No! Ban this! No compromise! All too many people think these nagging scolds are what Sustainability is all about, even though there are many positive messages out there.1)One example is Carbonnation: “An optimistic, solutions-based, non-preachy, big tent film…” But it is not principally Sustainability’s image problem that concerns me, rather it is the prevalence in … Read more…
It is with great trepidation that I dip my toe into discussing GMOs but I hope that I can contribute just a bit more sanity against the great weight of vitriol out there. Unfortunately the extreme polarization on GMOs has made it hard to find balanced perspectives and it is frustrating that so many who … Read more…
The summer issue of the Breakthrough Journal features an article by Jessie Ausubel which argues that “beginning in the 1970s, Americans began to consume less and tread more lightly on the planet.” The goal of this journal is to “challenge conventional progressive and environmental wisdom,” but as is often the case to be able to … Read more…
There is no surer way to liven up a dinner party than to declare that eating meat destroys the planet.1)Ideally you would wait to drop this bomb until the main course, presumably featuring one animal or another, was just being brought out. Food is both something fundamentally practical (we must consume it constantly) and deeply … Read more…
There is a lot of really interesting news that accumulates over two weeks but don’t despair, I promise these are worth your time :).
- The trends indicate that batteries are going to make a hugely positive impact on clean energy sooner than expected. Batteries are already being used to keep utilites from stopping the clean energy movement… even in AZ!
- Great story about how and why water is sold in bags in Ghana. Brings back memories of picking plastic out of my teeth in El Salvador.
- How can we expect people to care about nature when we are working so hard to “conserve” it by isolating it from any human contact? The Spatial Paradox of Conservation.
- It makes me sad that our Sustainable future may come down to who can tell the best story. But perhaps we can treat science deniers like those detailed in Merchants of Doubt as a virus for which the best treatment is to use educational inoculation. Or maybe we can just all watch/read Game of Thrones.
- I am skeptical that our consumption choices can really improve our challenges with water Sustainability but Wired has the best guide I have seen yet for giving it a shot. It wasn’t your shopping choices that brought water back to the Colorado River Delta it was policy w/o which no amount of water saved during teeth-brushing was going to matter.
- I found the news of the collapse of the pacific sardine fishery to be extremely disturbing. While numerous fish are being eaten out of the ocean, I thought that at least the ones in well-managed fisheries such as pacific sardines were safe…
- Chipotle is eliminating GMOs. I don’t see this as a great leap towards Achieving Sustainability but the logistical challenges are very similar to anyone that wants move towards Sustainable food at SCALE.
- On the other hand: Bill Gates reviews a book that asks the key question about the Sustainability of our food system, “Should we eat meat?” Not convinced? How about the environmental case in one sentence? Or maybe this video:
When I tell people that I am working in Sustainability well over half the time they immediately bring up water (the probability increases if they know of my ties to Arizona). Yet I have come to believe that water is perhaps the worst topic with which to have an introductory discussion about Achieving Sustainability. The … Read more…
This blog took a multi-month hiatus (admittedly a bad sign for such a new enterprise) as I moved between countries and had a baby (good enough excuses I think). But now I’m back and I won’t be stopped. Too much of interest has happened to list here but here are some of the more recent highlights:
- Robert Putnam is on a campaign to raise the alarm about the accelerating inequality among our youth (a book tour with a purpose).
- Describing new power plants as powering X thousand/million homes is misleading at best and sometimes purposefully deceptive.
- Just as our definitions for wild and natural are arbitrary and contrived so is our definition of native. Horses make a great example.
- “I think we need to stop kidding ourselves that meat production doesn’t have profound impacts on ecosystems – it clearly does, whether your beef comes from Britain or Brazil. The best way to reduce this impact is by eating less of the stuff.” On a related note a new study details just how destructive cattle are to our public lands (with photos).
- We scientists need to change too. Whether it is what we are doing (can science be driving the creation of a more Sustainable world?) or how we are doing it (can scientists fly to fewer conferences).
- Can we shift or re-define labels around Sustainability instead of inventing new terms, history suggest that would be a better approach than inventing new words.
- In Sustainability we talk about Food Systems because the humans from consumers to workers are centrally important but as this article details, that has been slow to trickle into the “Food movement” as a whole.
- Good news: Bald eagles are making a comeback!
Food news: Christie Wilcox covers in more depth what I wrote about briefly, how concerned should we be about pesticide residue on food? “To date, there is no scientific evidence that eating an organic diet leads to better health.” Two interesting graphics-how the world wastes food and a fun set of glimpses of what a … Read more…
- On our global food system:
- “Just 55% of the world’s crop calories are consumed directly by humans”, sounds like some room for improvement.
- “The biggest problem facing modern day manure management: farmers and stockmen often work in separate geographic areas.” Sustainability will require bringing them back together.
- In depth, well-informed and critical look at Vandana Shiva’s knee-jerk and extreme anti-GMO stance.
- Glad to hear that this project has only grown since I got a chance to check it out some years ago. Inspiration!
- Good news in continuing setbacks for coal in the Midwest and their aspirations to export it out of Oregon.
- Stephen Bocking contends that universities divesting from fossil fuels is mostly window dressing–divest from parking lots instead!
- A long, wandering account of a voyage to sample plastic pollution in the South Atlantic, interspersed with somewhat sensational claims about it’s impact.
- Feeling disillusioned about hopes for conservation? Joern Fischer suggests that connecting to colleagues and focusing inwards can help propel you forward.
- “Giving people an opportunity to have fun while doing “good” is far more effective than asking people to make a sacrifice for an abstract notion of the common good. If water agencies throughout the state could come up with a water conservation equivalent of the Ice Bucket Challenge the results could be pretty powerful.” and more good stuff like that.
- The incentives to produce and publicize “surprising” study results (regardless of their validity, robustness or repeatability) are powerful. All consumers of news must be more aware and those knowledgeable enough must publicly provide critique and counterpoint.
Seems to be a lot of discussion about food system sustainability recently:
- The “evidence” which shows the harmfulness of GMOs to human health doesn’t stand up well to critique.
- Irradiation of seeds is one method used in traditional crop breeding. Not so traditional? “Traditions” usually are not.
- It is not surprising that the number of farmer’s markets are no longer increasing so fast, but the more interesting information would be whether the number of vendors and shoppers per market is increasing.
- The author of this post asks: why do most people (including conservationists) persist with diets that are so clearly damaging to the environment? This is a question we all need to be asking.
- A non-food article! Ontario has made incredible progress on eliminating the use of coal, some reasons are unique to it’s situation, but there are many lessons to learn.
- Bets on new technologies are risky and don’t payout right away but its looking like another one of those infamous Department of Energy loans is going to work out pretty well. We need more of this!!