Environmentalism

Questlove and Grimes Are Worried About Climate Change

Recently the joint frontman, drummer, and multi-Grammy winner with the critically acclaimed band, The Roots, announced a partnership with the startup meat replacement company, Impossible Foods. The two announced that they are partnering to bring Philadelphia Phillies Fans vegetarian Philly Cheesesteaks branded as, “Questlove’s Cheesesteak.”

Source:  NBC

Source: NBC

Earlier this week, Grimes, who depending on the angularity of your haircut, may either know as Elon Musk’s former romance who almost helped tweet Tesla out of existence— or as the Juno award winning musician who’s last full length was released in 2015, announced that her next full length, Miss_Anthropocene, is going to be inspired by climate change.

While both of these artists enjoy a smaller spotlight than an International pop-star, with freedom to explore their own creative pursuits, they are still artists who are recognized and active in the mainstream. Questlove’s band, The Roots, gets airtime every night that the mainstream pinnacle, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, is on. Grimes, despite curated ‘indie’ roots, has gone on to collaborate with Janelle Monáe, tour with Lana del Rey, go to the Met Gala with Elon Musk, etc. These are artists that definitely have mainstream pull.

What’s inspiring and hopeful about these projects (even if you don’t live in Philly or won’t likely stream Miss_Anthropocene) is that mainstream, or mainstream adjacent artists are now head on tackling ideas of climate change. The environment has always been a topic amongst creatives, but amongst mainstream culture, there hasn’t been a distinct reckoning the climate crisis that face us.

“Each song will be a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a Pop star Demonology,” Grimes told us in her album announcement, then continued, “Climate change is something I’m only ever confronted with in a sad/ guilty way…. Reading news and what not… so my goal is to make climate change fun (lol..??)…. “ This could inspire her contemporaries to follow suit, and start to consider their place in a society that is in the middle of a climate crisis.

If we are going to reduce carbon emissions, a part of what we are going to have to do is reduce (or eliminate) our consumption of meat, especially red meat. According to the Guardian, “beef cattle raised on deforested land result in 12 times more greenhouse gases and use 50 times more land than those grazing rich natural pasture.” Questlove’s Philly Cheesesteak could serve as a testing ground to see how new consumers will react to vegetarian options. The average demographic of a professional sporting game is generally not going to be the same demographic of vegans who are worried about climate, so offering a meat substitute (branded by a hometown hero) is a perfect way to potentially save some future carbon emissions.

While these are two extremely, very, small examples of climate action in the grand aggregate, these are still two very influential people lending their names and reputations to climate action. Impossible Foods isn’t likely paying Questlove a fortune, especially not the amount of money he could probably get from a less admirable brand. Grimes’ new album could totally flop. The great thing is, it doesn’t matter too much, because these will likely serve as catalysts to get more creatives thinking about what they can do to advert climate change.

What If We All Just Went on Strike

On March 15, 2019 over 1.5 million people across Earth went on strike to demand climate action. Inspired by Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future campaign, people in 125 countries and all seven continents united to call for politicians and those in power to make real steps towards combating climate change. According to 350.org, the global action is the largest climate demonstration in history, and the organizers of the strike say this is just the beginning.

On March 15, 2019 over 1.5 million people across Earth went on strike to demand climate action. Inspired by Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future campaign, people in 125 countries and all seven continents united to call for politicians and those in power to make real steps towards combating climate change. According to 350.org, the global action is the largest climate demonstration in history, and the organizers of the strike say this is just the beginning.

“The March 15 strike is not the end of us — it’s just the beginning. There are some past climate movements that lost momentum after their initial big events, and we want to make sure that that is not something that can be said about us. We want to make sure that once we have this event, the movement doesn’t stop and in fact gets even stronger with our momentum. We have some long-term plans too. We’ve been contacted by the U.N to potentially speak at the climate summit in September of 2019. We will also continue to grow our movement, from the national and local scale to the international scale, and collaborate with other movements. We want to make sure that we are heard and seen by the media, by the regular bystander, by everybody.”
-
Maddy Fernands, National Press Director of Youth Climate Strike

Chicago, Il strike held in Federal Plaza

Chicago, Il strike held in Federal Plaza

Rideshare Companies Should Offer an 'Electric Car Only' Option

In 2017 there were 159 million rideshare trips in New York City- with 66 million coming solely from Manhattan. In the same time period, globally, Uber facilitated four billion rides and created a $6 billion business with Uber Eats. This new influx of transport options has not gone without controversy, with rideshare companies being blamed for increased levels of traffic congestion in major cities, which leads to increases in pollution and carbon emissions and a decrease in public health.

