Eating Locally isn’t as Important as you Think

Diets make a difference in your individual health and our total global health. If we all eat healthier then the planet’s health will also improve, and the best way to do this is by eating foods with low green house gas (GHG) emissions. It turns out the best way to reduce your carbon footprint with food isn’t to eat local – it’s to change what you eat. The transportation of food is a negligible amount of the total GHG emissions from our processed food system.

For most foods – and particularly the largest emitters – most GHG emissions result from land use change (shown in green), and from processes at the farm stage (brown). Farm-stage emissions include processes such as the application of fertilizers – both organic (“manure management”) and synthetic; and enteric fermentation (the production of methane in the stomachs of cattle). Combined, land use and farm-stage emissions account for more than 80% of the footprint for most foods.

Transport is a small contributor to emissions. For most food products, it accounts for less than 10%, and it’s much smaller for the largest GHG emitters. In beef from beef herds, it’s 0.5%.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Keeping Cool While the Planet Warms

Berlin

Air conditioning demand is expected to triple by 2030 which means that the energy demand from cooling is to rise sharply. As the planet warms the need for air conditioners for survival will (ironically and understandably) increase globally. Obviously we need to switch to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible to limit the ongoing harm from AC units. We can also produce more efficient and environmentally friendly AC units, and that’s exactly what some organizations are trying to do.

If we could make the most commonly sold, entry-level RACs four to five times more energy efficient and use low or no global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, we could mitigate the need for an additional 2,000 GW of power generation capacity – a figure equivalent to the total global coal-powered plant capacity in operation today. 

The Global Cooling Prize – which was launched by RMI, the Government of India and Mission Innovation in 2018 – set out to do just that. The prize invited innovators from across the globe to submit their ideas for an affordable breakthrough cooling solution that had at least five-times less climate impact than the most commonly sold RAC on the Indian market today. More than 2,100 teams from 95 countries registered for the prize. Out of 139 detailed technical applications submitted by teams from 31 countries, the top eight solutions were shortlisted as finalists by the prize coalition in November 2019. Collectively, the finalists comprise around 25% of the total market share of RACs globally and have the potential to drive massive transformation in the industry.

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Swearing is F*^%ing Good

Before you judge someone for cursing think about why they’re cursing and listen. Researchers have found out that swearing can be a good thing for people in rather surprising ways. I’m sure you’ve yelled a curse word after hurting yourself, and that act actually increases your pain tolerance in the moment. That use of swearing is pretty easy to understand, other benefits of cursing aren’t as obvious. It turns out you should trust people who pepper their speech with the occasional swear.

Damn Honest 

Beyond swearing’s impacts on the body and mind, research has shown that cursing can influence our social dynamics, too. A 2012 study found that swearing can enhance the effectiveness and persuasiveness of an argument. In addition, cursing can also convey an emotional reaction to something without us resorting to physical violence. 

And while many might consider swearing less than savory, a recent study revealed that people who curse often actually lie less and have a higher degree of integrity. 

After the scientists surveyed how often participants use profanity, they conducted a series of tests to determine how truthful an individual was. The research team found a positive link between profanity and honesty. Cursing was associated with less deception on an interpersonal level, and higher levels of integrity overall.

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Modifying Crops to Survive the Climate Crisis

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Presently crop failures are increasing around the world and this will only get worse unless we act. Large teams of scientists researching crops are examining ways to help them survive our warming planet. They’re looking at less commonly known plants which can survive in harsh climates to help modify our crops.

It’s an urgent mission. A food crisis is looming, says the International Panel for Climate Change, with floods and droughts linked to climate change already affecting the supply and price of food. A recent report warns that the amount of crops produced globally is set to drop by as much as 30 percent in the next 30 years. Water shortages add stress to the system, threatening supplies of wheat, maize, and rice—which are included in about half of all the calories we consume.

The idea is to help crops become stronger and more adaptable through a breeding process that tweaks domesticated varieties with genes borrowed from those untamed cousins that survive drought, salinity, or disease.

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Giving Money Directly to the Poor can Help Entire Communities

money

Aid to poorer nations isn’t always a direct transfer of wealth, it can be training or other social support. Indeed, it’s often argued that giving money directly can increase corruption and that the recipients don’t have the knowledge to know how to use money. This attitude of (some) charities is patronizing and is increasingly questioned by groups that argue people should receive donated money directly. This is exactly what some recent researchers did and discovered that entire communities benefit when money is given directly to those who need it most.

“That’s a really big income transfer,” notes Miguel. “About three-quarters of the income of the [recipient] households for a year on average.” It also represented a flood of cash into the wider communities where they lived. “The cash transfers were something like 17% of total local income — local GDP,” says Miguel.

Eighteen months on, the researchers found that, as expected, the families who got the money used it to buy lots more food and other essentials. 

But that was just the beginning.

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