The Unmitigated Ramblings of a Man Who Knows that Humanity is Going to End… Soon.

It’s 2021. The year that will go down in infamy as the year the world went batshit crazy is over. Or is it over? 2021 started okay — just one attempt to overthrow a democracy. Then the end of Trump presidency brought a feeling of hope and relief to the world in general and climate activists specifically. But millions continued to die of the 21st century’s first pandemic as anti-vaxxers run wild in social media platforms everywhere.

But 2020 was just another important step in realizing that the human race is fucked. The doomsday clock clicked just a little closer to midnight, the Covid crisis continued through January and onward and recent climate-related catastrophes are still being passed off as just another flood, heatwave, drought, storm, wildfire, famine, pandemic. Even with the incredibly encouraging executive orders Biden has written during his first 10 days in office, the climate crisis still only interests a small percentage of the planet. That lack of interest will likely kill many of the apathetic and pathetic alike, along with climate activists, their children and their pets.

The COVID-19 crisis should be a wake-up call for the pending climate catastrophe. Wait, you didn’t know that COVID-19 was connected to climate change? Well, lets take a short detour and I’ll explain it in bullet points:

  • Our way of life is causing us to use far too many of the earth’s resources.
  • In order to continue with our decadent, animal-devouring, fossil-fueled lifestyle, we need excessive pieces of land.
  • So we delve deeper into forests, marshes, rainforests and other areas, destroying eons of growth, vegetation and biological wonders.
  • In addition, our fossil-fueled way of life is heating the planet, causing permafrost in the arctic regions of the planet to melt away.
  • As we lay waste to these homes to millions of species, we expose ourselves to viruses that have been buried deep in these biospheres.
  • These viruses become epidemics, which become pandemics, which become lockdowns and fodder for Amazon fires (both in the forest and on the site open in your other tab).

In a nutshell, that’s it. COVID-19 was not the first pandemic and it certainly won’t be the last. Other less fervent, non-pandemic viruses have plagued us over the past few decades, but if we continue on our current pace, the next deadly Zoom pandemic won’t wait 100 years to hit us, but will very likely be before England wins another World Cup (for you Canadians: before Toronto wins another Stanley Cup, and for you Americans, before the Jets win another Super Bowl — Why is it that everyone else has Cups, but Americans have Bowls? Does it have something to do with soup?).

And even before we start distributing Hazmat suits for kids, for air travel, for grocery shopping, for any human contact really, the other climate-related tragedies will track us down and ruin our day. Remember those? Droughts






Other Vector-borne Diseases

I’m likely forgetting something, but you probably are feeling ill already. Get tested.

So now that I have your attention, there is something you can do about this, actually, many things, and not CAN do about this, but MUST do about this. But I will save the details for another rambling. Since it may be a while until I get myself to sit down and write about this shit again, just Google “What can I do to help the climate crisis?” (Hint: eat less meat!).

For now, you can take comfort in knowing that regardless of how we act during the next few decades, life on this planet will continue. It’s just a question of whether humans will be a part of it and how pleasant will it be for us to live here.

The Attack on the Attackers of Beef

Recently there have been numerous articles and speeches attacking the beef industry for their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  Many of these attacks call for the planet to go vegan, or at least vegetarian, and site the livestock industry as a major cause for climate change. 

In response, the beef industry has come out with studies of its own and continuously attacks both the reliability of the claims against it, as well as the validity of the data.  Among other things, these beef supporters are claiming that the numbers are skewed and that cattle can actually contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gases.  

Let’s start with these two points that I completely agree with:

1) Beef supporters oppose a quote stating that livestock contributes 14% of the greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. 

Emissions from Livestock is not 14%. 14% is the highest quote I’ve ever seen for ALL of agriculture, not just livestock (sometimes they use a cow silhouette as a symbol – hence the mistake). The most quoted number, the one the IPCC uses, is 11% for ALL agriculture, of which livestock is a large, but not complete part. 

2) Holistically managed, regenerative beef operations not only don’t contribute to GHG emissions, they actually sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Silvopasture is an important solution. This is basically the integration of livestock grazing within forests.  In fact, it’s considered the 9th most important solution by Paul Hawken’s climate plan Drawdown, with the possibility of cutting down 31GT of carbon by 2050 (we release ~40GT a year globally).

