So how’s your day going so far? Sure, even if you’re doing okay, what about all the bad stuff you have caused to your health, to less fortunate people throughout the world, and for that matter, even to the planet’s climate and environment since the time you got out of bed this morning.
Have you had your coffee or tea yet? Golly…I sure hope you’re not overdoing it! According to Dr. Sam Robbins in an article published in Health, Fitness & Longevity Solutions, more than about one cup three or four times weekly would be excessive if you’re over 35 and worried about heart disease, joint pain or diabetes. He says that multiple cups or higher-dosed caffeinated products such as expresso, energy drinks or weight loss pills can really bring you grief. Hey, we’re talking increased risks of heart attacks, excretion of stress hormones, depression and attention disorders, body fat, ulcers and acid reflux…and that’s only the beginning. I can’t ever bear to tell you the other hazards.
But then again, a study published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B indicates that caffeine from coffee is one of the richest sources of antioxidants in an average person’s diet to fight damage from free radicals associated with Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Researchers from the Universidad Metropolitana-Iztapalapa in Mexico found that caffeine does this through a mechanism called the radical adduct formation (RAF).
Well, okay, maybe that second cup of coffee won’t kill you right away after all, but did you check to see that those who grew and picked those coffee beans were properly compensated? Chances are that if they came from Ethiopia or other impoverished countries, they got only a small fraction of the money you paid for it.
On the other hand, would they be better off if you gave up that dangerous Devil’s brew altogether? While thinking about it, you probably should consider that too.
And lunch or breakfast? I sure hope you aren’t going to tell me you ate some red meat!
Didn’t anyone tell you that researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that a single serving of meat a day (about the size of a deck of cards) contributes a 13% increased risk of dying from heart disease, stroke or cancer. That’s the good news. A serving of processed red meat per day (a hot dog or two slices of bacon) increases risks of dying by 20%. They specifically mention that“Cooking red meat can release nitrosamines, which have been linked to an elevated risk of developing cancer, as has increased exposure to the iron found in red meats.”
So it’s probably better to just eat it raw if you feel you need to have it, and just take your chances with trichinosis, botulism…whatever?
And if eating red meat is harmful for you, can you imagine how dangerous it is for those animals that sacrifice their lives in order to satisfy economic meat industry profitability? Also, think about all the climate transforming methane that industry produces…enough to cause a polar bear mother somewhere to weep in despair about the bleak future of her cubs.
Or maybe not. Whereas in 2011 the World Wildlife Fund’s climate blog headlined that “Polar Bear Population in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay Unlikely to Survive Climate Disruption,” it seems that since then this subpopulation, previously believed to be among the most threatened subpopulations due to global warming, has made a miraculous recovery. According to aerial surveys released last year by the Government of Nunavat, their numbers are at least 66% higher than expected. This region which straddles Nunavat and Manitoba is critical because it’s considered to be a bellwether for how well polar bears are faring elsewhere in the Arctic.
And to top off that happy news, recent space satellite images reveal that 36 colonies of Antarctic emperor penguins are twice larger than researchers previously thought. In fact four additional colonies that scientists hadn’t known about were discovered as well.
Still, even if you’ve gone veggie, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re reading this on your laptop, IPod, smartphone or some other such silly contrivance that depends upon a supply of electricity from somewhere. Most likely, about 40% or more came from (gasp) climate-ravaging CO2 – releasing coal…and/or more than 20% was produced from natural gas that some uncaring BIG OIL company drilled for. So maybe this was and is avoidable if only we wisely harnessed friendly breezes and converted sunbeams for that power? Besides, then we could also recharge all those nifty electric cars we’re supposed to use while we’re at it with “free” and “renewable” energy. Why didn’t anyone else think of that?
Actually, quite a few people did, but it seems there are a couple of big catches. For example, wind power is only suitable for a tiny minority of locations, and even there is unreliable and far too costly for many people to afford. Besides, it chops up lots of birds, and that certainly isn’t a very Green thing to do. Solar power is even more geographically restricted and inefficient than wind. And perhaps you noticed, it isn’t available at night when that power is handy for lighting…and oh yes, for recharging all those electric cars.
