You’re not paranoid if it’s actually happening – How a hand full of players are putting the world, and you, at risk

In the past few months, there have been 3 big stories, that will make your head spin.

They are not all directly related to climate change, but they change the world in similar ways and are symptoms of a disease-ridden system that we need to change if we want a chance at stopping a global climate crisis.

We really need a change in the way we monitor global industries and sectors, as a few big players are cashing in while putting the rest of the world in mortal danger –yes, mortal.

 

Don’t worry, I have easy steps for you at the end of the post.

 

So let just jump right in and look at the 3 culprits.

1) A fertilizer cartel sparked the 2008 food crisis, pushing 44million people into poverty.

2) Exxon mobile kept its data on the fossil fuel-climate change link secret for 30 years, lobbying against the academic research which supported the fact, that global climate change is a) real, and b) linked to fossil fuels.

3) The sugar industry lobbied against the research linking a high carbohydrate intake (a Mc-Diet, if you will) to diabetes, heart decided, cardiovascular decease and more.

 

This is why we can’t have nice things. We have a world full of people trying to do good and change the world for the better. And then we have a few corporations, and industries bring positive development to a halt.

They have investors and their sole purpose in the world is to make money. But you know what, you can make money without lying, without pushing millions into poverty, without covering up vital health information, and most importantly, without almost killing off all life on earth.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m a bit angry with these industries. While writing this, I thought to myself;

Damn, this can’t be true. Am I exaggerating?

Unfortunately no, this is not something I made up. This is actually happening. Like I said, you’re not paranoid if it’s actually happening. But it really does sound more like the plot of a movie, than real life.

 

So the world sucks, why does it matter?

Well, of course, we should prevent our industries from killing us, that goes without saying, but there’s more to it.

In a world where 44 million people can be pushed into poverty, and the world can suffer a global food crisis, because of a fertilizer cartel, many of the political, and financial incentives of making the world better doesn’t mean diddly-squat. Things like securing emission reduction and imposing anti-pollution legislation become wishful thinking.

We need to create a system of finance, and of governance, where the above is not possible. Where money does not trump human lives, and the future of our planet. This should not be wishful thinking.

 

It is not too much to ask, that the industries who power our homes, farm our soils, and produce our food, don’t kill us.

 

What can you do? Small, Medium, or Big step?

Taking action doesn’t need to be excruciating, and about saving the world all at once. Every action matters, and we all give what we can. Even if you can just take a small step, it’s still a step. It’s still something you did to change the situation. Well done, you!

Small step: Get educated – read the above articles

Medium step: Vote for a party, or candidate, that takes action on these issues (I Fucking Love Science agrees with me on this one)

Big step: Find an organization that actively works against the above mentioned, and get involved

 

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Kickstarting the future – The role of crowdfunding in green tech

The following is a short post about the role of crowdfunding in sustainable innovation.

 

A few weeks back, I shared a post about this Kickstarter project, about the world’s first mass produced edible cutlery on Linked-in. Seeing it reach its goal makes my heart overflow with joy. Imagine eating your favorite fast food dish, and then just eating the spoon?!

If successful, this product will eliminate the need for plastic utensils. Click it, you know you want to.

A new driver for green innovation

Research funding is a term generally covering any funding for scientific research and technology.

Currently research and development, or R&D, is primarily conducted by corporations. This accounts for two thirds of tech- research, with an additional 20% of research carried out by Universities, and 10% by government.moon-landing

 

Don’t be fooled by the apparent insignificance of governmental funding. Remember, mankind went to space, and then to the moon. Both were government funded projects.

 

Historically, Denmark has been a country keen on making investments in green tech. Well, at least when the left wing parties have held office. This is of course the drawback of the democratic process. Certain technologies doesn’t always get funded when the political tides change. Denmark was leading in wave energy research back in the early millennia until a change in government meant, that all funding in that area got terminated.

 

But beside from that, the Danish government has a history of being a driver for green tech, with research for wind turbines and insulation being our most predominant success stories. In addition tax exemptions for certain green tech, and other instruments have been used to push forward the green agenda. (Note: this is a very simplified explanation. I recommend the book Ecological Modernity for those of you who wish to go deeper into the field).

 

Will crowdfunding replace governmental or University funded R & D?

No. It’s important to understand, that the amount of money needed to invent or rethink a technology, cannot be crow funded. That doesn’t mean government or academia is the only way to fund new technology. Just look at the history of Tesla Motors.

 

Governmental funding is also still a good indicator of what society as a whole wants to put effort into, and big governmental funding can generate momentum and credibility to emerging technologies. On the down side, if you’ve ever held a job on the public sector, you know the levels of bureaucracy that you need to work through, in order to get that funding – Which is totally fair, seeing as we’re talking about taxpayer money.

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So what can crowdfunding do for tech?

