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Ecologist - Thu, 11/23/2023 - 01:00
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Categories: H. Green News

Fearing repression in Dubai, non-binary people stay away from Cop28

Climate Change News - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 09:34

People who define themselves as neither male nor female are staying away from this year’s UN climate summit in Dubai, giving up an opportunity to advance their causes and their careers. 

Non-binary campaigners told Climate Home News they would not attend Cop28, which starts on 30 November, or were wavering due to the host country’s record.

Non-binary foreigners have been detained at the UAE’s borders and deported and non-binary Emiratis have reported difficulties expressing their gender in public 

Rani is a non-binary Pakistani who works for an umbrella group of NGOs on climate issues. They are grappling with whether to attend the talks or not.  

Rani read reports from 2022 that Thai trans model Rachaya Noppakaroon was detained at Dubai airport because her passport had a male gender marker. She endured a nine-hour interrogation at the airport before being sent back to Thailand. 

Slow start for Indonesia’s much-hyped carbon market

Rani fears something similar will happen to them as their  passport identifies them as non-binary.

That’s an option in her native Pakistan as well as several other South Asian nations and developed countries like the USA and Australia.

In January, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that two Pakistanis with this identification stopped over for a layover at Dubai airport but were denied boarding for their onward flight just 15 minutes before takeoff.

One of them, Zehrish, told Climate Home at the time that the state-owned airline FlyDubai cited the UAE’s immigration policy when refusing them boarding.

‘I am numb’

The UAE has no explicit policy addressing the entry restrictions for gender non-conforming individuals but Zehrish said that fact was no help to them in practice

Rani, who also missed out on Cop26 in the UK because of problems getting a visa unrelated to their gender identity, told Climate Home they were disappointed.

“I just don’t know how to feel anymore,” they said, “I am numb. No matter how hard I work in life, something will be there to prevent me from going further, from helping my community, from helping myself.”  

James is a young non-binary climate activist from the Pacific island of Tuvalu who has attended many summits but will stay away from this one.

“Climate negotiations are very important to me and my whole nation,” they said, “but I will not be going for this. I am uncertain about the risks that are involved and cannot justify these risks”..

France, Kenya set to launch Cop28 coalition for global taxes to fund climate action

James said they had spoken to young people from the UAE about “intersectional aspects of activism and it is warming to know that many young UAE citizens are not like the government – though I am sure I am only interacting with a certain demographic online”.

Unwritten rules

Climate Home spoke to a non-binary person who has lived in the UAE their whole life. They empathise with the challenges faced by queer, non-binary visitors navigating unfamiliar laws just to exist in the UAE.

“We who grow up here know how to ‘fit in’—for lack of a better word… it is about knowing the nuances of how to be here, unfortunately,” they said.  

They added that the “unwritten rule” is that you can do whatever you want in private but you can’t be “too loud” in public. ” If you cannot do that or don’t know how to, it will be impossible to exist here,” they said.  

All sexual acts outside of marriage are illegal in the UAE and same-sex marriage is not allowed, effectively criminalising gay people. Breaking this law is punishable with at least one year in prison. 

The United Arab Emirates government and FlyDubai did not respond to requests for comment.

The post Fearing repression in Dubai, non-binary people stay away from Cop28 appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

In numbers: The state of the climate ahead of Cop28

Climate Change News - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 08:28

Ahead of every Cop climate talks, think tanks, campaign groups and United Nations agencies get their number-crunchers to produce a load of reports summarising where the fight against climate change is at.

These reports can start to induce deja-vu. We’re doing some stuff to tackle climate change, usually more than the year before. But not fast enough to avoid some pretty terrifying destruction.

“Broken record,” is the title of the UN’s latest emissions gap report. “Temperatures hit new highs yet world fails to cut emissions (again),” the subtitle.

The world is breaking records for emissions and temperatures, fuelling climate disasters across the globe.

Discover how to put the world back on course for its climate goals in UNEP’s latest #EmissionsGap report:

— UN Environment Programme (@UNEP) November 21, 2023

So far, so gloomy. But the record may be about to come unstuck as some analysts predict emissions will peak in 2023.

By Cop29, we could be reading reports saying that this time the world has finally succeeded in cutting emissions – and not because a pandemic brought the global economy to a halt.

From then onwards, we will be damaging our planet less and less each year until we reach net zero and stop damaging it at all.

What is still to play for is how fast we reach that point and how much damage will have been done.

We’re nearing peak emissions…

A report by Climate Analytics finds a 70% chance that emissions will peak in 2023 and start falling in 2024, mainly thanks to electric vehicles, solar and wind power.

The International Energy Agency says similar, suggesting that fossil fuel CO2 emissions – a huge chunk of the total – could peak before 2025 and as early as 2023.

The US government’s Energy Information Administration is more pessimistic, predicting that solar won’t boom that fast and energy-related CO2 emissions will either continue to increase or plateau.

While emissions from producing electricity are going to come down, these gains will be partly cancelled out by still-increasing emissions from transport.

…but greenhouse gas levels keep rising…

But that doesn’t mean there will be less greenhouse gas in the atmosphere each year. Even if you pour less and less water into a bath, the bath still gets fuller each time.

The World Meteorological Organization reports that carbon dioxide concentrations in the air were 50% higher than pre-industrial levels for the first time in 2022. Methane and nitrous oxide levels also rose.

Greenhouse gas levels in our atmosphere continue to rise.
Concentrations of CO2, which is responsible for most of the warming effect on our climate, were a full 50% above the pre-industrial era for the first time in 2022. #COP28 #StateofClimate

— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) November 15, 2023

…as does the earth’s temperature…

The world is now on average 1.25C hotter than it was in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Last year, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said governments’ climate plans would put us on course for 2.4-2.8C of warming.

Since then, very few countries have increased their ambition and emissions kept rising, so they now say we’re on course for 2.5-3C of warming.

That’s if governments plans are fully implemented. But the report says that most countries aren’t doing enough to meet their promises.

…and the damage done…

Rising emissions mean rising temperatures which means rising destruction caused by climate change. This devastation is hard to measure but there are a few metrics we can use.

A study in the Lancet medical journal found that climate change made 127 million extra people go hungry in 2021, compared to the 80s, 90s and noughties.

They found it increased the potential of mosquitos to transmit dengue fever transmission by about a quarter and put 1.4 billion people at risk of vibriosis as warmer water helps bacteria in the sea thrive.

The insurance company Swiss Re says people are losing more and more of their property because of storms, floods and wildfires.

With all these impacts rising, it’s more important than ever to adapt to climate change. But Unep’s adaptation gap report finds developing countries got less adaptation finance in 2021 than they did in 2020. They need an estimated $194-366 billion. They got $21 billion.

Unlock the path forward!

UNEP’s 2023 #AdaptationGap Report identifies 7 ways to increase financing and prevent future loss and damage from the devastating impacts of the #ClimateCrisis.

Explore here:

— UN Environment Programme (@UNEP) November 9, 2023

…and investment in fossil fuel production

The world is still investing over $1 trillion a year in fossil fuels – almost double the level the IEA judges compatible with 1.5C of global warming.

Countries like the US, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Qatar are boosting oil and gas production, while India slows down the global decline in coal mining.

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Demand for fossil fuels is about to peak

While the supply of fossil fuels is increasing, the IEA says the demand for coal, oil and gas has either peaked or is about to peak.

Coal is about to start a rapid decline, the IEA predicts, while demand for oil and gas stays at about the level it is now for a few decades.

That's not good enough to limit global warming to 1.5C but it does suggest continued investment in fossil fuel supply is economically as well as environmentally foolish.

One sub-set of the fossil fuel market where supply is forecast to outstrip demand is liquified natural gas. This is when gas is turned into a liquid, put on a ship and sailed to customers around the world.

The US and Qatar have led a rush into this market to replace the piped Russian gas that places like Europe used to rely on. When this new LNG export infrastructure is up and running in a few years time, the IEA predicts a glut.

Solar is booming...

Solar continues to be climate change's success story. For a few years now, the world has invested more in clean energy than fossil fuels and that gap is growing.

Chinese factories are pumping out solar panels so fast we don't know what to do with them. If they can be connected to the grids and replace fossil fuels as fast as they are being built, limiting warming to 1.5C becomes a lot easier.

...and so are electric vehicles...

Five years ago, less than 2% of new cars were electric. Now that figure is more like 10%.

In a few years time, the World Resources Institute predicts, that figure will pass 50% and get up to near 100% by the end of the decade.

It will take longer for all cars on the road to be electric and buses and motorbikes are lagging behind still.

But electric vehicles are taking a big chunk out of oil demand and of road transport's 10% of global emissions.

...and heat pumps

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Europeans and their governments scrambled to stop heating their homes with Russian gas.

That led to a boom in heat pumps, which run on electricity and are around three times more efficient than gas boilers. Sales soared 40% in Europe and 10% across the world.

The post In numbers: The state of the climate ahead of Cop28 appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

A blueprint for climate-friendly holiday cooking

Grist - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 08:00
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The spotlight

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, Looking Forward fam! However you celebrate this holiday, if you celebrate it, we hope you’re taking time this week to savor the company of family and friends, the changing of the seasons — and of course, food, glorious food.

Cooking a feast, whether it’s for two people or 20, can come with some stressful considerations. What to make? How much to make? How to budget time and money? And, since you’re here reading this newsletter, you may also be thinking about how to prepare delicious, celebratory meals that uphold your dedication to a clean, green, just world.

Food writer and recipe tester Caroline Saunders has given this some thought. Saunders worked at Grist for a number of years before heading to pastry school at Le Cordon Bleu Paris to pursue her passion for climate-friendly desserts. She started a podcast and a newsletter on the topic, and this week, we asked her to share some of her favorite tips and recipes for building climate awareness into holiday cooking.

For even more, check out Saunders’ story on the emerging genre of climate cookbooks

Before the feast

“When I have family or friends coming into town, I end up cooking in two streams,” Saunders says. The first stream is before the main event. For this lead-up time, Saunders emphasizes recipes that are easily riffable and can use whatever’s on hand to avoid waste and extra trips to the store.

For example, a grain salad and accompanying “fridge-door dressing” from Perfectly Good Food by Margaret and Irene Li, a cookbook that focuses on flexible cooking and kitchen confidence as an approach to zero-waste. “What those recipes do, and what all the recipes in that cookbook do, is get you to think in categories of ingredients and get you to try to remember some key ratios,” Saunders explains. The dressing, for instance, starts with two parts oil to one part acid. “You can go tangy, you can go creamy, but the point is that it makes you look at your fridge and say, ‘I have some basic sense of where to begin and I can just use what I have.”

Another recipe she loves, in a similar vein, is a halloumi, broccoli, and chickpea bake from One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones. “It’s something where you can switch up the vegetables, the beans and pulses, you can swap the halloumi for tofu, and it all is doable on one tray in the oven really fast.”

The feast

Planning for a special feast offers an opportunity to think about what ingredients you want to put center stage — and how. That spotlight could be placed on a star from the plant or fungi kingdoms instead of a turkey or ham. “To the extent that there is some psychological appeal of a perfect, sexy main and a simplicity appeal of a one-ingredient main, mushrooms might be a good contender,” Saunders says. She’s also considering a recipe amusingly titled “A Rutabaga Pretending to Be Ham,” from the cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People, & Planet by Tom Hunt.

But climate-friendly swaps don’t have to be limited to replacing meat. “I like the idea, especially at these holiday cooking moments where you’re putting a little bit more time and attention into your cooking, to go beyond the basics of leaning into plants and using what’s on hand,” Saunders says, “to also think about biodiversity, and how eating a variety of things that grow relatively near you can actively contribute to restoring biodiversity and strengthening regional food systems.”

For example, she cites a wild rice pilaf with apples, cranberries, and pecans that Indigenous chef Mariah Gladstone contributed to the U.N.’s cookbook, For People and Planet. Starring an ingredient from your region, like wild rice in the Great Lakes area, can be a way to contribute to the health of local economies and ecosystems.

A meringue recipe from “Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet” that stars whipped aquafaba — chickpea water — an ingredient that usually gets dumped down the drain. Caroline Saunders

Saunders also looks for ingredients that she can plan to feature in a variety of ways — like canned chickpeas. For part of her holiday menu, she’s planning to crisp some up to go on top of a carrot soup — and then she’ll use the water from the can, known as aquafaba, to whip into a meringue with blood orange and chocolate, another recipe from Eating for Pleasure, People, & Planet. “I love moments like that,” she says. “With a little bit of advanced planning, you can figure out, ‘Will I have a leftover portion of an ingredient that could be used in something else?’”

After the feast

I personally will eat leftovers until the day I die (of food poisoning) — but if you’re staring at your post-holiday fridge wondering what you’re going to do with the various Tupperwares and wrapped-up bits and bobs, Saunders has some suggestions to help you avoid sending that food to the landfill. “I think about a couple of scaffolding-type recipes that you could graft savory leftovers onto and sweet leftovers onto,” she says. On the savory side, things like stuffing, vegetables, and dinner rolls could be thrown together with eggs in a strata — a type of bready, eggy casserole dish that could make a crowd-pleasing brunch for whoever might still be kicking around the day after a holiday dinner. Saunders recommends this easily customizable recipe from the food blog Two Kooks in the Kitchen.

