Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Service of Misinformation

Monday, October 25th, 2021


Rubin Museum: Mahachakra Vajrapani, China 15th century early Ming dynasty silk and gold embroidery , coral and seed pearls

The child’s party game “Telephone” is a simple way to show kids how easily misinformation spreads. You remember: the first child whispers to the second and the last child makes everyone laugh because what she/he hears is far from the original.

Following are grownup examples.

I visited the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan. It was my first time so I asked if we should start on the sixth floor and walk down. The only employee on the ground floor [not counting a guard] said “No. Visit from the first floor up.” 

We saw “Gateway to Himalayan Art” on floor two; “The Mandala Lab” on three; “Masterworks: A Journey Through Himalayan Art” on five [four was closed] and “Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightnment” at the top.

Having finished our tour a woman overheard us asking one another “Why was it important to follow the exhibitions up the stairs?” She asked if she could help us. We posed our question and she said, “We have reconfirgured the collection; the floors used to be interrelated. Not anymore.” Clearly this news wasn’t given to all staff. Not life and death, but incorrect and an example of how easily and innocently adults pass along the wrong information.

I thought of the “ahhas!” by some Covid-19 vaccine doubters when Colin Powell died of Covid complications. He’d been fully vaccinated. A cousin texted: “To use Powell’s death as proof that the vaccines don’t work is so much garbage!” Her husband, she wrote, “died of multiple myeloma and so did Colin Powell. They have zero immune system because the purpose of the chemo is to suppress the cancer from activating. It was explained on the news but people don’t want to listen. My husband fell in the bathroom and got some nicks and bruises and a strep infection and that was the start of his decline—nothing to fight a bacterial infection.”


Image by Katja Fuhlert from Pixabay 

Reid J Epstein covered a spectacular misinformation campaign in Montana in his New York Times article “Where Facts Were No Match for Fear–Civic boosters in central Montana hoped for some federal money to promote tourism. A disinformation campaign got in the way.”

The perpetrator, Rae Grulkowski, made up every fact: that “the [heritage area] designation [in Montana] would forbid landowners to build sheds, drill wells or use fertilizers and pesticides. It would alter water rights, give tourists access to private property, create a new taxation district and prohibit new septic systems and burials on private land.” Not a single allegation is true.

Epstein wrote: “‘Misinformation is the new playbook,’ Bob Kelly, the mayor of Great Falls, said. ‘You don’t like something? Create alternative facts and figures as a way to undermine reality.'”

It worked for Grulkowski: Montana governor Greg Gianforte “signed the bill barring any national heritage area in Montana after it passed on a near-party-line vote. A heritage area, the bill’s text asserted, would ‘interfere with state and private property rights.'”

Epstein also reported that Grulkowski “ticked through the falsehoods she had read online and accepted as truths in the past year: The Covid vaccine is more dangerous than the coronavirus. Global child-trafficking rings control the political system. Black Lives Matter was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The United Nations is plotting to control world population and seize private land. Mr. Trump was the rightful winner of last year’s election. Even in Cascade County, where Mr. Trump won 59 percent of the vote, Ms. Grulkowski argued that 3,000 illegal votes were cast.”

The harm done by deliberate distortions about serious matters isn’t like the child’s game. Repercussions can harm. Have you believed misinformation, later learning the truth, and changed your opinion?  Are we more gullible these days, more sensitive to false facts or are there more of them now?


Image by John Iglar from Pixabay 

Service of Medium Rare Synthetic Burgers and Steak

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Lab grown meat Photo: boldbusiness.com

People of a certain age would never have believed the impact that Michael Bloomberg would have on cigarette smoking in NYC and the world.  In addition to making the habit socially unacceptable in many circles, the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2003 nixed puffing in restaurants, bars and most workplaces. The ban has moved to beaches, parks and more recently to many apartments in NYC in both public and private spaces in co-ops, condos and rentals.

Dana Rubinstein reported in politico.com that only Turkmenistan had such a ban in ’03 but, said Bloomberg in a speech 10 years later, 49 other countries had joined up.

Photo: penginrandomhouse.com

This is why steak houses had best pay attention to Bill Gates. Nicole Lyn Pesce reported on one of many points he made in his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.” She wrote in marketwatch.com: “And among his calls to action: switching to synthetic beef to reduce methane emissions, aka the gases that cattle and sheep release when they belch or pass gas.” She continued “it’s simply a biologic fact of life that the bacteria in the digestive tracts of livestock releases methane as it breaks down food.”

Companies such as Burger King tried to quell the gases by adding lemongrass to beef feed and researchers in Maine and New Hampshire are studying the impact of feeding seaweed to cattle.

Pesce quoted Gates from a piece in Technology Review: “You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time. Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.”

