. That's in addition to being "100 times more radioactive than nuclear waste" according to Scientific American magazine and Dr. Steven Chu -- the man that Pres. Elect Barack Obama has tapped to run his Department of Energy.
Seeing no coverage of this in the mainstream media (gee, could that be related to the fact CNN cut its science and environmental staff to cut expenses?), bloggers and twitterers stepped in to fill the gap. Amy Gahran wrote about it over at Poynter, and she created the #coalash hash tag on Twitter.
It was more than a couple days before, finally, the mainstream started to catch up...with CNN and the New York Times finally getting in on the action on Christmas Day and following up yesterday.
Considering the buzz word "clean coal" was in heavy use throughout the presidential campaign, it's clear that this little spill throws a wrench in any thinking that we had a simple solution just waiting in the wing, and that a buzz word would be sufficient to address safety and environmental concerns.
What went wrong? How do we prevent a similar accident in the future? How long will it take to clean this up? And what are the long-term ramifications, for wildlife and for humans?
Some big questions need answering soon. Let's hope that they'll get to work on the answers now that everyone' paying attention...and kudos to those social media types who kept this story alive...or really, made it come alive to begin with. It ain't all navel-gazing, folks!
Seriously. He seems to be doing everything he can possibly manage to make things more precarious than they already are for the Earth's living creatures in his last lame-duck days. (Gotta include humans in there, actually.)
One of the worst tactics, removing the requirement for independent scientific reviews of the environmental impact of proposed federal projects, is covered by the LA TImes here. Because who needs independent reviews? Because we all have sooo much trust that whoever is in charge of something (be it industry or government) is really really honest and thorough when it comes to self-policing and self-regulating.
Just one more heartless act by an administration that has been obsessed with corporate welfare and warmongering from pretty much day one.
This one: a rule that would "make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job."
This just one of nearly two dozen rules that seek to help companies avoid responsibility for people, animals, the environment, you name it. A couple more examples:
One rule would make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas. Another would reduce the role of federal wildlife scientists in deciding whether dams, highways and other projects pose a threat to endangered species.
The majority opinion was that "harm to an unknown number of the marine mammals" was not justification for potentially inhibiting the Navy's ability to run realistic training exercises.
The New York Times expresses a healthy skepticism about just taking the military's word for it, which the military's lack of doing any actual in depth environmental impact studies requires. (Question: Would we let a corporate organization get away with conjectures about potential impact without requiring them to actually do an environmental impact study?)
Second, Treehugger seeks to debunk the idea that Arnold Schwarzenegger actually is the "green governor." (I'm not sure that moniker was ever fully bought into by anyone given his cigar-tent and Hummer-loving ways, right?)
Vegan Soapbox points us today to a news item on MSN that reveals that going vegetarian is way more enviro-friendly than eating meat, and that going vegan is even more so. Going organic? Well, that just practically gives you only a carbon toe-print.
The study uses miles driven as a metric...IOW "producing a kilo (2.2 pounds) [of beef is] the same as driving 71 kilometres compared with 26 kilometres for pork."
Meanwhile, someone who somehow managed to eat a 100% organic vegan diet would produce a carbon footprint equivalent to driving only 281 kilometres in an entire year. (Or about the carbon footprint produced by producing only 4 kilos of beef.)
I don't think the contention that going veg is easier on the environment than eating meat is a big surprise to most people who follow this stuff to begin with.
I do think that as more people (non-veg) people do get drawn into "going green" they may see the light on that.
Now, if Al Gore would just go veg? That would be nirvana...seriously how can he not?
The planet's health
Avoiding unnecessary cruelty and suffering for animals
Seriously: Who or what doesn't benefit from you going veg?
(And don't tell me the owners of slaughterhouses and cattleyards, or I'll have to into my whole yes-people-make-a-living-dealing-drugs-and-running guns-and-running-Internet-scams-doesn't-make-it-a-reason-those-activities-deserve-to-continue argument.)
Let's be honest: Sometimes it gets a bit tiring and daunting to care about things, right? Seems like you can never care enough, do enough, speak out enough. I'm a big believer that doing anything is better than doing nothing, but sometimes doing only something seems like you might as well be doing nothing. Anyone else feel that way? Or am I just being whiny? (I suppose you can answer "yes" to both questions, of course.)
This post on Groovy Green made me feel this way. Mischa Popoff is a former organics inspector who wants us all to realize that the label "organic", despite having guidelines and parameters associated with it, is still almost meaningless...because (and I really didn't know this) farms self-report and basically self-regulate...and since 80% of "organic" products come from overseas, there's even less control on those!
I guess I can feel fairly good about the organic food I purchase via delivery every other week from Organic Express (now merged with spud, actually.) That's mostly very local stuff, down to them saying what farm produce comes from. But even in those cases...is it tested? Apparently probably not.
So, one more cause to trumpet and speak out about: Having organic certification being based on self-reporting is NOT good enough. We want testing!!!
Back in the day most electricity was consumed via the use of lighting, but now most of it is consumed via the use of A/C and heating...so for reasons they explain DST may indeed reduce our need for lighting, but it increases our need for those other things, so it's a wash.
I personally never thought DST was instituted to save energy...I always had some idea it was about children and going to school in the dark or something like that?
I guess "energy usage" was always a concern, even back when it was candles Ben Franklin was talking about saving, instead of incandescent lighting. My idea about children having to go to school in the dark is why DST isn't used during the winter. And mostly the idea was that getting people to change their clocks was easier than hoping people would start waking earlier in the summer to take advantage of the additional daylight hours that naturally come.
Seems like we're stuck with it now, so I'm off to go change the few clocks in the hose that don'r change automatically.