Degrowth – Not a Common Topic

Never heard of it?  You are not alone.  It is anything but Mainstream.  Google doesn’t even send me anything on it, and it is really good at sending me climate crisis news.  Well, and, it is a pretty radical solution to the climate crisis, but . . . the most realistic. I have written about it before . . . but let’s go here again.

Degrowth needs some serious PR right now.  People need to be talking about this.  It won’t be an easy transition but it is doable.  And, did I mention, we will need some new kind of economy . . . or maybe no economy.  The people up at the top, the corporations and politicians, well, and also small businesses, are not going to go for this.  They are not addressing the climate crisis at all now, anyway.  They are too busy taking humanity off the cliff.

Yes, everyone can switch to renewable energy, but . . . I am sorry to tell you, that has its own issues environmentally.  Right now, we are basically focusing on our own energy needs and forgetting about the big emission producer, and, that is . . . what we consume in the way of products and FOOD every day!

So what is Degrowth all about?  When you start counting all the CO2 a product produces, meaning all the embodied energy, you are on your way to understanding why Degrowth makes sense.  By that time, when you go into the Big Box Grocery store, your head will want to explode seeing all that CO2 on the shelf.

If you are not quite there yet, let’s take a walk through the cereal aisle.  That innocent raisin bran sitting on the shelf had a big diesel tractor plant the wheat and harvest it, took it to a flour mill, trees were cut down for the box, oil was extracted for the plastic sleeve, raisins were grown and harvested, the box went to a printer to have the graphics printed, and all of it ended up at the raisin bran factory so it could be shipped to your local store.  That took a lot of CO2. 

Now, look at every product on the shelf and go through that same process.  It takes oil to transport and electricity, heat, and AC for those manufacturing plants.  Do we really need 40 different cereals?  How about oatmeal for breakfast out of a bin reusing your own bag.  Ah, now, we are getting somewhere.  Remember, when you pick a tomato from your garden, there is no CO2 emitted.   Don’t have a garden? Get a garden plot.

Maybe you are thinking about all the jobs that will have to go.  I don’t know about you, but I want to live.  That is what this whole thing is about . . . surviving.  And, at this point, if you are watching the game, we are very close to losing.  Maybe we will just reduce the suffering that is headed our way.

A debt jubilee, universal income, not to mention garden plots everywhere, are all many of the ways we can do Degrowth.  Just think of all the things that emit CO2 or use lots of water that we can live without and still be happy.  Think about it . . . talk about it at the dinner table . . . and, pass it on.  Degrowth.

Let’s Talk About the Elephant in the Room – The Consumer Economy

Yes, the consumer economy.  It doesn’t get mentioned at all when discussing the solutions to the climate crisis.  Well, in some ways it does in the form of reducing personal consumption.  And, truthfully, it wasn’t always in my mind either.  I was still focusing on changing our lifestyle as a way to avert the climate crisis after the college class, Environmental Sociology, that I took in 2009.  The main culprit is burning all those fossil fuels, and we use that for all of our energy needs.  I say oil runs everything . . . and it does.

The main climate crisis solution is the focus on switching to renewable energy in the form of solar, wind, geothermal, etc.  That is a major step in the right direction.  Using energy to create solar panels that soak up sun for some 30 years beats out endlessly digging up coal and fracking for naturel gas to burn for electricity hands down.  Although, everything has its environmental cost.

Jason Hickel, wrote the article “The Limits of Clean Energy,” in Foreign Policy, September 6, 2019.  Let’s think again before we dig another big hole for renewable energy.  It is a better source of energy but it is not without its consequences.  I highly recommend reading it.  The link is attached below.

The enormity of the climate crisis and how the consumer economy contributes to it would send me sobbing in hysterical grief and hopelessness after that class.  I would envision it as a huge locomotive with CEOs as the engineers with profits and endless growth gleaming in their eyes.  We, the consumers, were the passengers screaming “yahoo” at the thought of our next big screen TV, all-inclusive cruise ship vacation, new car, etc.  We were a package deal.  No way was that locomotive going to be stopped . . . and it was flying down a hill at top speed.

I want that vision in everyone’s head.  I hear people whine, “I can’t give up this or that.”  People . . . this is a life and death situation.  And, until Mainstream America gets that . . . they will be watching football, eating barbeque chicken wings, and shopping for that new car, not really understanding how the climate crisis is really an . . . EMERGENCY.

