How COVID-19 Might Solve the Climate Crisis

Facing Future

Mar 4, 2021

In their new book ‘A Chicken Can’t Lay a Duck Egg: How COVID-19 Can Solve the Climate Crisis,’ Graeme and Bernice Maxton argue that #ClimateChange​ can’t be fixed within the existing economic system. That system, properly called ‘growth economics,’ is predicated upon exploitation of both planet and people, and fundamental social inequities, that fuel destruction of the biosphere to further enrich rich and powerful individuals and corporations. As we have been pointing out for years, nothing can grow forever in a finite container. Growth economics is founded upon the basic believe that the human economy can grow forever, and grow exponentially at that! Last we checked the Earth was a finite container. Graeme, former Secretary General of the #ClubOfRome​, an international network of thought leaders created to address the multiple crises facing humanity and the planet, explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how humanity can refrain from #EcologicalDevastation​ without causing widespread #EconomicCollapse​. As this understanding grows, so too will an intolerance for #BusinessAsUsual​. The immediate task is to build a groundswell of support for three basic but urgent goals: 1) a radical reduction in the use of fossil fuels, 2) an end to #GlobalDeforestation​, and 3) sensible reform of the agricultural system.

BYSO’s Virtual ‘Tutti’ Gala: March 6, 2021

Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras BYSO  – Mar 1, 2021

Mark your calendars for our annual celebration of the 550 young musicians of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras! Join us and special guests for an evening of music and community— all together at home: http://bysoweb.org/gala

How the climate crisis is accelerating food systems reform | Greenbiz

By Jim Giles– February 5, 2021

Future Meat Technologies, an Israeli startup, can now produce a cultured chicken breast for $7.50. Photo courtesy of Future Meat

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I was chatting recently with a veteran strategy wonk about the world’s stuttering progress toward decarbonization. Electricity generation was an early focus. More recently, the transport sector began to move away from fossil fuels. But what about food and ag? Farm-to-fork emissions are on a par with transport and electricity, said the wonk, yet progress has been lamentably slow in comparison.

It’s true: Food and ag are late to this party. But I increasingly find myself floored by the rate of progress in these sectors. It’s not uniform by any means — in fact, some food systems players are actively resisting reform. Still, the innovation in technologies, strategies and policies is remarkable. Here are three developments — all just from the past week — that speak to the sometimes dizzying pace of change.

The price is (almost) right

A couple of years back, I visited a U.S. startup and saw a nugget of chicken meat the team had grown in the lab. I asked if I could try some. No chance, they said. A plateful would cost several hundred dollars.

This week, Future Meat Technologies, an Israeli startup, announced it can produce a cultured chicken breast for $7.50. That’s many multiples more expensive than the chicken in your local supermarket, but it represents an astonishing reduction in price from even just a few years ago. In a 2013 demo, for instance, scientists showed off a lab-grown burger that cost $325,000.

It was an “odd demonstration of one view of the future of food,” the New York Times wrote at the time. Now the idea is no longer odd, and the future is almost here. Future Meat Technologies just raised $27 million in new funding from a roster of big names that includes Tyson Foods, Archer Daniels Midland and S2G Ventures. The company hopes to start pilot production later this year.

“We remain very optimistic that alternative protein foods will reach price parity and eventually price superiority with animal proteins over the next few years,” said Zak Weston at the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that promotes alternative proteins, in response to the announcement.

Why does this matter? Animal products are responsible for an outsized proportion of both food system emissions and the land we devote to agriculture. Shifting some production to a lab potentially could lead to big savings on both fronts.

Carbon neutral, profit positive

Last year, a leading U.S. dairy organization said it would transition the industry to “carbon neutral or better” by 2050. That’s a necessary target, but I found the announcement frustratingly light on specifics. Commitments to change three decades from now don’t mean much without a detailed plan on how to get there.

Well, some details were filled in this week — and they’re encouraging. Using data shared by the industry, the Markets Institute at the World Wildlife Fund looked at the potential impact of emission-reductions options available to dairy farmers today, including feed additives that reduce methane-filled bovine burps and the use of digester technology to produce natural gas from manure. Large dairies, concluded WWF, could reach net-zero emissions within five years and generate a return of almost $2 million per farm in the process.

