Opinion | What if All That Flying Is Good for the Planet? – By Costas Christ – The New York Times

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Mr. Christ is the founder of Beyond Green Travel.

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

“A growing movement known as “flight shame” and popularized by well-meaning climate activists is gaining momentum around the world. Its premise: Flying is bad for the climate, so if you care about life on Earth, don’t fly. The movement, which began in Scandinavia, has ballooned into protests to disrupt flights at London’s Heathrow Airport and social media campaigns outing celebrities and others for planning long-haul trips.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many climate-conscious people may be wondering: Is my planned vacation for the other side of the world ethically indefensible? But let’s try another question: If we really did all stop flying, would that save the planet?

The counterintuitive answer is that it might actually do the opposite.

The tourism industry depends on air travel, and increasingly, saving nature is directly linked to tourism’s economic clout. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, one in 10 people are employed in the travel and tourism industry, representing more than 10 percent of the global economy. In many countries, nature-based tourism is a top foreign exchange earner.

At the same time, aviation accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of human-induced C0₂ emissions. By contrast, deforestation, according to some estimates, contributes nearly 20 percent, about as much as all forms of transportation combined. If we want to truly take a clean sweep at reducing global greenhouse gases, then we must stop clear-cutting the world’s forests.

Don’t get me wrong. As a conservationist and sustainable tourism expert, I am an advocate for a more responsible approach to tourism. Although I began my career as a wildlife ecologist, my work in the tourism industry is focused on transforming travel to be more environmentally friendly. While I recognize that flying is harmful to the climate, I also know what will happen if, in their understandable concern for climate change, travelers stop booking trips to go on a wildlife safari to Africa or decide to forgo that bucket list vacation to South America. Conservation and poverty alleviation will suffer twin blows.

By 2030, tourism to Africa is projected to generate more than $260 billion annually. Subtract that from Africa’s economy and not only will it plunge an entire continent into more poverty (millions of Africans rely on tourism as their economic lifeline), but it will also undermine hard-won efforts to protect some of the world’s most endangered species. Save the elephants? Forget about it. Rhinos, ditto.”

Apocalypse Got You Down? Maybe This Will Help – By Cara Buckley – The New York Times

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Ms. Buckley is a reporter for The Times.

“One day early this fall, 19 people gathered in a small event space in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and sat in a circle. They included an immigration lawyer, a therapist, an Extinction Rebellion protester, an artist and me. Outside, it was cloudlessly sunny and hot in a way that would have once been described as unseasonable but that nowadays is just mid-September.

We were there for a workshop called “Cultivating Active Hope: Living With Joy Amidst the Climate Crisis,” a title that sounded wildly optimistic. I was there because, for the life of me, I could not understand how anyone was coping with the climate crisis.

Have you ever known someone who cited the Anthropocene in a dating profile? Who doled out carbon offset gift certificates at the holidays? Who sees new babies and immediately flashes to the approximately 15 tons of carbon emissions the average American emits per year? Who walks around shops thinking about where all the packaging ends up? You do now.”

The Most Detailed Map of Auto Emissions in America – The New York Times

Even as the United States has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its electric grid, largely by switching from coal power to less-polluting natural gas, emissions from transportation have remained stubbornly high.The bulk of those emissions, nearly 60 percent, come from the country’s 250 million passenger cars, S.U.V.s and pickup trucks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Freight trucks contribute an additional 23 percent.

Opinion | It’s the Environment- Stupid – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

“I don’t know who sold progressive Democrats on the idea that the way to beat Donald Trump is to abolish the private health insurance of 160 million Americans and offer instead “Medicare for all” (and Mexico will pay for it), but it’s a political loser and an easy target for Trump to feast on. A much better campaign theme is hiding in plain sight. I call it “the Earth Race.”

In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy energized the country behind a “space race”: to make America the first nation to put a man on the moon. Democrats need to run against Trump on the Earth Race: to make America the leader in all policies and technologies that help men and women everywhere live sustainably here on Earth?

Yes, I know, mitigating climate change and saving the environment never poll well. But times change, and it depends how you frame the issue. Mother Nature is forcing herself onto the ballot, and Trump’s efforts to roll back more than 80 rules and standards protecting clean air, water, climate, parks and wilderness make him uniquely vulnerable. He can’t pivot away from what he’s doing. He owns it, and it’s villainous. This time is different.

In this era when so much activism is online, when was the last time you saw a bottom-up, mass movement of young people in America and across the world — some four million in all — take to the streets on every continent as they did last week to demand action to stop the heating of our planet? These young people are telling us, and their voting parents, that this issue is a political winner — theirs is a movement in search of courageous political leaders.

