Environmental tidbits from off-Island
Writing the Story of Our Climate Future
For wayyyy too many years, journalism focused on debating climate change, despite widespread scientific consensus on its impact. More recently, many mainstream journalists shifted to the reality of climate change, but delivered as doomsday scenarios. It seems, however, that a new journalistic dawn has arrived. Climate reporting is, at long last, focused on solutions. According to Columbia Journalism Review, “The new climate solutions journalism takes climate change’s reality and importance as given, and goes forward from there, in what feels like a healthy human decision to endure, even on a grievously injured planet. ‘There was a lot of reporting about how bad it was,’ says Gimlet co-founder Alex Blumberg, who co-hosts How to Save a Planet (available on Spotify) with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. Such reporting, he adds, was necessary. ‘But my question was, What should we do about it? Should we just throw up our hands and die?’
“But focusing on climate solutions is not just an editorial decision or psychological best practice. It’s a response to real political, technical, and business solutions, which quixotically ripened during the Trump administration and gave climate journalists fresh stories to tell.”
Our Answer Is Blowing in the Wind
The news is coming fast and furious. Oil and gas stocks in free fall. Entire countries divesting from fossil fuels. And this, from the New Yorker: “If you want real hope, the best place to look may be a little-noted report from the London-based think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative. Titled The Sky’s the Limit, it begins by declaring that ‘solar and wind potential is far higher than that of fossil fuels, and can meet global energy demand many times over.’”
But while that’s not news to those who’ve been paying attention, it’s accompanied by the rapidly growing affordability of solar and wind. What used to be prohibitively expensive is now, often, cheaper than fossil fuels. The New Yorker puts it this way: “That’s what has shifted — and so quickly and so dramatically that most of the world’s politicians are now living on a different planet than the one we actually inhabit.”
Where’s the Beef?
When Epicurious recently announced that it would no longer be producing recipes that included beef, they reasoned that “almost 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally come from livestock (and everything involved in raising it); 61 percent of those emissions can be traced back to beef. Cows are 20 times less efficient to raise than beans, and roughly three times less efficient than poultry and pork. It might not feel like much, but cutting out just a single ingredient — beef — can have an outsize impact on making a person’s cooking more environmentally friendly.”
This was not, Epicurious insisted, a vendetta against cattle ranchers or even those who eat cows, but a pragmatic response to a global crisis. Not long after, one of the world’s most famous restaurants, Eleven Madison Park in New York City, announced that it, too, was taking meat off its customers’ plates.
There has been, of course, the usual Sturm und Drang that emerge each time some folks feel that their hamburgers are threatened. But the increased momentum and normalization of meat-free eating is good for our planet, no matter how you slice it.