This is The ChangeUnderground for the 14th of March 2022.
I’m your host, Jon Moore
Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!
As you can imagine, with the levels of violence in this world, there are many individuals going hungry. The UNHCR does stellar work, they are hamstrung with bureaucracy despite the very best of intentions. Long established charities have had poor press of late. The major charities raising funds during the Bushfire Black Summer here in Australia, 2019-2020 were found to be hoarding funds for the next disaster which went against the grain for many people who donated for that particular emergency.
So I was delighted to discover an organisation that not only feeds the hungry but trains people to grow their own and has a chef training arm. While each charity has its founding mythos, usually a religious one for those founded in the 19th and 20th century, World Central Kitchen, founded out of a response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake has as its founding mythos: Seeing the world through a chef’s eyes. Eventually settling up World Central Kitchen didn’t occur until 2012:
From the article The Story Behind the José Andrés Nonprofit Serving Hurricane Dorian Victims by Monica Burton,
…World Central Kitchen’s mission to focus on four distinct areas: education, health, jobs, and social enterprise. But unlike other organizations that offer global aid, World Central Kitchen would answer these needs with chefs.
It’s a matter of inspired genius. Just because people are hungry doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be fed well. The layers around the feeding, the training, the growing, the dignity of being are all worth the effort.
I commend them to your perusal.
Over the past few months I’ve, perhaps, harped a little on the need for shorter supply lines, more localised production of food and a need for resilience in the face of forces over which we have no control. From the pandemic to fuel shortages to dependence upon supermarkets to shortages of a diesel additive, I think the point has been made. Then, just to be sure, the world decides to crank up the price of oil based fossil fuels. As I’ve discussed before, the ubiquity of this commodity in our food production systems around the world means food has a fairly substantial carbon footprint. It is also a tool for despots and the incompetent to surcumb to bribery and corruption. From the wasted opportunities in Nigeria, Venezuela and really most of the middle east oil producing countries to the current situation in Eastern Europe, petro dollars have had many depressing consequences. Our own Australian government, acting in our name, attempted to screw Timor Leste out of income from natural gas resources needed to finance the new country. There is very little honour in much of the oil industry.
All that’s before we come to the frankly immoral disinformation campaign against Climate Change waged for decades. The economics are so straightforward when it comes to climate change. Swap out fossil fuels for renewables and economies grow, people suffer less health hazards, plastic use drops and we are not left with a few individuals/countries holding a gun to our collective heads because they threaten to turn off supply.
We find ourselves at a point where, had we followed the economics argued for twenty years ago, there’d be no need to patrol the Persian Gulf, the people of Yemen would be pounded by rockets paid for with petrodollars, the perpetrators in Ukraine would not have been funded by the world’s energy consumers. I saw a meme on the book of faces the other day with a wind generator on it and text that went something like: The crisis in Ukraine has raised the price of energy produced by the wind by 0%. I don’t see how the Ukraine crisis ends but it began with oil and gas sales by Russia at a time the EU was talking a good game on renewables. I know, people in glass houses and all that but whilst our government has been dragging its feet on GHGs the rest of us have been voting with our dollars. A third of Australian homes have solar panels. Wind turbines are popping up at a great rate of knots despite our current Prime Minister being the clown who brought an actual piece of coal into parliament to make some cheap political point.
The effects of no acting are before us. A petrodollar field Russia, a climate change series of rain events on the East Coast of Australia that smashed previous flood records, to drought Californians have been living with since the year 2000, we are living with our past refusals to wean ourselves of oil. I might also point out, as it was new to me and maybe to some of you out there, California has had its driest start to a year since records began 128 years ago, all of the state is in some sort of drought declaration and that covers some 37.4 million people. It was dry in southern California when I was there in 2018 and the place I stayed at was hit by the fire in the next year. The only things that seemed to be thriving, I mean really thriving, were the introduced Eucalypts so no surprise there.
But I digress. We need to electrify our economies: completely and entirely. Oh but we need to keep some things running on oil. Do we? How many things are there around the developed world still relying on horses for motive power? Not many and mostly as museum exhibits so we can see what life was like. We have sufficient technology, we have the capacity to do this, we just lack the will. The pandemic showed what could be done with a focus, nut jobs aside. I might also point out that trolling and searches for nut job conspiracy theories have collapsed since Russia has disconnected from the interwebs. Hmm… coincidence? But I digress again. We can electrify the world’s economies. But what if you live in the back of Bourke, or whatever your country’s expression for a long way from suburbia is? Turns out battery ranges out 700 kilometres are possible. I heard the argument in Ireland that it was impossible for country people to use electric vehicles because of the distances they need to travel to get to town and so on. Clearly distance is a relative thing. A vehicle with a 500 km range would get the job done there, here in Tassie, probably in New Zealand and any number of other smaller sized nation states. And that’s predicated on only being able to change at home. Things will be different under the mighty electron but oh so much quieter.
So now we have two reasons to electrify: 1. Climate and 2. To free ourselves for the tyranny of oil.
Let’s crack on.
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Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week
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IPCC Sixth Assessment Report
World Central Kitchen
The Story Behind the José Andrés Nonprofit Serving Hurricane Dorian Victims