On the sweet side, any fruit leavings — apples that didn’t make it into the pie, cranberries that didn’t make it into the sauce — can be swapped into your favorite blueberry muffin recipe to go along with your strata brunch.

And if you’re fully maxed out on desserts, Saunders has a simple solution: the freezer. “In two months, you will no longer be tired of apple pie and you will be super thrilled to fold it into some vanilla ice cream while you watch The Great British Bake Off.”

— Claire Elise Thompson

More exposure A parting shot

One of my favorite things to do with leftover vegetable scraps (carrot butts, onion skins, stems of any kind) is stash them in my freezer to turn into homemade vegetable stock. When I’ve got a full bag, I just add enough water to cover the stuff, a little salt and pepper, and boil for about an hour. Then strain out the scrappies, and voilà! Cheap soup broth.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline A blueprint for climate-friendly holiday cooking on Nov 22, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

Desperation for Refrigeration

Green European Journal - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 07:16

Kitchen white goods – ubiquitous modern appliances revered for lightening household chores – are seen as a necessity. The fridge, in taking on bulky proportions, has transformed from basic food storage utility to luxury item. Has what was once practical, yet conceals greenhouse gases, become a guilty environmental consumer trap?

The modern-day refrigerator is like a repository of remorse; a sarcophagus illuminated by an Arctic hue. The emotions that come with throwing away food (shame, embarrassment, anger, regret) – deposited within – quickly cool off. 

It whirred away for six years, then one day it just froze. The humming stopped, and the next 24 hours saw the temperature inside it slowly equal that of the kitchen. Its refrigerant had dissipated into the atmosphere; the repairman who topped it up pocketed his handsome fee, declaring: ‘I can’t provide you with a guarantee, because the gas could well have leaked out again by tomorrow’. Two days later it had done just that. With it being the end of August, it was hot, and I thought: what would it be like to live without a fridge at all? 

A cool embrace 

It took me a few days to adjust to this new way of living. I mercilessly threw things away as though what had previously been in hibernation had suddenly begun to decompose. Then I started shopping carefully: microscopic quantities, with a specific day in mind, prioritising whatever looked like it was losing vitality. And after finally converting the orphaned vessel into a wardrobe, I let the world know on Facebook, using a stock photo to illustrate it. It was a void, draped in the frosty hue of Arctic ice. ‘I’m looking for people who live without a fridge,’ I wrote. Dozens responded. 

They – for the most part – did not choose the fridge-less life. They were forced into it by the situation: a renovation, moving out, a breakdown. One person lost their house and moved into a security office on an industrial estate; another went to work on an eco-farm, which simply didn’t have a fridge. Another had moved to their aunt’s whilst their studio was getting renovated. The fridge was in the kitchen – working, even. But, despite the makeshift duct tape, the door wouldn’t close. Suddenly, it was possible to simply do without. 

I looked at kitchen after kitchen, at the idle spaces therein, at the cracks, the shadows, the afterimages, the imperfections. Fridges-turned-whiteboards, fridges-turned-cabinets, fridges with no discernible purpose; unplugged fridges, giving off the smells they once managed to absorb, dormant yet alert, with mustards and sauces rattling amongst the shelves. 

Fridges-turned-whiteboards, fridges-turned-cabinets, fridges with no discernible purpose; unplugged fridges, giving off the smells they once managed to absorb 

Their owners and users said the same thing: surprisingly, they throw away a lot less food. They buy more often, for less. They cook less extravagantly, and leftovers – if any – are eaten the next day. Meat spoils easily, so they gave it up. And butter? They only eat it in winter (yes, the windowsill works great). They drink beer as soon as they buy it. Stew (vegetable, of course) can be stored in the oven and the soup – if it turns sour – can be eaten. 

Scientists studying the extent of food waste know all too well that such claims are not to be taken seriously. Humans – when asked to testify about what perfectly edible food they throw away – tend to obfuscate, hide and deny. But the link between the technology used to extend the shelf life of food and how much of it we throw away is a clear one; indeed, it is a hot topic for scientists who study the so-called archaeology of household waste. The bigger the fridge, the bigger the shopping. The bigger the shopping, the bigger the waste. We treat it as a space where time stops, a fortress inaccessible to the rest of the (micro)world. The door closes, the cold light goes out; the food – organic matter, a terrain of constant processes – becomes immortal. 

The bigger the fridge, the bigger the shopping. The bigger the shopping, the bigger the waste. We treat it as a space where time stops, a fortress inaccessible to the rest of the (micro)world.

Only, it doesn’t. The cold merely slows down cellular metabolism and numbs microorganisms, slowing down their spread. But it doesn’t stop it. That’s what frost does – and even frost can’t completely halt decomposition. 

Top shelf, 10 degrees Celsius: mustards and jams 

Experts estimate there are nearly 1.4 billion domestic fridges and freezers in the world. Statistically, in Europe, the space of a single refrigerator is shared by two people. However, artificial cold accompanies food not only in the final stage of its life (in our homes), but also throughout its journey. It allows us to deceive seeds into thinking it’s time to prepare for germination; we keep brewing bacterial cultures in check, preventing them from growing too large; we inhibit the action of plant hormones responsible for fruit ripening or stimulate sugar metabolism in tubers. The cold gives us the upper hand in the fight against the competition: the rest of the world. This world is invisible to us; it graces us with proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Helping plant tissues to maintain their firmness, low temperatures also make food more appealing visually. There’s a nice word for this: turgor. Without turgor, that lettuce sitting in your fridge would be in the bin. 

Experts estimate there are nearly 1.4 billion household refrigerators and freezers in the world 

Sometimes the cold also accompanies the food on its final journey. If it is not sold within the allotted time and is written off as waste, it ends up in a cold sarcophagus hidden behind an armoured door. The moment it is scooped up by the bin lorry is like the first breath of tropical air after leaving an air-conditioned room; it’s not long before the natural processes get underway. 

Any break in the chain of chill is – according to the modern approach to food distribution – an emergency. Hibernating food suddenly gasps for air and starts to make up for lost time. An apple, kept in a cold warehouse for a year, from which virtually all oxygen has been pumped out, lingers in dormancy. A wisp of air brings it to life. It wants to ripen, to wrinkle, to give its seeds to the world. And this does not necessarily go hand in hand with its appeal as food. 

Middle shelf, 4 degrees Celsius: ham (wrapped, of course) 

In the sociology of poverty, several indices are used when trying to assess the extent of economically deprived communities. Not having a fridge – along with the absence of a telephone, colour TV, limited access to protein, and leisure activities being out of reach – is one of them. 

There are just over 27,000 households in Poland living without the equipment which allows food to be cooled to a temperature of 4 degrees (which, according to researchers, is the optimum temperature to limit the spread of one of the most virulent bacteria – listeria). That’s as much as the entire municipal housing stock of Gdańsk. Those going without do not consciously choose to live a fridge-free life. Often, they live without a kitchen, electricity, or money; indeed, they may live without any of these, just about getting by from one day to the next, in buildings that can hardly be called a dwelling. 

Those who consciously choose to live without a fridge are a handful that fall within the statistical margin of error. Electing to go without an appliance so ubiquitous in homes that it would never occur to anyone to analyse it in terms of superfluity, may seem extreme. Or a bold act of self-awareness. 

Because the fridge, especially against the backdrop of deceptively dangerous smartphones, Earth-warming air conditioning, and clothes dryers which use dirty energy to hasten natural processes, may seem innocent. But it’s not. It has a clear contribution to the situation in which the Earth currently finds itself. It is tangible, and calculated in the cubic decimetres of cooling agents released into the atmosphere, as well as in degrees Celsius, which heat it up. Although F-gases, or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – the successors to CFCs – may not destroy the ozone layer, when they are released into the atmosphere – even as a result of an accident or improper disposal – they cause several thousand times more damage than carbon dioxide. 

When F-gases, the successors to CFCs, are accidentally released into the atmosphere, they cause up to several thousand times more damage than carbon dioxide 

The fact that something needs to be done about this has been long-discussed. In 2016, nearly two hundred countries signed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali. According to the agreement, virtually the entire world is to stop selling and servicing appliances cooled by F-gases by 2028, replacing them with organic refrigerants. Despite this, millions of fridges, coolers and freezers remain on the market. Evidence of their damaging potential is hidden on their safety information panels. Each one, especially if not disposed of properly, can carry serious consequences for the climate.

In 2017, the Drawdown report was published, which, in light of recent statements made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), could be considered worryingly optimistic. The researchers carrying out the study decided to determine the potential of one hundred selected efforts to curb climate change, ranking them in order from most to least effective. Cooling appliances – refrigerators and air conditioners – came first. According to the report, if we were able to prevent leaks when replacing refrigerants, we would save the atmosphere nearly 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions. 

In third place, saving 70 gigatons, was the reduction of food waste: the two categories remain in a strong, chilly embrace with one another. 

Bottom shelves, between 7 and 10 degrees (adjustable humidity): lemons and lettuce separate 

Ever since the first settlers, humankind has tried to extend the shelf life of the food available at any given time. In doing so, man took advantage of nature’s helping hand, in winter using ice from frost-cut lakes or transported from glaciers. Large blocks of ice cut in January could be kept year-round; all one had to do was transport them to ice houses dug underground and cover them with sawdust. The insulated goods would lie dormant until next winter, bringing delight to the residents of manors and palaces. 

If one were to think of equipment symbolic of the Anthropocene era, the refrigerator would certainly come to mind. 

But the world’s hunger for cold was growing, and by the end of the 19th century it was clear it could not be satisfied by nature alone. Thankfully, technology came to the rescue; by controlling the metabolism of food, man began to master the entire system of food production and distribution. If one were to think of equipment symbolic of the Anthropocene era, the refrigerator would certainly come to mind. 

The world’s hunger for cold was growing, and by the end of the 19th century it was clear it could not be satisfied by nature alone 

The ability to control temperature is one of the core pillars of today’s globalised food production and distribution system. But it also has a huge impact on what goes onto – and comes off of – the dining table. Without refrigeration, we would be eating shrivelled apples and potatoes dotted with sprouts in the pre-harvest season, and fresh dairy, meat and fish would still be occasional delicacies, available to the privileged in one way or another. Tropical fruits would disappear from general sale, going into hibernation from the moment they are harvested until the moment they enter the shop floor. We would eat more modestly, probably in accordance with the natural crop cycle in our geographical zone – crops that grow nearby do not need to travel thousands of miles to reach our plates. The cold, or rather the way we use it, has not only widened our horizon of choice, but has also instilled in us the belief that we can actually have everything, here and now, right away, at our fingertips. It is also one of the reasons why we have stopped viewing food as an extremely valuable resource whose shelf life can be extended by putting in the effort: drying, salting, curing, fermenting, preserving. Now all we have to do is open the fridge door. 

Freezer, minus 18 degrees: not just for ice cubes 

The Warsaw Museum of Technology has in its collection the oldest Polish refrigerator, dating from 1969. The L9 model, manufactured by Wroclaw Metal Works (Wrocławskie Zakłady Metalowe) Polar, has a capacity of 40 litres. With just enough space to chill a few bottles, nowadays such a volume could, at most, be enough for a camping trip or minibar. 

The Einstein refrigerator, as this type is called, was popular before condensing refrigerators came along, and its performance is not very impressive. It could maintain a temperature of about ten degrees, and go down to minus three in its microfreezer, which had about enough capacity for a few chops. That said, it was fairly cheap and – unless it leaked – virtually indestructible. Butter, milk, cheese and leftovers from dinner were stored in it. It can still be found in some homes, and on online marketplaces for around 200 Polish złoty (just under £40). Note: it still refrigerates. 

Today, the average fridge bought in Europe has a capacity of around 200 litres – still quite a lot less than on the other side of the Atlantic. And it is its size (especially its depth, which makes food stuffed under the back panel disappear from view) that drives up household waste. A large refrigerator is well-equipped for excess stockpiling and waste; it brims with freshly-bought groceries and leftover lunches, merely delaying the inevitable execution of the death sentence passed the moment they were swept off the plate. The modern-day refrigerator is like a repository of remorse, a sarcophagus illuminated by an Arctic hue; the emotions that come with throwing away food (shame, embarrassment, anger, regret) – deposited within – quickly cool off. They decay, just like food. After all, it’s far easier to tip soup that’s ‘gone bad’ down the sink than it is fresh soup, still steaming, straight from the saucepan. One may think: oh well, it’s gone off, nothing I can do about it. 

Today, the average refrigerator purchased in Europe has a capacity of about 200 litres. It is its size that drives up household waste 

Refrigerators, by extending the lifespan of fresh food, give us time in credit, which must be swiftly repaid when they refuse to cooperate. If the flow of cold is ever interrupted, at home it’s not too big a deal. Everywhere else, however, the procedures are crystal clear: the food must be disposed of. 

Refrigerators, by extending the lifespan of fresh food, give us time in credit, which must be swiftly repaid when they refuse to cooperate.

When the industrial freezers at one of Poland’s food chains, located in the basement of a building dating back to the 1950s, went down a few years ago, some of what was doomed to thaw went to the staff. Having been eating melting cream cakes all day, they were unable to save it all, however. The wheelie bins filled up that day. 