How do we get there?  Hmmm . . . maybe you can tell me.

Somewhere after that class, I had the embodied energy moment.  I don’t think there was a chapter or any mention of it in the class.  I think once you start looking at everything you do and buy as carbon, embodied energy just naturally comes along.  And, if you don’t understand embodied energy, it will be a giant leap to why degrowth is one of the best solutions.  But, as a dear friend says, “There is no silver bullet for the climate crisis, only silver buckshot.”

For a reminder here, infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible.

Embodied energy is all the energy it takes to produce a product, provide a service, etc.  For instance, there may be 8-10 factories or processes to produce a box of raisin bran.  And, all those manufacturing plants and processes are spewing fossil fuels into the air. 

Can’t we all just eat oatmeal?

There are ramifications for all our choices.  Take biofuels for instance.  Do we want to use the land to grow food and eat or fuel our cars?  Solar arrays?  Again, do we want to eat or turn on the lights?  CAFOS, which stands for Confined Animal Feeding Operations, provide about 99% of the meat and dairy consumed.  Regenerative agriculture and open grazing will help our soil but do we have enough land to have some billions of animals openly grazing.  Hmmm.  Possibly, if we get rid of all the corn and soy fields.  I don’t know.

Back to degrowth.  Now that is definitely not brought up at anyone’s dinner table.  It is not even Mainstream anything.  I never get it in my Google news feed . . . and Google does a fine job of sending me everything on the climate crisis.  And, I can’t really say when I took that next step from solar on the house to . . . no, we don’t need raisin bran and most every aisle in the grocery store. 

Yes, solar on the roof is a good solution to address the climate crisis but we get a bigger bang for our buck by reducing all the pollution from eliminating all the stuff we can be happy without.

Richard Smith wrote a great article called, “Climate Crisis, the Deindustrialization Imperative and the Jobs vs. Environment Dilemma,” in Truthout, November 12, 2014, which I have talked about before and have attached below.  I highly recommend reading his article because he gets why we need degrowth.

It really isn’t any wonder why no one brings it up as a climate crisis solution because that would mean dismantling . . . oh, yes . . . capitalism and the consumer economy.  How do you tell X, Y, and Z company you have to go?  How do you tell people they can’t have raisin bran and pet costumes anymore, let alone go on that fabulous cruise ship vacation with the endless food buffets and coconut margaritas?

He also wrote the book “Less is More: How Degrowth will Save the World.”  It is a great book but I think his solutions will take too long.  Some of his ideas are to get rid of planned obsolescence, no more advertising, a debt jubilee, and others.

Hey, that debt jubilee is great because we all have debt . . . we have to work to live.  Along the way, we are convinced to buy shiny objects so we have more debt and have to work even more.  That’s why this is such a sticky mess.  CEOs want more profits, and we have debt and want more stuff.

So, degrowth is a tough one.  Again, how do we get there?  We can’t afford to dig more holes for resources to manufacture more products, even for solar and battery storage.  We need to eat and need the biodiversity we are endlessly destroying.

Remember the movie, The Lorax, where they lived in that bubble with fake trees . . . actually, everything was fake.  We are almost there today, where you have to visit Nature . . . if you live in any type of metro area of any major city.  There is no Nature there.  Ok, you may have some grass.  We haven’t gotten to fake trees yet.  In time.  And those corn and soy fields . . . that isn’t Nature either.

There has to be some kind of monetary incentive to get to degrowth.  And, I have a solution.  Warning, I am going to go down some political rabbit hole here.

Just recently, our US corporate/political machine we call a government passed a close to a trillion-dollar military budget.  Hey, forget about addressing the climate crisis, having decent healthcare, free college, stopping mass incarceration, addressing all the excrement from CAFOs from the billions of animals, etc.  The military machine would rather use our tax dollars to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and other countries to kill women and children or create more wars to go to.  The US has some 750+ bases around the world, and some 6,000 nuclear warheads that can destroy the world.  Isn’t that enough for them?

The incentive I mentioned for Degrowth could come from divvying up that trillion-dollar military budget to everyone in the US.  I know it is a crazy pipe dream . . . but come on . . . can you really argue that it doesn’t sound good?  That money could be used to help the people of the US. There would be some left in that budget to keep the lights on in all those 750 bases.