It’s obviously really hard to calculate all those numbers, but frankly, who cares.  We know that livestock, and especially cattle, the way they are currently being raised, contributes a huge amount of greenhouse gases — not including the shitload of rain forests cut down, and the amount of land used.  Silvopasture is a solution, but we won’t be able to consume the amounts we’re consuming today with that kind of farming.  

Everyone (and I mean everyone sane) agrees that energy is the number one greenhouse gas emitter (between ~50-73%).  But in second place is transportation, and then a virtual tie between land use and agriculture (all at ~6-12%), followed by industry and residential/commercial.  As soon as you understand the science and know that each of these sectors is contributing to warming greenhouse gases, the exact numbers are irrelevant — they change annually, and each study includes different things in each sector. 

I am not advocating that the planet go vegan — although I am not against it. I would just like a change in the way we produce this shit, and reduce consumption of the worst of these meat products, or at least pivot toward chicken, fish and even pork. If you want to ignore science, a horrific trend in the U.S. these days that will kill millions of people, go ahead.  But don’t fight me on this one, even if it means you may lose your rib-eye. Again, keep your bacon (I do miss bacon). Hail the Impossible Burger!

The Value of a Sustainable Community

When a group of people find themselves living in the same area or neighbourhood they begin a social dance that brings them in and out of contact with each other.  This contact can provide friendships, connections, cooperative ventures, joint-projects, meaningful relationships and more. Within this dance is the underlying understanding that we are living together, therefore, we need to find our common ground and build upon it.  

When this group of people intentionally adds aspects of common values and aspirations, they become a community.  Common background, history, language, culture and lifestyles become secondary when the right community goals are set and the group sets out to fulfill them.  Intentional living in a community has many faces, but none are more binding and promising than those that are meant to secure a future.  

The Institute of Sustainable communities defines a sustainable community as “one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. It meets challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of those goals at the expense of the others. And it takes a long-term perspective – one that’s focused on both the present and future, well beyond the next budget or election cycle.”

But today, when we use the word “sustainability,” to mean even more.  A sustainable community is a place where the environment is paramount. The understanding of and action towards mitigating damage from climate change is key.  The use of energy, water and other natural resources is minimalized and cared for. As is minimizing waste, reducing consumption, reusing materials and finally recycling and composting.  Care is given to limit pollution and protect nature.

We are social animals, and our physical surroundings can enhance our social awareness, communications and humanity.  We may have cultural diversity, but we will leverage that heterogeneity to strengthen personal identity, grow as a community and create both individual and communal identity.  Meeting social needs is key to creating a place where we all feel a sense of belonging and security.  

A sustainable community obviously must first provide for basic human needs such as health services, and ensure access to good food, water, housing and fuel at a reasonable cost, but in many communities, it is the next stages of personal development that need nurturing in order for the sustainable community to thrive.  These next steps can be seen through community values and a will to maximize everyone’s access to the skills and knowledge needed to play a full part in society.

Think Globally. Act Locally.

Remember that one?  It’s been around. Its history as an environmental rally call is debated.  The original phrase has been attributed to the Scotsman, social activist Patrick Geddes who used it in relation to town planning at the beginning of the 20th century.  Geddes felt that the environment was important to consider — a rather progressive concept in his day. But he wasn’t looking to incorporate it into an environmental movement, as none existed at the time, and that didn’t happen until some time between 1969 and 1977 when one of several organizations started using the phrase in a strictly environmental context.  Later, the business world adopted the phrase and basically killed it.      

But despite its fall from grace, there are few phrases that can sum up the call to action in a warming world.  Today, the crime of not thinking globally can and will cost lives, species and trillions in cash. Whether there is still a possibility for a local solution is unclear, but we, as a future community, must demand from ourselves that we consider the planet with every local action.  

A warming globe means that we will need an adaptation plan to cope with changing local weather patterns.  If we were once able to determine the extremities of our seasonal weather, today, as the climate changes, our local weather will change with it, and those predictions will be less and less accurate (very important to note, if not clear already, that weather and climate are two very different things).  With that will come more severe storms, droughts, fires and disease. Every community will be required to find local solutions to a global problem.  

In the fight against climate change, there are two main fronts:  Mitigation and Adaptation. When we discuss the ability of local communities to face the issue of climate change, it’s too late to just deal with mitigation.  We need to find solutions to adapt to the changes that are already here and plaguing us.

Let’s build on that discussion.