Drawer (set to chill mode), minus 1 degree Celsius: fish and meat 

In 2017, the World Food Summit in Copenhagen debated how to reduce food waste. One of the many ideas raised came from the director of a multinational food company. The solution, ladies and gentleman, is predictability, he said. Call restaurants to tell them what you are going to eat; let the shops know what you are going to buy. Smart fridges will help with this – upon entering a shop, they will scan the interior using cameras, send you a shopping list and suggest that you do something about that cauliflower stuffed in the bottom drawer. Hey, Marta, fancy some cauliflower soup today? Please eat me, Marta, because if you don’t, I’ll write about it on your profile and you’ll be embarrassed. 

Smart fridges could make throwing away food less intimate, and therefore less likely. The price? Your privacy. 

A cool ‘home hub’ connected to the internet (that’s the marketing buzzword used by manufacturers of smart fridges) could make throwing away food less intimate, and therefore less likely. The price paid for this will be, as usual, information about our daily lives: what we buy, eat and throw away. Those who gain access to this knowledge will, no doubt, be delighted. 

We managed without a fridge for several weeks. Eventually, we bought a new one. A free-standing one, of average size (by European standards), only without the drawers that keep vegetables in a state of delicious turgor (a pity, I know). Neither does it have an ice maker, an in-built touch screen, or any kind of surveillance apparatus. It’s filled with a refrigerant that, theoretically, has no greenhouse potential, but is now beginning to gurgle alarmingly. 

The author wishes to thank Zaslaw Adamaszek from the Museum of Technology in Warsaw for an informative talk on various aspects of mankind’s taming of the cold. 

This article was first published in Polish by Dwutygodnik. This translation is part of a series on food and water. The project is organised by the Green European Journal with the support of Eurozine, and thanks to the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation.

Categories: H. Green News

Discarded toys are creating an e-waste disaster. Here’s how to stop it.

Grist - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 01:45

With the holiday season fast approaching, parents around the world are deciding which new toys to purchase for their kids this year. Many will opt for classic favorites like Lego bricks, Mr. Potato Heads, Jenga sets, and Barbie dolls. Others will choose toys with more high-tech flair — like remote-controlled robotic dogs, light-up drones, or books that play animal sounds — for that tot who loves smashing buttons.

But while modern parents are bombarded with ads for toys that light up, make sounds, move under their own power, and respond to voice commands, they don’t hear much about the environmental crisis fueled by electronic toys, or e-toys. 

According to a recent report by the WEEE Forum, a multinational nonprofit organization focused on the management of “waste electrical and electronic equipment,” the world threw out more than 7 billion e-toys in 2022. Many, if not most, of these toys didn’t reach a proper e-waste recycling facility due to a dearth of regulations and consumer awareness that toys containing batteries and circuit boards require special disposal. Instead, experts believe these toys are often winding up in the regular trash, increasing the risk of battery fires at waste management facilities and creating new environmental hazards at landfills. Even when people want to recycle their e-toys properly, recyclers might not want to take them because they are hard to deconstruct and often contain very little material worth recycling. 

Ultimately, experts say, toy makers and toy retailers must take more responsibility for e-toy waste — whether that’s by setting up take-back programs for broken e-toys, redesigning toys to be more recycling friendly, or embracing new business models that replace cheap, throwaway toys with stuff that’s built to last.

There’s no doubt our appetite for electronic toys is growing: Revenue from wholesale shipments of e-toys into the United States increased nearly 200 percent between 2010 and 2022, according to data from the Consumer Technology Association. Yet as e-toys proliferate, we seem to be valuing them less. In recent years, “toys have gone from being viewed more as essential tools to childhood development to junk you get at the holidays,” said Krystal Persaud, an award-winning toy designer and the cofounder of Wildgrid, an educational marketplace that uses game-like principles to help consumers learn how to implement home electrification projects. “Which is very unfortunate.” (Persaud was selected as a Grist 50 Fixer in 2023.)

A shopper in the toy department at a Walmart Supercenter in Burbank, California, in November 2023. Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Indeed, the pressure toy makers feel to make sales — particularly during the holiday season, when they earn a large chunk of their annual revenue — motivates them to constantly churn out new toys. Persaud described it as “very analogous to fast fashion.” 

“It’s very trend driven,” she told Grist. 

One of the ways a toy maker can stay trendy is by giving their toys new capabilities with embedded electronics. According to Persaud, the cost of manufacturing electronic components like circuit boards has fallen so much in the last several decades that it’s now relatively easy to incorporate them into the simplest and cheapest of toys, which is how parents end up with plastic trucks that bark sounds and flash lights.

The problem with cheap electronic toys is that they aren’t necessarily built to last, be repaired, or even have their batteries removed and replaced. As a result, many e-toys will inevitably become junk in somebody’s basement or garage until it’s time to get rid of them. At that point, e-toys “are going to end up most likely in the municipal solid waste system rather than the recycling stream,” said Callie Babbitt, a e-waste researcher at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

That’s a problem both for safety and environmental reasons. E-toys with lithium-ion batteries can spark a fire if the battery is mishandled, crushed or punctured at a waste management facility. Once they enter landfills, electronics create additional hazards because some of their components contain toxic substances like lead, mercury, and cadmium that can leach into the surrounding soil and water, endangering the health of nearby communities and ecosystems. 

The reason dead e-toys aren’t getting to the right place, Babbitt says, has to do with e-waste regulations. In the U.S., there’s no overarching federal guidance on how to manage e-waste, which is instead regulated through a patchwork of state policies. In roughly half of U.S. states, the policy is no policy at all. Most of the other states have some sort of “extended producer responsibility” scheme that requires electronic device manufacturers to pay funds into a program administered by state or local officials or private entities. Those funds go toward collecting specific electronics on a state collection list and sending them to e-waste recyclers. Not a single state collection list includes e-toys. “They’re not traditionally part of that system,” Babbitt said.

“Smart toys” are on display at an electronics store in Ingolstadt, Germany, in 2018. Armin Weigel/picture alliance via Getty Images

In many cases, consumers can still drop off e-toys at e-waste collection sites. But Babbitt says that “most of the effort toward actually communicating about recycling” is geared toward items on the state list, meaning consumer awareness about how to recycle e-toys is relatively low. And in some states, like Minnesota, consumers might have to pay a collection facility to take their junk toys, according to Maria Jensen, who co-directs a Minnesota-based nonprofit called Recycling Electronics for Climate Action that advocates for stronger e-waste recycling policies.

Often, county governments — which run many of Minnesota’s e-waste collection sites — “are not supported well enough to afford to collect and send those to a recycler,” Jensen told Grist. “So what happens is they charge the consumer.” While about a quarter of the e-waste Minnesotans generate is collected for recycling, Jensen speculates that the amount of e-toy waste collected is much lower.

Outside of the U.S., different countries have very different e-waste policies. But when it comes to e-toys, a similar pattern emerges globally: These devices are not reaching recyclers. While between 20 and 30 percent of large electronics like TVs and printers are recycled on a global scale, the global recycling rate for e-toys is closer to 10 percent, said Kees Baldé, a senior researcher at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. Baldé co-authored the recent WEEE Forum report that identified e-toys as the largest contributor to “invisible” e-waste, a category that included 9 million tons of electronics last year. 

Invisible e-waste, which the report authors defined as types of e-waste with a very low recycling rate based on national data, also includes vapes, headphones, home smoke detectors, and other small consumer electronics. “Basically people don’t really know what to do” with e-toys and other forms of invisible e-waste, Baldé told Grist. 

Worldwide, Baldé says, these products are only sometimes covered by extended producer responsibility schemes. Because they are often made of cheap materials like plastic with only small amounts of the precious metals that e-waste recyclers make money recovering and selling, recyclers tend to lose money processing them. “The treatment of e-waste, in particular this type of e-waste, is worthless,” Balde said.

The way e-toys are designed creates additional challenges for recyclers. Whereas TVs and computers tend to follow similar design principles and include similar components, toys come in a huge variety of sizes and form factors that recyclers may not be familiar with, meaning additional time and effort must be spent figuring out how to take them apart. What’s more, many are not built to be disassembled. More than a nuisance, this can be a hazard for recyclers, who may not be aware that a toy with no screws, charge ports, or obvious external labels contains a lithium-ion battery.

A shopper looks over toy department merchandise at a Walmart Supercenter in Burbank, California, in November 2023. Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Frequently, e-toy batteries are “completely encased in plastic,” Jensen said. “So you actually have to break it open, physically, to get the battery out.” Otherwise, that battery could accidentally enter a recycler’s shredder and spark a fire.

To solve the e-toy waste crisis, experts say that regulators and the toy industry need to step up. Governments could expand their extended producer responsibility schemes to include more categories of electronics, such as e-toys. While this wouldn’t address design issues, it would provide the municipalities, nonprofits, or private businesses that collect e-waste much-needed funding to get these items to a recycler that can handle them. Toy manufacturers, or big box retailers like Walmart and Target, could serve as collection points for old e-toys, similar to how Best Buy stores collect a variety of consumer electronics and appliances for recycling. Persaud, the toy designer, suspects that retailers setting up e-toy take-back programs “would be the fastest” way to start collecting dead toys en masse.

The Toy Association, an industry group whose members account for 93 percent of toy and game sales in the U.S., didn’t respond to Grist’s request for comment.

In the longer term, design standards focused on longevity and repairability could slow the tide of waste by ensuring e-toys are built to last longer. The European Union recently adopted a new regulation that requires manufacturers of portable electronics to make their products’ batteries removable — an important first step. Baldé wants to see the bloc go much further. “We need more policy interventions to simply ban these products that don’t have a minimum guaranteed lifespan or can’t be repaired,” he said.

Finally, we all need to reframe our relationship with toys and stop treating them as disposable. While consumers can’t solve this problem alone, we can all be more mindful about the type and quantity of toys we buy. Parents, Persaud suggests, can ask friends and family for the type of toys they want their children to receive, perhaps requesting e-toys only when the electronics give the toy “a superpower that wasn’t there before.” Or they can stick to secondhand, analog, or even homemade toys made of highly recyclable materials like wood.

Persaud emphasized that kids, especially young children, don’t need their toys to have interactive buttons and light-up features in order to have fun with them. “There’s a lot of things you can do without [the toy] being electronic,” Persaud said. “Just with blocks, with paper. You can really play with anything.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Discarded toys are creating an e-waste disaster. Here’s how to stop it. on Nov 22, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

Extreme heat led to a Taylor Swift fan’s death in Brazil. Could it have been prevented?

Grist - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 01:30

Taylor Swift’s show at an open-air stadium in Rio de Janeiro this past Friday was supposed to be a raucous kickoff to the pop star’s first concert tour in Brazil. Instead, fans across the world were left reeling after a concertgoer died from extreme heat minutes into Swift’s Eras Tour performance.

23-year-old Ana Clara Benevides Machado traveled 880 miles and waited in line outside for more than eight hours, along with tens of thousands of other fans, to see her favorite artist. That day, the heat index, or “feels-like” temperature accounting for humidity, soared to an all-time high of 138 degrees Fahrenheit in Rio. Brazil was sweltering through its eighth heatwave of the year — and it’s only spring. More than 1,000 people fainted from heat exhaustion inside the venue; others were vomiting. 

Benevides lost consciousness just minutes into the set, during the song “Cruel Summer,” and later died of cardiac arrest at a nearby hospital. 

Researchers have documented how hot weather vastly increases the risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular issues. Concertgoers say Time for Fun, the Brazil-based entertainment company running the event, refused to let people bring in water despite the heat, and blocked air vents in the venue to prevent people outside from listening in. Swift postponed her second show in Rio, originally scheduled for Saturday, to Monday night, citing safety concerns due to the ongoing high temperatures. She also put out a statement on Instagram saying she was “devastated” by Benevides’ death. “This is the last thing I ever thought would happen when we decided to bring this tour to Brazil,” Swift wrote. (Time for Fun did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) 

The Swift concert disaster comes on the heels of a summer where fans experienced heat illness at a Beyoncé concert in Maryland and at an Ed Sheeran concert in Pittsburgh. These incidents serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of extreme heat, which will only grow worse as heatwaves intensify as a result of climate change. But they also demonstrate that event mismanagement and a lack of heat preparedness can be deadly. Most heat-related deaths and illnesses, including at concerts and other large events, are preventable, climate health and heat safety experts told Grist. To avoid future injuries, concert organizers should take steps to proactively plan for heat, communicate health advisories and safety measures in advance, provide water and on-site medical care, and ensure proper airflow and ventilation.

“People go to these events to have fun. You never go to one of these thinking something horrible is going to happen,” Kevin Kloesel, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Oklahoma, told Grist. “So it’s incumbent upon the event organizers to make sure that it is the safest environment possible.”

Kloesel, who oversees weather forecasting and safety for around 400 annual outdoor events at the University of Oklahoma, said that when it comes to extreme heat, event organizers need to provide three key things: shade, hydration, and air movement. For example, setting up canopies to shade the endless lines concertgoers stood in for hours in Rio would have been one easy way to cool people down. Having enough water on hand, and providing it to attendees for free, is also crucial. Organizers should also find ways to ventilate the event space, including, potentially, by reducing seat capacity. 

