Our society and our everyday lives would look much much different if we were truly attempting to address the enormous phenomena that is climate change.
You are here
Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
The climate crisis is rapidly warming the Arctic, and the effects are being felt from Alaska to Greenland.
The northernmost point on the planet is heating up more quickly than any other region in the world. The reason for this warming is ice–albedo feedback: as ice melts it opens up land and sea to the sun, which then absorb more heat that would have been bounced off by the ice, leading to more warming. It's a vicious circle of warmth that's changing the environment at the north pole.
Exploitation and predatory pricing drove the transformation of the US beef industry – and created the model for modern agribusiness. Meatpacking lines, pioneered in the 1860s in Cincinnati’s pork packinghouses, were the first modern production lines.
The meatpacking mogul Jonathan Ogden Armour could not abide socialist agitators. It was 1906, and Upton Sinclair had just published The Jungle, an explosive novel revealing the grim underside of the American meatpacking industry. Sinclair’s book told the tale of an immigrant family’s toil in Chicago’s slaughterhouses, tracing the family’s physical, financial and emotional collapse. The Jungle was not Armour’s only concern.
For regular flyers, air travel is often the dominant contributor to their greenhouse gas footprints. With the window rapidly closing to limit global warming to a bearable level — scientists warn that the planet has as little as 12 years to halve global emissions to restrict warming to 1.5 degrees this century — it is more critical than ever to find a way to shrink aviation’s carbon footprint. Every bit of carbon dioxide we emit now will linger in the atmosphere and warm the planet for decades, but completely decarbonizing aircraft will likely require technologies that are decades away. Reducing the number of flights is one of the few surefire ways to curb emissions in the meantime...
But that’s if you fly to begin with. In the United States, fewer than half of travelers in 2017 took a trip by air, according to an industry survey. Globally, less than one-fifth of the population has ever buckled in for a flight. That means a minority of frequent flyers contribute a disproportionate share of emissions. So reducing air travel is one of the most effective things individuals can do to shrink their carbon footprints.
Venice. Photo by Wolfgang Moroder via Wikimedia commons.
For too long the severity and scale of the climate crisis has been deliberately understated, but October’s release of the IPCC’s Special Report on the Global Warming of 1.5°c finally sent shockwaves into the populations of rich countries. The urgent need for action was clear with the world now in ‘decade zero’, when every decision taken in the coming years will determine the extent to which the critical 1.5°c guardrail is breached triggering run away climate change. Despite these warnings the UN estimates that current emission targets will put the world on a trajectory of at least 3.4°c and possibly up to 7°c warming.
Complaints about “capitalism” have become more common the last few years in the United States. This has been a welcome development. Anytime the collective perspective is widened, it’s beneficial to at least some degree. In a complementary way, calls for “socialism” have also become more frequent.
As detailed in examples below, solutions to climate change proffered since the 1960s have not worked. An implicit illogic allows for the constant expansion of destructively high greenhouse gas emitters until they can shift to renewables. Virtually ignored are three high-emitting sectors that are exempt under the Kyoto Accord, all slated for vast expansion in the coming decades and all three not convertible to renewables: the military, international aviation and shipping. Other high-emitters rooted in the economic growth model include the agro-industrial complex; biofuels; extraction of minerals, metals, oil and gas; production of plastic; and the construction industry with its use of energy-intensive steel and cement. Logically, these sectors need to be stringently curtailed or eliminated, first of all, until the basic needs of the world population are prioritized and met without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, secondly, until GHG concentration is drawn down to a safe level, and finally, until these sectors are actually fueled by renewables while fully accounting for externalities and life cycle analysis...
Some people may have never heard the word ‘organophosphates’ to know what they are and what they do. Others may have only heard of organophosphates in relation to nerve agent chemical attacks – such as the one in Tokyo in 1995 where sarinwas released on three lines of the Tokyosubway during rush hour, killing 12 people, severely injuring 50 (some of whom later died), and causing vision problems for nearly 1,000 others.
All those who have suffered the adverse effects of organophosphates (OPs) from sheep dipping, agricultural pesticide spraying, contaminated air on planes, among other sources, will of course know only too well the health damage and devastation these chemicals cause.
Mexico is the biggest beer exporter globally, but it barely has enough water for its residents and farmers. Experiencing long-lasting droughts, the country, which is half desert, has become a cheap place for transnationals to consume its remaining water, then send the products and profits to wealthier regions.
The amount of water that goes into producing a gallon of beer is key as to why beer companies are having such devastating consequences. Beer is 90-95% water, and while only ten gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of beer during the brewing process, 590 gallons total are required for that single gallon, as the hops and barley crops require copious amounts of water.