Source:  Uber

Source: Uber

These companies aren’t going anywhere any time soon and have cemented themselves within the global infrastructure. Efforts to curtail the amounts of drivers able to work for rideshare companies, limitations on hours, and even so far as Lyft’s self imposed offer to purchase carbon offset credits, are all examples of efforts to reign in the new technology of on demand ride hailing. It is clear that technology has gotten ahead of regulation when it comes to ridesharing, and as these companies near their anniversary for a decade of existence, it is also clear that they are in deep need of an update to our current climate reality.

When Uber and Lyft were founded, they were considered upstarts challenging the status quo of the much entrenched taxi industry. There is absolutely no feasible way to consider these companies as upstarts anymore. They are both filed to go public, have more money available to them than potentially ever in the history of corporations, and have blown their local competition of taxi medallions out of the water. At some estimates, when both of these companies go public, there will be 10,000+ more millionaires in San Francisco— alone. These companies are the new status quo.

So how does all of this relate back to climate change?

Source:  Uber

Source: Uber

If these companies are the new status quo, then they should act like it. It is an unavoidable fact that extreme climate change is happening, and that global corporations are a monumental perpetuator of the existential crisis that is currently facing the entirety of Earth.

At least with Uber, this is a company that has had to spend untold amounts of money, undergo numerous executive departures, and even changed their logo to seem more friendly. While historically less cutthroat, Lyft is also a company that really, really, wants you to think that they’re just your friendly neighborhood cab— despite the fact that they’re suing New York City over the city’s decision to make rideshare companies pay a minimum wage.

This is all to say that these companies clearly care about their public image, and have (since their inception) garnered enough economic standing to make global economic decisions. Elon Musk recently mused that Tesla’s mere existence speeds up the transition to the ideal of sustainable transport by at least 10 years. This makes total sense, given that when Tesla started out, oil and gas companies were actively lobbying electric cars out of existence. If Uber and Lyft gave their riders an option to filter their trips in a way that they only took their rideshare trips in electric vehicles, this could incentivize a similar electric acceleration in the rideshare market.

Source:  Uber

Source: Uber

66% of global consumers, and an astonishing 73% of millenials have reported that they would spend more money on sustainable products in comparison to less eco-friendly products of the same type. While an ‘Electric Only’ option might not be necessarily more expensive, there’s a chance for it to be slower. This could be a stretch of the imagination, but since time is money (or as the idiom goes), rideshare passengers might not mind the extra few minutes at pick-up, it they know that their trips are lessening the burden on the environment.

Neigh-sayers will say that electric cars still need electricity from somewhere, and that the majority of that electricity comes from non-renewable resources. This is true in one sense, that both ends need to be renewable for an electric car to be fully sustainable, but it is also usually a disingenuous attack. As more and more renewable energy capacity comes online, that electricity needs to go somewhere, and if a global rideshare corporation was to set a goal of having more riders go electric, then it very much stands to reason that is we can incentivize a transition— we should.

In conclusion, the argument boils down to this: are global corporations going to step up and take the climate crisis head on? In the case of rideshare companies, they have a potential to expedite the shift to electric transport. They currently aren’t doing much about this gleaming opportunity, despite setting mountains of cash on fire subsidizing the actual trips that they sell. If these companies really want to consider themselves the companies of the future, then they should better realize the reality of climate change.

Putting Away Plastic: The Rise of Zero Waste Grocery Stores

Around the globe, there is a drive to reduce plastic waste. The movement has picked up in many cities with hotels, restaurants and shops cutting down on the use of single-use items like plastic straws and bags. 

Most of this waste are used in packaging and many, frankly are unnecessary. From packing avocados and oranges in individual plastic wraps in places like Hong Kong, to boxes or cellophane wraps in the states. Some even package apples in hard plastic clamshells, bananas in foam trays, and in places like Japan, strawberries are packaged in a foam net before been put in a plastic straw and sold in a plastic wrap. 

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In years past, China had been recycling more than half of the world’s waste but since they stopped accepting wastes, the millions of tons of such waste have been left unattended many times. In many countries, plastic fibers contaminate tap water.

Key Drivers 

Last year saw the anti-plastic drinking straw campaign create the “year of the straw”. Big companies like Starbucks and McDonalds pledged to reduce or phase out plastic straw use. Loop, a new zero waste shopping platform has partnered with global companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble to brand-name goods in reusable containers. This means that instead of using plastic containers to package goods and having to trash them, Loop collects the reusable packaging and prepares it for fresh use.