Fans wait in line outside the Nilton Santos Olympic stadium for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert during a heat wave in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. The show’s postponement was announced hours before the star was scheduled to appear. Silvia Izquierdo / AP Photo

Morgan Zabow, a community heat and health information coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office, specified that indoor venues should provide air conditioning and not rely solely on electric fans, which can make stifling conditions worse by blowing hot air at a faster rate.  

Event organizers should also send out health advisories via text message or email well in advance, Zabow said. Those messages could include heat forecasts and tips to stay cool, like regularly drinking water and avoiding sugary beverages, caffeine, and alcohol, which can inhibit the body’s ability to cool off. Wearing loose, light-colored clothing is another preventative measure advisories could recommend. 

But even with these precautions, heat can still take a toll, especially for people who are older or have pre-existing medical conditions, or those from cooler climates who aren’t used to hot weather. That’s why having easily accessible medical staff on site is so important, Kloesel said. At football games, Kloesel and University of Oklahoma staff arrange cooling tents with medical personnel around the field in case attendees fall ill.

There are also ways to avoid the heat altogether. In Arizona, it’s become increasingly common to delay sports practices and other events until later in the evening when it cools off, said Ladd Keith, a heat policy expert and professor of urban planning at the University of Arizona. Kloesel noted that if concerts created more reserved seating, people wouldn’t have to line up outside for hours to secure a spot. Canceling or postponing events, as Swift did for her second concert in Rio, is another option. Organizers can also consider shifting summer events to a cooler season like fall or winter. All these steps, experts stress, require careful and intentional planning far in advance. 

Individuals can take steps to stay safe, too. Keith noted that heat can affect anyone, including young people and those in good health — as the Taylor Swift concert demonstrated. Zabow suggested using a buddy system in which friends monitor one another for symptoms of heat exhaustion, including heavy sweating, dizziness, and nausea, and leave early to get help if needed. “I know it’s hard to leave a stadium early and miss things, but your life is so much more important,” she said.

At Swift’s concert on Friday, however, attendees said Time for Fun had blocked exits, making it difficult to leave. The company announced new measures to provide water and emergency responders Saturday morning. Meanwhile, Brazil’s consumer protection agency has announced that the federal government plans to investigate Time for Fun

“It is heartbreaking that preventable things happened,” Kloesel said. “You have to know your venue, you have to know your fans, and you have to have a way of taking care of them and mitigating that risk as much as you possibly can, rather than just leaving it to chance.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Extreme heat led to a Taylor Swift fan’s death in Brazil. Could it have been prevented? on Nov 22, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

First direct cash assistance program exclusively for Indigenous parents launched

High Country News - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 01:00
The Nest, a Washington nonprofit program, seeks to serve Native people during and after pregnancy.
Categories: H. Green News

Testimonio de México

EarthBlog - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 06:42

Notas del Trabajo de Campo: México, 9-14 October 2023

Durante la semana del 9-14 de octubre del 2023, Earthworks se reunió con miembros de la Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking (AMCF) para examinar los impactos de años de fracking intenso en Puebla y Veracruz.

Como Analista Internacional de OGI (imágenes de gas ópticas) de Earthworks, yo viaje a Ciudad de México con la cámara FLIR GF320 a mano para inspeccionar las regiones que más son fracturadas en México. Esas regiones incluyen el corredor cerca de la frontera norte en el estado de Tamaulipas y otros estados que no pudimos inspeccionar por problemas de seguridad. En Puebla y Veracruz, nos juntamos con AMCF y dos miembros de Televisa. Las cámaras de gas óptica que usamos tienen tecnología avanzada para visualizar la polución del aire (metano y otros gases) causada por la industria de petróleo y gas.

El contexto del Fracking en Mexico

El fracking es una técnica de perforación que usa millones de litros de agua, químicos peligrosos, y arena para extraer el petróleo y gas que está atrapado en piedras de esquisto que se encuentran en el subsuelo profundo. 

El fracking es practicado por PEMEX ya por al menos 17 años. Aunque el presidente Andres Manuel López-Obrador había prometido durante la campaña presidencial que el prohibiría el fracking durante su mandato, el fracking no ha sido prohibido ni suspendido en México. “No usaremos métodos de extraer petróleo que afecten la naturaleza y agoten los manantiales de agua”, dijo Lopez-Obrador en marzo de 2018.

Este impase acerca del fracking en México se puede comparar por un lado con situaciones en otros países, como Colombia. En ese país, el proyecto de ley sobre la prohibición del fracking y todos los yacimientos no convencionales es apoyado por el Presidente Gustavo Petro y por la Alianza Colombia Libre de Fracking. Está aguardando el tercer debate en el Congreso, y llevando a muchas conversaciones acerca de la necesidad de solidificar planes para una transición energética realmente justa. Por otro lado, en Argentina hay muy fuerte apoyo de los gobiernos en Neuquen y a nivel federal en Buenos Aires para la expansion del fracking en la Formación de Esquisto de Vaca Muerta en las provincias de Neuquėn y Rio Negro, con consecuencias horribles para comunidades indigenas y no indigenas en resistencia.

Hoy, la Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking espera que el presidente López-Obrador mantenga su palabra de prohibir la práctica de una vez.

Foto con dron de Aldo Santiago

Hay indicaciones recientes que el apoyo al fracking durante su administración se ha incrementado. La Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos anunció que México produce 190.000 barriles/día de petróleo de fracking, lo que equivale a más o menos 10% del promedio diario de producción en México desde 2019. PEMEX ha incrementado bastante el presupuesto para el fracking en 2022 (200% más que en 2021), pero en 2023 eso fue reducido a la mitad, y con altos y bajos en términos del presupuesto usado. Hubo un anuncio del Director de la Agencia de Seguridad, Energía y Ambiente (ASEA) Angel Carrizalez Lopez que las normas ambientales y de seguridad de ASEA podrían disminuir el impacto del fracking en el agua potable.

Este posible alejamiento de una prohibición tiene consecuencias peligrosas especialmente para las comunidades locales, pues ellas son las que sienten el mayor impacto a la salud y del cambio climático que causan los gases emitidos. 

Nuestras conclusiones

Casi todos los pozos de fracking que visitamos estaban en situación visiblemente preocupantes con relación a contaminación del aire. Cuando las operaciones de petróleo y gas están contaminando, lo que realmente ocurre es la liberación al aire del gas metano, pero también de compuestos orgánicos volátiles como el benceno y etil-benceno (ambos cancerígenos), y el tolueno, xileno, propano (todos estos son altamente tóxicos y causan problemas respiratorios, neurológicos y al desarrollo de bebés). De acuerdo a un reciente estudio longitudinal de salud de CartoCritica, usando cientos de casos entre 2017-2023, fue constatado que hay una relación estrecha entre la proximidad residencial a pozos de gas de mujeres embarazadas en la municipalidad de Burgos y diez tipos de impactos congenitales y genéticos al desarrollo saludable de sus bebés recién nacidos. 

Lista de videos de la contaminación por petróleo y gas documentada en México por Earthworks

Al mismo tiempo, la contaminación del gas y petróleo tiene grandes consecuencias para el clima. El gas metano es más de 80 veces más poderoso que el dióxido de carbono en el calentamiento en la atmósfera. At the same time, oil & gas pollution has major consequences for climate. El metano está inextricablemente relacionado con el calentamiento global, especialmente en niveles reportados en estos doce eventos captados por imagenes satellites entre 2019 y 2022 en Veracruz y Puebla. También está reportado que el gobierno Mexicano sub-informa al público sobre la liberación del metano al aire, y que en realidad eso puede ser hasta diez veces más que las estimaciones oficiales. Más allá de estos daños, se sabe que el fracking contamina el agua y causa terremotos, con un informe reportando 304 terremotos directamente relacionados al fracking en el estado de Nuevo León en un periodo de 10 años.

Una de las organizaciones que es parte de la Alianza es Corason, o la Coordinadora Regional de Acciones de Solidaridad en Defensa del territorio Huasteca-Totonacapan, fundada en 2015. La organización de base apoya y da visibilidad a las preocupaciones de la comunidad, como las del Ejido El Tablón, Puebla, donde muchas personas empezaron a desarrollar problemas de salud en 2019, como náusea, dolores de cabeza, vómitos debido a los vapores emitidos por el pozo Pankiwi, de PEMEX. Cuatro años más tarde, estos impactos todavía se sienten, pero tal vez de una manera más dispersa. El pozo parece no estar en operación, pero así mismo documentamos emisiones fugitivas de uno de los pozos de fracking. Estas fugas y muchas otras que descubrimos tienen impactos preocupantes en la salud de comunidades y por la proximidad a plantaciones de naranja y otros cultivos que producen los miembros del Ejido El Tablón en la cercanía del pozo Pankiwi.

Fotos arriba cortesía de Regina López/Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking. 

Uno de los hallazgos más intensos fue la tremenda cantidad de derrames y contaminación al aire libre del petróleo, que fue algo que no he visto en otros países que hemos hecho las investigaciones de OGI. Es como si en los sitios de PEMEX en esta región fuera la norma dejar azeite goteando de containers de combustión, o en el contorno de pozos productivos o abandonados, o ver azeite intensamente negro saliendo de los baldes de los pozos de agua donde la gente antes tenia agua potable. Abajo comparto algunas de las fotos de derrames y contaminación que encontramos.

Mucha de la población rural con quien hablamos dicen tener muy poco o nada de acceso a agua, y en algunos lugares se depende del agua comprada en botellas plásticas como la única opción para tomar agua, y también agua comprada en auto-tanques para regar sus plantaciones.

La mayor conclusión de este trabajo de campo en México es esta: Juntando los recientes hallazgos con el hecho que México ya ha tenido las regulaciones para controlar las emisiones de metano desde 2018, creemos que es extremadamente difícil que las nuevas propuestas del gobierno que proponen la no contaminación del agua, las emisiones más reguladas, o las multas a empresas por violaciones vayan a funcionar, mismo si fueran implementadas. Está claro que el gobierno Mexicano ha fracasado en la implementación y verificación de las regulaciones. ¿Qué funcionaria? La prohibición del fracking que el Presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador ha prometido.

The post Testimonio de México appeared first on Earthworks.

Categories: H. Green News

Badvertising - polluting minds

Ecologist - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 06:21
Badvertising - polluting minds Channel Comment Andrew Simms 21st November 2023 Teaser Media
Categories: H. Green News

The world is careening toward 3 degrees of warming, UN says ahead of climate conference

Grist - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 01:45

The landmark Paris climate agreement called for nations to keep global temperature increase to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspiration of limiting it to 1.5 degrees C above the preindustrial average. The benchmarks are supposed to stave off some of the worst effects of climate change. But even if countries fulfill their decarbonization pledges in the coming decades, their emissions trajectories put those targets well out of reach, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme. 

If countries fully implemented their plans to cut carbon emissions as currently promised under the Paris Agreement framework, the planet will still warm 2.9 degrees Celsius, or 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming a world in which countries also meet their current goals to zero out net carbon emissions in the coming decades, temperatures will still increase about 2.5 degrees C, or 4.5 degrees F, according to the analysis. 

“Even in the most optimistic scenario considered in this report, the chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is only 14 percent, and the various scenarios leave open a large possibility that global warming exceeds 2 degrees Celsius or even 3 degrees Celsius,” the report noted. 

The analysis found that global emissions need to drop by more than a quarter to keep warming to 2 degrees C in the next seven years. To meet the more ambitious 1.5-degree target, emissions will need to fall by more than 40 percent by 2030. Those cuts should largely come from developed countries and high-income households, which are responsible for the bulk of emissions, the report noted. About 10 percent of individuals contribute to nearly half of all emissions globally.

The emissions gap report is an annual assessment conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme and published in the lead-up to the United Nations climate conference, or COP, which is scheduled to begin at the end of this month in Dubai. It is the most robust analysis of where greenhouse gas emissions are headed under current policies — and where they need to be headed to limit warming. Researchers assess the pledges made by countries under the Paris Agreement and estimate the emissions reductions that are likely if they are fulfilled.

The report’s findings are particularly significant this year because countries are set to conduct the first-ever “global stocktake” since the Paris Agreement was ratified in 2016. When countries signed on to the international treaty, they agreed to a number of goals, including reducing carbon emissions to limit warming and providing financial assistance to developing countries. The stocktake is an inventory of how much progress countries have made toward these goals.

The emissions assessment emphasizes that the world is off track in its quest to accomplish the aims of that agreement. It supports a number of recent analyses suggesting that the 1.5-degree goal is increasingly out of reach. 

“It does underscore the need for a robust response to the global stocktake,” said Taryn Fransen, a climate policy expert at the nonprofit World Resources Institute and a lead author of the report. “The question is, politically, what do countries do about this at COP28?”

Fransen said she hoped the findings in the report would drive countries to agree to more ambitious emissions reductions at the climate conference later this month. A strong outcome might include language agreeing to transition away from the use of fossil fuels, dramatically increase the use of renewable energy, double energy efficiency, and boost finance to developing nations experiencing the worst effects of climate change, she added.

The report does highlight a few bright spots in the climate landscape. For one, pledges by countries have become more ambitious since the Paris Agreement was signed. Current pledges include 10 percent more reductions in emissions compared to the initial pledges submitted. Countries are also increasingly implementing the policies that they promised to. In recent years, the United States has passed legislation that is expected to cut its emissions by at least a third, and the European Union has passed a slew of measures that could help it meet its 2030 goal ahead of schedule.

