Intergenerational Climate Justice


Currently I’m reading “This changes everything” by Naomi Klein and let me tell you – it is an amazing book. The courses I have taken so far were mainly focused on the environmental consequences and causes of climate change. This book opens the perspective to think about the deeper roots. Our consumption. Capitalism. It challenges the values we have accepted to be true for so many decades. Endless growth is not possible with finite resources and a finite capacity of our earth to store carbon. Endless growth is not possible when it makes those most vulnerable suffer even more, when it undermines the social system. We do not only need to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies but we have to change our perspective on our energy consumption.

The issue of climate change is one of international justice, intergenerational justice. Developed countries have been able to grow through the use of fossil fuels. Developing countries are now facing the consequences of this behaviour, while also not having made the same development as industrialised countries yet. Which makes them even more vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

How will we explain to our children and grandchildren that we were busy saving the oil and coal industry because they so clearly reflect the great and noble values we stand for?

There is a way out of this whole dilemma. We need to find both a political, social, and economic solution.

If we spent less time and energy tearing each other down and instead focused on building each other up, we would be far better off. We need to not only think about the environment but about other people. Not as bodies, not as religions, not as races, not as parties, but as people. The central message of all religions is one of love and compassion. That’s what we are aiming for and capable of. Why don’t we start there? We need to address our common humanity. Climate change is a social issue before everything else. And until we accept this as true there will be no long-lasting sustainable change. We need to celebrate our identities, but we also need to celebrate our oneness. Our unity is our strength as a people.
We need to listen to marginalised voices to be able to include them in our picture of the world. We are more alike than we are different. Those who were excluded from the narrative were perceived as something very different. This enabled others to take advantage of those whose voices were never promoted. Who never had the power to speak out against the injustice. Now it the time to change that. Climate change gives us the opportunity and also the obligation to bring more equality to the world. When we shift our view away from the borders that separate us and instead to the cultures that connect us, we would be able to solve climate change and to avoid the devastating consequences it will have.

Festival of Leaves 2016: Week 12


Festival of Leaves

Dear Autumn Lovers!

After a tough week it seems like for all of you the sun has shown again. It seems, though, that autumn is slowly coming to an end… As I went for a walk yesterday and all the leaves were beautifully illuminated.

We have a new participant: Tish! https://tishfarrell.com/ Welcome!

I hope you are all having a nice week

Lots of love

verena

img_20161113_113340img_20161113_113402

Those galleries are always a highlight of my week 😉

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NaNoWriMo Day 7: Vegan Struggles


“Where do you get your protein/iron/calcium/zinc/vitaminD/{insert any nutrient here} from?” It’s in the plants, people!

I was a vegetarian for a year before I went vegan around two months ago. I’ve never been strict, I ate fish sometimes. In retrospect I’m thinking: How could I? Fish = animals. Fish feel pain. The fish species we catch nowadays will be gone in 2048. I do not want to contribute to that.

A book opened my eyes as I started to consider that all animals giving us eggs and milk also are held in factory farming. The beaks of chicken are cut off, male chicken are killed before they grow. They live on tiny spaces and even the “Bio-Eggs” are from chicken who are slaughtered after one year because they will not give as many eggs the next year. We created a system in which it is cheaper to kill a hen and raise a new one than to let it live longer and get less eggs.

Cows. When do cows give milk? When they are having a baby. What is the purpose of that milk? To feed the baby and let it grow fast. What do we have to do to get the milk for ourselves? We need to take the baby away. Milk has a lot of fat so that the baby cow grows. 70% of people are lactose-intolerant. Why do we put dairy in our bodies then? I watched a video with an interesting question. Why cows? Why not chimpanzees? We are more related to primates than to cows! Would you find it gross to drink chimpanzee milk? Why do you drink cow’s milk? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4HJcq8qHAY)

Do you have pets? Why do you eat a pig than a dog? Whose rules are they? There are a lot of questions concerning veganism I would like to answer. It’s a choice and I want to show you an alternative.

“Why?”