I am not saying that the Earth Race is the only issue to run on. I’m all for strengthening Obamacare and even adding a public health insurance option. But if I were running for president against Trump, I’d be leading with the Earth Race as an economic opportunity, a national security necessity, a health emergency, an environmental urgency and a moral obligation. No other issue can combine those five.

I’d pound Trump every day with this message: “Trump says he cares about you. Well, that’s funny, because he clearly doesn’t care about the water you drink. He just revoked a rule that prohibited coal mining debris from being dumped into local streams — among other actions to weaken the Clean Water Act — so that pro-Trump coal companies can make more money while they make you sick. What kind of president does that?”

Opinion | Black Women Are Leaders in the Climate Movement – The New York Times

By 

Mrs. Toney is the national field director of Moms Clean Air Force.

  • Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, an environmental activist, is one of the founders of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance.
CreditCreditAudra Melton for The New York Times

“Before the first Democratic debate, I watched one of my favorite shows, MSNBC’s AM Joy, excited to see not one, but three people of color tapped to talk about climate change and how candidates were discussing it along the campaign trail. My heart dropped when Tiffany Cross, a guest commentator on the show, stated that while climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color, it’s an issue only in very “niche groups” of those communities. She wasn’t claiming that the issue wasn’t important, but that your average black person didn’t see it as an everyday thing.

Despite stereotypes of a lack of interest in environmental issues among African-Americans, black women, particularly Southern black women, are no strangers to environmental activism. Many of us live in communities with polluted air and water, work in industries from housekeeping to hairdressing where we are surrounded by toxic chemicals and have limited food options that are often impacted by pesticides.

Environmentalism, in other words, is a black issue.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Mildred McClain has been fighting to protect and educate communities of color in Savannah, Ga. When the air was thick with pollution from the shipping channels in the Savannah port in 2018, Dr. McClain convened community meetingsso that people were part of the solution. She encouraged African-Americans in her community to become certified in environmental fields like hazardous waste removal, soil remediation and air monitoring.

Dr. Beverly Wright, a professor of sociology, has been training leaders from our country’s historically black colleges and universities in the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. She started the HBCU Climate Change Consortium and the HBCU-CBO Gulf Equity Consortium, where her students assisted Hurricane Katrina victims, researched climate impacts on vulnerable communities and took their brilliance to places like the COP21 in Paris to witness the negotiation of the Paris Climate Accord.”

Automakers, Rejecting Trump Pollution Rule, Strike a Deal With California – By Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Four of the world’s largest automakers, including the Ford Motor Company, have struck a deal with California to reduce tailpipe pollution, in a setback to the Trump administration as it prepares to weaken national emissions standards and revoke states’ rights to set their own such rules.

While Trump administration officials in the White House and Environmental Protection Agency have been working on a plan to drastically weaken Obama-era rules on planet-warming vehicle pollution, four automakers — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group of America and BMW of North America — have been holding secretive talks in Sacramento on a plan to move forward with the standards in California, the nation’s largest auto market. And on Thursday, Gavin Newsom, the governor of California said he was “very confident” that more automakers would join the deal in the coming days.

The move is another blow in the battle between Mr. Trump and California, a state he seems to relish antagonizing and which has filed more than 50 lawsuits against his administration. “We in California see these regulations as a good thing. The Trump administration is hellbent on rolling back them back,” Mr. Newsom said. “They are in complete denialism about climate change.” “

Opinion | The Trees Might Save Us Yet – by Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

“. . . .   It’s a conundrum. We love our trees, and our trees protect us as we love them, breathing in the greenhouse gasses that are warming the planet, cooling our city streets and reducing energy costs. Chernobyl had nothing on the climate calamity we face today, but instead of protecting our surviving forests — both the urban tree canopy and the remaining wilderness in our care — we allow the pace of deforestation to increase at a breathtaking rate. Instead of replanting forests that have been destroyed by industry, we issue new logging and mining permits in previously protected land.

A new study recently sought to quantity the benefits that could be derived from planting trees in the coming cataclysm. A Times summary of the new report noted that “the planet could support nearly 2.5 billion additional acres of forest without shrinking our cities and farms, and that those additional trees, when they mature, could store a whole lot of the extra carbon — 200 gigatons of carbon, to be precise — generated by industrial activity over the last 150 years.” Planting trees, in other words, could go a long way toward saving us from ourselves. Although ecosystem changes may complicate the planting in this new climate, we have to try.

In Richard Powers’s magnificent novel “The Overstory,” which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction, one character repeats a Chinese saying: “When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago.”

Then she continues: “When is the next best time? Now.”

The Fish Is Boneless. (Fishless, Too.) – By David Yaffe-Bellany – The New York Times

“First, there was the meatless burger. Soon we may have fishless fish.