“Countries are getting closer to actually achieving the goals they set out,” said Fransen. “That’s the good news. The bad news is those goals are not sufficient. They’re just not ambitious enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Given the low likelihood that warming will be contained to 1.5 degrees, the report emphasized the need for techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Methods such as afforestation and storing carbon dioxide in geological formations, soil, and marine and coastal ecosystems are increasingly becoming crucial, the report argues.

“The expanded use of carbon dioxide removal is unavoidable if the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal is to remain within reach,” the report said.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline The world is careening toward 3 degrees of warming, UN says ahead of climate conference on Nov 21, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

Still concerned about the Dakota Access pipeline? The feds are asking for comment, 7 years later.

Grist - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 01:15

Seven years after thousands of people converged in North Dakota to block the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, the public now has an opportunity to weigh in on the environmental risks associated with the section of the pipeline crossing half a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. 

The 2016-2017 protests brought prolonged, international attention to the Standing Rock reservation, and the Nation’s fight to protect its sacred sites and drinking water. Yet despite months of protests, the project eventually went through with the support of then-President Donald Trump. By June 2017, oil was flowing, and today, up to 750,000 barrels of petroleum pass through the pipeline, which stretches from western North Dakota to southern Illinois. 

But the story continued. In 2020, a federal court ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers had not done a thorough enough analysis of the project’s impacts, noting that the pipeline’s “effects on the quality of the human environment are likely to be highly controversial.” The court ordered the Army Corps to produce a full environmental impact statement on the section of the pipeline that crosses underneath Lake Oahe and stop the flow of oil. A higher court later determined that the pipeline could continue operating, but agreed that a more extensive environmental analysis needed to be completed. 

That analysis is happening now, and Steven Wolf, chief of the public affairs office in the Omaha branch of the Army Corps, said the current public comment period is an opportunity for the public to weigh in on whether the draft environmental impact statement is adequate — essentially serving as a quality control check on the agency’s revised analysis.

“This is a way for the public to say, ‘Yes, you studied this thoroughly, or no, we think you need to look at some more information,’” he said. “Public input will actually help us to do better analysis and also to ultimately reach a better decision.”

The Army Corps’ new draft environmental impact statement says there haven’t been any leaks from the pipeline since it began operating, although there have been some spills at aboveground facilities where the oil has been recovered. The draft analysis describes the possibility of an oil spill underneath Lake Oahe as “remote to very unlikely,” and concluded that oil would be more likely to spill if it were transported via car or train.

While the draft environmental impact statement acknowledges that the water in the Missouri River corridor is considered sacred to Indigenous peoples, Janet Alkire, chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is worried about the possibility of a petroleum spill that could contaminate her community’s water source. “Am I going to be the tribal chair that has to deal with a disaster? A pipeline that breaks? Am I going to be in that position?” she asked Army Corps officials at a meeting earlier this month. 

The company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Wolf says it’s important to remember that the public comment period deals strictly with the half-mile stretch of the pipeline under Lake Oahe. He added that the Army Corps only regulates land used by the company and has no authority to regulate the pipeline itself. “We don’t build pipelines,” said Wolf. “We don’t operate pipelines. We don’t regulate pipelines.” Wolf added that regulatory responsibility sits with the U.S. Department of Transportation.      

Still, that authority is consequential. If Army Corps denies the easement, that could force Energy Transfer Partners to reroute the pipeline further away from the Standing Rock reservation.

One option is to move the pipeline 50 miles north of where it is currently, crossing nearly 9 miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota. Energy Transfer Partners analyzed a similar route prior to building the pipeline. In its 2016 environmental assessment, the Army Corps supported avoiding that route, noting its proximity to municipal water supplies. Jade Begay, director of policy and advocacy at NDN Collective, said that the Army Corps’ decision to approve the pipeline’s placement near the reservation rather than the majority-white city of Bismarck was problematic. 

“That crossing was really why so many people showed up, because this was a symbol of blatant environmental injustice and environmental racism,” she said. 

Steven Wolf says so far the Army Corps has already received tens of thousands of comments. However, many of them are form letters, which the Corps considers a single comment even if it is sent in by thousands of people. Wolf said the agency will respond to every unique issue raised. He estimated a final environmental impact statement on the section in question will take at least a year to complete. 

Begay said the public comment period open now is an important opportunity for people to hold the federal government accountable.

“These laws that protect our landscapes, our water, our biodiversity, are really the things keeping us from seeing total destruction and disregard for our clean water and for environmental justice,” she said. “We have to keep the pressure on.” 

The Army Corps is accepting comments until December 13.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Still concerned about the Dakota Access pipeline? The feds are asking for comment, 7 years later. on Nov 21, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

Recover the redwoods landscape

High Country News - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 01:00
Not only do the great trees offer resilience to climate change and shelter abundant biodiversity, but they are magic.
Categories: H. Green News

Severe Heat Killed More Than 70,000 in Europe Last Year, Scientists Estimate

Yale Environment 360 - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 22:57

Severe heat killed upwards of 70,000 people in Europe in the summer of 2022, according to a new study.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Small victories and major frustrations mark latest round of plastics treaty negotiations

Grist - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 15:24

In March 2022, the world pledged to negotiate a treaty addressing the “full life cycle” of plastics. Twenty months later, countries still can’t agree on what that means.

A third round of talks over the global plastics treaty ended in frustration this weekend, as so-called “low-ambition” countries hindered progress by litigating the definition of basic terms like “plastics” and “life cycle.” Observers noted some signs of progress — like growing support for measures to address harmful chemicals that are commonly added to plastics. However, negotiators now have no formal work plan for the five months leading up to the next round of discussions and are significantly behind schedule, according to several advocacy groups that Grist spoke with.

“These negotiations have so far failed to deliver on their promise … to advance a strong, binding plastics treaty that the world desperately needs,” said Ana Rocha, global plastics policy director for the nonprofit Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, or GAIA, in a statement. Another nonprofit, the Center for International Environmental Law, said in a press release that without a “rapid course correction,” the treaty would “succumb to inertia and eventual disaster.”

Last week’s talks were part of a process that’s been ongoing since March 2022, when countries agreed to craft a treaty to “end plastic pollution” by addressing its entire life cycle. The first two rounds of discussions — conducted by an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, or INC, composed of representatives from each country — were dominated by broad and often procedural conversations, with lots of stalling from oil-producing countries. 

This latest session, held at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, was the first time delegates had a so-called “zero draft” to spar over: basically, a laundry list of potential definitions, objectives, and other considerations for the final agreement, which countries agreed to have ready by the end of next year. Hopes were high that delegates would read through the draft together, make some recommendations, and give the secretariat a mandate to prepare an official first draft by the beginning of the fourth — and penultimate — negotiating committee session in April.

That’s not what happened.

From the outset, a small group of oil-exporting countries including Russia and Saudi Arabia argued that the zero draft did not reflect all countries’ perspectives and therefore could not serve as the basis for negotiations. To assuage these concerns, the secretariat allowed countries to submit some 500 additional proposals, causing the draft to more than triple in length from its original 31 pages. This process was meant to build trust among negotiators — now, there would be no absolutely no way for countries to say their voice hadn’t been heard. 

Delegates meet in plenary on the final day of the third INC session in Nairobi, Kenya. Tony Karumba / AFP via Getty Images

Bjorn Beeler, general manager and international coordinator for the nonprofit International Pollutants Elimination Network, or IPEN, said this was a positive outcome: “More countries own more of the text,” he said, and discussions around different submissions helped further negotiators’ understanding of complex issues. Representatives from the International Alliance of Waste Pickers — a group representing the more than 20 million informal workers who collect and sell recyclable trash, mostly in the developing world — were also able to use this process to suggest more language about a “just transition” for these workers.  

Some observers, however, said many of the new submissions to the zero draft were unproductive. 

“‘Repetitive’ is a light way to say it,” Rocha told Grist. “Ninety percent of them were watering down the content” of the text. 

Rocha said the flood of submissions forestalled more important discussions on the treaty’s substance. Rather than moving onto a new draft, the secretariat is now planning to present an updated version of the zero draft ahead of the INC’s fourth meeting.

Adding to the disorder, member states on Sunday ran out of time to reach an agreement on “intersessional work” — the important discussions that happen between negotiating sessions. Because there are only two week-long INC meetings remaining before a final draft is due at the end of next year, this intersessional work is considered critical for progress on issues like what to do about hazardous chemicals and microplastics, and how to finance the treaty.

Jacob Kean-Hammerson, an ocean campaigner for the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency, said discussions among negotiators will still happen, but they will now be on a strictly informal, voluntary basis. “It’s not a good outcome,” he said, but it wasn’t an accident: “What we saw is just a few countries holding the process to ransom, and not wanting anything out of this treaty.”

Perhaps the biggest sticking point was over the scope of the agreement — whether it should limit plastic production or focus mostly on cleaning up the oceans and preventing litter. Even though countries already agreed at the beginning of the treaty process to address plastics’ “full life cycle” — a term that traditionally refers to everything from production to disposal — oil-producing countries have repeatedly argued for a narrower interpretation of that mandate. This time, members of a loosely defined “group of like-minded countries” — which includes Bahrain, China, Cuba, Iran, and Saudi Arabia — said the plastics life cycle should only begin when a product is disposed of.

Activists call for plastic reduction outside the third INC session in Nairobi, Kenya. Luis Tato / AFP via Getty Images

“It makes no logical sense,” Beeler said. To him, it looks like a desperate scramble from oil-producing countries to undo the mandate they already agreed to in March 2022, in response to proposals that are more ambitious than they may have expected. “I don’t think Saudi Arabia or Russia would have ever imagined 18 months ago that we’d actually be looking at controls on polymers.”

Some environmental advocates have also resisted the phrase “life cycle,” but for different reasons: They say it implies a circular life cycle for plastics, in which products can be turned back into new items in an infinite loop. In reality, only 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled globally, and most products can only be recycled a few times before they have to be discarded.

Still, “life cycle” is in the original treaty resolution — and experts told Grist it would be very difficult to remove it.

A majority of countries have expressed support for some sort of mechanism to address plastic production. But the structure of the INC meetings has given outsize power to countries who refuse to negotiate in good faith. At present, all decision-making has to happen by consensus rather than a majority vote, making obstructionism relatively straightforward. Some observers described oil-producing countries’ delegates as “intransigent.”

With just two more meetings and a little over a year left before a final draft of the treaty is due, some observers wondered whether more time will be needed. It’s unclear what kind of progress the so-called “high-ambition coalition” of countries will be able to make at future INC meetings without more cooperation from the oil-producing nations — especially on the critical issue of plastic production, which is expected to nearly triple by 2060, outpacing the capacity for waste collection services and recycling to keep up.

“Major plastic producers just don’t see a connection between plastic production and plastic pollution,” Beeler told Grist.

Beeler resisted some of the most pessimistic assessments of the INC meeting. Progress is going slower than many activists had hoped for, he said, but the plastics conversation in general has ramped up very fast and most countries still need time to develop their national positions.

To get resistant countries to engage at the next INC, he suggested that it might be helpful to steer the conversation toward reduced growth of the plastics sector. “It’s very hard to say you have to cap production,” Beeler said, especially to countries like Russia that are geopolitically isolated and dependent on fossil fuels. “We have to have a serious discussion about how we deescalate the rapid growth of plastic production.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Small victories and major frustrations mark latest round of plastics treaty negotiations on Nov 20, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

The UAW ratifies a contract — and labor’s road ahead in the EV transition

Grist - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 14:57

Members of the United Auto Workers have overwhelmingly approved a contract that will deliver higher wages, assure them of a role in the EV transition, and possibly lead toward greater unionization of the auto sector. With all of the benefits the pact provides, tens of thousands of people will immediately see their pay rise more than 40 percent, the union said.

The union’s ratification of the pact, by a margin of 64 percent, with Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis followed a two-month strike. Though the electric vehicle transition was never an explicit part of bargaining, it ran as a simultaneously tense and hopeful undercurrent through the walkouts, pickets, and negotiations. This contract, analysts say, will allow the union’s 150,000 members to maintain their quality of life as the nation decarbonizes the transportation sector.

“Those are all huge wins,”  said Albert Wheaton, director of the Cornell Institute for Labor Studies. “The biggest wins by far have been for the lower paid workers.”

Under the contract, the base wage paid to workers will increase 25 percent, while the top wage will climb 33 percent. It also provides cost-of-living adjustments and eliminates the two-tiered wage system that saw new hires permanently earn lower wages than veterans. Temporary workers will see their pay jump 150 percent, and the pact cuts from eight to three the number of years required to reach the top pay level.

The agreement with Stellantis also provides for the reopening of a plant that the automaker had planned to close in Belvidere, Illinois, and will add 1,000 jobs at an EV battery plant in the same town. 

Workers at Ford and Stellantis overwhelmingly supported the contract; the margin was tighter at GM at just 55 percent, according to Reuters and the Washington Post. The union had already secured an agreement with GM to include new EV and battery factories in the contract; similar victories were seen with Stellantis, Labor Notes reported, though the union’s win was less pronounced at Ford, where two current EV plants are included in the deal, but all future ventures will have to be organized by UAW separately.  