It also would not be possible without the help of the government. The European parliament has approved a ban on single-use plastics (cutlery, straws and sticks) in the EU. British Prime Minister Theresa May has endorsed a plan to remove avoidable plastic waste in British supermarkets, with taxes on single-use containers. In the US, the state of California bans single-use plastic bags at large retail stores and Hong Kong is planning to implement a building management enforcement for plastic waste. 

Trailblazers

With such key drivers in the push for zero waste, it is easier to see why there is a rise in zero waste grocery stores. In the states, Precycle in Brooklyn is one of those stores that sell organic local produce and bulk food without packaging. The founder, Katerina Bogatireva said she was inspired by the Berlin based Original Unverpackt

Over in Canada, Nada are doing great and have reportedly diverted more than 30,500 containers from landfills. They also launched a zero-waste café where visitors are encouraged to bring their own cups from home. Out in Denver, Zero Market are also one of the leading lights in the drive for zero plastic waste in the environment. 

In Hong Kong, Live Zero and Edgar are two popular zero waste stores. Live Zero, which is more of a wholesale store keeps its items in clear self-service bins or dispensers which are then poured into containers that you come with from home, no plastic packaging. Edgar is more of a grocery shop and they even offer reusable containers for packaging rather than using plastic. 

Gradually, the change is getting to everyone. There are now plastic free supermarket aisle’s in Amsterdam (the first of its kind in the EU) while Waitrose now sells Pasta in boxes made from food waste

With legislature and global firms steering the wheel, zero-waste grocery stores will continue to rise as they offer a solution to sustainability in the environment.

Only 9% of Americans Actively Deny Climate Change

According to recent findings from Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication, only 9% of Americans are actively dismissive of climate change. This is a part of a study that broke American sentiment on climate change into six Americas: Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful, Dismissive. Breaking down the findings of this study, the researchers found that while 9% of Americans deny climate change- 91% of Americans fall into the spectrum of either being gravely worried about climate change to aware of climate change (but not thinking it is a big problem).

Source:  Yale

Source: Yale

This is a massive revelation, because that means that 91% of the United States is either aware of the problem or at the very least able to be convinced of the problem at hand. Even more encouraging is that 72% of United States citizens fall into categories that believe climate change science, and are motivated to do something.

This is a departure from the popularized notion that climate change is strictly a party line political issue. While opinions on climate change are a strong predictor or a single person’s political beliefs, no single party in the United States has 72% of the population to count as party members. This means that there is an inherent blending of political ideology within those who are aware that climate change is happening, and are motivated to do something about it.

While the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, has been a deep enemy of environmental causes as evidenced by his willingness to gut the sizes of national parks, refusal to switch from coal to renewable energy, reintroduction of asbestos, etc., it is worth noting that his actions on the environment don’t necessarily align with the sentiments held by the rest of his party.

Source:  Yale

Source: Yale

This shows up in further graphs where researchers asked participants how they would vote if a candidate actively opposed environmental regulation. The majority of respondents in the “worried about climate change” groups indicated that they would vote against a candidate who was anti-environment. Predictably, the group that actively denies climate science indicated that they would vote in favor of a candidate who was anti-environment. Interestingly enough though, in the groups that are either “disengaged” or “doubtful,” respondents indicated that they didn’t care whether the candidate was pro or against climate action.

This means that not only do the majority of Americans believe in climate science, but even those who might not yet tapped into climate findings are still able to be convinced. Only the 9% of Americans that are actively denying climate change and would support a candidate that was anti climate action, are the ones who are holding back climate progress.

This should inform how those who are pro climate action interact with those who they perceive to be anti climate action. In our current political climate where issues are becoming polarized to the ends of a bifurcated political system, it is rare to find an issue- and one that has already been deeply polarized, that can actually serve as a neutral ground in which to have constructive conversation. According to Yale’s findings, the environment is something that is important to most people, regardless of political affiliation, and if we engage with one another from that standpoint, we might be able to make sure that the 9% of deniers don’t halt 100% of climate progress.

California Cities Now Require 100% Electric Busses by 2029

California has yet again cemented themselves as a leader in the fight against climate change. Over the past few years they have enacted several forward thinking laws that have pushed their state to become a cleaner, more energy efficient location. California's Clean Air Agency has taken this even farther recently, by asking city transit agencies to make the change from fossil fuel driven buses to electric ones.

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Starting as early as 2023, transit must replace as much as 25% of their buses with electric. The amount will raise to 50% by 2026, and by the end of the decade, no transit company will be able to buy a bus that runs on fossil fuels such as diesel and gas.

