Tag Archives: London

Pertinent Lessons from Our Recent Past

A little off the beaten path for tourists in London is the Imperial War Museum.  It’s still a quick tube ride from the central part of the city and it is just a two stops away from the always tasty Borough Market.  Plus, depending on the line you take you will get to stop at the Elephant & Castle station.  I think that name is just smashing.

The museum has all the usual exhibits that glorify the British Empire—one quarter of the world’s landmass, one quarter of the world’s population, the sun never sets on the British Empire, etc.—through World War I and II with a small, yet quite impactful, exhibit on the Holocaust.  However, the part of the museum that I found most interesting dealt with the home front during World War II.

The home front usually gets short shrift in any analysis of a war effort.  World War II in Britain was a little different because the horrors of war made it across the English Channel in German raids on London and other cities.  Children were shipped to the countryside where it was deemed safer and Londoners huddled in shelters as bombs or rockets rained down.  With a stiff upper lip, so to speak, the nation kept calm and carried on.

My daughter and I probably spent close to an hour in the home front exhibition looking at the types of food that were available or not available and why or the measures taken by households to conserve materials in order to supply troops.  The impression that my ten year old daughter was left with was how little a house could make do with if it had to. Her seven year old brother, naturally, loved the display of World War I grenades.

As we face an uncertain climate in the coming decades and the attendant consequences of that climate change we may be forced into a situation where our everyday begins to resemble the home front during an armed global conflagration.

Victory is in the Kitchen

Victory is in the Kitchen

It is my belief that we can make some of the biggest impacts from the comfort of our homes and the center of our homes is the kitchen.  It is the place where my family spends the most time together and it is probably where I spend the most time teaching my children.  Some parents play catch or go on hikes, I teach my kids how to dice onions, mince garlic, deglaze pans, and build flavors.

Change starts at home.  The food we choose to make and eat forms the core of our value system as self-described environmentalists.  If you are not trying to be a better human in the kitchen you might as well stop sweating the other stuff.

Food: Don’t Waste It

Food Dont Waste It

In the United States it is estimated that 30 to 40% of food goes to waste.  Given the impact of agriculture on climate change this is unacceptable.  Furthermore, given that in this age of abundance when we are dealing with diseases of over consumption, e.g. obesity related illnesses, there are still millions of people that go hungry every day.

Make Do and Mend

Make Do and Mend

Repair is the forgotten action that we can take to conserve.  Almost everything, save for our homes and automobiles, is basically disposable in modern capitalist economies.  Even big ticket items like appliances are seen as disposable, which blows my mind.  Here’s the thing, repairing stuff has never been easier.  The internet is literally chock a block full of people posting repair instructions, wiring diagrams, parts lists, etc. that can help even the least handy of us repair many of the items we once viewed as disposable.

Can I do Without It?

Can I Do Without

Is there a better question to ask yourself about any purchase that you make?  The most environmentally conscious purchase is usually one that we do not make.  Sure, there are the obvious wins like replacing high usage light bulbs with the most efficient LED bulbs or replacing a fifteen year old refrigerator with a more efficient model.  However, many of the “green” purchases we make are just adding consumption to the system that is destroying our planet.  It may be made of organic cotton, but do you really need another t-shirt?

Self-Indulgence at This Time is Helping the Enemy

Self Indulgence

I just love how direct some of the messaging was during World War II.  This poster is basically saying, “Don’t be a dick, we’re fighting a war here.”  How many of our problems, with regard to climate change, could be solved if people were just somewhat less self-indulgent?  I will let you stew on that thought for now.

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Friday Linkage 2/7/2014

Damn, February.  Pretty soon I will have to break out the garden porn and figure out what I want to grow this year.  I need to come up with a way to convince my wife to allow me to build a hop trellis on our property.  Homegrown hops in a house IPA…now that is an idea that I can get behind.

On to the links…

Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers—The farm bill is a big deal.  It’s policies shape our food system in fundamental and dramatic ways.  Overall, the bill continues the status quo in many ways but at least hemp is getting a little love.

E.P.A. Staff Struggling to Create Pollution Rule—This is a big deal.  The EPA, without any obstruction from Congress, can limit the amount of carbon pollution from power plants if the agency so chooses.

‘Out-Of-Control’ Rig In The Gulf Gushing Methane Freely Into The Atmosphere—When is the world going to realize that the people we have entrusted to extract oil and gas from the Earth’s crust do not have a clue what they are doing?  In the Gulf of Mexico an offshore rig run by Rowan Companies is spewing methane into the air.  These kinds of “spills” do not get the attention of a traditional oil spill because there is not goop coating cute birds.  Remember, methane is an uber potent greenhouse gas.

Federal Leasing Program A Giveaway To Big Coal—Basically, the U.S. government allows coal companies to lease huge tracts of land for coal extraction at prices far below what the market should bear.  Just another stealth subsidy for the energy sources that are killing the planet.

Up To 82,000 Tons Of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River From ‘Antiquated’ Storage Pit—Recently it was West Virginia, but it’s now North Carolina’s turn to be inundated with a byproduct of the coal mining industry.  Will these people stop before the entire world is polluted?

The Government’s Secret Research into Climate Change as a Security Risk—Republicans in Congress may deny the existence of consensus on climate change, but the U.S. security establishment thinks it is real enough to devote resources studying the potential impacts.

IEC Makes Case for Solar Power in Iowa—Iowa is not a hot bed of activity when it comes to solar energy.  In a state that gets over 25% of its electricity from wind turbines you can cut us a little slack for not being on the razor’s edge when it comes to photovoltaics.  Now the Iowa Environmental Council is making a push for just such a technology.  Sweet.

World’s Largest Solar Bridge Officially Launched—The Blackfriars railway bridge in London is now covered in solar photovoltaics.  Why aren’t we rushing to put panels on every place?  Plus, why do the British have all the cool names like Blackfriars?  It’s not fair.

Bernie Sanders: Should We Provide Welfare For Walmart?—The answer is no, but if you look at government policy the answer is much less clear because there are a lot of policies that are essentially welfare for WalMart.

About That Tainted Seafood In Texas—Is Texas just a hellish place where rules are meaningless, oilmen are immune from scrutiny, and everyone who is not a millionaire is screwed?  Pretty much.

Growing Insects: Farmers Can Help to Bring Back Pollinators—As bad as things seem in this world, there are steps that everyone can take to make improvements.  The ability of farmers to improve the situation is overlooked by a lot of people because we tend to paint the entire occupation with a broad brush.

Michael Pollan Explains What’s Wrong With the Paleo Diet—Take a minute and enjoy the musings of our modern day food sage, Michael Pollan, as he dissects the problems associated with the faddish Paleo diet.

Sugar Linked to Heart Disease Deaths in National Study—In the United States we eat too much sugar and it is killing us.  It is not just diabetes, however, as a new national study finds it may be a culprit behind deaths resulting from heart disease.

Giant Boulders Plow Through Italian Farmhouse & Vineyard—Sometimes we forget the everyday power of nature.  These pictures are kind of amazing.