Union president Shawn Fein promised on Monday to bring the fight to other automakers.

“The Stand Up Strike was just the beginning,” he said in a statement. “The UAW is back to setting the standard. Now, we take our strike muscle and our fighting spirit to the rest of the industries we represent, and to millions of nonunion workers ready to stand up and fight for a better way of life.” 

The strike has already improved conditions at other automakers. Even as the UAW announced its win, Toyota factories in Kentucky and Alabama — a major player in the EV space — had already raised their base wage to $28 per hour. A nascent, not-yet-public union drive has started at Tesla, a notorious union-buster. Hyundai, which operates electric vehicle battery plants in the South, has said it will raise factory pay beginning next year

Almost as soon as the contracts were announced on October 31, automakers expressed concern about their impact on EV production and sales. The workers’ gains, analysts warned, could hobble the nascent transition by increasing costs or impacting the speed with which manufacturers could produce the cars. Ford, for example, has estimated the new contract will add $850 to $900 in labor costs per vehicle, according to Reuters. In the weeks since the UAW and Detroit automakers announced the contracts, there have been increasing signs that the relatively high cost of EVs, coupled with softening demand, could slow the transition.

“The auto industry has always been cyclical,” Wheaton said. With new technologies and safety laws, the industry ebbs and flows.  

Wheaton said the contracts may provide workers with greater security, particularly the provision that allows them to strike over plant closures, while also allowing union shops to transition from internal combustion vehicles to electrics in a controlled way. 

“It helps stabilize those existing plants by saying, ‘No, we make parts for both gas and electric cars,’” Wheaton said, rather than opening separate factories in an economy that may not fully support them yet. With the elimination of wage tiers, workers at idled plants will also be able to move more easily to other locations without a huge decrease in pay, he said.

Mijin Cha, an assistant professor of social sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, sees the strike as the vanguard of labor fights that will characterize the transition away from fossil fuels. She says characterizing the UAW’s win, and any that may follow, in a “jobs versus environment” framework would be a mistake. Policies like the Inflation Reduction Act, while groundbreaking, often benefit private sector companies, not workers, and it isn’t labor, but fossil fuel producers and other entrenched industries, that hampers efforts to decarbonize.

“The greed of the fossil fuel industry is what’s stopping the energy transition,” she said, “not the fact that people want to make a decent wage.” 

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline The UAW ratifies a contract — and labor’s road ahead in the EV transition on Nov 20, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

Ksenia Svetlova: The Left in Israel After 7 October

Green European Journal - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 07:04

The public discourse in Israel is poisoned by the very same people who failed to prevent Hamas’s attack in early October. Now Netanyahu’s government wants to divert attention from its failures by pushing a vindictive agenda. Political analyst and former member of the Knesset Ksenia Svetlova explains what it means to be a leftist in Israel after 7 October, and what should be done to bring back the hostages and help civilians in Gaza.

Green European Journal: How would you describe the political climate in Israel these days? 

Ksenia Svetlova: Following the terrorist attack of 7 October, we experienced a sense of unity; we saw a lot of solidarity in society, because the trauma was new and overwhelming. For a few weeks, “politics” as such was on hold, and civil society became very active in helping those who were affected by this horrific massacre. But by now, it seems like we have returned to the old political climate, with extreme polarisation in society. This is mainly due to the acts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party. The toxic atmosphere of division created by him and his ministers is coming back. While the soldiers are on the battlefield, he decided to put the blame for what happened on the intelligence community and the military, absolving himself from any responsibility. He and many other people who failed to provide the right prognosis and prepare society for the imminent threat, started issuing very blunt statements. The Minister of Agriculture Ari Dichter [a Likud member] spoke about the possibility of “Gaza’s Nakba” – with all the connotations that this term has. The Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, of the extreme right-wing party Otzma Yehudit, talked about re-establishing Jewish settlements in Gaza. In Israel, we look at these kinds of statements as part of the “poison machine”; and it seems like it is back again. 

What were the failures of the government that led to the 7 October massacre? 

When Netanyahu was re-elected in 2009 (after being prime minister in the 1990s), he promised to bring the Hamas regime in Gaza to a collapse, as it was already clear back then that Israel cannot coexist with a terrorist organisation at its border. But then, he did nothing. During the many years he spent in power his acts have made sure that the Hamas regime survives. This included allowing cash transfers from Qatar to Hamas, and launching some limited military operations, the longest of which was in 2014. Back then, many people asked why Israel failed to act, despite all we knew about Hamas – the rockets, weapons, 400 kilometres of underground tunnels, and so on.  

While staying idle with Hamas, Netanyahu worked very hard to weaken the more moderate Palestinian structure.

At the same time, while staying idle with Hamas, Netanyahu worked very hard to weaken the more moderate Palestinian structure: the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Fatah party in the West Bank. Of course, the PA can be criticised for the spread of hatred in Palestinian schools, but at the end of the day, everybody knows that it is a partner of Israel in combating terror. And Palestinian security structures work with Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank. Despite this, the government decided to freeze funds for the West Bank and refused to take even minimal steps of goodwill. 

Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005 with the promise that he would not use political violence or terror as a means to achieve political success. He put the emphasis on diplomacy. But this diplomacy failed miserably because Netanyahu believed in dividing and ruling Palestinians, and containing Hamas with long breaks between short violent cycles – but he completely miscalculated. I was one of those who were criticising him all along – for example when I was a member of the Knesset [with the Zionist Union, a centre-left coalition of the Labor, Hatnua, and Green Movement parties] between 2015 and 2019 – for doing nothing against Hamas, while killing the alternative that existed for the Palestinians. 

Did Netanyahu himself politically profit from the rule of Hamas – conveying that Palestinians cannot be talked to and only a strong leader like him can contain them? 

I would not say that he built his political persona around Hamas, but he definitely benefited from the tough leader image. Not even necessarily in the context of Hamas, which he failed to see as a serious danger, but in relation to Iran, which was one of his main topics. 

In the past years, Netanyahu managed to improve Israel’s relations with some Arab states, such as Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates. Why did that not help in the Palestinian case? 

Many people on the Israeli left, but also centrists, agreed that it is wise to establish peaceful relations with Arab countries around us, as we did with Egypt, Jordan, and so many other countries after the 1993 Oslo Accords. But we also said that it is a mistake to think that signing agreements with Emiratis, Bahrainis, Moroccans, and Saudis, will make the Palestinian issue go away. This is a logical fallacy because we did not have an open conflict with these countries, and the agreements will mainly serve to improve our commercial relations. The Emiratis, for example, had their own issues of trust with the Palestinian leadership, so they did not make the Abraham Accords conditional on the continuation of negotiations with Palestinians. 

Of course, it does not mean that we could not have used this new partnership with the Arab world to promote some degree of understanding with the Palestinians; but the initiative for that should have come from Israel – given that we are talking about an issue that affects Israel more than the other countries. Morocco, for example, could have helped, given its excellent relations with the Palestinians. And actually, during the short-lived government of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett in 2021-2022, there was some cooperation with Morocco on the issue, and the government issued commercial permits for Gazan merchants to sell their goods in Israel. But all in all, no one thought of using that opportunity to look for a longer-term solution. No one took the Saudis seriously, who kept saying that they wanted normalisation with Israel to go hand in hand with finding a solution for the Palestinians. 

How do you see the role of the United States and Europe in working towards a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 

During his presidency, Donald Trump sided with the Israeli right-wing, and tried to promote a solution that was not realistic, but at least he put some deal on the table. When Joe Biden became president, we had high hopes, but nothing happened. This was widely regarded as a continuation of the status quo and of the micromanagement of the conflict. The issue of Israel and Palestine was just not on the agenda – in part because there was the war in Ukraine, the tensions with China and many other things that the US presidency had to deal with.

As for Europe, I remember very well a visit I participated in as a journalist 10 years ago – we went to Brussels and met with many officials there. Behind closed doors, some of them said that they no longer knew whether it made sense for them to support the PA, because it seemed like that support was not going to lead to the creation of a Palestinian state. There was an extreme right-wing climate in Israeli politics, a lack of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and Europe just decided to focus on other issues instead. It is not like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the only issue in the Middle East – there was the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, wars, and a refugee crisis, just to name a few. Europe might have just thought that it was better to let the Palestinians and Israelis work it out themselves – but in fact, if there is mediator, or even some pressure from the outside, that might help the process. 

There have been talks lately that the Israeli Left feels misunderstood or betrayed by its western allies. What exactly is the reason for that? 

The Israeli Left has been very critical of Israel’s governments and their policies towards the Palestinians. There were many people who spoke out for peaceful coexistence. In fact, the people who were slaughtered by Hamas on 7 October came from the most left-wing communities in the whole country. Many of them volunteered with Palestinians, drove patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals, supported the idea that Gazans should have a right to work in Israel again. And then, this horrific act of violence happened. We still do not know all the details, but we heard enough from people who survived and were eyewitnesses. We are appalled when we hear people, including leftitsts, who justify this unbelievable, extreme savagery of violence, that is in tune with the violence of ISIS. 

The Israeli Left has been very critical of Israel’s governments and their policies towards the Palestinians.

When we hear people on the Left, many of whom we used to have connections with, argue that oppressed people have the right to do anything and that it should be considered “self-defence”, we feel hit from both sides. There is no international document that would say that killing soldiers who are sleeping at home in their beds or murdering small kids is an act of self-defence. It is also not a struggle for independence.  

I do not know how to react to people who rip off posters of kidnapped babies, women, or old people. To me, such a gesture seems like pure evil, and it is perceived here – rightly, I believe – as an act of antisemitism. This is why supporters of the Left or the centre-left feel so lonely these days in Israel. 

How would you define the Israeli Left, given that even the larger opposition parties in the Knesset are closer to the centre-right? 

Netanyahu would say that everyone who does not agree with him is a leftist, including some who actually come from the deep right. Of course, I would never use this kind of reasoning. Politically, there are two left-wing parties: Labor, which is in the Knesset, and Meretz, which was not elected this time – maybe next time it will be the other way around. Still, there are sizeable parts of the population in Israel that hold left-wing views but might vote for different parties – for example, some of those who used to be Labor voters now favour Benny Gantz [of the National Unity alliance]. Gantz tries to position himself on the centre-right, but many of his voters might have a rather left-wing view of the world.  

It is difficult to answer the question of what the Israeli left is. If you asked Israelis if they considered themselves left-wing, you would only get a small minority. However, if you asked how they feel about a peaceful solution to the Palestinian conflict, how they feel about a two-state solution, then you would find that more people share a rather left-wing perspective on things.  

In Israel, the political identification of people is very different from that in the EU, because the main criterion is their attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can be a venture capitalist or a neo-liberal in your economic views, but still think that the two-state-solution is the best option for Israel.  

In an article in The New Yorker, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen wrote that many pro-peace activists in Israel feel threatened and are considered traitors by the rather right-wing parts of society. Do you see such an atmosphere of intimidation within Israeli society? 

The Right in Israel – not only the extreme Right, but also the Likud, which is on paper more moderate – tried to castigate anyone with a different view on the relations between the Israelis and Palestinians – even those who are coming from the Zionist centre-left and centre. They are labelled as traitors, and there is a campaign going on against them at least since 2014. Unfortunately, it managed to convince most of the Israeli public of that. We can see a lot of outrage at any expression of sympathy for the Palestinian side – this is aggravated by the pain and anger of the last month. Nevertheless, we hear a lot of voices advocating different political solutions, highlighting, for example, that the priority of the state should be to take care of the hostages. 

In your opinion, what kind of action is needed now? 

First of all, the Hamas regime should have been eliminated already in 2014, when it was clear that the group used all of its infrastructure to increase its military power. We know that their declared goal is the eradication of Israel. If we had acted then, perhaps we would have had fewer casualties. I am saying it with great sorrow because I have personal friends in the Gaza Strip. I worked as a journalist in Gaza for many years, and I am still in touch with friends there who are not at all supporters of Hamas, and I look at them as hostages. 

Right now, I see no other option than military confrontation, unfortunately. Without that, we would encourage not just Hamas, but also Hezbollah in the north, which has been training for years for these kinds of terrorist actions. Hamas built its underground kingdom not without a reason, and it is not going to leave just like that. 

Vengeance is not something that states should do – especially not democratic states.

Still, it matters how this confrontation takes place. The current government is vindictive, and politicians are saying things that are not acceptable. Vengeance is not something that states should do – especially not democratic states. Those who murdered should be brought to justice, as they brought it on themselves; but all the others deserve help in the midst of this humanitarian crisis. It should not matter what they think of Israel, whether they feel sympathy for us or not. We should allow unconditional humanitarian aid into Gaza; and we should even use IDF jets to deliver medicines, baby powder, and other things that are badly needed. There will be many refugees as the campaign continues, and I think Israel has an obligation to let aid in and help. At the same time, it is not Israel’s responsibility that Hamas knowingly hides its rocket launchers and stocks in hospitals and children’s parks. This is exactly the reason why Israel asked civilians to evacuate. 