You can tell me I am full of beans, which I am as a vegetarian, but . . . I think it is an awesome idea!

Degrowth.  Bring it up at the dinner table.

Richard Smith, “Climate Crisis, the Deindustrialization Imperative and the Jobs vs. Environment Dilemma,” Truthout, November 12, 2014.

https://truthout.org/articles/climate-crisis-the-deindustrialization-imperative-and-the-jobs-vs-environment-dilemma/

 

Jason Hickel, “The Limits of Clean Energy,” Foreign Policy, September 6, 2019

 

Jason Hickel, “Less is More:  How Degrowth Will Save the World” London: Penguin Random House, 2021

https://www.jasonhickel.org/less-is-more

Climate Crisis December – And What You Can Do

In a matter of a week and a half, this past December witnessed three climate crisis events.  It started on December 10 where a tornado remained on the ground ravaging almost 227 miles, destroying lives and buildings in its path.  From the Amazon facility in Edwardsville, IL, where the roof collapsed and six people died to the town of Mayfield, KY, at a candle factory and throughout the town, where some 78 people died in its destruction.

The next climate event had wind gusts at 100 mph in some areas of the approximately 660 miles measured on December 15.  This storm was personal as it hit Readstown, WI where I live.  The gusts were at times 69 mph.  The storm rolled in about 9:00 p.m. with the rain slamming my cabin from the south.  Nestled next to the ridge to the west, I usually feel protected.  Not this time.  The gusts raged until 6:00 a.m. shaking my cabin each time.  I never felt scared like that before.

But . . . that was nothing next to the horror that happened in Boulder County CO on December 30.  A grass fire fueled by 100 mph winds burnt 1,000 homes and buildings down to the concrete slabs or basements.  In less than six hours, 30,000 people were evacuated and homeless.  How no one was killed is a miracle.  No one has to convince those people there is a climate crisis.

So what do we do?  We have a major problem at hand with two sides to it.  Actually, there are probably many more sides to it but this is how I have simplified it.

First, we have been fooled into thinking we have a democracy with two parties and a choice.  What we really have is one party run by corporations that pay politicians to do their bidding.  The only goal the corporations have is to make money at all costs.  Along with that, they are doing everything in their power to thwart any solution in the direction of solving the climate crisis.  Keep those fossil fuels burning is their mantra. 

The bottom line is the government is not going to solve the climate crisis.

Second, the media is bought and paid for, too, so it is not going to deliver the real news to anyone.  Mainstream America may know there is a climate crisis but they have no idea what that really means and what they can do about it, as they go about their daily life. 

As covid has taken loved ones from us overnight, the climate crisis moves ever so slowly.  It has been going on since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  That is when it was discovered that by burning coal and other fossil fuels the atmosphere would warm creating the climate crisis we now have.  Extreme weather is upon us . . . and escalating.

The two solutions I have are longshots . . . but they are all I got.  As depressed or hopeless as I feel at times at what I can actually do about the climate crisis, soldiering on is the only option. 

Somehow, I stumbled onto a presentation a week ago in my email given by two speakers put on by the North County Climate Change Alliance (NCCCA) of North San Diego County.  The two speakers, Ivi Kubica and Cat Russell, covered personal solutions needed to address the climate crisis fairly extensively, I thought.  There are, of course, additions to be made but this is a great starting point.  They also supplied the carbon footprint of the average American and other critical facts about how our lifestyle impacts the Earth.  It is a great overall place to start getting people up to speed, who are too busy to spend time trying to find out on their own with solutions to get them going.  Unless you take a class on this, it is a daunting task, and one can be overwhelmed trying to determine where to start.  Let’s not think about how we got here right now.  Just what we can do.

The bottom line is that we need more people fired up about the climate crisis.  I am betting, sadly, that most everyone has forgotten about those December climate crisis events except the people who have lost friends and family or the people who lost their homes in CO.