Many cities have already begun to make these changes voluntarily. There are currently over 100 emission free buses on roads around California as we speak. These buses were purchased voluntarily, with no government mandates pushing the change.

The new rule won't include all buses in California. The mandate is for public transit only. School buses and privately owned buses will not be part of the change—for now anyway.

These changes to California's law did not come quickly or easily. Public transit is an important part of the natural gas industry, and losing the 5th largest economy in the world's transit will hurt their bottom line. These companies aren't the only ones that pushed back—some transit companies were against the changes too.

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Despite some who question the decision, the vote for accepting this mandate was unanimous. This may be in the hopes of stemming California's serious air quality issues. Several of California's cities have some of the worst air quality in the world, despite the many changes California has made to improve it.

The average transit bus can travel as much as 40,000 miles in a year, which is 4 times as much as the average car. It also consumes about 4 times as much gas per mile as the average car or truck. Combined, public transit is responsible for as much as 20% of the state’s transit related emissions, and this switch will remove as much as one million metric tons of carbon emissions from the air.

That's a huge amount for a relatively small change, and it could turn the tide for many smog choked cities around the state. Unfortunately, it doesn't come without a price. Emission free buses are significantly more expensive than traditional types. A normal, diesel powered bus costs about $500,000, a significant investment as it is. Cleaner burning natural gas buses costs $550,000 and electric buses can cost as much as $800,000.

While these initial costs are steep, they do cost less to run, and may pay for themselves over time. Until more of these buses are brought into daily use, it will be impossible to know for sure whether the buses are a good financial investment, even if there is no doubt they are a good investment for the future of our children, and for the environment.

Here’s a List of What Got Us Through 2018

While 2018 can generally be considered to be a Bad Year, there were still some things that brought some happiness to us. We asked our writers to consider their year and pick something that helped them get through the bad news of 2018, and hopefully they can help you do the same.

“Michelle Obama is a remarkable woman. I had the opportunity to see her
Wednesday night in Brooklyn, New York, as part of her book tour for Becoming.
Within 15 minutes of her coming out on stage, tears had welled up in my eyes.
Thinking back, I honestly can’t remember what she said that had made me so
emotional but now I realize it wasn’t what she had said – it was simply who she was
or rather, what she represents to every woman, young girl and person of color.
To me, she represents what hard work and motivation can get you. Michelle wasn’t
raised with a silver spoon but that never stopped her from accomplishing her goals
and setting new ones during the course of her life. To me, she represents a voice –
my voice – that deserves to be heard and whose story deserves to be told. To me,
she represents a future where society doesn’t ignore women but instead cherishes
them for all they have to offer.
This year has been filled with many memorable moments and experiences but
seeing Michelle speak has been one of the best moments of my life. And I’d like to
think that it wasn’t solely because I got to see her (and those boots!) but also
because I got to share it with a diverse room of people with a common appreciation
for who she is and what she represents – the promise of what could be.” -Chloe Castleberry

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“In Western Germany, less than an hours train ride from the bustling metropolitans of
Dusseldorf and Cologne, lies the biodynamic farm Hof zur Hellen. An idyllic and
enchanting place, I volunteered there for several weeks where I was welcomed into a
whole new world of weeding fields of cabbage, digging for potatoes, piling manure,
herding cows, and feeding pigs. I was astonished by how much I enjoyed the experience: the satisfaction at the end of a hard day’s work, the gratification of holding the literal fruits of your labor in the palm of your hand, the encounters with fellow volunteers from around the world, the knowledge and dedication of the workers. Through a core group of hard-working, open-minded, and devoted individuals, Hof zur Hellen is dedicated to the raising of animals and the growing of crops in an ecologically-sound and environmentally-friendly manner. It stands as a staple within its community, providing a high quality organic food source within the region. During my time there, I was impressed and inspired not only by its sustainable farming practices and its impact on the local level, but also by the hospitality, warmth, and trust of the people who live and work there. As 2018 draws to a close, my singular experience at Hof zur Hellen stands out as a reminder of the painstaking labor carried out by those who care about making a difference in the community and I’m grateful to have been a part of those who are committed to working for positive change.” -Emily Cai