I’m choosing a vegan lifestyle because I find the whole system of our food industry disgusting. These animals do not have a life. Each individual should have the right to live without pain, fear and being crammed in such a little space they want to kill one another. A life without being fed massive amounts of antibiotics or supplements. A life that does not lead up to being slaughtered after one year.

For environmental reasons. The emissions of factory farming are higher than of the whole transport system. We cannot sustain that in the future. We are polluting the water with the sewage of factories, polluting the air with the emissions. Polluting our bodies with the substances these animals have eaten.

For health reasons. A low fat diet prevents cardiovascular diseases, cancer and all the diseases we have acquired over decades due to a changed lifestyle. I’m getting much more iron now (green-leaved veggies, beans, grains), many more vitamins (because veggies make up 50% of my diet) and I feel awesome.

“How?”

It’s easy to be vegan. I would never have thought that. There are some rules, though.

1. Buy vegan food. If you only have vegan products in your fridge, you’ll have no problems.
2. Inform yourself. Where you get your nutrients from. Which products are be vegan. Which places you can have a vegan lunch at.
3. Stay calm if you are asked the same questions continuously. Rage doesn’t help. Try to inform others. It’s sad that you sometimes are urged to apologise for being vegan. For the inconvenience. For telling them about the current food industry and making them turn away. I hope that one day many people will be as supportive as my study course is.

“What do you even eat?”

I chose a high starch – low fat diet. That means I’ll have rice/ potatoes/ pasta/ etc together with veggies and legumes. I love eating. Today I finally found vegan gingerbread in the grocery store. Which leads us to the next question…

“Do you even know what’s in that whole vegan stuff?”

Of course I don’t. My food is produced by the same industry as your meat. But I am aware of what I eat and I inform myself about it. I try to buy bio and from my region. Of course there will be unhealthy products. At least no animals have suffered for my dinner. I’m feeling good about my choices.

“But your cosmetics aren’t all vegan! Caught you!”

Do you know how hard it is to find a vegan lipstick? I searched for one for 20 minutes! Once there are more alternatives I will turn to them. Until then I have to either quit or make an exception.

“Then you aren’t a real vegan anymore!”

“Ok that’s all cool but when will you be normal again?”

Oh, you mean like – carnivorous – normal again? For many peoples in this world it wasn’t the norm until the western world and its exploding market of dairy products and meat made them change. You know who has the highest dairy consumption? The US and the northern European countries. Do you know who has the highest rates of osteoporosis? The US and the northern European countries…

(There is a lot of calcium in dairy products. But also in vegetables like kale. If you consume milk, though, the acid in it will change the pH in your body a bit. To compensate, the body uses Calcium, Ca2+. Out of your bones. That means, if you only try to get your calcium from dairy products, chances are that you will have a lot less calcium in your bones in the end. I’m not a medical doctor or an expert so please check other sources. It’s just that we sometimes have to analyse the fairytales we have been told in our childhood.)

“People are omnivores!”

Just look at this graphic. It will explain a lot:
http://www.whale.to/c/10013268_676368449097110_1949968139_n.jpg

Vegan Struggles

1) Grocery shopping.

  • Why did they put milk in that?!? There are so many products which could be vegan. Until some idiot put milk powder in there.

  • Can’t they put a label on these products if they are vegan? Put a green sticker on it. My month-long search for the gingerbread would have been a lot easier.

  • You will spend a lot of time in the veggie section of your supermarket. You save time walking straight past the dairy case.

  • Bread. Why is there just one vegan bread in my supermarket? Without a label? I had to scan through the ingredients of 50 different brands. People were looking at me like I’m crazy. Also, why is there sugar in there?

  • Vegan products. “Can I have this whole shelf please, yes, thank you very much.” They have one huge section of bio-vegan products in my supermarket. The struggle is real. I cannot buy everything.

2) Eating in.

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about meals. Cooking them. My days are organised pretty much around food. My friend and I always have these conversations: “What will you do after uni?” “Eat.” What have you planned this evening?” “Cooking?”