Here is the ask.  Most all of you reading this are already knowledgeable about the climate crisis.  What I am asking you to do is send the link to the presentation or this post to a person that may need a little jump start into implementing these solutions in their life and a gaining a greater understanding of what the climate crisis is about.  You are asking one friend or family member to watch the presentation.  After they have watched it, please ask them to send it to another friend or family member.  Ask one person to then ask one more person.  Possibly . . . just possibly . . . this could spread . . . at least a little bit.  It is the ripple effect.  We are the media doing what we need to do to get people on board.  Is this going to solve the climate crisis?  Not by that longshot I mentioned earlier . . . but it is one step closer to free.  Here is the link for the presentation called “Saving the Planet” Event with Ivi Kubica and Cat Russell:

The next longshot is this.  I took a crazy trip to DC and had these banners made with climate messages for the defunct government we have that takes our tax dollars and spends them in horrifying ways.  I took a picture of each one with the Capitol in the background.  Attached is the first one I made into a postcard with a message.  I compiled all the addresses of all the senators and mailed the postcard to each one.  Anyone who would like the first postcard, along with all the addresses, please let me know and I will send them to you.  You can edit the message to your liking if you so desire. 

Again, is this going to solve the climate crisis?  Sometimes we do things even though it seems like spitting in the wind.

Extreme weather is only going to get worse.  Somehow “extreme weather” is not what we felt this December.

We soldier on.

Chest Freezer Fridge Conversion – An Off Grid Cabin Upgrade

Technology has come into my little off grid cabin.  I cannot say I do not have electricity any longer.  It is created by renewable energy though . . . and, it is a little scary.  You know how some of these things go.  I get a taste of convenience and pretty soon I will have 20 more solar panels and a big screen TV.  OMG!  That is a frightening thought!

So, after four years of ice and a cooler, I now have a chest freezer that has been converted into a refrigerator.  Friends of mine introduced me to this magic about a year ago.  My friend said one solar panel would run it.  I was sold on that, and I bought two 360 watt solar panels so I could add some lights . . . and possibly watch a movie on my laptop.  Now that is living large.

I like starting with no power and building up.  That way I know what the solar panels and batteries are powering.  Mind you, I don’t have a very good understanding of load to number of solar panels to the number of batteries.  There are eight 6-volt golf cart batteries that the solar panels charge, which was installed back at the beginning of October.  Along the way, I will get a better understanding of how the ratio of panels to batteries work with load.

Along this journey, I have found out this chest freezer to fridge conversion is nothing new.  Countless people I have talked to have done the same thing and most live off grid.  I didn’t want to get a fridge and power it with propane, and some of the very energy efficient refrigerators on solar are expensive.  This chest freezer was about $200.  My friend gave me their old gadget that the freezer plugs into that enables it to be changed to a temperature of a fridge.  Nice.

I purchased it from Backwoods Solar.  The guys there have been great.  One of them said I could have done it with only four batteries but I like the extra cushion of eight.  In addition to the solar system, I did buy a battery charger for the cloudy days in the winter when the solar panels don’t get enough sun. 

It is definitely a learning thing.  Actually, the installation was the biggest challenge.  After a few roadblocks with a few local installers, I realized that this installation was on me.  I asked a friend of mine who cleans out my stove pipe and has done some solar installations to help me.  I didn’t really do much of the installation except find out how it all goes together.  That was enough.  It may be a piece of cake for the guys where I purchased it but it was Greek to me. 

I dug a trench for the PVC with the wiring from the solar panels to the batteries, along with building a wooden enclosure for the batteries.  The fact that the batteries are explosive made me nervous.  But, it is all installed and working fine.  Eventually I will need to check the batteries to add water to them, which I am not looking forward to because they are lead acid batteries.  For now, I will just enjoy this moment of calm.

My new fridge is so nice.  I can’t believe I went four years on a cooler.  Some new kitchen lights and two in the living room have been added.  The lights are LED and each one is about 4 watts each to run.  I am going to admit that I bought some LED Christmas lights, too.  I do feel like a stepped over a line though . . . back into the familiar world of light switches and total convenience.

Have no fear . . . no way am I caving and getting some big screen TV.

Kindling – It’s a Primal Thing

On occasion, I have written about this feeling before.  Perhaps more so when I first moved into my little cabin.  But, every time I go out to gather kindling . . . I get the feeling again.

To me . . . it is something intrinsic to our nature.  It is primal.  And, we have lost it.  It has been replaced by fluorescent lighting, piped in music, and shelves upon shelves of fossil fuel laden food and products.

Yes, I still have to go into the big box grocery store and drive a car . . . the fossil fuel list goes on.  But, yesterday, as I was gathering kindling, that grocery store, etc., felt so unnatural . . . I am caught in between.

