A couple of years ago my parents decided to start their very own vegetable garden –a long-time dream. Growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and cauliflower prooved to be more challenging than expected. Except the salad, which consequently is served for dinner for four summer months straight. Tomato diseases and bad weather cause some disappointment every now and then, yet never did it mean there was no food on the table. In the end, my mom still brings plenty of fresh produce from the supermarket every week.
I used to write regularly about politics here on the Shift. Its importance for tackling climate change is pretty obvious: a problem that transcends national borders asks for a political and diplomatic solution. Yet, together with my audience, I got discouraged by the fact that the positive progress that has been made on that front always seems to be ‘too little, too late’. I chose to focus my articles on entrepreneurs and scientists paving the way for solving the climate crisis. From the response I got from you, my dear readers, it seems you like that approach.
This week I am enjoying Greek salads with feta cheese, morning swims in the sea, and lazy afternoons in the sun. I am in Cyprus, a country whose tourism sector’s greenhouse emissions per capita are the sixths largest in the world. And it’s not the Cypriots who are to blame, rather the troops of tourists (including me) that fly into the Mediterranean island to enjoy their holidays in luxurious hotel rooms kept cool by batteries of air conditioners. Thanks to a new study, for the first time ever we now have a comprehensive overview of the footprint of global tourism. And it’s not a pretty picture, rather an inconvenient truth (to use Al Gore’s words).
Besides an overly complicated political system, Belgium is also known for its chocolate and beer. The latter also make up for the sh*t weather we get most of the time. But, climate change is there to endanger the future of our national points of pride. Cocoa supply, on the one hand, will soon fall short, while the key bacteria in the Brussels air to produce the famous Lambic beer are going extinct.
More than enough reason for Belgian-based beer multinational AB InBev to do its share in reducing its environmental impact. For four years, they have been testing and refining a new brewing method aimed at cutting energy and water usage in their research brewery in Leuven. And it seems the effort paid off. Get yourself a beer from the fridge and read on!
A warm breeze blows into my room while I am writing this blog post. It carries the sound of people strolling through the streets and the inviting sound of an ice cream cart in the distance. Our country has been blessed with beautiful weather for three days in a row and national happiness levels have at least tripled. Less happy are the bananas in my fruit basket, which have turned completely brown in no time. Or at least far quicker than the three girls at the other side of the street who brought out their beach chairs to take a tan.
And although I should have been smarter and store my bananas in the fridge, the lack of proper refrigeration is, in fact, a key source of food spoilage around the planet, not least in developing countries. I have written before about how frustrating and sad it is that 3.1 million children die from hunger every year, while 30 to 40% of all fresh produce is lost along the food value chain. Add a growing population and the environmental burden of agriculture to the mix, and it’s clear a solution is more than due. Improving shelf life is a huge opportunity to do more with less.
I am sure you all have seen those heart-sickening pictures of dead albatrosses on the beaches of the Galapagos Islands. Between what remains from their deck of feathers, plastic bottle caps are bulking out of their stomachs. The issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans is reaching alarming rates with far-reaching impacts. It seems that finally, the issue has reached the greater public thanks to mind-boggling footage in documentaries like the Plastic Ocean, and the renowned BBC series Blue Planet II. Better late than never. If the little sea turtles tangled up in an abandoned fisher net didn’t pull you over the line, the danger of microplastics building up in the fish on your plate surely should get you onboard the fight against ocean plastics. But you might be wondering… where to start?