Climate Change

Reusing the Reusable

If you’ve ever wondered how much you have to reuse that cotton bag tote for it to be worth it, a new Danish study has found out the figures:

• Bleached paper bags: Reuse for grocery shopping at least 1 time for climate change, at least 43 times considering all indicators; reuse as waste bin bag if possible, otherwise incinerate.
• Organic cotton bags: Reuse for grocery shopping at least 149 times for climate change, at least 20000 times considering all indicators; reuse as waste bin bag if possible, otherwise incinerate.
• Conventional cotton bags: Reuse for grocery shopping at least 52 times for climate change, at least 7100 times considering all indicators; reuse as waste bin bag if possible, otherwise incinerate.

Carry on.

‘Banish ‘Eat Local’ From Your Environmental Playbook’

Akshat Rathi for Bloomberg Green:

For beef from herds grown for meat, transport makes up only an average of 0.5% of its emissions. Each kilogram of beef produces 60 kg of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions (CO2e), the majority of which comes from the methane that cows belch when alive.

Across the complete supply chain, each kilogram of avocados produces 2.5 kg of CO2e emissions. Of that, transport costs are less than 10%. Importing Mexican avocados to the UK generates 0.21 kg of CO2e.

Such is beef’s carbon impact that, in the US, a consumer who eats vegetables instead of one day’s worth of beef calories would have a greater impact on reducing emissions than buying all food from local sources, according to a 2008 study. […]

The real takeaway from the research is that 1 kg of animal-based foods generate between 10 times and 50 times as much greenhouse-gas impact as plant-based products.

I can’t believe how little eating local factors into emissions, but this is staggering.

In an analysis published last week, Ritchie finds that transport’s contribution to any food’s overall carbon footprint is tiny. “For most food products, it accounts for less than 10%” Ritchie concluded, based on data collected from 38,000 commercial farms in 119 countries.

It really is about WHAT you eat, not HOW it gets to you.

‘Almonds are out. Dairy is a disaster. So what milk should we drink?’

From The Guardian, the intro from Annette McGivney says it all:

For environmentally minded consumers, the news is hard to swallow: almond milk is not healthy for the planet and the popular milk substitute is especially hard on bees. Our recent investigation into the connection between California’s industrialized almond industry and a record 50bn commercial bee deaths created quite a buzz. The widely read story prompted one primary response from readers: “What should we be drinking instead?”

This is a thorny question, and food sustainability experts are reluctant to single out any one plant milk as best because all have pros and cons.

But we’re going to try.

One thing is clear. All milk alternatives are far better for the planet than dairy. A 2018 study by researchers at the University of Oxford showed that producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any plant-based milk and it consumes nine times more land than any of the milk alternatives. (Land is required to pasture the cows and grow their feed, which the animals belch out in the form of methane.)

This article has a great milk-by-milk breakdown of how the alternatives are made and what they are doing to our climate.

‘Bloomberg Data Dash: A Live Climate Scoreboard for the World’

These are the numbers that matter. A difficult global transition is happening right now, away from fossil fuels, deforestation, greenhouse-gas pollution and melting ice. It can be measured with precision and clarity. The processes described by this data dashboard are occurring on a planetary scale, and yet our progress can be measured this minute, in parts per million, in metric tons, in fractions of a degree. This is Bloomberg Green’s guide to the worldwide goal of slowing and stopping warming temperatures. This is a record of how far we have to go, and a tool to assess how much we can change.

An interesting guide to measuring what’s happening on earth and part of their new, more environmentally-focused side Bloomberg Green.

‘Pledging to Go Vegan, at Least for January’

Alyson Krueger for the NYTimes:

Move over Dry January (abstaining from alcohol) and Whole30 (no processed or refined foods). Veganuary, which asks people to ditch meat this month, has emerged as this year’s trendy resolution.

The campaign was started in the United Kingdom in 2014 by Jane Land and Matthew Glover, a husband-and-wife team who met on a vegan dating site and were inspired by Movember (growing a mustache for men’s health). Participants who pledge to go vegan on the site receive daily recipes, tips and information about how a vegan diet benefits animals, the environment and our bodies.

According to Veganuary, 750,000 people from 192 countries have joined the pledge, with about half signing up for 2020.

It’s easy to forget that things like Veganuary started with people who had an idea. When things appear around me and feel fully formed, it seems like they just fell out of the sky and occurred. But I love learning their names. Thank you, Jane Land and Matthew Glover. You’ve done a good thing.

‘BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance’

Andrew Ross Sorkin at the NYTimes:

Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit.


The firm, he wrote, would also introduce new funds that shun fossil fuel-oriented stocks, move more aggressively to vote against management teams that are not making progress on sustainability, and press companies to disclose plans “for operating under a scenario where the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees is fully realized.”

Something like this could radically grow companies with a focus on vegan products. If they’re looking to have an effect on climate change, it’s an easy step to expand plant-based line-ups.

‘The Ice Stupas: Artificial glaciers at the edge of the Himalayas.’

Elizabeth Kolbert for the New Yorker:

The first ice stupa was created in 2013, in Ladakh, in Kashmir. Villages in Ladakh, a high mountain-desert region bordered by the Himalayas, largely depend on glacial runoff for water. As the glaciers recede, owing to climate change, the flow of water has become more erratic. Sometimes there’s too much, producing flash flooding; often, there’s too little. The ice stupa, a kind of artificial glacier, is the brainchild of a Ladakhi engineer named Sonam Wangchuk. In a way, it, too, is designed to house relics.

The stupas are an absolutely stunning and unique solution to climate change in Kashmir. Be sure to click the link and look at the incredible photos from Vasantha Yogananthan.