I carry on with my goal . . . to be as self sustaining as possible.  Even when I hear people say . . . there is no way you can grow all your own food . . . or it is so much work.  I say . . . the planet depends on me succeeding . . . and . . . my survival is at stake . . . not to mention the reconnecting of my inner being to what it knows is real . . . it is home. People have done this in the past . . . and are doing it today.

With persistence, I will learn how to grow my food.  Last year, so much went wrong in that garden that will teach me what to do better this year.  Yes, the cabbage heads didn’t show up, the potatoes were tiny, the pole beans didn’t come up, onions were too small, carrots and beets are so much trouble, and let’s add broccoli and brussel sprouts to that list, too.

But . . . I got 19 pint jars of canned tomatoes . . . and . . . that meant everything to me.

So, kindling . . . it helps start my fires in the wood stove . . . so I can survive the -40 that Nature dishes out.  It is a hand to mouth thing.  It is not covered in plastic wrap that I need scissors to get into.

My boots sunk into the foot of snow, as I trudged through to an area of trees . . . and watched a rabbit scamper through the field to the other side of the woods . . . heard the snap of each dry branch as I added them to my pile . . . felt the falling snow on my face . . . wondered what kind of shelter I could build in the nook of some trees . . . heard the silence of the gray day . . . enveloped in a milky winter sky . . . felt the knowing eyes of the ancestors guiding me.

Kindling . . . it’s a primal thing.

A COP26 Message to Biden and the World Leaders

Do they even realize this?  Apparently not.  They are doing something behind those doors . . . keeping as close to business as usual.  The fossil fuel industries have the most delegates attending . . . so you know that can’t be good.

Perhaps they weren’t paying attention in school.  This is quite difficult to dispute, even if they want to skirt the whole climate warming issue.

Heaven forbid we mess with the almighty ECONOMY.  I say “Take your marbles and go home.  The rest of us want to live.”

Do they know they are messing with the food system?  I suppose their bunkers are well equipped with years and years of dried food to eat.

This is called degrowth. Sure we can slap some solar panels up and get an electric car but do we really want any solar panels going up to support the cookie, snack, processed food, and any other aisle in the grocery store that is not real food, not to mention pet costumes and the rest of the consumer economy?

I think we can figure a new way to live. There were and still are egalitarian systems that took care of everyone, especially Mother Nature.

I always hesitate to bring up the obvious reduction or elimination of meat and dairy. It seems like a religion in a way. People feel threatened if you take away their meat. So, let’s just raise the price and make it a luxury.

Is anything really going to be done at COP? All of humanity hopes so. This is our last chance.

A Climate Crisis Film So Encompassing and Powerful

After viewing only 25 minutes of this 2015 film by Dr. Stephen Emmott, Director of Computational Science at Microsoft in the UK, I sent it out to as many groups as I could.  This was not just another film explaining CO2 and the extreme weather due to the warming of the Earth.  This was everything we do to the planet.  EVERYTHING. 

Yes, it is overwhelming.  But maybe . . . just maybe, it will inform people who did not realize this was happening.  And, it is just possible that it may enrage some people and get them to pressure our corporate/political machine we call a government to actually do something.  Because right now, they are doing absolutely nothing.  It is business as usual, and let’s just burn more fossil fuels as they run humanity off the cliff.

It is critical that everyone watch this film.  Not only mainstream America, but also environmentalists because slapping up some solar panels and an electric car is not going to get us out of this mess . . . if that is even possible at this point.  Renewable energy is better than burning fossil fuels but it poses its own degradation to the planet.  Whatever we do now will lessen the pain and suffering for some of us.

The link for the film is attached here:  Ten Billion Film  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qs_f4ZOA6E

I find that mainstream America is aware of the climate crisis.  Polls prove that.  Although many people are in the thick of the forest fires and hurricanes, the rest of us are not.  It is easy to just forget that news, and we are on our way to work or the grocery store.  Unless you lost a loved one or your house, it is business as usual.  The fact that people are still moving to these areas tells me that they are not informed at all. 

