Bug Buffet

When thinking about what to write for this quarter’s issue of The BeZine’s  theme of sustainABILITY, I went in search of possible solutions to food insecurity/famine around the world. All humans need food (and water!) to survive. You may have heard a little about the idea of eating insects (Entomophagy) but it’s not something that has really been overly publicized or shared on social media as a viable solution here in the West. And yet, “it is widely estimated that insects are currently regularly consumed by about two billion people, around a quarter of the world’s population.” https://guides.loc.gov/entomophagy .

Astounded, I embarked on a rabbit-hole journey of discovery. I like bugs, generally, with some exceptions, and the idea of them as a food source is kind of fascinating to me. Yes, there is revulsion, too, but I think a lot of that is probably because of my western culture upbringing.

Surviving on Edible Insects by Fred Demara

There are people out there who care about “food insecurity” (famine) and areas of the world that suffer from it and are trying to help find a solution. In fact, it’s one of the biggest threats to humans created by Climate Change (aside from water scarcity becoming more common). That’s one of the largest reasons driving this research into whether or not insects could be an answer.

There are so many places in the world where they can’t raise “traditional” farm animals (cattle, pigs, chickens, etc.), and in the places where they CAN, a lot of those places don’t have the water or food resources left over to do it (raise farm animals). The amount of water alone needed to raise farm animals and the food they need to eat is unreal (especially if that water is also needed by people).

Source: Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Water-Consumption-For-Various-Classes-Of-Livestock_tbl1_242211180

This is also a good article about it: It May Be Uncomfortable, But We Need to Talk About It: The Animal Agriculture Industry and Zero Waste

You may never quit eating meat, but it’s a very real problem, and we’ve (humans) been kicking the can down the road for a while, now. It’s part of what is driving the push for edible insects – a sustainable food model.

Regarding the safety of eating insects, it’s a complicated problem. It depends a lot on whether or not the bugs are “wild caught” or “farm raised”. If catching the bugs from the wild and eating them, you run the risks of ingesting pesticide residues, heavy metals and parasites or bacteria. But the biggest safety risk, is allergens (whether wild caught or farm raised) – similar to the allergy that people have when eating crustaceans or seafood. Many people aren’t even aware they’re allergic until they EAT the food, and by then, it could be too late. You also have the problem of stable “shelf life” and how long the bugs can be stored as food. If farm-raised, you must be aware of mycotoxins (molds), which can grow on the food that the bugs eat and be ingested.

There are some plainly false posts and videos out there, claiming that it’s not safe to eat bugs, but as the Library of Congress Research Guides show, people have been eating bugs for tens of thousands of years. Regarding the claim that eating chitin is like eating ground up glass particles, that is simply not true. There is concern of ground up chitin being inhaled as a possible allergen, but not actual consumption by eating.

“Chitin Is Not Glass

Chitin, a material found in insects’ exoskeletons, is mostly composed of calcium carbonate. Silicate glass is a type of glass that is both hard and light. As a result, chitin is technically a glass-free material. ” The scientific breakdown of exactly what makes up chitin and what it is (amino acid chains and polymers), are here: https://biobubblepets.com/chitin-the-building-block-of-insect-exoskeletons/

Here’s another example of one of the misleading posts out there (mainly on social media). It’s good to take things you read on social media with a grain of salt, and even better, to fact check the claims.

Eating crickets can also actually be beneficial to the human gut microbial biome: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-29032-2

This is a REALLY good (but long) overview article that discusses the pros and cons of eating insects: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235236461930046X

It does point out that more research needs to be done, so it’s not the “end all, be all” about the issue. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has done in-depth studies of edible insects and covers all of the above concerns and more, if you care to look at it. This .pdf is 108 pages, but the safety concerns start on page 15. https://www.fao.org/3/cb4094en/cb4094en.pdf

There is quite a bit of scientific, peer-reviewed research already done and currently being done on the matter. I would suggest trusting THOSE sources more than social media. Yes, more investigation needs to be done, but so far, the idea seems to have merit. If it can help alleviate famine in the poorer parts of the world AND be sustainable, then I think those are good goals. 🙂

Will I ever eat bugs willingly? Perhaps. I’ll take off the legs, though, and maybe the head, too. And I absolutely draw the line at roaches. 🤢

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Review for “365 Days of Gutsy Women” by Rosemary Roenfanz

From Real to Ideal, from Gritty to Goddess, “365 Days of Gutsy Women” is an entertaining, enlightening read that will leave you with more respect and admiration of the “Fairer Sex” than ever before.  When I first got the book, I thought it would be like one of those inspirational calendars that has a quote/devotional for each day kind of thing, and I was ready to read about one woman a day. But once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop at just one!

Ms. Roenfanz has put together quite the collection of women. I was intrigued by the things I learned about both the women I already knew and those new to me.  She has divided the book into categories, with different types of women for different days of the week. For example, Mondays are dedicated to Activists and Rebels, Thursdays are Authors and Poets, and Sundays are reserved for Goddesses, and so on.  Even if a reader were curious about only one of the categories of women, there is still a rich and engaging tapestry of facts to be gleaned about them.

