Spreading the Truth about Climate Change: Spitting Fire at Skeptics

This week, I decided to take a break from researching sustainability and everything that’s being done WRONG to “help” the environment to find some climate change skeptics and tell them they’re clearly delusional (but in nicer words).

I found Climate Skeptic’s post about “Average Temperature Change in Context” (basically he was just upset that a logical person had dissed the following graph, explaining that it was rescaled to skew people’s perceptions. blog_nr_climate_chart

The Skeptic argued that believed in climate change must consider the amount of temperature fluctuation which occurs. He posted the following graph:us-temperature-trend-650x488

I then responded to him, referencing a post that I had read a while back; go to this link to check it out!

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Scientific Journalism: A Dying Art

We know a lot of “stuff.” Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds named their daughter James; Gwen Stefani might be pregnant with Blake Shelton’s baby; Kim Kardashian was married for 72 days.

But why don’t more people understand Einstein’s theory of relativity or Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle? Ultimately, the public’s ignorance about important scientific information is the product of the media.

In their article, “Unpopular Science,” Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum address the alarming decline in scientific journalism that has occurred in the last thirty (or so) years. The writers state that “Policy moves . . . helped foster mass media conglomeration. . .serious science journalism often fared poorly in this climate,” (“Unpopular Science”). Here’s the problem: newspapers and other forms of mass media have become totally profit based, meaning that journalists have to print what people will pay to read. Sadly, we live in a society in which people prefer to read about Kim Kardashian’s love life rather than new medical and scientific discoveries.

“But we have science BLOGS!” A chorus of Americans reply. But that’s not enough. My 73 year old grandmother doesn’t really KNOW how to navigate the internet, and even if she DID find a blog, it could be completely biased. It might say that the world is flat or that climate change is just a government conspiracy. Many are concerned that there are just too many “niches” in the “blogosphere” for people to become properly informed.

The former director of CNN’s science, technology, and environment unit is quoted as saying, “Press releases and blogs will not find the same broad audience once served by the mass media,” (“Science Journalism: Supplanting the Old Media”). That’s also true. Unless I have the motivation to hop on my computer and surf the web for an informative and credible source, I’m just going to bask in my ignorant glory.

These problems with scientific journalism are MORE than applicable to climate change; in fact, they’re at the very root of the problem. If the public wishes to do anything to stop climate change, they need to become infinitely less ignorant about what’s happening to our planet. However, members of the government who support making SOME kind of effort to help the environment need to understand that the American people lacks the motivation to seek out the correct information. Therefore, the only effective way to get people to actually understand the magnitude of the situation may be to spoon feed them the information through some sort of government sponsored media.

“Well that sounds like a waste of money!” replied the thousands of people who deny that climate change is even happening. But it’s not. One of the most productive ways which many interest groups accomplish their goals is through grassroots movement, consider this dissemination of information to be the catalyst to a great environmental movement. If we can simply make more people understand how dangerous our inadvertent over-consumption is for the future of our planet.

Sources:

https://edge.org/response-detail/23711

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090318/full/458274a.html

http://www.thenation.com/article/unpopular-science/

Sustainable Living: Taking a Step Back

We need to be more “green.” But that doesn’t just mean having reusable grocery bags and recycling all of the plastic and paper that we go through. We need to reduce the amount of products we actually consume and try to find ways to “invest” in products that will be in it for the long haul, so to speak. This means trading in plastic tupperware containers for products made out of glass and switching out a lot of America’s other short-lived products. The average American, myself included, leads a very “disposable” lifestyle.

This week, I made it my goal to seek out blogs that focus on sustainable living. The most significant factoid that I gleaned from doing so is that the first step to leading a more sustainable lifestyle is reevaluating how much “stuff” you consume. Obviously, we can’t all be one of those bloggers that can fit all of his or her yearly trash in a mason jar, but we can make some actual fundamental changes to our lifestyles to reduce our consumption of harmful products.

I sought out a blog about leading a more sustainable lifestyle and found Attainable Sustainable, a blog all about having a more sustainable life. Here’s a link to a specific post about why recycling is a big “no no”

As my comment is awaiting moderation, here is a photo of what I had to say! And no, I’m not intentionally endorsing Beyonce’s world tour.IMG_4186

Going “Green”

All across America, people are jumping on the solar-powered environmentalism bandwagon. From reusable grocery bags to “squiggly lightbulbs,” consumers will buy pretty much whatever industries tell them is “green.”

In his book Eco-fads: How the rise of trendy environmentalism is harming the environment, Todd Myers, environmentalist director at the Washington Policy Center, maligns many “green” products and policies as what they are: a way for Americans to continue consumption without any real lifestyle changes.

