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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Let's worry about the impact of apples grown on the moon

  I've never been a fan of fake meat: not having ever been a fan of eating real flesh, the imitation flesh just doesn't have much to offer me. It would be like hating roses and wearing rose perfume: no. (Though those Tofurky Italian Sausages, which are nothing like sausages, go really well with good Belgian beer. 'Just sayin'.)

A FB friend posted Processed, imported vegetarian proteins not greener than local meat | green LA girl (, 2/19/10), and it's amusing, because it contradicts that popular Global Tacoshed study that says that food transport isn't a big deal. The overall message of the article is that we should eat more veggies, but the thing that is supposed to get your attention and make it newsworthy is the idea that there are vegan foods that are over-processed far away, and that some of those are bad for the environment.

Are these strange processed foods as bad for the environment as the caviar industry? Are they as bad for the environment as whaling? As ranching on public lands? As sheep farming? What about imported versus local items of the exact same type? It would be no fun to provide context, so instead it's about how there are some really weird vegan foods out there, and if they come a great distance, they may be worse for the planet that something local that isn't as good for you.

My comment on my friend's post:
What bums me out is that articles like this always look for something absurd - an organic Oreo handmade in an obscure town in Mongolia - and then try to compare it to something awful for you - a locally made cigarette - and then say that the local cigarette is better for the environment.

It's never a comparison between two things that are good for you, because then logic will prevail - you should eat things that are good for you AND the environment! But no. It never goes that way, because that isn't news.
The article's point that you should eat more veggies (and avoid over-processed foods of any kind) is lost in an odd warning that you should second-guess the merits of surface-healthier-but-not-actually-healthy choices at a level of scrutiny you don't apply to other decisions you make.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Moby has a blog

  You likely know this. I get notifications of various sorts from him in Facebook - where in London he is DJing, where in New York he will drop by, all very glam stuff - but hadn't looked at the blog directly for a while.

His blog is fun, and reflects his ongoing concerns about the health of the planet. Of course! Here is an excerpt: just arrived in sweden. |
it's a concert to draw attention to and benefit the european union's climate change initiative. which i'm happy to talk about as long as no one minds me mentioning that 24% of climate change is the result of animal production (according to a united nations report a few years ago).

i asked al gore about why he didn't mention this in an 'inconvenient truth' (as animal production is responsible for more greenhouse gases than every car, bus, truck, bus, plane, boat on the planet COMBINED). he answered honestly, basically saying that getting people to drive a hybrid car isn't that difficult. getting people to give up animal products is almost impossible.
Right now you are likely thinking one of two things: either, 'golly, moby is not a fan of capitalization' or 'this really complicates my justifications for more of my heavily polluting lifestyle choices.' In both cases, you are correct!

In ten minutes, only one of these topics will be on your mind. Yes, you'll be ranting to someone about crimes against capitalization.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Natural history and cocktails (night at the aquarium)

  outside of dark rainforest dome at California Academy of Science during NightlifeEver since the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park was rebuilt, it's been a madhouse on weekends. Just biking or walking past, you can usually see the lines snaking out toward the Sunset District, and sometimes even hear the staff making announcements through bullhorns on how they have already sold out of tickets for the day.

Not being into waiting in line or mob scenes, I avoided the place.

At least, I avoided it until my Cousin took me to NightLife: California Academy of Sciences, the nightclub version of the museum. For a mere $10 for non-members, you can go into the museum for a few hours at night, spend money on strong drinks made at any of the dozen plus bars scattered throughout the building, and see those same exhibits you wanted to see during the day. NightLife is an 21 and over event ONLY, so not only will unfamiliar children NOT mistake you for their mommy and cry when you try to point out their error, but... it feels like a nightclub scene, complete with people all dolled up, pretending to look at piranhas while checking you out. hall at California Academy of Science during Nightlife

It's a younger, less dressy crowd than the members only parties at SFMoMA, and men are better represented. I theorize that this is because it's easier not to embarrass yourself at a natural history museum - it's much easier to tell animals apart than modern painters - and there is a much broader time span available to discuss through interpretive signs - say, the big bang to now, versus the late 1800s to now.