Crowdfunding is an effective way for smaller innovation to find their way into existence. Got a great idea about how to make the world better? Put together a good video, do some good campaigning on social media, and there you go. Sky is the limit.

 

Crowdfunding is filling a void. You can get your word out to almost any corner of the world. If you receive a 1$ donation from 100.000 people, you have $100.000. In many cases this might be insanely easier than getting 1 donation of $100.000.

 

There are many examples of great ideas on kickstarter which went viral and therefore went far beyond their pledged goal. Going back to our cutlery snack, they pledged $20.000. Today, with 5 days of the campaign remaining, they have currently collected $234,597 Yep, more than 10 times the amount they asked for. Do you think there’s a good chance we’ll be eating out fast-food cutlery within the next 5-10 years? I do.

So finally I want to ask you this:

How are you going to change the world, and is crowd funding a tool you can use?

Comment below, or write me. I would love to know more about your project.

 

Buy it once – keep it forever

Following the post about rotation, and how it’s an environmentally friendly choice to rotate your stuff, this seems like an adequate follow up.

 

Tired of buying crap that you have to replace every few years?

Wished there was a way to only buy things once?

I present BUY ME ONCE!
A webpage that only features products with a lifetime guaranty.

 

I am absolutely in love with this one! Besides from being amazing gift ideas for weddings and such, it also a great way to find things of high quality that will last you a lifetime. The Buy me once webpage even features socks and shoes! Yes, a lifetime guaranty for shoes.

The Buy Me Once webshop is basically a compilation of products that offer a lifetime guaranty. It doesn’t itself sell anything, but it shows you your choices of made-to-last products, and redirects you to the actual product shop.

The webpage is a break up with endless consumption and the need for more. We still need things, and we still want to give our children toys, but what if those toys where meant to last a lifetime, instead of just few years?

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What if, instead of buying shoes every year, you bought one really good pair that had lifetime guaranty? In the long run, you would save money, as you are not buying new stuff all the time.

Of course the shoes wont last a life. That’s not the point here. Products with lifetime guaranties do last for a longer time, meaning they have a lower impact on the environment.

It all comes down to, what trash you decide to buy.

In the end, everything you own, will become trash, so make an active choice, when you are buying things, because you are not just buying things. You are buying waste.

So buy quality waste, and less of it.

 

Rotation is the new recycling

Look out recycling, there’s a new kid in town. One that’s more energy efficient, cheaper, and consumption lowering. Furthermore, if you live in a big city, chances are you can save a lot of money and time because of it.

 

In short, rotating your belongings means selling or gifting them. In recycling, you often downgrade the quality of the materials your working with, due to the treatment process, whereas you preserve the item exactly as it is when you rotate it.

For instance, when you recycle a plastic bottle, it is turned into another plastic product, but with a lower quality of plastic. If you rotate (sell or gift) a plastic box, it’s still going to be used as a plastic box, with the same quality of plastic.

The past 5 years have seen a widespread increase in sharing services. AirBNB, Über, and even Craigslist are among the many internet based platforms you can use to pay for services in a peer to peer regime.

You can sublet your apartment without the hassle of knowing someone, who knows someone. You can sign subscription on dresses, enabling you to wear a new stunning dress at every party. You can even have 2nd hand baby clothing mailed directly to you, washed and cleaned, in a leasing service.

The sharing economy is rising in every fiend of commerce

There are a growing number of services and facebook groups that offer 1:1 second hand sale, swap, or give away. You simple upload a picture of what ever you are selling or giving away, and then people respond, and come pick it up.Sharing economy

No more flea markets, no more trips to the recycling center. Someone else is picking up the tings you no longer need.

If you’re at the other end of the table, and are in need of one particular thing, then you can use these services to find people who just happen to be giving it away for free. The only thing you need to do is pick it up.

If you’ve ever moved to a new city, or a new country, you know how you often start your new life going: ‘Fuck, I need this thing!’ And then you need to spend a lot of time, and/or money getting it. Nowadays, all you need is an internet connection and some patience. If you aren’t extremely picky, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for, at a reasonable price, or free.

Why is it a good thing?

 

Environmentally, rotation is godsend. Whenever you help a product escape the gloomy faith of the trashcan, you are doing the environment a solid.

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Take a table for instance. To make the table, you need wood.

Seeing as the wood may not have been grown under sustainable conditions, there’s a good chance of soil erosion and loss in biodiversity, being some of the costs of growing the tree that produced that wood.

 

The trees are cut down and transported using diesel driven machinery. Not good for the environment. Then shipping. Then maybe painting or the use of other chemicals to process the material.

Then packaging, usually cardboard, or bubble wrap. The manufacturing of both of these materials use a good dosage of chemicals and water.

Transportation_monajensenThen more shipment to stores and showrooms.

And then you buy it. You also need to take it home. More transportation.