It seems that, in our self-image obsessed society, where one’s self-worth can be defined by favorites, likes, and retweets, people just looooovvvveee to show off how much they care about the environment. Myers illustrates this by citing politicians and businesses: “. . . politicians prominently highlight their latest green proposals and business owners promote environmentally friendly products — while each seeks to reap social and financial rewards in the process,” (“How the rise of trendy environmentalism is harming the planet,” Seattle Times). Myers even references a survey in which hybrid owners admitted that they owned “green” cars because they “liked what it said about [them].”

Myers exposes several instances in which so-called “environmentalism” has been less than successful. He mentions a Washington-state requirement, which demanded that new schools be eco-friendly; however the new schools were later found to consume MORE energy than the old ones.

The issue with environmentalism is simply the overarching problem that is seen with “locavorism” and any other trend which catches on with the American public: we don’t want to change. In the article “It’s Too Easy Being Green,” writer David Owen christens this phenomenon “the Prius Fallacy: a belief that switching to an ostensibly more benign form of consumption turns consumption itself into a boon for the environment,” (The Wall Street Journal).

It’s time for a change, America. A real one. Not just coffee cups made from recycled materials or more efficient dishwashers. It’s about making an actual sacrifice to keep this planet beautiful and, more importantly, SAFE. That means we need to do more than make cutesy innovations to popular products, we need to re-evaluate our resource consumption. But what’s it going to take for Americans to see that we need to fundamentally change our ways? Maybe people are going to have to see the residual effects which our consumption can have on our health and safety before anyone tries to make a real change.

 

Sources:

http://environmentblog.ncpa.org/how-the-rise-of-trendy-environmentalism-is-harming-the-environment/

http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/how-the-rise-of-trendy-environmentalism-is-harming-the-planet/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203889904577198922867850002

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/15/nyregion/15bags.html

 

 

 

Locavorism: Freakonomics Blog

During my exploration of “locavorism,” a colloquialism for eating local, I encountered a post of Freakonomics that took an economic perspective on eating local.

One of my favorite points that the author, Stephen Dubner, makes is that, quite possibly, its more resource intensive to cultivate food on a local, and even personal, level, as opposed to getting food from “farmers” that do mass production of crops.

Dubner provides several examples in which doing something “from scratch” is more expensive/labor intensive than simply buying it. He references planting a garden, as well as making one’s own clothing using a pattern.

Additionally, mass producers of food may have better ways to “stream line” their use of chemicals which can affect the environment.

Here is the link to the blog and my comment on it.

Eating Local: A Growing Trend

Recently, eating local has proliferated in America, especially for members of the upper-middle class who can afford to purchase food that is, typically, more expensive. “Locavorism,” as it’s sometimes called, is yet another “movement” which Americans just cannot WAIT to jump on. Many praise locavorism because it stimulates the local economy, reduces eating’s impact on the environment, encourages healthier eating, and increases the transparency of where exactly food comes from.

Here’s what the proponents of locavorism DON’T acknowledge:

  • If people spend more of their money at farmer’s markets, while food vendors will have more money to spend, people will be left with less capital to spend within the REST of the local economy. (Sorry kids, we can’t go skating, but enjoy those apples because they were $4/lb!)
  • According to an article on The Daily Beast, “In the United States, the long distance transportation of foodstuffs is approximately one twentieth as significant in terms of environmental impact as food production itself.” This means that eating local isn’t necessarily what will help the environment, but rather reducing the amount of chemicals used on the food and types of farming techniques.
  • Although eating locally may be healthier during summer, when most fruits and vegetables are being harvested, what about wintertime? If consumers are only eating the produce grown locally in somewhere like Pennsylvania during the heart of winter, their diet is going to be pretty limited.
  • Locavorism doesn’t necessarily increase food security. Just because you saw the farmer who grew your strawberries doesn’t necessarily mean the food was grown in a safe, clean environment. According to “Why Locavorism Doesn’t Make Us Happier, Healthier, or Safer,” locavorism is like “putting all of a community’s food-security eggs in one regional basket as opposed to relying on multiple distant suppliers,” in this context, it seems it may be safer to go to your local grocery store and get food that comes from all over the country. At least if your food has diverse backgrounds (like my clementines that are imported from Nicaragua), there’s less of a chance that one problem with farming will affect ALL your food sources.

The reason that I chose to focus on locavorism in today’s blog post is that it is one of the many “changes” that Americans have made to “save the environment.” Sure, we’re perfectly happy to buy local food and make a huge trend out of it (kind of like getting more fuel efficient vehicles, right?), but we don’t make any fundamental changes to how the foods are produced. If Americans are going to try to stop the major effects of climate change, we need to make some serious changes. Not just ones that look good on Instagram.

 

 

Sources

http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2008/10/09/buying-local-food-pros-and-cons/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203889904577198922867850002

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/01/why-locavorism-doesn-t-make-us-happier-healthier-or-safer.html