Finally, we have the question of the hostages, which should be the priority of decision-makers. If the majority of the hostages will not return safely, the trust of Israelis in their government, and in the state in general, will be shattered. The more time passes, the less chance there is of them being released. I see reports – that may or may not be true – that Israel rejected certain deals that would allow some of the hostages to return, and I disagree with those kinds of actions. I think that Israel should use every opportunity to defend and protect its citizens. It needs to take every deal – even if it means giving Hamas some respite before eliminating it. 

Who can be the possible mediators when it comes to bringing the hostages back from Gaza? 

I think Israel should accept the help of any mediator, but I am not aware of many who have offered so far [as of 12 November, when the interview was conducted]. I only know about Qatar and Egypt – and the Mossad already went to both Doha and Cairo. Many other countries may not know how they could provide meaningful support. I do not know, for example, if the EU has any power to secure a hostage deal. To my knowledge, the EU has no contact with Hamas, and only countries that have some leverage over it can act. Egypt has the key to the Rafah border crossing, and Qatar provided much of Hamas’s financial aid in the past. Maybe Turkey could play role, but it has taken a clear anti-Israeli position.

Categories: H. Green News

Slow start for Indonesia’s much-hyped carbon market

Climate Change News - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 06:58

In September, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo opened the country’s first carbon exchange IDX Carbon, declaring “this is Indonesia’s real contribution to fight with the world against climate crisis”.

In the launch video, a calm female voice makes a plea over jangly guitar. “Join us to accelerate net zero with more transparency, liquidity and efficiency,” she says, as a headless businessman fondles a hologram of a globe.

Two months on, this call has been largely ignored. Climate Home’s analysis of trading data suggests most days see no trading at all. 

Carbon credit traders and experts blamed a lack of incentives to buy, administrative mistakes and muddled government priorities. 

A divisive solution

A carbon exchange allows the trade of carbon credits. One company takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and another pays to take credit for it.

Carbon credit supporters argue they are a way of financing climate action which wouldn’t otherwise take place while critics say their real-world benefits are overstated and they offer polluters an excuse to keep emitting.

The European Union and China’s exchanges are among the biggest in the world. President Widodo predicted in September that Indonesia’s could soon rival them.

Shades of green hydrogen: EU demand set to transform Namibia

But the exchange has got off to a very slow start. Of the 19 trading days that Climate Home was able to obtain data for, there was no trading on 17 days.

This data was gleaned from IDX statements and from some of its daily reports, which regularly vanish from its website. IDX did not respond to repeated requests for the full data.

The price of carbon has remained the same since the launch, suggesting it is an inactive market.

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Low demand

Demand for the credits is low. This is reflected by the price of carbon – just RP 69,600 ($4.50) per tonne of carbon dioxide.

Demand could be boosted if Indonesia implements a scheme to cap company's emissions and tax them on any excess.

The idea is to allow them to avoid tax by buying another company's unused emissions allowance or by buying carbon credits.

The government initially suggested a tax would be set up in 2022 but now says it will be set up next year or the year after, saying carbon markets must be set up first.

France, Kenya set to launch Cop28 coalition for global taxes to fund climate action

The voluntary market has been launched and the compliance market will begin next year, when the cap and tax is piloted on coal-fired power plants.

The government has given out mixed messages on the extent to which companies will be able to buy voluntary credits to cover their cap and tax obligations. The energy ministry wants a limited role, while the environment ministry wants a more expansive one.

Suppliers kept out

All that has dampened domestic demand and the regulations to allow foreign companies to buy credits have yet to be put in place.

Dessi Yuliana is the director of CarbonX, a company which buys and sells credits. She told Climate Home that this is because of pending international trading regulations and divided priorities in the government.

While some groups in government are keen to attract foreign investment the main administration priority is ensuring that carbon credits issued are counted towards national carbon reduction commitments, Yuliana said.

So far, the exchange lacks sellers as well as buyers. The government has authorised just three companies to sell credits.

UK aid cuts leave Malawi vulnerable to droughts and cyclones

Fifiek Mulyana from PWC Legal Indonesia said this was because, with more regulations on carbon trading to be issued soon, many companies are still in a “wait and see situation”.

One Indonesian carbon credit seller, who did not want to be named, complained that regulations are often vague and inflexibly enforced.

A lack of expertise and experience needed to swiftly assess projects credibility is a particular problem, they added, with only four verification and validation bodies signed up.

With carbon credit projects plagued by accusations of overcounting and human rights abuses, the role of verifiers will be crucial.

“A lot of investors basically use carbon credits as a form of green virtue signaling," says Bill Sullivan, a mining and energy lawyer with Christian Teo & Associates.

“Accordingly,” he added, “any scandals in this sector could undermine the whole point of carbon credits as far as they are concerned and, so, make buying carbon credits must less attractive for them."

The post Slow start for Indonesia’s much-hyped carbon market appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Will climate cookbooks change how we eat?

Grist - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 01:45

Kitchen Arts & Letters, a legendary cookbook store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is tiny — just 750 square feet — but not an inch of space is wasted. With roughly 12,000 different cookbooks and a staff of former chefs and food academics, it’s the land of plenty for those seeking guidance beyond the typical weekday recipe. 

One table is piled high with new cookbooks about ramen, eggs, and the many uses of whey, the overflow stacked in leaning towers above the shelves along the walls. One bookcase is packed with nothing but titles about fish. And next to a robust vegetarian section at the back of the store, tucked in a corner, is a minuscule collection of cookbooks about sustainability and climate change. 

Natalie Stroud, a sales associate at Kitchen Arts & Letters, pointed me to the five titles featured there. “It’s hard,” she said, “because there aren’t many. But it’s something we’re trying to build out as it becomes more popular.”

The sustainable cookbook section at Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York. Caroline Saunders

One of the cookbooks is Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet by British chef Tom Hunt. I flip to a recipe titled “a rutabaga pretending to be ham” (with cross-hatching that would make a honey-baked ham blush) and a Dan Barber-inspired “rotation risotto” starring a dealer’s choice of sustainably grown grains. Next to it is Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking by restaurateur sisters Margaret and Irene Li, full of mad-lib recipes for wilting ingredients like “an endlessly riffable fruit crisp” and a saag paneer that grants ingredients like carrot tops a compost-bin pardon. 

Climate cookbooks seem to be picking up speed in parallel to a trend toward sustainable eating. In 2016, the term “climatarian” entered the Cambridge Dictionary — referring to a person who bases their diet on the lowest possible carbon footprint. In 2020, a survey by the global market research company YouGov found that 1 in 5 U.S. millennials had changed their diets to help the climate. If you consider a climate cookbook to be one that was written, at least in part, to address the dietary changes necessitated by the climate crisis, you can see a whisper of a subgenre beginning to emerge. At least a dozen have been published since 2020. 

These cookbooks might play an important role in the transition to sustainable diets. It’s one thing — and certainly a useful thing — for scientists and international organizations to tell people how diets need to change to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. It’s another to bring the culinary path forward to life in actual dishes and ingredients. And recipe developers and cookbook authors, whose whole shtick is knowing what will feel doable and inspiring in the glow of the refrigerator light, might be the ones to do it.

A photo of me chopping onions and garlic for the “Anything-in-the-Kitchen Pasta” from the cookbook “Perfectly Good Food.” Haley Saunders

I’ve been thinking about this handoff from science communicators to the culinary crowd for a while. I worked at Grist until I went to Le Cordon Bleu Paris to learn how to make sustainable desserts. (Climate cuisine is dead on arrival without good cake.) Now a recipe tester and Substacker with my own dream of a one-day cookbook, I find myself wondering what this early wave of climate cookbooks is serving for dinner.

What does climate cooking mean? And will these cookbooks have any impact on the way average people cook and eat? The emerging genre of climate cookbooks puts a big idea on the menu: that there won’t be one way to eat sustainably in a warming world, but many — à la carte style.

Mia Torres / Grist

Cookbooks about sustainable ways of eating are nothing new, even if they haven’t used the climate label. M.F.K. Fisher’s World War II-era book How to Cook a Wolf found beauty in cooking what you have and wasting nothing. The comforting recipes in the Moosewood Cookbook helped American vegetarianism unfurl its wings in the 1970s. Eating locally and seasonally is familiar, too. Edna Lewis spread it out on a Virginia table in The Taste of Country Cooking, and Alice Waters turned it into a prix fixe menu and various cookbooks at her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse.

But until recently, if you wanted to read about food and climate change, you had to turn to the nonfiction shelves. Books like The Fate of Food by Amanda Little (for which I was a research intern) and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan swirl the two topics together as smoothly as chocolate and vanilla soft serve, albeit through a journalistic rather than culinary lens. The way we eat is both a driver of climate change — the food system accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions — and an accessible solution. Unlike energy or transportation or the gruel that is national politics, our diets are a problem with solutions as close as the ends of our forks. 

It seems only natural that consideration for the climate would eventually waft into recipe writing and cookbooks. In 2019, NYT Cooking created a collection of climate-friendly recipes, albeit a sparse one by their standards, focused on meat alternatives, sustainable seafood, and vegan dishes. In 2021, Epicurious announced it would stop publishing new recipes containing beef, which is about 40 times more carbon-intensive than beans. In parallel, climate cookbooks have begun to proliferate, and so far, they’re offering varied entry points to sustainable eating.

A few recent food waste cookbooks want home cooks to know one thing: that simply using all our food is an undersung climate solution — one often overshadowed by red meat’s gaudier climate villainy. The research organization Project Drawdown lists reducing food waste as the climate solution that could cut the most emissions (closely followed by adopting plant-rich diets), a fact that caught Margaret Li’s attention when she and her sister Irene were writing Perfectly Good Food.

“That kind of blew my mind,” she said. “For people worried about the environment, you think, ‘I should get an electric car, I should eat vegetarian.’ But then you waste all this food and throw it in the landfill. It seems like a pretty important connection to make for people.” 

Read Next In defense of leftovers

One: Pot, Pan, Planet by the “queen of greens” Anna Jones offers another way in, tinkering with a weeknight style of vegetarianism to make it even better for the environment. Her brightly flavored recipes, which have earned her comparisons to Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi, streamline kitchen appliance use (hence: one pot, one pan), saving a lot of time and a little energy and money, too.

Jones has also honed her vegetarian shopping list over time. “The ingredients I’m drawn to have definitely changed,” she said. She now offers substitutions for dairy and eggs as a matter of course (you can use vegan ricotta in her sweet corn and green chili pasta, if you wish!), and she deemphasizes certain plant-based ingredients that come with environmental or social baggage. Water-guzzling almonds and often exploitatively produced chocolate appear on a “tread lightly” list, along with the recommendation to think of them as special treats rather than everyday staples.

Other cookbooks take a different approach, offering home cooks a fully developed set of what we might call climate cooking principles.

When chef Tom Hunt wrote his 2020 cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet, his goal was “to cover food sustainability in its entirety.” It opens with his “root-to-fruit manifesto,” which he translated from an academic book for a home cook audience and boiled down to a few ideas: plant-based, low-waste, and climate cuisine. By “climate cuisine” he means using local and seasonal ingredients, sourcing from labor- and land-conscious vendors (consider the cover crop, would you, in your next risotto?), and eating a rainbow of biodiverse foods. 

Eating seasonally and locally are sometimes dismissed from the climate conversation because they don’t save much carbon, according to experts. But some argue that seasonal food tastes better and can help eaters steer away from climate red flags. Skipping out-of-season produce avoids food grown in energy-sucking greenhouses and stuff that’s flown in by plane, like delicate berries. (Air travel is the only mode of transport that makes food miles a big deal.) And local food comes with an oft-forgotten green flag: Buying from nearby farms strengthens regional food economies, which makes the food system more resilient to climate events and other shocks. 

Hunt also makes the case for putting biodiversity on the plate. “Biodiversity has always felt like one of the key elements of this whole situation that we’re in,” he said. Today, nearly half of all the calories people eat around the world come from just three plants: wheat, rice, and maize. “That kind of monoculture is very fragile,” he explained. “People often don’t realize that our food is linked to biodiversity, and the diversity of the food that we eat can support biodiversity in general.” 

A use-what-you-have citrus cake I recently made, from the cookbook “Perfectly Good Food.” Caroline Saunders

Biodiversity is also a through line in For People and Planet — a collaboration between the United Nations and the nonprofit Kitchen Connection Alliance with recipes contributed by star chefs, Indigenous home cooks, and farmers. (We’ll call it the U.N. cookbook, since these titles otherwise threaten to blend into an alliterative purée). Its recipes are a global tour of plant-forward culinary biodiversity, like a West African moringa pesto pasta and banana-millet croquettes rolled in puffed amaranth that looks like teensy popcorn. 

Published last year, the cookbook is divided into five big ideas: biodiversity, food and climate change, reducing food waste, sustainable consumption, and the food system. The topics came from a U.N. food systems summit, said Earlene Cruz, who is the founder and director of Kitchen Connection Alliance and who compiled the cookbook. They were the ones that “consumers needed more information on, but could also be contributors to in a positive way.”

The chapters on sustainable consumption and the food system argue that a sustainable eating philosophy isn’t complete without consideration of — among other things — resilience and nutrition. What does that mean in dinner form? In Nunavut, Canada, it might mean choosing grilled Arctic char, because it’s part of a nutritionally and culturally important Inuit fishing economy. (Folks in other parts should source it carefully, since seafood is environmentally complicated.) Among the Maasai Indigenous community in Kenya, it might mean serving enkum, a starchy side dish that uses low-cost veggies, since frequent droughts and social unrest make food prices high. The chapters stress communities’ ability to feed themselves healthily, on their own terms, regardless of what climate disruptions may come or what industrial food supply chains may peddle. 