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"2018 has been a dire year for the climate. Emissions have risen. Extreme weather hammered home the fact that climate change is a grim reality. As for halting it, there is a window of opportunity still just open. As it closes, the inaction of our most powerful governments inspires despair among scientists and citizens alike. 
But hope is not gone. Not yet.
2018 has seen an idea dawn in American government: a Green New Deal. The New Deal of our grandparents restored the Dust Bowl, the most severe environmental disaster the U.S. had ever encountered, during the worst financial collapse in history. The Green New Deal, backed by over 30 members of the House of Representatives, could see our nation boom with solar energy jobs as it takes the lead against climate change. 
Americans beat the last great crisis with tomato gardens, tin cans, and grit. Now, the nation clamors for action. Whether through civil disobedience or bicycle rebellion, citizens demand to live green. Nobody pretends that the change will be easy. Nothing meaningful ever is. In the words of a famous riveter, we can do it. With our leaders on our side, nothing is impossible.
The Green New Deal is still just a proposal, the seed of the mighty change that must occur if we are to save our world. 2018 will be remembered as the year that seed began to sprout. A movement has begun to grow. Let’s make it strong this upcoming year." - Anna Gooding-Call

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“While 2018 was officially deemed by most as the the worst possible timeline, the pop culture arena was the reprieve we all needed: enter Ariana Grande. The light, indeed, is coming to bring back everything the darkness stole, and no other light shone brighter than Grande as she came to collect her things. From securing a number one album, three top 10 hits, her first number one single, and two Grammy nominations, Grande remerged on the scene with “No Tears Left to Cry” a soulful, yet upbeat single eulogizing her Manchester Arena concert where, just a year prior, a suicide bombing killed 23 concertgoers while wounding 139 others. From terrorist attacks to enduring the beginning and ending of her engagement with SNL comedian Pete Davidson and the untimely death of her ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, after the dissolution of their relationship six months prior, this past year has been increasingly challenging for the 25-year-old songstress. Despite the hardships however, through her music she was able to excel through the pain and revel in this moment as Billboard’s official Woman of The Year where she ends 2018 still atop the charts with her record-breaking smash hit, “Thank U, Next.” With over 130 million followers, I think it’s fair to say we all can’t wait to see what’s next for Grande.” -Brandon Sams

"In 2018, I put the brakes on my all-consuming career and focused on what we oddly refer to as "the little things". In short, I started spending time enjoying life. This, in turn, has made me a more pleasant person to be around (or so I’m told). Following are some of the choices I made which have greatly improved my existence, in no particular order:
I studied the philosophers - from Socrates to Simone de Beauvoir.
I began going on long walks - and really taking in the beauty our planet provides us. 
I researched vegan nutrition, became a soup-making expert, and committed to (mostly) eating well.
I joined a weekly movie outing with friends.
I unwisely made a declaration to said friends that I would start remembering the names of actors and actresses’. (I failed miserably). I found a houseplant that is efficient at recycling indoor air, can survive on minimal sunlight, and is not toxic to cats or dogs (I’m looking at you, Boston Fern).
I nearly killed that plant and then brought it back to life, with a grow-light...and appropriate watering. 
I attended parties, dinners, and concerts – alone(!).
I spent time with the elderly – specifically my 87-year-old Grandmother and my 14-year-old Labrador Retriever.
I started a weekly board-game night with my family.
And I became inspired by my two-year-old nephew to improve my Spanish.
In 2018, I chose to engage with the world around me. And that just may be the best decision I've ever made.” -Jessica Jentz

“This year, more than ever, it seemed that everywhere I looked, I saw nothing but bad news. The biggest respite from this never-ending tidal wave of misery and misfortune came in an unexpected form: Paddington 2. For one hour and forty-five minutes, the adventures of this adorable little Peruvian bear and his quintessentially British family whisked me away from all my troubles and firmly transplanted me in a world where, as Paddington says, “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.” This is no ordinary children’s movie. It’s thoroughly delightful without ever veering into saccharine territory, and Paddington’s wacky misadventures were compelling enough to keep me intrigued. (Spoiler alert: Paddington gets framed for a crime he didn’t commit, gets sentenced to prison, transforms the prison into a Wes Anderson-esque marmalade paradise, and then breaks out of said prison.) Plus, the sight of Paddington’s fuzzy little face was so ridiculously cute that it literally made my eyes well up with tears on multiple occasions. Although it may seem silly, I am completely and utterly enamored with the world of Paddington 2. It was an enduring bright spot in an otherwise chaotic and difficult year, and its inexhaustible optimism and determination is something that we can all hope to emulate in the years to come.” -Caroline Hsu