There are well-known names, of course; famous women that many of us learned about in school, like Cleopatra VII, Marie Curie or Harriet Tubman. But there are also more obscure women, like Sister Nivedita, who “worked tirelessly for education reform” in India and opened a girls’ school in Calcutta, teaching and assisting women during the bubonic plague in 1899. There is also Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail, who “was known as the “Grandmother of American Indian Nurses.” She constantly sought to improve the health and lives of those Indians still living on reservations and was even awarded the “President’s Award for Outstanding Nursing” by J.F.K. in 1962.

There are so many more examples, all of them interesting, and some of them astonishing in their depth and scope of accomplishments or life stories. The examples in this book show how brave, intelligent, creative and determined all of these extraordinary women could be. I appreciated that Ms. Roenfanz was careful to cover an array of races, ages and philosophical and spiritual bents in the women she has gathered.  This gem of a book would make an outstanding, inspirational gift for any young woman unsure of herself or her place in society and history. I cannot possibly do it the justice it deserves or recommend it highly enough – you’ll just have to read it for yourself and see! 😊

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The Great Equalizers

This quarter’s issue of the BeZine is focused on Social Justice: listening, learning, reaching out.
What do others tell us about their experience? How do we listen and learn? How do racial, economic and social inequalities affect people we know? What do we say to our children and who else do they hear? What do you have to say about your experiences with social (in)justice?

I’ve worked in both public and academic libraries for many years, and I have come to see them as equalizers, especially when it comes to Social Injustices. When one thinks about Social Injustices, things like poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, racism and bigotry may come to mind. So how can libraries help with those things? Read on.


These hallowed halls store and provide so much more than just books! For people who live in poverty every day, who pinch pennies for all they’re worth, libraries can provide access to free books, movies, music and more for entertainment. More importantly, they can provide computer access to programs which can help people find jobs, and government or local financial help to pay for basics like rent and utilities. That access makes a huge difference. Computers have become as important to everyday life as having a telephone, but not everyone can afford them. Most libraries today have access to computers, and those act as a bridge of service for the users who need connection to important social programs. That particular freedom of access and connection to broader, available help is what we librarians consider spanning the “Digital Divide”; poor communities, especially minority communities, do not have as many resources for computers or computer access. Libraries provide a bridge.

Fort Worth Library Computer Lab via Wikimedia Commons

That bridge opens the way to help hungry people, too. While libraries cannot physically feed those who are hungry, they can often connect food insecure people with missions and food banks, where they might find at least one free meal, probably more. They also have books on growing your own garden, your own food. Some libraries even host gardening club meetings, where people can learn about such things.

Gardening Books at Lester Public Library _ Flickr

On the issue of homelessness, consider that there are not a lot of places for homeless people to go to escape the streets. In the summer, the temperatures might be boiling hot, or freezing cold in the winter. Most libraries are temperature-controlled buildings which homeless people find bastions of relief in extreme weather, and as long as they obey the rules, they are usually tolerated and left alone, from opening to closing time. Libraries have restrooms and also usually have at least one water fountain, which can fill a water bottle or canteen, or simply quench a person’s thirst. If the homeless person wants help finding lodging or shelter, or a job, once again the computers can connect them with social programs that can help.

Photograph: Andy Cross – Denver Public Library via Getty images

Speaking of programs that can help, lots of libraries provide programs like Summer Reading and/or After School Programs, which can keep kids busy and engaged in reading, rather than running the streets and/or getting into trouble. There are also literacy programs at many libraries, which can help anyone learn to read, whether young or old. This is extra important for immigrants or minority ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers, who need to be able to read signs, applications, etc. in order to live, work and become productive members of society here in America (or wherever in the world they happen to be! There are libraries all over the world!).

NYC Library Lion

One of the best things about libraries is that they do not discriminate. There (usually) is no racism or bigotry allowed. I say (usually), because patrons/library users come in all different shapes, ages, colors, sizes and social beliefs. There may be other library users who are racists or bigots, but the librarians will remove problem patrons and they are happy to welcome everyone to the library equally. Of course, there are plenty of books about those subjects, if people should be inclined to read about the differences in opinions, or history behind racism and bigotry, but the best examples are the people who don’t practice either one.


The buildings may be great, but let’s not forget the librarians! They are the keepers of the knowledge, and they will do their best to find answers, whatever the problem or question may be. That knowledge is the key. It can open doors and remedy all manners of social injustice. Librarians are trained in Information Sciences. That’s what they DO. However, aside from being intelligent, most tend to also be pretty compassionate people who want to help in any way they can. Remember that, if you should ever find yourself in a position of social injustice. And if you’re ever asked about whether or not to continue to FUND libraries, I hope you’ll unequivocally say, “YES!” They are the great equalizers of our time. Perhaps they always have been, but it is especially true now.

