Stop giving vegetarian meat substitutes stupid names

Over half of all Americans say that global climate change is a crisis, but less than 5 percent are vegetarians. These statistics always boggle me; eating vegetarian is one of the simplest ways to significantly combat climate change, with some studies estimating that the diet could cut greenhouse gas emissions and save as many as 7.3 million lives by 2050. So why aren’t more people who claim to be worried about the climate adopting plant-based lifestyles? There are, of course, any number of reasons, ranging from the popular misconception that vegetarianism is only accessible to the wealthy and white, to the fact that some people just don’t want to give… Read More

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We’re still not very good at predicting the weather. Politicizing it doesn’t help.

The weather has always been political. From Bible stories that describe divine forecasts of flood and storms, to the correlation between rainfall and political assassinations in ancient Rome, the ability to anticipate and respond to weather-related phenomena has long been understood to make or break leaders. For modern examples, look no further than the fallout after Hurricane Katrina, or the urgent fight currently taking place over climate change. But only very recently has the uncertainty of weather prediction also started to be exploited for political gain. On Sept. 1, President Trump infamously claimed that Alabama “would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian, a statement that… Read More

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What it will take to actually fight climate change

Ponder the onrushing disaster of climate change, and the towering task of getting greenhouse gas emissions down in time to avoid existential calamity, and one can be led very easily to an enervating political despair. The battle is basically lost, or so says the famed novelist Jonathan Franzen in a New Yorker essay this week. While we should try to reduce emissions, he writes, “All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was winnable.” Just like his similar effort from four years ago, Franzen’s argument is sloppy, muddled, and premised on elementary factual errors. But it makes a good reason to consider some historical occasions in… Read More

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