  • Portion-sizes. I get a lot of weird looks when I eat three servings or more. We have to get our calories from somewhere! I love eating. If I say that I’ll get even more weird looks. In the time you have eaten your dead animal over there and are full, I’ll eat my three portions of rice. Until I’m full. Guess who continues eating after a short while?

  • We are the kings and queens of food combinations. Oh sure, I’ll have a pasta bowl with broccoli, chickpeas, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds and carrots. Some apple slices on top? No problem. Sounds weird to you? That’s only the beginning. I make a dinner out of everything.

3) Eating out.

  • That’s just a side dish, madam.” “Yes, thank you, I want to have it anyway. I am aware that you only have one salad as a vegan option. I’ll take that one, please.”

  • Is that vegan?” “Am I eating it? Am I vegan? Yes. Therefore you can assume that this is in fact vegan. You want to try? Although it is rabbit food? Go on but please leave a bit for me, thanks.”

4) Nutrition.

  • So where do you really get your nutrients from?” “Since when are you a health expert? It can’t be that bad because I’m surviving, right? Do I look healthy to you? Yes? Where’s the problem?”

5) Other Questions.

  • The Island question. “If you were to strand on a lonely island with only one chicken…” I’m not Robinson Crusoe! When will that ever happen to me? We live in a world where our food industry destroys the planet. If we continue, there will be no deserted islands left I could strand on. Who says that I am worth more than that chicken? I guess we could live together, that chicken and I. I would teach it to play chess and we would have a splendid time on that island. Eating coconuts.

Here are some of the moments of pure happiness only vegans will understand.

  • Finding out a brand of cosmetics or your favourite biscuits etc you have been using or eating all the time are in fact vegan.

  • Finding a vegan restaurant in your neighbourhood.

  • Finding out that your favourite restaurant doesn’t only have a salad as a vegan option.

  • Having a positive influence on other people’s diet choices.

  • Having other people defend your own choices.

  • Successfully veganising your favourite dishes.

  • Having other people make vegan cakes for you.

  • Being able to eat what and as much as you want.

  • Feeling energised.

  • Not feeling guilty or regretful when talking about the environment.

I love to talk about environmental issues but I also have to be aware that I emit a lot of carbon due to my lifestyle. Through going vegan my carbon footprint has decreased. It’s 2.82 ha, whereas the standard German one is 5.1 ha. For my lifestyle we would need 1.5 earths. My food choices make up only 2% of my footprint, for Germans, it’s 35%. Change is possible!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them. I’m not forcing you to become a vegan. That’s your choice. I’m here to give you a little insight or information if you would like to have that. It’s crucial for our planet that we reduce our meat and dairy consumption.

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Festival of Leaves 2016: Week 10


Festival of Leaves

Dear leaf lovers 🙂

The sun granted us some hours of her shine today and the leaves gleamed and sparkled. It’s the most magical time of autumn. I absolutely love your pictures and I also loved your music suggestions. Some new songs to add to my playlist 😉

Now I have a new question for you: What are you reading right now or do you have any good autumn book suggestions? I’m falling in love with “A little life” by Hanya Yanagihara right now…

Thank you all for taking part and have a nice week!

I’m doing NaNoWriMo right now and if you wish, you can take a look at my other blog verenacave.wordpress.com 🙂

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NaNoWriMo 4: Our BLUE planet


“We need to respect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depended on them. Because they do.”

Sylvia Earl calls herself the ambassador of the fish. A few weeks ago I listened to a Ted talk she gave for receiving the Ted price (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43DuLcBFxoY). She talked about this most fragile ecosystem we should protect with everything we have. I felt like she has a love affair with the seas of our planet. Her incredible enthusiasm, her wise and clear words moved me.

Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist and also the first woman to become chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Time magazine named her the first Hero of the Planet. She wrote books and talks with a voice you have to listen to. She still holds a record walking on the sea bed, deeper than anyone before. She is “Her Deepness”. I admire her work and her passion. She sounds so wise and encouraging but focuses on the facts: Our oceans are endangered by our actions and we have to do something about it.

