To Eat Meat…

March 31, 2013

As some of you may already know, I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a vegan for quite some time now. Partially because I am concerned for the environmental impacts of large-scale livestock production, partially to become healthier, absolutely because of the harm put onto innocent animals, etc. All of these factors that have made me want to follow this path of vegetables mainly came about from Netflix documentaries, books, and my recent environmental sustainability minor declaration. A couple of weeks ago in Global Environmental Problems we watched the film Food Inc. I have probably seen this movie five times, but every time I watch it I feel like I learn something new. One of the contributors to the film and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan believes that when it comes to our food choices “the best choice for your pleasure, the best choice for your health, the best choice for the environment are all the same. I think that’s a very positive thing” (Website Here). Here are some statistics for the environmental impact a meat-eating diet has on the environment.

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These charts indicate that the energy needed and greenhouse gases that are emitted to produce food for a person on a vegan diet is far better for the environment than that of a meat-eaters. You can learn more about the facts on this website. Although the choice to forgo meat from one’s diet is pretty obvious, there are some major set backs tot his lifestyle change. The one that has been the most frustrating for me to deal also happens to be brought up in Food Inc.

It’s safe to say that Monsanto basically controls the soybean industry in the U.S. In a nutshell, “Monsanto’s actions are designed to maximize its corporate profits, not to serve the people. Its entire seed-and-herbicide business model is designed to trap farmers in a system of economic dependence… to turn farmers into indentured servants who can never return to traditional farming after their soil has been destroyed with Roundup” (Learn more here). In my previous attempts at “veganism” I have relied a bit on protein sources like tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products…we have a moral dilemma on our hands! Do I put the suffering of innocent animals in front of the fact that farmers around the country are being controlled by major corporations? Or I could buy strictly plant based, organic, GMO free, whole foods, but let’s be honest, I don’t have the means for that yet. While Food Inc. and other media like it make me want to change the modern food system as we know it, I know it’ll take a lot of efforts by me and others to really make a change in how Americans eat. As for now, my plan is to eat vegan within my means and hopefully be able to stick with it as a lifestyle that will not only benefit my health, the well being of others, including animals, but also the environment!

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The Future for Energy

March 2, 2013

Happy spring break everybody!! I hope you all have some time to relax and process all the problems/possible solutions we’ve been discussing in class these past couple of weeks. Now I’ll admit, I’m not perfect when it comes to living a sustainable life (yet). But generally speaking, I’d like to think that I have at least a broad idea of our current global environmental problems and the solutions thus far. It was surprising to me that I’ve never ever heard of Hydrogen electricity… until last class at least. Living on the East Coast my whole life has lead me to be mostly pushing for the idea of offshore wind energy options where they’re possible because it’s a relatively inexpensive operation (unlike many other sustainable energy practices ideas) and wind energy would eventually pay for itself! One of the problems with this method though is that not everyone would have access to the offshore/constant wind supply, so what else can we do?

Naturally, I decided to look further into the idea of Hydrogen energy and I found this interesting example of its current use, “NASA has used liquid hydrogen since the 1970s to propel the space shuttle and other rockets into orbit. Hydrogen fuel cells power the shuttle’s electrical systems, producing a clean byproduct – pure water, which the crew drinks” (website here). Isn’t that crazy! They can actually drink the energy byproduct because it’s pure water. This process would provide electricity and heating in buildings as well as an electrical energy source for electric cars and other vehicles. Also, alternative fuels, both renewable and non-renewable would be able to produce hydrogen to be stored and transported when needed. This is important because in the transition to renewable energy, we can still produce this hydrogen energy from the fossil fuels as well as supplement the hydrogen when solar and wind are not possible because they are fairly unpredictable. On top of all of that, the only byproducts from this energy source are pure H2O…that’s pretty remarkable. Here’s a chart that compares Hydrogen energy in comparison to other energy sources:

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As you can see, its amount of CO2 released is 0 unlike the other fuels mentioned. Obviously, there are still economic, practicality, and other setbacks in starting this transition to Hydrogen fuels, like most renewable energy source options. I still think that this is an energy source worth exploring further and eventually implicating in the near future to break our dependency on foreign oil.

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