She quoted a Morningstar forecast that by 2029 plant based meat sales will hit $74 billion as compared to $12 billion last year. She reported that McDonald’s and chains Taco Bell and KFC plan to “roll out plant-based sandwiches and other alternative meat items this year.” We’ll see how well they sell. McDonald’s stopped selling salads in 2020.

Picture by Thomas Sidney Cooper. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Bloomberg’s detractors called his a “nanny state.” Gates has arrows aimed at him as well. Wrote Pesce: “Some other critics also questioned why Gates should dictate what countries should do to address climate change when a new report in the Nation named Gates as one of the world’s top carbon emitters. It notes he lives in a 66,000-square-foot mansion outside of Seattle, and his private jet consumes 486 gallons of fuel each hour it flies.”

I wrote in “Service of Healthy Frozen Desserts–But is it Ice Cream?” that I’d rather go without than eat an ersatz treat. On the other hand who knows–maybe the burger made of weeds will remind me of the ones we got in school that bounced if they fell on the floor and weren’t reminiscent of anything I’d eaten before. But I got used to–and even fond of–them.

If you’ve eaten faux meat how did you like it? Will you switch to chicken, pasta and grilled cheese sandwiches instead if synthetic beef and lamb is all that’s available? Will we need to worry about pesticides in our “burgers” if they will be necessary to ramp up growth for increased demand for greens? What will happen to cattle ranchers and their land? Are you concerned about potential climate disaster? What are you doing to mitigate it?

Bill Gates’ private jet Photo: youtube.com

Service of While You Were Distracted by the Pandemic & Election, Environmental Protection Initiatives Were Seeping Under the Radar

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Photo: azocleantech.com

Millions are focused these days on ducking the dreaded virus, deciding whether or not to send their children back to school, looking for a job, figuring out how to balance job deadlines with childcare, flinching at diminished savings and/or following their candidate for the upcoming election.

Photo: reynolds.k12.or.us.

Meanwhile the administration is at work dismantling environmental protections. Two headlines in The New York Times this week tell the story: “Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling,” and “Trump Eliminates Major Methane Rule, Even as Leaks Are Worsening.”

Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain reported: “The Trump administration on Monday finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States.”

Millenials
Photo: travel.earth

Carol Davenport wrote: “The Trump administration formally weakened a major climate-change regulation on Thursday — effectively freeing oil and gas companies from the need to detect and repair methane leaks — even as new research shows that far more of the potent greenhouse gas is seeping into the atmosphere than previously known.”

Who cares? I’ll tell you. In addition to me and most of my friends and acquaintances, I’d wager millennials and Gen-Zers too. There are some 83.1 million of the former–aged 22-38–and 74 million of the latter, aged 5 to 25.

A hint: “When it comes to dating 20-somethings, there are few bigger turnoffs than putting refuse in the wrong receptacle, according to a new survey by Cluttr, which found that millennials and Gen-Zers prefer dating someone who regularly recycles,” reported Ben Cost in The New York Post. Cluttr is an “unwanted item bazaar.”

Regarding the survey of 1,332 young Americans Cost continued “a whopping 69% of youths would boycott a brand for not adhering to green business practices, while 67% believed that global warming is a serious man-made threat. In fact, 71% even felt that the environment warranted more concern than the economy, which recently suffered its worst blow since the Great Depression amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Can these harmful actions against the environment be put back in the bottle? What else has happened while we’ve been distracted? Are you watching out for other issues at risk?

Slipping under the radar. Photo: dancelovetoknow.com

Service of Refills: Do Consumers Have the Time & Money?

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Photo: pinterest.com

I found fault with the hullabaloo over the so called huge benefits to the environment when businesses announced they were banning  plastic straws in the post “Service of the Last Straw,”—literally too little in the plastic litter wars.

I perked up reading Saabira Chaudhuri’s article “The World’s Biggest Brands Want You to Refill Your Orange Juice and Deodorant–P&G, Nestlé and others try to curb plastic waste; Tropicana in glass bottles, Tide in metal cans.”

Chaudhuri reported: “Refillables once dominated industries such as beer and soft drinks but lost out to convenient, affordable single-use containers. In 1947, refillables made up 100% of soft-drink containers by volume and 86% of beer containers, according to the Container Recycling Institute, a nonprofit. By 1998 those figures dropped to 0.4% and 3.3%, respectively.”

She added that the refill business exists but is niche, done by some grocery stores and entrepreneurs largely

Statewide Refillable Bottles Photo: kcts9.org

in shampoo and detergent businesses.

The trial will include PepsiCo’s Tropicana OJ in a glass bottle and Quaker Chocolate Cruesli cereal in stainless steel. Some of P&G’s 10 participating brands include Pantene shampoo in aluminum and Tide in stainless-steel.