Read Next Friday night fish frys define Wisconsin. What happens when climate change adjusts the menu?

The U.N. cookbook raises an important idea: that there won’t be one sustainable diet around the world, but many. Still, the mix of considerations it tosses into the pan — water scarcity, nutrition, food sovereignty, biodiversity, pollution — might leave home cooks slightly overwhelmed. You might shut the book, stomach rumbling, and wonder: OK, well, what should I make for dinner if I care about people and the planet?

Mia Torres / Grist

Coming up with recipes for the planet’s well-being involves a number of considerations. How do you come up with a climate cooking philosophy that’s scientifically rigorous and approachable? What do you do about regionality — the fact that some things, like tomatoes, can be grown sustainably in one part of the world, but might require a greenhouse to grow elsewhere? And how do you handle the climate-offender-in-chief — meat?

Most of the climate cookbook authors mentioned above allow for diets that include animal products. They generally don’t want to turn off omnivores, but the overtures they make to meat-eating vary. Hunt’s cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet is plant-based, but he includes advice on sourcing meat and fish sustainably for those who do indulge. The U.N. cookbook opted to include some meat recipes, like a South African beef dish called bobotie that could counter childhood malnutrition. Cruz, who compiled the cookbook, is vegetarian; she just doesn’t like the taste of meat. But, she explains, “if I’m putting my personal views aside, some cultures do need to eat meat to sustain themselves.”

Bobotie is a homey dish of curried, spiced meat and fruit topped with an egg custard. Getty Images

More complicated is picking an ingredient list that will be sustainable for everyone who might use the cookbook, regardless of geography, culture, or socioeconomic status. Amy Trubek, a professor in the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont, thinks this is one of the biggest challenges climate cookbook authors will face. 

“The glossy cookbook genre now, it’s a hard situation in a way,” she said, “because they’re supposed to be pitching it to any middle- or upper-middle-class consumer anywhere in the United States, and they could be living in a penthouse apartment in Chicago, or they could be living in a ranch in New Mexico. So how do you teach about [sustainable eating] without thinking about specificity and regionality?” 

Cookbook authors have a few options. They could write a regionally specific cookbook, or a mass-market one starring ingredients that grow sustainably in lots of places (as One did). Or they could write a cookbook that samples vast biodiversity at some cost to sourceability — that’s the approach the U.N. cookbook took.

“There are many cookbooks that could … have 90 percent of the recipes be part of your staple at home,” Cruz said. “But that serves a different purpose.” The U.N. cookbook is instead “almost a launching point into everyone’s own culinary exploration and everyone’s own culinary journey.” 

That exploratory emphasis — embodied not just in the recipes but in accompanying carbon and nutrition calculations and in principles that offer starting points rather than answers — puts it at one end of the spectrum in the balance these authors strike between nuance and approachability, science and art. As Cruz put it, “What we wanted to create was sort of a textbook in disguise.” 

A meringue recipe from “Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet” that stars whipped aquafaba — chickpea water — an ingredient that usually gets dumped down the drain. Caroline Saunders The recipe helps prevent food waste, and introduces readers to a plant-based substitute for egg whites. Caroline Saunders

One, on the other hand, was always meant to make people pull out a cutting board. Jones includes no small measure of environmental nuance — she tucks articles on issues like soil health and ethical sourcing between her recipe chapters — but her recipes themselves don’t ask the cook to do anything other than make weeknight meals with supermarket ingredients. “I could have foraged for sea buckthorn and written a chapter on sea asparagus,” she laughs, “and I would love for everyone to be foraging. But that’s not the reality … I wanted to write a sustainable cookbook, but I also wanted to write a cookbook filled with recipes people could make.”

No matter the topic, writing a cookbook is a big undertaking. Authors develop 100 or more recipes, typically handing them off to recipe testers in batches to poke, prod, and polish to infallibility. And while roughly 20 million cookbooks are sold in the U.S. each year, the field is ever more crowded, so it’s harder to stand out. 

For now, the climate cookbooks shelf is still tiny, and it’s hard to know which ones readers might be most tempted to pick up — let alone which, if any, might actually create meaningful shifts in what and how we eat.

Read Next For your consideration: Fruitcake

“People buy cookbooks for myriad reasons,” wrote Matt Sartwell, the managing partner of Kitchen Arts & Letters, in an email to Grist. “But if there is anything that people will pay for — recipes and information being free and abundant on the internet — it’s a clear point of view and the promise that an author has given a subject very serious thought.” 

One: Pot, Pan, Planet is Jones’ best-selling cookbook to date, despite the fact that leaning into sustainability “felt like a bit of a risk,” she said. 

She has a hunch about why it’s been popular. “People want to try and make a difference,” she said. “I think it felt comforting for people to have a book full of recipes that it felt OK to eat.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Will climate cookbooks change how we eat? on Nov 20, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

Why ‘climate havens’ might be closer to home than you’d think

Grist - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 01:30

Moving is never easy — and it’s even harder in the era of global warming. Beyond the usual concerns like jobs, affordability, and proximity to family and friends, people are now considering rising seas, wildfire smoke, and heat waves. According to a recent survey, nearly a third of Americans named climate change as a motivation to move.

Some are headed to “climate havens,” the places experts say will be relatively pleasant to live in as the world heats up, like Duluth, Minnesota; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Burlington, Vermont. Researchers have pointed to the Great Lakes region, and Michigan in particular, as a destination for people seeking to escape the storm-ravaged Southeast or the parched Southwest. The Midwest holds special appeal with its abundant fresh water, cooler summers, and comparatively little risk from hurricanes and wildfires.

But as the federal government’s comprehensive Fifth National Climate Assessment detailed last week, there’s nowhere you can truly hide from climate change. This summer, historic wildfires in Canada sent unhealthy smoke swirling into the Midwest and Northeast, bringing apocalyptic skies from Minneapolis to Buffalo, New York, and all the supposed refuges in between. Heavy rain in July caused devastating flash floods in Vermont. Three years earlier, a ProPublica analysis had identified the hardest-hit place in the state, Lamoille County, as the safest county in the U.S. “It’s time to put the idea of climate safe havens to rest,” the climate news site Heatmap declared this summer.

Still, the new assessment demonstrates that some places are safer than others. The report says that moving away from more dangerous spots to less precarious ones is a solution that’s already happening — not only in coastal areas in the Southeast, but also in flood zones in the Midwest. The assessment also makes it clear that vulnerability is often created by city planning choices. Climate havens may not be something nature hands us, but something we have to build ourselves. And finding refuge doesn’t necessarily entail moving across the country; given the right preparations, it could be closer to home than you think.

“While the climate is going to change, how we respond as a species, as a society, as individuals, I think will really determine what is a ‘refuge’ for us and what isn’t,” said Vivek Shandas, a professor at Portland State University whose research focuses on how cities can adapt to climate change. Shandas, who worked on the Northwest chapter of the report, says that it points to how human choices — policies and urban design decisions — have either put people more in harm’s way or brought them greater safety. 

Wildfire smoke from Canada casts a thick haze over St. Paul, Minnesota, June 15, 2023. Michael Siluk / UCG / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Tulsa, Oklahoma, was once the country’s most frequently flooded city, according to the assessment. After a disaster in 1984 submerged 7,000 homes and killed 14 people, the city came together to fix the problem with an aggressive flood-control plan. They constructed a network of drainage systems, created green spaces to soak up water, and put strict rules on where new homes could be built. Over the last three decades, Tulsa has also cleared roughly 1,000 buildings out of flood zones through a buyout program. Officials say the effort has saved the city millions of dollars, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave Tulsa its top risk-reduction rating last year.

That’s the kind of tough work that lies ahead of any Midwest city aiming to protect its residents. With dam failures and overflows from combined sewer and stormwater systems common, the region is unprepared to handle the volume of water now coursing in. “Just being more sheltered from certain dangers does not make you a haven,” said Julie Arbit, who researches equity and the environment at the University of Michigan. And flooding isn’t the only problem. Purported climate havens like Minneapolis, Duluth, Ann Arbor, and Madison, Wisconsin, will see some of the greatest temperature increases in the country in the coming decades. Residents of Michigan and Wisconsin face some of the longest power outages in the country.

The idea that any city could be a climate haven traces back to Jesse Keenan, a professor of urban planning at Tulane University — though he suspects the phrase itself was invented by journalists. “People often associate me with coining that concept, but I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase in any of my talks or writing,” Keenan said (though he did come up with “climate-proof Duluth.”) In 2018, the journalist Oliver Milman wrote an article for The Guardian looking at the parts of the U.S. that might be less miserable as the climate changes, calling Duluth and Buffalo “safe havens.” That framing took off the following year, making the headlines in Reuters, Yale Climate Connections, and Bloomberg.

Keenan said he probably wouldn’t have used the phrase “climate havens,” though he does take credit for the proposition behind it. “The general idea is that there are places that people are going to move to, whether we like it or not, whether we plan for it or not,” he said. “We need to help those places and guide those places to prepare.”

The idea of climate havens caught on, in part, because it was a hopeful message for post-industrial cities in the Great Lakes region, raising the prospect of filling vacant homes and revitalizing sluggish economies. Over the last two decades, more than 400,000 people left the Midwest for other regions of the United States. In 2019, Buffalo’s mayor called his city a “climate refuge.” The title is still embraced by some city planners: The 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan names the city a “climate haven.”

Several days after heavy rains flooded Detroit, Michigan, in June 2021, a car remains inundated on I-94. Matthew Hatcher / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

The reality of climate change has weakened the phrase’s charm. Another factor that could be dampening enthusiasm for havens, according to Shandas, is that researchers aren’t getting much federal funding for their proposals to identify the role climate change plays in propelling migration patterns. The National Climate Assessment, for instance, points out that there’s yet not enough data to “make a strong statement” on how climate change might drive migration to the Midwest.

Beth Gibbons, an author of the Midwest chapter of the report and the national resilience lead with the consulting group Farallon Strategies, says she’s heard many anecdotes of people moving to the Great Lakes in search of a less hostile climate. Most locals, however, don’t share politicians’ enthusiasm for a wave of climate migration to the Midwest. Interviews across Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Western New York have found that people are nervous about the prospect, Gibbons said. 

“By and large, the sense in communities is that we have a lot of challenges as it is,” Gibbons said, “and they’re not sure that this sounds like something that is really an opportunity, but rather something else that they may have to be dealing with.” Environmental justice advocates also worry that “the idea of being a climate haven is going to become a distraction from caring for people who are already here.”

The “climate havens” conversation has largely revolved around the Midwest, but new research suggests that other parts of the country might be getting overlooked. The Climate Vulnerability Index, released by the Environmental Defense Fund and Texas A&M University last month, maps out risk across the United States on a neighborhood level, measuring environmental dangers alongside factors that make it harder for people to deal with hazards, such as income levels and access to health care. According to data provided to Grist, the least vulnerable counties are mostly rural and scattered across the northern part of the country, from Nantucket County, Massachusetts, to Juneau County, Alaska. The only Midwest spot to make the top 10 was Oneida County in Wisconsin. And the only place with a large population (numbering 600,000 people) on the list was Washington County, Oregon, which includes the east side of Portland. 

Portland residents rest in a cooling center on June 27, 2021, during a historic heat wave. Nathan Howard / Getty Images

Portland has been named as a potential climate haven before, but the idea has recently fallen out of favor after the Pacific Northwest was struck by an off-the-charts heat dome in June 2021. It brought 116-degree temperatures to Portland, melting streetcar power cables and buckling pavement. In a region largely unaccustomed to owning air-conditioning units, roughly 1,000 people died across Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. “‘Nowhere is safe’: Heat shatters vision of Pacific Northwest as climate refuge,” read a headline in The Guardian at the time.

Two years later, Portland and Seattle are more prepared for heat. “The Northwest went bananas with distributing heat pumps and AC units all over the place,” Shandas said. One bad disaster doesn’t necessarily cross a given place off the “havens” list; people can learn from past events and work to better survive the next disaster.

And the reality is that most people are unlikely to pack up their belongings and move across the country to find refuge. There’s “no doubt that most people will be moving relatively locally,” Keenan said. He says that climate migration, even at a more local level, presents another opportunity to get it right when it comes to urban development. “We can either recreate crap suburban sprawl and high-carbon sprawl, or we can try to do it the right way. But we will branch into new cities in America, and those may be closer to home than we realize.”

“Local refuges” might provide a better framework for discussing how to escape the worst of climate change, Shandas said. He borrowed the concept from the field of ecology, where the Latin “refugia” refers to areas where the climate conditions stay relatively safe over time, despite change happening around them. A local refuge could be a community center with air conditioning during a heat wave. Or it could mean moving out of a wildfire danger zone, or up the hill to escape frequent flooding. 

“For me, that’s a wonderful thought,” Shandas said, “because it allows humans to actually not be the victim of, like, ‘Oh my God, no matter where we go, we’re going to be crushed by this climate.’ And it’s like, ‘No, actually, there are things we can do.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Why ‘climate havens’ might be closer to home than you’d think on Nov 20, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News


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