Besides, when push comes to shove in the environmental movement, and that happens a lot, even many of those organizations aren’t that gung-ho on Green energy anyway…at least not about having it located near them. A 2011 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report titled “Project/No Project” found 140 renewable projects that had stalled, stopped, or been outright killed due to “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) environmental activism and a system that allows limitless challenges by opponents. The study concluded that it is just as difficult to build a wind farm in the U.S. as it is to build a coal-fired plant, with about 45% of all challenged projects being “renewable energy.” This is accomplished by a variety of strategies, including organizing local opposition, changing zoning laws, preventing permits, filing lawsuits, and using other long delay mechanisms, effectively bleeding projects dry of their financing.
By the way, did you use a dreaded CO2-belching gasoline-fueled car today instead of bicycling like you would have if you truly cared about those melting glaciers, drowning polar bears and flooding coasts? Shame on you!
According to a study by the European Cyclists Federation, a typical cyclist exhales only 21 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometer, while a (European-sized) car produces 271 g, and a bus 101 g.
On the other hand, you will release even less CO2 (and obviously consume less gasoline in the bargain) if you just stay home and don’t exert yourself with all that pedal-pumping. Let’s assume that if you’re an average adult and exhale about 0.5 liter of air 16 times per minute, processing between 0.7 and 0.9 kg of carbon dioxide daily just hanging around. Imagine how much more you would produce huffing and puffing … particularly if you live in a hilly or mountainous area. With all that gasoline you’re saving, you could buy a tandem bike for grannie and gramps too.
Was your trip away from the house really all that important? Couldn’t you plant a veggie garden or do something else more useful instead?
Incidentally, how sustainable is your home and lifestyle? Do you have more air-conditioned space in your domicile than you really need? In fact, do you really need air-conditioning at all when so many people in other countries must go without such unconscionable extravagance?
Well no you don’t…at least not according to the United Nations. As Maurice Strong who spearheaded the 1991 Rio Earth Summit wrote in the U.N.’s Conference on Environmental Development (UNCED) report: “It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle-class … involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, ownership of motor vehicles, small electric appliances, home and work place air- conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable .… A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmental damaging consumption patterns.”
Along with its instrumental Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N.’s 1992 Rio Summit also produced other initiatives, including the Sustainable Development Agenda 21 which envisions a global scheme for healthcare, education, nutrition, agriculture, labor, production, and consumption. It calls for “… a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced—a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources.”
The Agenda 21 plan was originally hatched in 1990 through a non-governmental organization called the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives” (ICLEI). Its name was changed in 2003 to “ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability” to emphasize “local” and diminish concerns about “international” influence and associations with UN political and financial ties. ICLEI groups are active in most of our counties in the U.S. today. A 1993 Agenda 21 summary report emphasizes that “This shift will demand a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.”
But don’t expect to see the UN/ICLEI program connections advertised as such. As Gary Lawrence, a planner for the city of Seattle and an advisor to the Clinton-Gore administration’s Council on Sustainable Development commented at a 1998 UN Environmental Development Forum in London, “In some cases, LA21 is [the Local Agenda Model Communities Programme] seen as an attack on the power of the nation-state.” He went on to say, “Participating in a UN- advocated planning process will very likely bring out many … who would work to defeat any elected official … undertaking Local Agenda 21.… So we will call our process something else, such as comprehensive planning, growth management or smart growth.”
And so they have. “Comprehensive planning,” “growth management” and “smart growth” all mean pretty much the same thing — centralized control of virtually every aspect of urban life: energy and water use, housing stock and allocation, population levels, public health and dietary regimens, resources and recycling, “social justice” and education.
They will tell you that the penalties for not going along will be severe. Author Michael Crichton articulated the essence of their religious creed in a 2003 speech whereby: “There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with Nature; there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge; and as a result of our actions, there is a judgment day coming for all of us. We are energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment, just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs imbibe.”
Was Mr. Crichton arguing against the importance of living more environmentally responsible lives that apply resources in sustainable ways? Nope, not at all.
But before surrendering to fear and guilt they are selling and joining the ant farm they have in mind for us, some constructive hindsight might be in order. Let’s recognize the many benefits that warm climate conditions and abundant CO2-nourished vegetation bring to all creatures. Let’s appreciate the ever-improving standards of living made possible by free market capitalism, advanced technological innovation and production. Let’s notice that in spite of the caffeinated beverages, red meat and all other manner of hedonistic indulgences, we continue to enjoy ever healthier and longer lives.
And above all, let’s just fearlessly go ahead and have a nice day!
A version of this article first appeared in Forbes Online.