Impossible Foods, the California company behind the meatless Impossible Whopper now available at Burger King, is joining a crowded field of food companies developing alternatives to traditional seafood with plant-based recipes or laboratory techniques that allow scientists to grow fish from cells.

So far, much of Impossible’s work has focused on the biochemistry of fish flavor, which can be reproduced using heme, the same protein undergirding its meat formula, according to Pat Brown, the company’s chief executive. Last month, Impossible’s 124-person research and development team, which the company plans to increase to around 200 by the end of next year, produced an anchovy-flavored broth made from plants, he said.

“It was being used to make paella,” Mr. Brown said. “But you could use it to make Caesar dressing or something like that.”

The fishless-fish project is part of Impossible’s grand ambitions to devise tasty replacements for every animal-based food on the market by 2035. Whether that aim is achievable, either scientifically or financially, remains to be seen. But for now, Mr. Brown said, he’s confident Impossible’s plant-based beef recipe can be reconfigured to simulate a new source of protein.”

David Lindsay: Great article and comments. Here are the top three I endorsed, but there are many more good ones”

Lowell H
California

@Stefan….Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) are found in some of the healthiest plants and plant based foods. Soybeans, garbanzo beans, tofu, mung beans, sprouts of many kinds…The list goes on. Sorry, Stefan, but these items are “good for you”, as mom would say, the beef and pork industries “studies” and shrill attacks notwithstanding. You positing that they are “far more harmful than red meat” is merely another desperate meat-eaters mantra.

In Reply to Lowell H60 Recommended

Lindsey commented 5 hours ago

Lindsey
Philadelphia, PA

Appreciating NYTimes recent reporting on vegan meats, great to see. Disappointing to read that more people are still apparently only concerned with health benefits that would accrue directly to them rather than the myriad of benefits that would accrue for many, many people through a reduction in meat consumption: greenhouse gas reduction, less forest loss, return of native fish stocks, toxic runoff reduction, etc, etc. Surprised this article didn’t mention Gardein, which makes a delicious vegan fish fillet along with a bunch of other products. I don’t think Gardein has been as targeted at flexitarians and non-vegans, but I would argue their fish fillet would be an easy (and better tasting) replacement in the fish sandwiches of many fast food chains–and I used to really like those.

7 Replies58 Recommended

Randy commented 3 hours ago

Randy
SF, NM

I don’t understand the hostility of meat-eaters toward these plant-based products. No one is coming to take away your hamburgers. Eating plant-based protein isn’t going to be mandatory. You may continue to consume real meat. But anyone who thinks plant-based protein is “gross” compared to the real thing should look into what happens at slaughterhouses, processing plants and on fishing vessels.

1 Reply53 Recommended

Stop building a spaceship to Mars and just plant some damn trees | By Jackie Flynn Mogensen | Grist

When it comes to climate change research, most studies bear bad news regarding the looming, very real threat of a warming planet and the resulting devastation that it will bring upon the Earth. But a new study, out Thursday in the journal Science, offers a sliver of hope for the world: A group of researchers based in Switzerland, Italy, and France found that expanding forests, which sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, could seriously make up for humans’ toxic carbon emissions.

In 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s foremost authority on climate, estimated that we’d need to plant 1 billion hectares of forest by 2050 to keep the globe from warming a full 1.5 degrees Celsiusover pre-industrial levels. (One hectare is about twice the size of a football field.) Not only is that “undoubtedly achievable,” according to the study’s authors, but global tree restoration is “our most effective climate change solution to date.”

In fact, there’s space on the planet for an extra 900 million hectares of canopy cover, the researchers found, which translates to storage for a whopping 205 gigatons of carbon. To put that in perspective, humans emit about 10 gigatons of carbon from burning fossil fuels every year, according to Richard Houghton, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, who was not involved with the study. And overall, there are now about 850 gigatons of carbon in the atmosphere; a tree-planting effort on that scale could, in theory, cut carbon by about 25 percent, according to the authors.

Source: Stop building a spaceship to Mars and just plant some damn trees | Grist

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of theClimate Desk collaboration.

It’s New York vs. California in a New Climate Race. Who Will Win? – By Brad Plumer – The New York Times

By Brad Plumer

Illustrations by Tim Peacock

“California and New York have recently set some of the world’s most ambitious climate targets, aiming to slash their net emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases down to nearly zero in just three short decades.

Now the race is on to see if either state can pull off this feat — something that no major economy in the world has yet achieved. For now, neither state has a clear advantage, and both must overcome unique obstacles to clean up their power plants, cars and buildings. New York has the lowest per-person emissions of any state in the nation, but California is close behind.”

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