A prime example of mainstream America is my sister and brother-in-law and their family and friends.  I thought I would just ask her if they talk about it with their grown kids or friends.  She said no.  I wasn’t really surprised.  It is never discussed at family gatherings.  They are upper middle class and both are recently retired.  She was a nurse and my brother-in-law was an electrician running his own small company.  Their three kids all went to college.  You would think the climate crisis would come up sometime.  She said now that she has more time, there would be more time to learn out it.  At least she is open to learning more.  So . . . mainstream America . . . clueless.  Prove me wrong if you think otherwise.

Let’s face it . . . as I took a walk with a friend this morning, there was no evidence of extreme weather or some climate emergency.  It was a beautiful fall morning.  This warming of the planet has been going on since the burning of fossil fuels started at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s.  People used coal for heat in their homes in the 1800s.  Factories used it for electricity. 

It has been a very slow journey to this climate emergency. 

We are all so insulated, as well.  Flip a switch for heat, electricity, water, and a refrigerator and freezer full of food.  Our lives are ones of extreme convenience.  Grow your own food?  Forget about it.  Head to the grocery store.  Give up beef and dairy?  Not on your life.  Give up processed food and fast food?  Cooking makes a mess and there is no time.  Unless you live in a city, the car is the main way to get places.  Stop buying all those clothes?  Fast fashion is the norm.

So why get involved, concerned, . . . or possibly enraged that nothing is being done about it.  This film will tell you why.  It is our responsibility to take care of this planet.  After all, it is the hand that feeds us.

I used to think that all we needed to do was change our habits and what we buy.  Recycling, composting, getting some solar panels, buying an electric car, turning down the heat, line drying clothes, or becoming a vegetarian or vegan were all the answers.  But this problem is so much bigger than that.  Once you understand how all the stuff we buy is degrading the planet with deforestation, biodiversity loss, monoculture crops, mining, the embodied energy in all of the products and food we buy, not to mention the burning of fossil fuels, you begin to understand that Joni Mitchell had it right.  We are not only paving paradise with a parking lot . . . we are destroying it.

How do we get out of this mess?  Is it even possible?

Watch the film . . . get enraged.  Most of all . . . share it.

Ten Billion Film  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qs_f4ZOA6E

Fossil Fuel Energy Guide  https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/Elem_Coal_Studyguide.pdf

Industrial Revolution https://www.britannica.com/event/Industrial-Revolution

Coal Used for the Industrial Revolution  https://sciencing.com/energy-resources-industrial-revolution-7639537.html

Remember the 1972 MIT Study on the Collapse of Capitalism?

Not really.  I was pretty young back then to be interested in the fall of capitalism.  But, thankfully, MIT was.  In 1972 a study by MIT came out predicting capitalism would collapse in midcentury.  KPMG, one of the four major accounting firms, crunched the numbers.  This is Jared Diamond’s book, “Collapse” in real time . . . today. 

You can talk about resource depletion, which is a major reason for collapse, but until you see it actually happening, it is business as usual.  And, we need to add the climate crisis to this collapse scenario. We do not see people standing in line in Big Box grocery stores here in the US . . . well, at the beginning of the pandemic, there were definitely empty shelves, and people freaking out there was no toilet paper.  Well, that is a bit of a concern.  Fortunately, no one wanted the 1000 sheet rolls so I was ok. 

In Diamond’s book, he details the collapse of Easter Island, as one of the societies that collapsed.  There were no ocean liners that could drop off a load of tomatoes or lumber.  And, although Earth is not an island, it is actually an island in the solar system.  Mars will not be delivering anything to us anytime soon . . . if ever.  It is not a destination I am interested in.

Nafeez Ahmed details the update on the MIT study in Vice on July 14, 2021.  The link is below.  Gaya Herrington participated in the original study and was curious if the prediction was on track.  She didn’t see anyone taking on that job so she set out and did it herself.  The study had graphed data on mortality, population, resources, pollution, fertility, food, etc.  After doing the calculations, she found it to be right on track.  Approximately 2040 is when capitalism will crash.  Although, in the article it mentioned it may happen as soon as 10 years from now.

Don’t count on the local news to let people know this is coming down the pike.  Wouldn’t you want to know that?  And, who is prepared for that?  This was news to me, even though I am well aware of resource depletion.  Our soil is severely depleted, and we are set to run out of fish in the ocean at 2048, for two examples.

Some resources like fossil fuels will be gone when they are gone because they take 1,000s of years to form.  Other resources like food can be replenished . . . unless we pave too much of paradise, as in what Joni Mitchell saw in her song “Big Yellow Taxi.”