That’s remarkable potential for an industry that’s responsible for around 2 percent of U.S. emissions. It’s not going to happen without government help, however. Many dairy operators can’t afford the upfront costs of digesters and can’t easily access renewable subsidies for the natural gas the equipment produces. That’s something the new U.S. administration should look at, which brings us to the week’s third development…

…(read more).

Food-matters,

Alternatives to “Green Revolution” Technology for Long-Term Agricultural Sustainability & Survival | EV & N 381 | CCTV

20210307-EV&N-381-w500

http://ecoethics.net/2014-ENVRE120/20210307-EV&N-381-Link.html

https://www.cctvcambridge.org/node/769472

YouTube Version

Current forms of petro-intensive agriculture derived from “Green Revolution” technology are suicidal for the collective human community.   Fortunately, alternative forms of restorative and regenerative agriculture are available and now need to become widely adopted throughout the world to enable the human community to achieve a sustainable future.

For background and support material see:

Food-matters,

Coming Plague: Laurie Garrett

Coming-Plague

The definitive account of the infectious diseases threatening humanity by Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Laurie Garrett

“Prodigiously researched . . . A frightening vision of the future and a deeply unsettling one.” ―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

After decades spent assuming that the conquest of infectious disease was imminent, people on all continents now find themselves besieged by AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, cholera that defies chlorine water treatment, and exotic viruses that can kill in a matter of hours.

Relying on extensive interviews with leading experts in virology, molecular biology, disease ecology, and medicine, as well as field research in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe, Central America, and the United States, Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague takes readers from the savannas of eastern Bolivia to the rain forests of the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo on a harrowing, fifty year journey through the history of our battles with microbes. This book is a work of investigative reportage like no other and a wake-up call to a world that has become complacent in the face of infectious disease―one that offers a sobering and prescient warning about the dangers of ignoring the coming plague.

Reviews

“A sober, scary book that not only limns the dangers posed by emerging diseases but also raises serious questions about two centuries worth of Enlightenment beliefs in science and technology and progress . . . A frightening vision of the future and a deeply unsettling one.” ―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

This brilliant book conveys a grim message: that we may be entering a period of dramatic change in our relationship with infectious disease . . . Other ’emerging disease’ books have appeared on these shelves as well, including some sizable volumes, but Garrett’s is the intellectual heavyweight of the collection . . . I found it hard to put the book down.” ―Peter Godfrey-Smith, Boston Review

“Like her role model Rachel Carson, whose 1962 Silent Spring woke up society to environmental poisoning, Garrett aims to dispel social and political complacency about the threat of old, new, and yet-unknown microbial catastrophes in a global ecology that links Bujumbura, Bangkok, and Boston more closely than anyone appreciates.” ―Richard A. Knox, The Boston Globe

“Garrett has done a brilliant job of putting scientific work into layman’s language, and the scariness of medical melodramas is offset by the excitement of scientific detection.” The New Yorker

“The book is ambitious, but it succeeds…[its] scope is encyclopedic, its mass of detail startling.” The Economist

“Garrett brilliantly develops her theme that rapidly increasing dangers are being ignored. Her investigations have taken over a decade to complete, and her findings are meticulously discussed and distilled.” ―Richard Horton, The New York Review of Books

“Encyclopedic in detail, missionary in zeal, and disturbing in its message…The Coming Plague makes fascinating if troubling reading. It is an important contribution to our awareness of human ecology and the fragility of the relative biological well-being that many of us enjoy. Garrett has mastered an extraordinary amount of detail about the pathology, epidemiology, and human events surrounding dozens of complex diseases. She writes engagingly, carrying her themes as well as the reader’s interest from outbreak to outbreak.” Los Angeles Times

“Absorbing…the insights into the personalities and the stories behind new infectious diseases are fascinating. I have the greatest admiration for Laurie Garrett.” ―Abraham Verghese, M.D., author of In the Heartland: A Doctor’s Story of a Town and Its People in the Age of AIDS

“A masterpiece of reporting and writing, The Coming Plague is the best and most thorough book on the terrifying emergence of new plagues. The level of detail is amazing, with fascinating portraits of the so-called ‘disease cowboys,’ the doctors and scientists who fight infectious diseases on the front lines. The Coming Plague is a must read for anyone interested in the biological fate of the human species.” ―Richard Preston, New York Times-bestselling author of The Hot Zone

About the Author

Laurie Garrett wrote her first bestselling book, THE COMING PLAGUE: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, while splitting her time between the Harvard School of Public Health and the New York newspaper, Newsday. In the 1992-93 academic years Garrett was a Fellow at Harvard, where she worked closely with the emerging diseases group, a collection of faculty concerned about the surge in epidemics of previously unknown or rare viruses and bacteria. The book was published in hardcopy by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 1994.

