A Small Diet Change Makes a Big Difference


Absolutely no one is shocked by new research that concludes beef is the worst thing to eat. If we’re going to feed billions of people on the planet while also having a livable planet for billions then we all ought to consume less meat. Raising cattle only to slaughter is a wasteful use of land that can otherwise feed way more people and cause a lot less damage to the environment.

The production of food makes up a third of greenhouse gas emissions so just by making a small change to your diet you can make it easier on future generations to survive. Eat less meat, eat more vegetables.

The researchers built a database that provided a consistent emissions profile of 171 crops and 16 animal products, drawing data from more than 200 countries. They found that South America is the region with the largest share of animal-based food emissions, followed by south and south-east Asia and then China. Food-related emissions have grown rapidly in China and India as increasing wealth and cultural changes have led more younger people in these countries to adopt meat-based diets.

The paper’s calculations of the climate impact of meat is higher than previous estimates – the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization has said about 14% of all emissions come from meat and diary production. The climate crisis is also itself a cause of hunger, with a recent study finding that a third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate.

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Historians and Farmers Working Together will Help Crops Grow

Food price volatility and production due to climate change is upon us already, and you’ve probably noticed it at your local grocer through increase costs. Farmers are grappling with climate change’s impact on predictable weather, meaning crops are have a harder time growing and farmers have a hard time planning.

Historians provide a solution. By looking into how agrarian societies survived (and failed) in the past we can better see what our future holds. There are techniques, policies, and trading routes that we may need to revive from hundreds of years ago to ensure we can feed all on Earth.

Such policies and community projects, some of which I have had the privilege to be involved with, deal mostly with the present and the future. Yet for decades, climate historians have also looked to the past to more fully understand the relationship between human history and the Earth’s climate systems. Agriculture has been at the center of many of these studies, as many pre-industrial societies relied largely on arable crop outputs whose success was contingent on specific meteorological and ecological conditions. All methods of food production, from farming to hunting, fishing, and foraging, were intimately linked to seasonal, annual, and decadal variations in weather and climate. For agrarian societies who relied on arable staple crops such as wheat or rice, the success or failure of a harvest had multifold ramifications for individuals, communities, and economic systems. 

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Saying Yes is Easy, Realizing You Should Say No is Harder

When a friend or colleague asks for help your instinct may to say “yes” right away and to lend a hand. That quick response may not be the best approach for you or for the person you’re trying to help as it could lead to trouble. It’s too easy to overextend yourself and burnout, which can lead to actually failing to help your friend or by failing to deliver on something else entirely.
Think twice before saying yes, and don’t worry it doesn’t mean you’re rude.

Be diplomatic but truthful.
When it comes time to deliver your message, be assertive and clear without overexplaining. In other words, aim to be direct, thoughtful, and above all else, honest. For example, if you were pulling out of your friend’s committee, here’s what you might say: “When I said I could join the committee last month, I fully believed I had enough bandwidth to do a great job. After taking a closer look at my calendar, I realized I’ve overextended myself and there are several professional commitments I can’t move. This means I won’t be able to participate as chair.”

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Save the Planet from Your Kitchen

cooking prep

We are what we eat, and what we eat can change the world. All of us can make tiny changes in the kitchen to help reduce the harm modern food consumption does on the planet. Over at Eater they explore some ideas that people can try in their kitchen to improve their diet while also improving the planet. The really neat thing in this article is that it promotes us to learn from lockdowns during the pandemic when we all ended up making more home cooked meals.

Do what you can keep doing

Since the pandemic began, many of us have adopted efficient shopping and cooking practices out of necessity, but maintaining those habits post-pandemic could help make our lifestyles greener (and easier) in the long run. Look for stores reintroducing self-serve bulk sections and invest in quality food containers to continue saving money on ingredients in bulk, cut down on packaging, and reduce the number of trips to the store. Even if you return to the office, continue prepping meals on weekends and remain flexible with how you use ingredients to ensure you always have a decent meal after work. Clean the kitchen faster by integrating composting into your cooking routine, and reorganize your fridge to keep perishable ingredients visible to avoid food waste in the back. And pass down all these good habits to your kids, along with family recipes, to make them great helpers in the future.

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Organs Made in Outer Space

desert and stars

Custom made 3D printed organs in space may sound like science fiction, but it’s real and up at the International Space Station they are experimenting with how to print organs better than before. Printing organs is still a relatively new technology and we have good technology to print organs on Earth already. One problem with printing organic material is gravity, so a bunch of astronauts are flying over our heads right now trying to find out if printing organs in space can avoid problems of Earth-based organ printing.

The micro-gravity environment of the ISS was ideal for testing the Bio Fabrication Facility, which was launched into orbit in 2019 and is due for an upgrade in 2021. Developed by US companies Techshot and NScrypt, it is designed to print human cells into organ-shaped tissues. Initially Morgan was using it to test prints of cardiac-like tissue of increasing thicknesses. Ultimately, however, the team behind the technology hopes to refine the equipment so they can print entire human organs in space, which can be used in transplants.

Printing human organs is not quite as science fiction as it sounds. A number of bio-technology companies are working on different approaches, which aim to use a patient’s own cells make new tissue. In most cases they re-programme the cells by following a Nobel Prize-winning process developed a decade ago to turn them into stem cells, which are then theoretically capable of developing into any part of the human anatomy. Given the right nutrients and encouragement, these can then be induced into the cell type of choice. By suspending stem cells in a hydrogel that can be built into a scaffold to stop the growing structure collapsing in on itself, the desired cell type can then be printed layer by layer into living, functioning tissue. 

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