"Let’s start with Super Bowl 52 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Looking at this game on paper and based on historical performances between both teams involved many would say the Patriots would win this match up. After 4 quarters of exciting football, the Eagles walked away victorious 41-33. Next, to the ice where the Washington Capitals made their second Stanley Cup appearance in 20 years. They went to battle against the first-year expansion team; Las Vegas Knights. Furthermore, after five matches on the ice the Washington Capitals brought the Stanley Cup back to the nation’s capital. 
From the ice to the hardwood, in one of the most dominating performances the Golden State Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Golden State Warriors won their third title in four years, allowing them to make their case as a modern-day dynasty. 
Fast forward to October where another sweep almost occurred between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a long-drawn game three of 18 innings and seven hours and twenty minutes of play. The Boston Red Sox, claimed the World Series in five games. 
To round out the year the MLS Cup, Atlanta United beat the Portland Timbers in strategic but dominating fashion 2 -0, after only being in the MLS for only two seasons I hope this 2018 major league sports breakdown gives your insight and an idea of what’s to come soon of the sports world.” -Corey James

The Impossible Burger and Earth's Future

An Impossible Burger has been ordered at the Salty Dog in Brooklyn, New York. The thick red patty is placed on the grill, and the heavenly smell of cooking meat fills the air. The burger is cooked to still slightly pink perfection, crispy and brown on the outside, and nestled into a bun with a crown of lettuce and tomato. A handful of golden fries are laid alongside, and the burger is taken out to the hungry guest. The patron bites into the juicy burger, enjoying the glorious sin that is perfectly cooked beef.

Except there is no beef in it.

The Impossible Burger is part of the artificial meat movement, a growing phenomenon where meat is consumed in every possible manner, without ever once slaughtering an animal to get it. Gone are the days where carnivores had to choose between their ideals about the environment, and their desire to sink their teeth into a fresh and juicy steak.

Faux meat, such as the Impossible Burger, uses the power of heme to make their burgers so realistic. Heme, which is found in animal blood and is responsible for much of the flavor we associate with meat, is also found in the roots of legumes. These foods have come a long way from the lackluster bean patties of yesterday, but they aren't the only option now for carnivores with a conscience.

Another option currently being worked on by scientists is lab grown meat. While lab grown meant has been around for over a decade, you haven't seen it in the supermarket yet because of its costs. The first burger patty grown without the need to slaughter a cow cost $323,000 to produce. The cost of it now? $11.

While it may be a few more years before these lab produced meats become widely available, the growing demand for meat that doesn't impact the environment has been heard loud and clear by investors all around the world.  The reason for this shift isn't about our emotional bond with livestock, although this has been the main reason people have stopped eating meat in the past. It is due to a far more urgent reality: Agriculture is currently responsible for 16% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Outside of the energy sector, agriculture has the largest impact on global warming.

While 16% might seem like a small amount, this is actually around 6 billion tons of GHGs flooding into our atmosphere every year. Most of those carbon emissions come from livestock, from ruminants in particular. As Earth's temperatures rise, the alarming state the world is in has put extensive pressure on countries around the world to do something about it, and fast. Island nations such as the Maldives and Nauru may completely disappear due to climate change, and some nations have already been forced to relocate due to rising sea waters.

Greenhouse gases aren't the only issues the intensive farming of animals is causing the planet. 80% of amazon forest clearing is so that farmers can raise cattle in the cleared areas. This magnifies the problem by removing carbon sequestering trees while at the same time adding methane producing cows. 

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The deforestation is responsible for yet another crisis the planet is facing, the mass extinction of animals. On any given day, 150-200 animal species go extinct. These include animals we are familiar with, such as the West African black rhinoceros, which was declared extinct in 2011. Others are animals we don't even know about yet, dying because of narrow ranges destroyed by habitat loss. While extinction is a normal part of nature, this is several times the normal rate of extinction, and much of it is attributed to agriculture.

These alarming statistics are pretty conclusive evidence against keeping livestock, but culture is a powerful thing. For the majority of first world citizens, the idea of losing their beloved burgers is a hard one to accept, and it is easier to turn a blind eye on global warming or point at other, easier things to fix, than to change your lifestyle to match your ideals.

While this may seem like a petty excuse, it is one that needs to be addressed if real change is going to take place. Ending meat consumption is hard, and big business doesn't make it any easier. We are constantly surrounded by advertisements tempting us to eat more and more, and meat as well as other animal products are heavily subsidized.

When a bunch of carrots costs more than a burger off the dollar menu, choosing the option that is better for the planet gets a whole lot harder. If the true price of meat, dairy, and other animal products were reflected in the prices, meat eaters themselves might well find the strength to stop the cycle themselves. For some, who may even want to make the switch to a healthier lifestyle such as veganism or even a Mediterranean diet, which is less environmentally destructive, it is impossible. They are simply priced out of the market.