The Colorado River and Ogallala Aquifer are both slowly being depleted of water.  They are situated in parts of the country that don’t get a lot of rainfall.  Much of our water supplies are being used for fracking with 100s of toxic chemicals added to millions of gallons of drinking water or irrigation for crops we shouldn’t be planting.  We will end up with no water for us if we don’t start changing our ways.

Back to the MIT study.  Richard Heinberg wrote a few books on resource depletion, along with Jared Diamond.  I am sure there are many others.  “Peak Everything” and “The End of Growth” were two of Heinberg’s books.  Perhaps MIT was concerned we, too, would become another Easter Island.

Curiously, the collapse of capitalism is exactly what would solve the climate crisis.  But, we need to be prepared.  Harrington said it wouldn’t be the end of humanity but there would be hardships.  We need to start making changes now. 

Growing food should be a top priority, along with conserving resources for the things we absolutely need, like medical supplies.  We can’t take 20 more years of burning fossil fuels.  So, I am hoping the 10-year prediction holds true.

We need to get ready for this.  Now.  The article is attached so you can share it with as many friends and family as possible.

In the meantime, start a garden.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3xw3x/new-research-vindicates-1972-mit-prediction-that-society-will-collapse-soon

http://www.jareddiamond.org/Jared_Diamond/Collapse.html

https://jonimitchell.com/music/song.cfm?id=13

https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/16/us/lake-mead-colorado-river-water-shortage/index.html

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/water-use-rises-as-fracking-expands/

https://www.cornellrooseveltinstitute.org/env/what-kind-of-problem-is-overfishing-really

The Future of Food

According to the United Nations UN News on March 9, 2021 in their article, “Food systems account for over one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions,” which we need to change to address the climate crisis.  That is a big segment of the CO2 going into the atmosphere, and we have control over what we buy at the grocery store or what we don’t buy.  That includes tilling up fields, methane from beef, production, packaging, and transportation.  Let’s add rice cultivation, fertilizers, and our consumption habits to that list.

So what do we do about it?

I recently took at tour of the Kane Street Community Garden in La Crosse, Wisconsin, with a friend who has been going there for some years.  It was amazing.  According to their website, listed below, the Hunger Task Force of La Crosse operates the Kane Street Community Garden and is funded by the City of La Crosse through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Some 30,000 lbs. of food are grown there each year, which is distributed to local food pantries and meal programs. Its goal is to end hunger in the area. On Harvest Days anyone in the community can come and get free food. There is at least one full time employee and many volunteers that run this garden.

They are also involved in Food Recovery, which is diverting food from grocery stores that would normally go into the garbage because its expiration date has passed or food that is slightly blemished. By directing it from a landfill, the food gets to people who need it. This program distributes food to over 120 programs in La Crosse, Vernon, Trempealeau, Monroe, Houston, Winona, and Allamakee counties.

The pictures above are some of the food they are growing.  I couldn’t believe they were also growing celery, which is something I have almost given up on.  I eat it every day with my hummus so it would be nice to be able to grow it.

As you may notice in those pictures, there are no cereals, candy, snacks, pop, processed food, and frozen food.  There is embodied energy in all of those foods, which help account for the 33% of CO2.  That embodied energy takes the form of all the manufacturing plants and processes to produce one product.  Those buildings all need energy to run.  If we are serious about addressing the climate crisis, we can all agree that we really don’t need any of those foods, and we can be healthier without them.  For instance, we could simply have oatmeal instead of the cereals or hummus for breakfast.

Obviously, the Kane Street Community Garden doesn’t have everything a grocery store would have. That can be solved. There are nuts or grains that can be grown for oil. Grains can also be grown. I am at the beginning of my search for a grain in my own garden. Chickens could be added for eggs. Local meats could also be minimally added.

This is where the future of food needs to go.  There should be at least 3-4 or more Kane Street Community Gardens in every city depending how big the city is. This is definitely a solution for people who can’t grow their own garden and live in big cities. 

We need to imagine a new way to live.

UN News, “Food Systems Account for Over One-Third of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions” March 9, 2021, https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/03/1086822

The Climate Crisis Threatens Food the Most

Above are pictures of cabbage, kale, and squash.  All of them came out of a tiny seed.  Such a miracle.  Something we don’t usually stop to think about.  They all take water, sun, and soil to grow.  They look so innocent.  We take this whole process for granted.  But, we really need to rethink food. This food keeps us alive.

