What we learned this week

A reader pointed me to the Climate Train this week, when scientists travelled to the UN climate talks in Kyoto by train in 1997. Their website is still online as a testament to late 90s website ‘design’ as well as the journey itself.

Australia is to add wellbeing measures to its budget for the first time, assessing spending decisions according to their effect on citizens’ wellbeing. This will be absolutely standard practice worldwide at some point.

There is growing interest in controlling the weather, and there are active cloud-seeding programmes in Australia, China, India, Israel, South Africa and Thailand. Inhabitat has a useful short introduction.

“If the role of the journalist is to seek the truth and report it, so that citizens will be informed and effective, reporting just the doom and gloom about climate change is insufficient. Calling attention to the impacts of climate change is essential if you are a journalist covering climate change. But if how people are responding, individually and collectively, is framed out, the whole story is not being told.” If you’ve got time for a longer article on climate journalism, this article on disengagement and the media from the Harvard Kennedy School is well worth your time.

Wooden buildings store carbon, making them a useful way to reduce emissions from construction – but how much wood can we sustainably produce? And will timber compete with food for land use? A new study has looked into this, and concludes that “expansion of timber plantations for wooden buildings is possible without major repercussions on agricultural production.”

Highlights from this week:

The scandal of climate miseducation

I remember a particular lesson from high school, in seventh grade life sciences. We were learning about species and different ideas about where they came from and how they are connected. Some people think they evolved, the teacher told us. Some people think there was a big bang. And of course, we know that the…

Putting the fossil fuel industry into reverse

To much of the climate movement, the fossil fuel industry is the enemy. It is the carbon emissions from coal, oil and gas that are driving the breakdown of the climate. The companies that continue to extract and sell these resources are therefore a key focus point for activism. But what to do with the…

Local food and the sources of emissions

‘Food miles’ became a popular term a few years ago in environmental circles, with locally produced food proposed as a solution. Some campaigns still advocate the LOAF principles (Local, Organic, Animal-friendly and Fairtrade) as a summary of ethical eating. But focusing too much on where food is produced can miss much bigger sources of carbon…

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