Source:  Eater

Source: Eater

In the Fake America controlled by subsidies, milk sometimes costs less than $2 a gallon, and eggs can go for as little as $0.99. If the true prices were reflected on the store shelves instead of in our taxes, that gallon of milk could be as much as $6 a gallon, and so could the eggs.

In the mean time, those who care about the environment and truly want to save the planet are surrounded by difficult choices every day. It's thanks to incredibly realistic faux meats like The Impossible Burger, and lab grown meats that don't require the intensive farming cheap meat does, that other options are now on the table.

We need to make a shift in our diets in order for the next generation to have a future at all. That much is clear. Doing so requires a social shift that may seem impossible, but with the help of scientists and other researchers all around the world, that change is becoming easier every day. 

Click here to find where to try the Impossible Burger.

The Origin and Impact of Earth Day

As Earth Day's 50th Anniversary approaches, it pays to look back on the start of this important holiday, and understand how it came to be. In the 1950s, before Earth Day was even being considered as a concept, no one gave much thought for the environment. The chemical industry was at its peak, and there was little in the way of protection for the environment. When most people thought of environmentalism, they didn't think about protecting the oceans from things like plastic and oil spills, instead they thought of things like setting aside land for animals and protecting old growth forests. 

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In the 1960s, this all began to change. The first major ripple to hit the status quo was Rachel Carson's book, “Silent Spring.” The book brought to the attention of the average man or woman the damage being done to the environment by the chemical industry. It was a very popular book at the time, and it changed the minds of many people about how they viewed the environment.

Silent Spring got people thinking about the environment, and a series of environmental disasters helped launch people into action. Among them were major oil spills off of the California cost, and pollution so bad in the great lakes, a river leading to Lake Eyrie actually caught on fire. 

Source:  Sierra Club

Source: Sierra Club

These disasters coupled with many others galvanized environmentalists into action. Determined to make an impact, they began to plan a grass roots movement to help take a stand for the good of the planet. That grass roots movement was a concept called Earth Day, and it launched April 22nd, 1970. Over 20 million people left their homes to attend events around the United States in an overwhelming show of support for this movement. Their efforts had a profound impact. The government hastened to create legislation to protect against some of the worst atrocities that big business was having on the environment. 

The same year as Earth Day had its first event, the United States came out with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. These two bits of legislation changed the world for the better. Instead of being allowed to spew what ever dangerous chemicals they wanted into the air or dumped into streams, factories now had to meet specific standards.

Years before Earth day started, twenty people in a small town called Donora died from air pollution expelled by a factory. According to the EPA, the Clean Air Act is credited with preventing as many as 160,000 premature deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, and as many as 83,000 hospitalizations. The clean water act as had an equally large impact. When the Clean Water Act first went into effect, only 1/3 of the United State's water was safe to be used. This climbed to over 2/3rds.

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These successes alone both had a strong impact on improving the environment, and with the installation of a new agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, also a direct reaction to Earth Day, the environment suddenly had a fighting chance for good.

Earth Day then took a back seat on the world's stage until 1990, when environmentalists again rallied to the cause. This time not 20 million, but 200 million people. This time their goal wasn't to stop the flow of toxins being let loose into the air and water, but to make Earth Day a global event. Their focus this time was on recycling.

Once again the efforts of environmentalists around the globe were impactful. Their events gained global attention to the impact throwing out aluminum cans and other highly recyclable items had on the world. The average person learned that when they threw something away, they needed to realize that there is no “away”. There is just our one planet.

The 1990 Earth Day celebrations were mainly created by two foundations developed specifically for the vent. The Earth Day 20 Foundation, and Earth Day 1990. These foundations were lead by many of the same people who had been essential in the first Earth Day. These people included Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was the original founder of the 1970 Earth Day, Edward Furia who was the Project Director for Earth Week, 1970 and Denis Hayes, National Coordinator for Earth Day 1970.

Their efforts spread Earth Day from just the United States to 161 countries. A team of climbers on Mount Everest brought down two tons of garbage left by other hikers on the way to the summit, and as many as 20,000 people at a time visited Times Square in New York for Earth Day related events.

Source:  NBC

Source: NBC

Earth Day 1990 was once again a success, and it would eventually lead to Senator Nelson receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton five years later. It put environmentalism back in both the political and the public eye. 

By the time Earth Day 2000 rolled around, the number of participating countries had climbed even higher to 184 countries participating. The focus this time was on global warming, and the possibly cataclysmic results.

The impact of this Earth Day was profound. Now businesses and politicians were very aware of how much the environment meant to people, and they scrambled to take advantage of it.

Just two years after Earth Day 2000, California passed the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the eventual end goal being that at least half of California's utilities come from renewable sources by 2030. Given the size of the state, it was a huge success for environmental activists everywhere.