A little over a week and half ago, it finally rained in our area of Southwest Wisconsin after three weeks of no rain.  We all breathed a sigh of relief because those vegetables, along with the others in my garden, were struggling, because with a hand pump, I couldn’t give them the water they really needed.  The farmers in the area were also crying for rain.

Some areas of the country and world are already in the thick of the climate crisis.  They are experiencing droughts, flooding, forest fires, hurricanes, and heat waves.  Portland reached 116 this week.  Until now, the Midwest has not experienced the devastation that the coastal areas of the US have because of the climate crisis.  We have been lucky so far.  But, it was a little too close for comfort this June.  My neighbor across the street from me raises cattle.  He said he almost lost $100k if we didn’t get that rain.

Extinction Rebellion put out a video recently.  It was called “Advice to Young People as They Face Annihilation.”  Roger Hallam, who did the video, talks about the warming of the North and South poles and how that will have an effect on how it will slow the weather down.  If the weather slows, then that three weeks of no rain will turn into 5 weeks, then 7 weeks, and then 12 weeks. 

Some day when you go into the grocery store and there is no food, you will know why.

Yes, the weather is always changing, and we all laugh about it.  Well, maybe it doesn’t change so much in dry areas in states like Arizona where the sun is out almost 365 days a year.  Here in the Midwest where a lot of food is grown, we don’t realize how the changing weather is crucial.  A constant thunderstorm each week waters the crops and our gardens that we have labored over and cherish. 

It is food.  Food is the thing most threatened by the climate crisis.

Let’s talk a little about the state of the CO2 in the atmosphere, which has a direct effect on the climate crisis.  CO2 comes from burning fossil fuels, and most all of our energy needs come from burning those fossil fuels right now.  According to CO2.Earth, on June 27, 2021, there was 418.29 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Only a year ago on June 27, 2020, there was 416.22 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.  That is an increase of 2.07 ppm.  According to scientists, 350 ppm is considered safe, and 450 ppm is considered unsafe.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we have 9 more years to drastically address the climate crisis.  If each year we are increasing the CO2 by 2 points, we will be very close to that 450 ppm in 9 years.

The increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere is not slowing down.  We are basically doing nothing to address that.  Scientists say we have to stop using fossil fuels now.  In my mind, that means everything stops.  It is like the shutdown when covid hit last March.  That was our dry run for the shutdown we need to address the climate crisis.

But, not one talks about shutting things down . . . or degrowth . . . or a different economy.  The only thing I hear is we need to move to renewable energy, electric cars, regenerative agriculture, and jobs for everyone.

According to FinanceOnline, right now in 2021 the US has 289 million cars.  If we manufacture another 289 electric cars to replace those vehicles, that will mean extracting all the metal, oil for plastic, and other resources for the batteries.  It sounds like a good idea to reduce CO2 . . . but does it really?  Maybe in the long run.  But how many more holes can we dig into Mother Earth for those resources?

And, we can slap those solar panels up for electricity but there will be more extreme extraction for the resources for those panels and batteries.  Yes, in many ways it is better than extracting and burning coal, natural gas, and oil but we must ask where we are going with renewable energy. Let’s have some foresight here. Let’s have a little reduction in consumption, too!

Besides the homes where we live and our cars, let’s look at all the other buildings our lifestyle supports.  That is basically in the US. Other industrialized countries don’t consume as much as the US but it is still a concern. There are 100s of thousands of buildings that manufacture products we don’t actually need.  Those buildings burn fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and air conditioning.

If you go into the grocery store, you can see all the food we can do without.  We could eliminate the cereal, candy, cookie, snack, pop, and frozen food aisles to start with. 

We need to create a new way to live instead of manufacturing products that extract resources from the earth that eliminate biodiversity, fill the air with pollution, and get thrown away in a nanosecond.  It all contributes immensely to the climate crisis and threatens the food that we desperately need.  All the money in the world means nothing if we can’t grow food.

XR Video by Roger Hallam

CO2 in the Atmosphere

https://www.co2.earth/daily-co2

Number of Cars in the US

https://financesonline.com/number-of-cars-in-the-us/