People have always felt the spell of the oceans. Nowadays, 40% of the world population live in coastal areas.
(http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/natlinfo/indicators/methodology_sheets/oceans_seas_coasts/pop_coastal_areas.pdf)

With increasing population, the resulting climate change causes a sea level rise. The livelihood of whole societies is threatened. We have to cut our carbon emissions. Thereby, we counteract global warming, the sea level rise, the acidification of the oceans and the extinction of marine species.

Yesterday, we watched another documentary, this time about salmons. On their journey, salmons bring nutrients from the sea into the smallest rivers in the middle of continents. We build dams everywhere. Fish cannot complete their journey anymore. We try to fix the problem with hatcheries. You cannot fix the system if you bring up fish artificially. We cause drastic changes in our freshwater ecosystems. We damage our life-support system earth. If you fuck with nature, nature fucks back.

After the film we discussed why people haven’t thought about their changes earlier on. My friend answered: “They took it for granted, just as we take our water for granted right now.” I was sipping on my cup of tea. Stared into the cup. She is right. We don’t think long-term. Our economies even less. Short-term benefits. Maximal profit. That’s the world we live in.

Our professor told us that in the time of abundance of salmons they were fed to pigs. Fish is high in protein and fat – excellent nutrition for other animals… Today, 90% of the big fish we like to catch in the oceans are gone. Only 10% of the tuna is left. Take the average pig or chicken you like to eat. It doesn’t get very old. A few months? Maybe one year? Then you put it on your plate. An average tuna has to grow for 10-14 years to mature. We like to catch these. With today’s fishing strategies the tuna we fish get younger and younger. There are no old ones left.

Tuna are very large carnivores. They have eaten a lot of fish in their lives. Pigs eat concentrated feed. They didn’t munch on thousands of fish before you bought them packaged in little pieces. Sylvia Earle points out: “Fish are much more valuable alive than dead.” Which is about true with everything on this planet concerning the environment.

Let’s talk about how we fish. It’s cruel. It’s dreadful. The currently used fishing techniques are designed to having by-catch. If you catch a large fish with today’s technique, there are 100 other fish or marine animals on the fishing rod. Imagine having all of them on your plate! We take the fins of sharks who are still alive and throw the animals back into the ocean. That is what we do to our oceans. 50% of the coral reefs are gone. Destroyed by humans. We are taking and taking and taking. We are never considering the consequences, the scales of our actions.

We are also putting stuff back into the ocean. The entanglement of marine animals in plastics has increased by 40% in the last decade. “Reports revealed that all known species of sea turtles, about half of all species of marine mammals, and one-fifth of all species of sea birds were affected by entanglement or ingestion of marine debris.” The study was done on 663 species. (https://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/cbd-ts-67-en.pdf)

Last semester we had a module called Sustainable Waste Management. From lesson one our lecturer told us: First priority is the reduction of waste. Next time you go grocery shopping, have a close look at the packaging. You have a choice.

Separate your waste. Production and industry have to be changed but we have to initiate it. Bring your own cup. Bring your own bag. Bring your own bottle.

We are not only polluting the water by plastics. We drill deep wholes in the ground. We rip the sea bed apart. We let oil spill for weeks, months. We dig for minerals. We put hazardous waste into the oceans. We get rid of our atomic waste. Oceans are our dumping ground. Small fish eat those lovely little substances. They are eaten by bigger fish and even bigger. Toxics accumulate. Until we have them on our plates. You do not only poison the environment with your waste. You poison yourself by eating your pollution.

Life started in the oceans. They contain 97% of the earth’s water. They drive a huge water cycle providing us with precipitation. They keep the earth cool. Water has an incredible heat capacity and carbon storage capacity. Oceans deal with our high emissions. I don’t know how long they will be able to do so. CO2 turns into carbonic acid. This damages and kills corals. It messes with fragile ecosystems. Oceans drive our climate, bring us warm water in the winter through the Gulf Stream. The system is on the brink to fall apart. It will take us with it.

Seas are complex, diverse and sensitive ecosystems. We need to take better care of them. We need to protect them. To also protect ourselves. As W. H. Auden said:

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

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