  • Publisher : Picador Paper; Reprint edition (August 25, 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 768 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1250796121
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1250796127
  • Item Weight : 1.5 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6.1 x 1.33 x 9.05 inches

Books Sandwiched In w/Frank Snowden: Epidemics and Society, Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 12:00 PM

Frank Snowden discusses his book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present.

About this Event

Frank Snowden joins us for a virtual lunch hour discussion of his book, Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. Snowden is Andrew Downey Orrick Professor Emeritus of History and History of Medicine at Yale University. His previous books include The Conquest of Malaria: Italy, 1900–1962 and Naples in the Time of Cholera, 1884–1911.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A “brilliant and sobering” (Paul Kennedy, Wall Street Journal) look at the history and human costs of pandemic outbreaks

As seen on “60 Minutes”

The World Economic Forum #1 book to read for context on the coronavirus outbreak

This sweeping exploration of the impact of epidemic diseases looks at how mass infectious outbreaks have shaped society, from the Black Death to today. In a clear and accessible style, Frank M. Snowden reveals the ways that diseases have not only influenced medical science and public health, but also transformed the arts, religion, intellectual history, and warfare.

A multidisciplinary and comparative investigation of the medical and social history of the major epidemics, this volume touches on themes such as the evolution of medical therapy, plague literature, poverty, the environment, and mass hysteria. In addition to providing historical perspective on diseases such as smallpox, cholera, and tuberculosis, Snowden examines the fallout from recent epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and Ebola and the question of the world’s preparedness for the next generation of diseases.

No registration necessary. Join us in Zoom using this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88298924361

This event will also stream live on our Facebook Page.

For more information, email Isaac Shub at ishub or call 203-946-8130.

Author Robert Paarlberg argues against buying organic – Harvard Gazette

Not safer, better nutritionally, or likely produced by small, local farm, Robert Paarlberg argues in new book

By Robert Paarlberg

Date February 2, 2021

Excerpted from the new book “Resetting the Table: Straight Talk about the Food We Grow and Eat” (Knopf) by Robert Paarlberg, associate in the Sustainability Science Program at the Harvard Kennedy School and at Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

At a recent dinner party, the hostess served me a tasty salad with carrots, raisins, nuts, and baby greens. “It’s all organic,” she said, expecting my approval. To be polite, I smiled and said nothing, but a voice inside wanted to respond, “You paid too much.”

Nearly half of all Americans claim to prefer organic food, and the label has spread far beyond food. You can now buy organic lipstick, organic underwear, and even organic water. The 2019 Super Bowl featured ads for organic beer, and health-conscious smokers are able to purchase organic cigarettes. Most farmers, however, have little interest in switching to the more costly and less convenient production methods required for organic certification, so this constrains the supply, which makes organic food needlessly expensive. America’s farmers so far have certified less than 1 percent of their cropland for organic production, and fewer than 2 percent of commodities grown in 2017 were organic. Processed and packaged foods can now be organic as well, but fewer than 6 percent of total retail food purchases are organic products. Two decades after federal organic certification began in America, the brand remains a single-digit phenomenon.

Farmers tend to hold back because producing food organically requires more human labor to handle the composted animal manure used for fertilizer, as well as more labor to control weeds without chemicals (sometimes putting down nonbiodegradable plastic mulch instead). It also requires more land for every bushel of production, further driving up costs. Trying to grow all of our food organically today would require farming a much wider area, damaging wildlife habitat. Rachel Carson, the founder of our modern environmental movement, never endorsed organic farming. Her 1962 book “Silent Spring”condemned synthetic insecticides like DDT, but Carson saw no reason to ban manufactured fertilizers, a requirement under the organic standard.

The rules for organic farming do deliver some clear benefit in the livestock sector. Producers of organic meat, milk, and eggs are required to provide their animals with more space to move around, an important plus for animal welfare. Also, animal products cannot be labeled organic if the animals were fed or treated with antibiotics, which is good for slowing the emergence of resistant bacterial strains dangerous to human health. Yet even for livestock the organic rule malfunctions, since the animals can only be given feeds grown organically, and organic corn and soy have lower yields per acre, so more land must be planted and plowed.