I had been a big fan of the old Academy (though the organization's apparent joint position with the museum across the way - that more of the park should be privatized and turned into parking lots for the convenience of its patrons - was loathsome, and has resulted in some very unfortunate side effects), and find that the new building... is a completely different place. The African Hall, full of its stuffed samples of flora and fauna from that large and still-exotic continent, was rebuilt to match the feel of the original, while the rest of the museum feels not just like a new place, but like a new concept of what the museum is for.

rainforest exhibit at California Academy of Science during NightlifeThe old building felt like a Victorian collection of artifacts that had been collected during some imperial expansionist period, with hidden halls and closets that seemed to go on forever, chock full of every possible aspect of conquered lands, and was fun to explore in the way you would expect. The new building, which is admirable in many, many ways, but will take some getting used to, feels like a modern place, engaged with current environmental issues and primarily focused upon non-human life on earth. I imagine that the mission of the Academy has been tidied up, or the new building wouldn't FEEL quite so different.

I'm not saying I don't miss the room full of natural crystals - I do! - but the point of being there is much more clear. I mean this as a compliment.

A few notes: yes, the albino alligator is still in the animal hospital.

Yes, the rain forest will be closed this week. If you're making a special trip for that, wait a week or two. When it is open, be sure to hit it early - they do close that earlier than some other sections.

Yes, the drinks are respectably strong.

Yes, you can actually go just to enjoy the exhibits, and do so without feeling like you are missing the point. That's part of the beauty of it, really. And, unlike me, some stranger probably won't approach you with a camera containing his amateur lion porn to start up a conversation. Unless you are also a freak magnet, in which case, this won't be any different from anywhere else you go.

Yes, I took a few phone photos (other than those posted here), which may be viewed at my phone photo blog or in my Academy By Night album on Facebook (no login required for either, of course.)

entrance to California Academy of Science during NightlifeI enthusiastically recommend Nightlife as a way to see the museum without being hit by strollers; with friends; with a cocktail in one hand; to see the museum brightly lit; to hear a DJ while staring at sea bass; with a date of uncertain conversational skills (if they can't find something to engage you in conversation about here, you likely should not be dating them); or on any Thursday night between now and the end of October when they stop doing this.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:29 PM

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Meat consumption contributes to climate change. But you probably knew that.

  Yes, aside from the dramatically increased heart disease and cancer risks, all the other adverse health issues, the water quality issues, and the scary energy policy issues associated with meat-eating, there is a big, meta-impact to the planet. Science/Nature | Shun meat, says UN climate chief (, 9/7/08):
'The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions.'...
The UN considers the entire cycle associated with meat production and consumption, including clearing land to raise animals, producing grain to feed them, shipping them, and so on.

None of this should be news to you: you've surely read about the massive water consumption required to produce a pound of meat for human use, and even books about food written by omnivores talk about the massive energy inputs in oil required by agribusiness. But you may not have put all of that together into a big-picture view. Do that here now.

(Any of you out there who don't 'get' climate change may simply interpret the details of the article to translate to "pollution," which you may understand through more direct experience as something that is bad for you. (That is the fun part of most arguments against the existence of climate change: those arguments tend to favor increases in pollution for purely economic reasons, unhinged from all known science about the effects of pollution on us and our economies.))

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:22 PM

Sunday, May 13, 2007

  Ecocity World Summit 2008 comes to San Francisco.
Throughout Earth Day Week, April 22-26, 2008 in San Francisco, California, the Ecocity World Summit (7th International Ecocity Conference) will be convening an international community of inspired change-makers; courageous individuals who are addressing problems of the world's environment with thoughtful long-range solutions that are truly sustainable, ecologically healthy and socially just.

The International Ecocity Conference Series brings together the key innovators, decision makers, technologists, businesses and organizations shaping the conversation around ecological and sustainable city, town and village design, planning and development. We intend to put these issues on the economic and environmental agenda for 2008 and beyond.
I could use a dose of this!

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posted by Arlene (Beth)9:54 AM

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