If you then decide to discard you table, and not rotate or recycle it, it goes to either land field, adding to the production of atmospheric methane gas, or it get’s incinerated. The ladder is more environmentally friendly, as most modern incineration plants have quite good combustion and air filters, and use the excess heat for district heating.

Do the environment a solid – rotate your stuff

If you instead of discarding decide to sell, or gift that table, you are eliminating all the formerly mentioned steps and pollutants, with the small exception of the transportation between you and the receiver of the table.

 

Isn’t it bad for the economy?

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This is a valid question, and has often been the main point when arguing against recycling and peer to peer sales. Isn’t it bad for the economy if I stop buying tables? Not necessarily.

By not spending you money on furniture, or expensive hotels, you are freeing your money to be spent in other ways. You will now maybe buy one item of quality clothing, instead of 3 easily discarded items. Or you invest that money in investment pools, stocks, or bonds.

You could put that money into a college fund for you, or your children, now investing in both the educational system, and you country as a whole in the way, that you are adding to the amount of well educated citizens who, by the way, also make more money.

In short, the money saved by using these services does not end up in a mattress. They still end up in the economic system, but have usually been used to enhance the quality of your life.

A counter argument is often; well, if I don’t buy cheap clothing produced by child labor in India, the Children of Indian won’t have a job, ergo their quality of life will decrease. Though there is some legitimacy to this point, feeding the system of child labor through cheap clothing is treating the symptom, not the cause.

The argument is a mental loophole, used to justify your current purchasing habits. If it where to be true, you would not need to change your habits. This makes your brain happy, because habit changing is hard.

If you really want to do something to support children in 3rd world countries, there are plenty of programs you can donate money to. Or you can use your saved money to go to law school and become a human rights lawyer.

Getting back on track: Spend your money on happiness

Rotation, swapping, and battering are no longer reserved for students or low income families. It is, slowly but effectively, becoming a common practice.

 

Happy-life_sharing_economy_monajensenI highly encourage you to embrace it. And then spend the money you save on enhacing the quality of life for you, or your loved once.

Live out dreams, go travel, or just buy that really high quality food that you love so much, but never buy.

 

Rotate your stuff, do the environment a solid, and enhance the quality of life.

 

End note: A big thanks to Majken, who was the source of inspiration for this post!

 

 

 

Environmental Economics 101 – Mitigation or Climate Change Prevention?

I’ve been putting of writing about environmental economics for some time, simply because the subject is somewhat complicated, and I haven’t yet found a way to make it tangible. But last night, a friend of mine send my an article, that gave me an idea for a post about green-econ. Is so simple, even my dead dog could understand it.

It will only revolve around one question:

Which is cheaper, Mitigation or Climate Change Prevention?

Climate mitigation is in short, adapting to the consequences of climate change.

Examples of this include; storm drains, damns, water protection, drought prevention and so on.

Climate change prevention is in short, preventing climate change, either by cutting the use of fossil fuels, which is most commonly discussed, or by extracting CO2 and other green house gasses from the atmosphere. The lather is often regarded as unfit for large-scale project, and an unrealistic technology.

So, mitigation fights the consequences of climate change and climate change prevention fights the actual climate change, eliminating the need for mitigation.

 

The above seems like a no brainer. Fight the problem at the root, right?

 

Unfortunately, most policymakers don’t see it that way. The here and now cost of climate change prevention, is far greater than mitigation, and their budgets don’t stretch 20, 50, or 100 years into the future.

 

I could find an endless list of links of policy makers stating, that it would be far cheaper to spend money on mitigation, than prevention. Instead, I’m going to give you an example, of why they are wrong.

 

These days the municipality of Copenhagen are implementing the most ambitious climate mitigation plan, even seen in our nation. Massive storm drains and runoff patches are being build, green areas planted, and sewage pipes expanded to cope with the added pressure.

 

The plan is even so ambitious, the solutions are being sold to New York.

The above is no doubt impressive, but as we already established, you have to attack the problem at the root.

 

A 2 degree increase in global mean temperature will still result in massive flooding. In my home city of Copenhagen, this means 225.000 people will loose their homes – about half the current population of the City. ScienceNordic made this video about the effects of just a 2 degree temperature rise, will have in Denmark’s capital:

All the storm drains in the world, would not prevent a flooding of this magnitude. The price of relocating the 225.000 people alone exceeds the price of mitigation. Then you have to add lost businesses and income, the cost of social benefits to cover unemployment and decease, the need for new infrastructure…. The list goes on and on.

 

I am not going to find loads of spreadsheet, and examples and use them to convince you, that preventing climate change, is a better investment than climate mitigation. Many, many others have done that.

I am just going to remind you, why it is we have to act. COP21 is happening right this moment. You can still write you local politician, or send a tweet at them, urging them to find a binding agreement in Paris.

It will cost you only 5 minutes of your time, but it might prevent 627 million world citizens from loosing their homes.