Consumers tend to favor organic food because they believe the advocates who claim it is safer and more nutritious to eat, but there is little or no scientific evidence to support these claims. Others buy organic food because they assume it comes from farms that are smaller, more traditional, and more diverse, but this is not a safe assumption either. Most organic food on the market today comes from highly specialized, industrial-scale farms, not so different from those that produce conventional food.

It doesn’t usually pay to challenge popular beliefs, even with scientific evidence, but some have felt compelled to do so in the case of organic agriculture. Louise O. Fresco, trained as an agronomist, is the president of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the world’s leading agricultural university. In her 2016 book “Hamburgers in Paradise,”she drew a harsh conclusion: “Organic farming as a whole is a mish-mash of valuable goals and ideals that have either been insufficiently tested or are completely misguided.”

Scientists like Fresco view the organic vision as fundamentally misguided because it depends on an ungrounded distinction between materials that come from nature versus those fabricated by human industry. Organic farmers are permitted to treat their crops with the former, but not the latter. The organic rule says we can use nitrogen from animal manure to replace soil nutrients, but not nitrogen synthesized from the atmosphere in a factory. This is not a science-based distinction. No matter what method we use to get a supply of nitrogen for use as fertilizer, it will be the same element within the periodic table, with all the same properties.

Visions that privilege what comes from nature over what is made by people have a mystical appeal, but they malfunction as practical guidance. Nature is often alluring and attractive, yet natural materials are anything but safe. Arsenic, nickel, and chromium are all dangerous carcinogens, and all come from nature. Many plants that are found in nature contain dangerous poisons, ranging from the deadly ricin found in castor beans (familiar to fans of “Breaking Bad”) to the itch-inducing urushiol in common poison ivy.

By focusing on natural versus synthetic, the organic rule loses sight of actual risks. Copper sulfate is permitted as a fungicide because it isn’t synthetic, but careless use of this chemical can leave dangerous residues on food and pollute our streams. Animal manure is natural, and an excellent fertilizer when composted, but dangerous bacteria will be introduced into fields and also into groundwater systems if a farmer fails to get the heat in the compost pile up to at least 140 degrees. A close friend with a field of organic blueberries on her hilltop farm in Maine developed serious stomach problems when she located her compost pile too close to the well.

The biggest weakness in the organic rule is absolutism. Cutting back on the use of manufactured fertilizer is frequently a good idea, but the idea of cutting back to zero is needlessly rigid and absolute. Quests for purity in food and farming are not as dangerous as they are in race or religion, but they are just as lacking in scientific justification, and the advocates can be just as exasperating. Calvin Trillin put it nicely: “The price of purity is purists.”

…(read more).

Food-matters,

This Is A GIANT Mistake: Texas Reopens at 100%


Free Speech TV– Mar 3, 2021

The Randi Rhodes’ Show delivers smart, forward, free-thinking, entertaining, liberal news and opinion that challenge the status quo and amplifies free speech.

Dedicated to social justice, Randi puts her reputation on the line for the truth. Committed to the journalistic standards that corporate media often ignores, The Randi Rhodes’ Show takes enormous pride in bringing the power of knowledge to her viewers.

Watch The Randi Rhodes Show every weekday at 3 pm ET on Free Speech TV & catch up with clips from the program down below!

Missed an episode? Check out The Randi Rhodes Show on FSTV VOD anytime or visit the show page for the latest clips.

#FSTV​ is available on Dish, DirectTV, AppleTV, Roku, Sling and online at freespeech.org

Is the Gulf Stream collapsing?


Just Have a Think

Published on Apr 19, 2020

The Gulf Stream and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation exert a huge influence on heat and energy distribution around our planet. Research shows that our warming atmosphere is affecting this vital system so profoundly that it’s at risk of shutting down altogether with very severe consequences for our civilisation. So what’s going on?

Daniel Cohan PhD: The “Systemic Collapse” of Gas in Texas’ Blackout


greenmanbucket

Published on Mar 3, 2021

What made natural gas “uniquely vulnerable” to collapse during the Texas Freeze and Blackout of February 2021?