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So, What Can I Do?

Great post here on the topic of changes you can make in your own lives.

A lot of people ask me how they can live more sustainably, and help combat global environmental issues like climate change in their own lives. Here’s my advice.

Knowing that people are very busy, and most don’t really want long, complicated lists of things to do, here are my suggestions…

Source: So, What Can I Do?

Categories: Environment.

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Meat

(No hard frost yet.)

We watched Before the Flood on friday night. Leonardo Di Caprio’s new movie on climate change. It contains some powerful imagery of the effects of climate change that are happening right now. To see the tar sands in alberta or a mountaintop removal in west virgina is staggering.

How can I take action? I think I’ve taken many of the easy (lightbulbs) and privileged (efficient cars) routes. I offset all of our airplane travel through Nature Conservancy. So what’s next?

Beef.

Beef clearly has a bigger impact on the environment than other forms of protein, and the movie presents a number of compelling examples such as the equivalency of eating a 1/2lb. burger vs. driving your prius 50 miles.

Here is one news article from a couple of years ago: Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars

Beef’s environmental impact dwarfs that of other meat including chicken and pork, new research reveals, with one expert saying that eating less red meat would be a better way for people to cut carbon emissions than giving up their cars.

So, here we go…

Categories: Environment.

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It’s more than climate change

Reducing humanity’s carbon pollution will certainly be logistically difficult, but its roots are essentially blameless – by the time climate change was a problem, nations had built their economies on cheap fossil fuel – and conceptually simple: pollute less. It’s comforting to think that, if humanity can fix Earth’s climate, nature’s problems will be also be solved.

But that’s not the case.

Source: Why we need to stop thinking so much about climate c…

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was currently digging through Countdown by Alan Weisman. It should be abundantly clear that there is so much more to protecting the earth and environment than climate change alone.

The author nails it in this final quote, we have trouble debating even the most conceptually simple problems, let alone beginning to tackle the reduction of our footprint on complex ecosystems.

Categories: Environment.

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Tips for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

This is a great list of ideas for reducing your carbon footprint from the New York Times:

Global climate: it’s complicated. Any long-term solution will require profound changes in how we generate energy. At the same time, there are everyday things that you can do to reduce your personal contribution to a warming planet. Here are seven simple guidelines on how your choices today affect the climate tomorrow.

 

Categories: Environment.

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Stuff I Follow Late 2015 Edition

Thought I would type up a few thoughts on the things that I am following these days:

2016 Election

It was a short but sweet run by one of my intellectual heroes, Lawrence Lessig, but now that he has been flummoxed by the politcal machinery of the Democratic Party, I’m back to full-on support of Bernie Sanders. My Bernie 2016 sticker never left the tailgate, I promise.

Despite what you might think of Bernie Sanders, I think this op-ed about immigration policy in the New York Times is worth a read. The media has generally treated Bernie as a fringe candidate, despite consistently strong polling and support, and the NY Times has generally followed suit. Bernie is a man of principles though, and when you have a situation like the Syrian refugee crisis, a clear headed approach that calls upon our basic shared values as a country (and, you know, Jesus) just makes sense.

I would encourage the 3 or so readers of my blog (and who among you is undecided, really?) to check out this political quiz. I’d be interested to know how you scored.

Encryption / Privacy Online

I continue to be very interested in the topic of encryption and privacy. I also continue to have zero friends and family who would like to take the time to set up email encryption with me… oh well.

To learn more, the eff is your resource.

 

This New York Times op-ed is worth a read: Mass surveillance isn’t the answer

Reading

Current:

Countdown by Alan Weisman is blowing my mind. The book is oestensibly about our planet’s ability to support us all , but for me, highlights the environmental crisis of climate change and pollution in general, page, after page, after depressing page. It has spurred a couple of minor freakouts about our carbon footprint, the cars we drive, food we consume, etc. A well timed read on the environmental damage of eating meat might turn me in to a full on vegetarian. I remain optimistic. I have 100 pages left, so we’ll see if the optimism remains by the time I finish.

Recent

The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin Great book if you like to geek out on organizing your “workflows”. A bit long, it suffers from the tendency of many pop non-fiction books to belabor each point with anecdote after anecdote after anecdote. But I enjoyed the challenges the book makes to our assumptions about the decision making process, as well as suggestions for how to teach our kids to handle the deluge of information in life today.

 

Categories: General.

Gateway Spices

As a young picky eater – his spice mixes were the gateway to liking spicy food.


Paul Prudhomme, Chef Who Put Cajun Cooking on National Stage, Dies at 75 http://nyti.ms/1jRqMc2

Categories: General.

VW Scandal

To say that I am frustrated, angry, betrayed or flabbergasted by the news that VW created software to defeat emissions testing would be an understatement.

When I walked in to my local auto repair shop last week to have a nail removed from my tire, they dove right in – “Isn’t your VW one of those diesels?” “Yeah…” (I know them pretty well, so there were grins on their faces as they asked me)

So, yes, I’ve spent nearly the last 12 years being generally insufferable with friends and neighbors about how everyone should be driving a TDI because: less fuel, cleaner, and fun to drive.

And the “cleaner” tag relied on the new engines, my ’03 Golf TDI (RIP) was definitely only cleaner in some narrow definitions, but based on the the info published by VW and the EPA, I thought as of my ’11 Jetta Sportwagen, the “cleaner” label could apply as well.

Being a consumer requires information, one needs to be able to make decisions based on facts about a purchase. Short of letting me actually test the emissions of every vehicle I might purchase, we have to rely the manufacturers and governments to give us that information.

And this isn’t a state problem, it’s not even a federal problem. We need to align these standards globablly so there is no incentive to cheat in one locality or another. The comprehensive testing needed is expensive, but why not share that cost and certify emissions once for the global market?

It’s a good argument for open source software as well. Which manufacturer is willing to open up the source that literally drives the cars? This isn’t going to only be a problem of further fouling our environment, but one of personal safety every time you enter a car.

I WAS DRIVING 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold.

Though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.

This is reality, today.

So, I’m not planning on selling the car any time soon (who knows what it is worth on the market now, anyways) but the gesture that VW would have to make to their diesel drivers would have to be equally as monumental as their lies and deception for me to even consider another one.

 

Categories: General.