Electric and hybrid cars became a fashion statement, and consumers flocked to get more gas efficient vehicles. With the rising costs of gasoline, having a cheap way to refuel made them even more popular.

By the time Earth Day 2010 rolled around however, environmentalism was facing threat. While people still wanted to protect the environment, the oil industry was starting to fight back. Some people even stated that climate change was fake, and that there were no signs of the green house effect after all. Despite all this, environmentalists still gathered, and companies that were hesitant to change began to yield to the demands of people all around the world.

The changes from Earth Day have become pervasive throughout business and politics alike. Most companies now have a link on their website addressing sustainability and what their company is doing to reach it. Even companies that have nothing to do with the environment in their business, are making an effort to appeal to consumers by changing how they do business.

In some cases this is changing over to using only sustainable energy, using biodegradable materials, or using recycled materials in their products. The change in big business is becoming more common, and politics has been following behind, albiet at a somewhat slower pace.

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Recently the Paris Climate Accord brought together many of the world's greatest powers. In total, 175 countries signed the pledge, agreeing to lower greenhouse emissions and deal with their own countries carbon footprints. Despite the agreement not going into effect for several years after the agreement was signed, many countries began making ambitious changes right away.

China in particular, one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, has already made strides toward their goal. They have introduced coal caps in high coal consumption areas, introduced new legislation to make new buildings increasingly environmentally friendly, and started fining companies that polluted too much.

This has made them a world leader in the environmental front, and put them ahead of many other countries who are also struggling to support their environment. Another notable country making big changes to help the environment is Finland.

While Finland doesn't produce nearly the same amount of carbon emissions as China does, it has made notable strides in its own right. As one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world. While reducing carbon emissions is an important part of the climate accord, so is sequestering as much as the green house gas emissions being produced as possible. This means forests, which are one of the greatest ways to help keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Finland has some great policies in place to help maintain their forest, and even have tourism based on how pristine and beautiful their landscape is. Their success at managing their sustainability has even gotten its own name, “The Finnish Model,” and is being used as an example of how to create sustainability in other countries. With an EPI of 90.68, Finland is leading the way in sustainability, and will hopefully be a model closely followed by other countries in their struggles against climate change.

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Thanks to Earth Day in many respects, the environment has gotten a helping hand from countries all around the world. As glaciers melt and weather phenomenon related to global warming sweept the globe, more people are realizing that climate change is part of the problem.

The next major Earth Day celebration will be 2020. This anniversary is an important one because it will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and environmentalists everywhere are already gearing up to tackle it.

Many of the topics for Earth Day 2020 will be the same, but some new campaigns are being added in. One of the most important ones is the threat of plastic pollution in the world's oceans, and drawing awareness to the problems this plastic is causing.

Thanks to the throw away culture big business has created, we are accustomed to getting nearly every disposable item in its own plastic bottle or bag, and then throwing it away when we are finished with the disposable item inside. We throw it away, without considering the fact that there is no “away.”

While some of this material gets recycled, a lot of it ends up in the oceans. Vast quantities of plastic have ended up in the Oceans, creating huge rafts of floating debris in the gyres that form in the ocean. This plastic isn't just ugly—it kills wildlife. Sea turtles commonly mistake plastic bags for jelly fish and eat them, often resulting in death. Those that survive may not reproduce due to the plastic in their guts. Sea birds, fish, and other wildlife also end up eating and dying from the plastic, and the plastic itself causes changes in the PH of the ocean.

This will no doubt be a huge part of the campaign, and with the success of Earth Day's past, we can hope that this Earth Day will help provide more help to the environment by shedding light on this terrible problem caused by plastic pollution.

Earth Day has been around for 48 years, and it has seen sweeping change in how people view the environment. From the complete ignorance of what was going on and the terrible damage being done to the world, to knew science constantly being added, the last 48 years has seen major change in the world.

In 50 more years, we can hope that we will have changed our ways and become a more sustainable world, with greenhouse gas under control, throw away plastics banned, and more thoughtful people paying attention to what they do. These changes won't come without a fight though. It starts with individual people who choose to make changes in their own life, and also add their voice to others so that their government hears their demands.

Change can be as simple as carrying a reusable plastic bag to the market, or planting your own garden so your food does not have to travel thousands of miles in order to get to your plate. We can change the world just by making small changes in our own lives, a vital and important aspect of Earth Day itself. With our combined effort, we can make this planet a good one for the next generation. Hopefully, the world as a whole will try, and Earth Day 2070 will be a remarkable one.