In addition, Chaudhuri wrote: “Shoppers who the companies select for the trial will be able to order hundreds of products—including Nestlé’s Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Clorox Co.’s wet wipes—from a website for home delivery. Products arrive in a reusable tote with no extra packaging. Once finished, users schedule a pickup for empty containers to be cleaned and refilled. They can sign up for a subscription-based service that replenishes products once empty containers are returned. TerraCycle will handle delivery, returns and cleaning.

Photo: pinterest.com

“The products will cost roughly the same as the versions in single-use containers, but users will also have to pay a deposit of $1-$10 per container. Shipping charges start at roughly $20, decreasing with every item added.

“Susan Collins, head of the Container Recycling Institute, said high deposit fees could be a barrier to entry for many consumers. ‘It sounds like it’s only meant to attract the most green, virtuous shoppers,’ she said.

I’d add that customers who look for sales are also out of the loop.

“TerraCycle hopes to bring big retailers on board so that customers eventually buy and return most of the products in store or online via retailers, lowering the project’s costs and expanding its reach,” Chaudhuri concluded.

If shoppers don’t have a doorman or house staff or if they aren’t retired, who will accept the packages and what about ice cream sales shipped in summer? Will the shipping and container costs impact the success of these initiatives? Can we go home again, to the middle of last century, when refills in certain product categories were standard? Will a sufficient number of customers, spoiled by taking three seconds to toss out a bottle or container, make the time to wash out each container and prepare the package to ship it back?

Photo: etsy.com

Service of Whatever Happened To….

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Photo: makeuseof.com

 

I just heard from musician Tyler Schuster’s dad, Bill, who updated me on what this enterprising young saxophone player has been up to since he appeared in a post here. It inspired me to also revisit a few other past posts.

Tyler’s music instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Michael Shults, PhD, drafted the original, “Service of Perseverance Set to Music: A Story That Makes My Heart Sing,” in March 2017.

Winning Musician

Tyler Schuster

Shults wrote about Tyler who “pushed harder and smarter when things got tough.” At the end he wrote: “Please join me in congratulating Tyler on his incredible progress and for embodying so many of the ideals we preach in music and any other discipline: toughness, hard work, self awareness, ambition and goal-setting. He’s worked very hard to get where he is and hopefully will have an influence on some future musicians.”

He’s already started. Bill Schuster wrote: “Tyler is student teaching music students grades 6-12 in Bloomer, Wis.  He will be graduating on December 22 with his Music, Instrumental and Music Teaching, Comprehensive Major – Bachelor of Music Education.

“He’s worked very hard and hopefully will have an influence on some future musicians.  He is playing in numerous bands and orchestras, including the Jazz Ensemble, which was named Best Undergraduate College Jazz Band by Downbeat Magazine in 2017 and in 2018, it won best Live Performance.

Schuster added that his son also won the Concerto Competition; the University’s Conducting Competition and was a member of the winning Quartet Competition. “As far as anyone can tell, Tyler is the only person to win all the competitions. He hopes to teach a few years and start his master’s degree in a couple of years.  He has his sights set on teaching at the collegiate level which will be a lot of work, but I’m sure not betting against him.  He loves to be challenged.” We’re rooting for Tyler too!

Commercials That Sound Like Nails on a Blackboard

Photo: Davekraft.org

The annoying giggling female customer in the 1-800-I-Got-Junk radio commercial is gone. I mentioned it in “Service of Irritating and Charming Commercials: Phony and Legitimate Laughs.” I wonder if stations got complaints and lost listeners because of it. Just this morning I heard a new rendition–this time a man giggled. I hear many other repeated commercials but none are as irksome.

The Last Straw

When I wrote “Service of the Last Straw, Bar None,” I couldn’t believe the big deal made over bars and restaurants that banned plastic straws to save the environment.

 I checked Google to see where Styrofoam is banned. I’m not impressed. Listed are: “New York City (and several other cities in New York); Takoma Park, MD.; Seattle, Washington; Washington DC.; Miami Beach, FL; Freeport, Maine; Portland, Maine and Nantucket (City & County), Mass.” And then there are clear plastic containers that hold fruits and veggies and plastic water bottles–have you checked your garbage? I grabbed just a few things in our home on Saturday [photo right]. Get rid of these plastic containers and now you’re talking.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Since I wrote “Service of Leaks” in May, there have been floods, from Omarosa’s book “Unhinged” and those filling the pages of Bob Woodward’s “Fear,” to the experience of the anonymous New York Times Op-Ed writer. What’s normal behavior these days?

I also ask:

  • Do you know other students who have won all the competitions in their track when at first just being good enough to compete in one seemed a stretch?
  • To grab attention, commercials often grate, but don’t you agree some go overboard?
  • Is it unprofitable for packaging companies to research workable alternatives to plastic and to retrofit their machinery accordingly with the goal of saving the environment? Must we be happy with banning straws?
  • Will the world look more kindly on whistleblowers as we become increasingly used to high profile leakers or are we in a phase brought on by the administration?

Photo: tohowater.com

 

 

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