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Peace Doesn’t Always Mean Passive

My mom and dad were hippies and it definitely rubbed off on me. I’ve always been considered kind of a peace-maker; among friends, family, co-workers. I strive for a smooth, peaceful environment, and most of the time, succeed. But I have to admit that it’s increasingly difficult to be at peace in a world so increasingly filled with violence and war.

This quarter’s theme for The BeZine is Waging Peace: balancing personal and global crises and needs. What does something like this encompass? Well, in the words of our editor, Michael Dickel, “How do we work together to help each other find inner peace and to wage peace globally? How do we share resources that help individuals and also build peace, rather than manipulate, exploit (horde, deplete)? How do we wage peace collectively while also facing-off against pandemic, climate crisis, economic inequity, and personal challenges / issues?”

That’s a pretty tall order. And what does it mean to “Wage Peace”, anyway? I recently came across something that made me pause and think about what that phrase really means. It’s from the book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

So peacemaking doesn’t have to mean being passive. There are active ways to Wage Peace, even in such chaotic, unsettled times. Here are a few to consider:

Use your passion to write a poem, or a song that expresses your feelings. If you’re a visual artist, create a painting or perhaps digital artwork that shows others why you care, and why they should, too. Never underestimate the power of art to move and motivate people!

Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.com

Even if you can’t or don’t feel like creating something, you can probably spare a morning’s stop at Starbuck’s to help out those making a difference in fighting against wars or helping survivors and refugees. Right now, one of the biggest worries on concerned peoples’ minds is how to help with relief in Ukraine. Here are some legitimate agencies who are providing help to that particular area. You can rest easy knowing that your money will go a long way to helping those in desperate need.

Maybe you’d rather Wage Peace closer to home. No matter where you live, even a small donation to a charity like The Red Cross, Salvation Army or a local food bank can help those in need. We all feel more peaceful when we have full bellies, a safe place to sleep and hope that tomorrow won’t just bring more misery. Waging Peace doesn’t have to mean railing against military wars, it can be just as effective to fight against those social ailments like poverty, homelessness, hunger and domestic violence.

Maybe you don’t have the extra cash right now to donate (you’re not alone). But perhaps you have some free time? Volunteering to help with relief efforts, even those locally, can be a great way to Wage Peace and give back. Since the start of the pandemic, volunteers have been in shorter supply, everywhere. Find a cause or injustice that you’re passionate about and see if there are ways you can volunteer to help. Your efforts probably won’t be refused, and can definitely make a big difference!

No matter how we choose to participate, we can all be active and Wage Peace in our own ways to make the world a little bit better. There are people fighting for peace every second of every day, all over the globe. Will your contribution and actions make a difference? Absolutely! Something is better than nothing. Actively Waging Peace is much better than being passive and watching the world get worse.


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~ I Bring the World With Me ~

This quarter’s theme at The BeZine is sustainABILITY: shaping uncertain future(s). How do we choose the best paths to sustain (broadly defined) the Earth (focused on the climate crisis) our lives, our children’s, and our grandchildren’s?

If you care about the future beyond your own mortality, it can feel overwhelming to think of all of the problems facing the next generations. I’m only one person, you might think. What can I possibly do that will make a difference? The thing is, we each can only control ourselves and our own actions. We cannot control what other people do or don’t do. It’s about personal responsibility and accountability. It’s possible to inspire others by our own actions. And when enough people take personal actions, it adds up. The oceans are formed one drop of water at a time. Change happens one action at a time. What’s that old saying, Be the Change you wish to see in the world.”? One step, one action at a time, we CAN reach a sustainable future. Are you with us? 🙂

“I Bring the World” by Corina Ravenscraft © 2022

I bring the world with me,
In the choices I make.
I recycle because I care,
About the rivers, oceans, lakes,
See there, the giant gyres
Of our garbage and goop;
The world has quite enough plastic soup!

I bring the world with me,
When I
Refuse plastic straws,
So that turtles don’t die.
When I choose “Dolphin Safe”
For the tuna I buy,
To the snacks with Palm Oil on the label,

I bring the world with me,
By becoming aware,
Of how my personal actions,
Affect the land, water and air.
Like how many bags
Of trash,
We each create?
Have you counted your number?
Care to speculate?

I bring the world with me,
Because we’re all connected.
Each action (or not),
A drop,
In a Change-fueled wave,
Any bad practice can be
For this world,
We bring with us,
It’s ours to save.

~ C.L.R. © 2022

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Nature, the Healer

The world has needed healing for a long time, but especially now, in the midst of and in the aftermath of a global pandemic. This quarter’s issue of The BeZine deals with A Life of the Spirit and Healing. How do we heal ourselves from all of the changes Covid has wrought? How do we heal the rifts, the division, the stress that the pandemic has brought to us all? If nothing else is apparent, Nature has proven to us that She has the means and ability to end us. But She can also heal us.

The isolation of Covid has made everyone a little (or a lot) stir-crazy and anxious to get outside into the fresh air; to feel the sun on our faces, the sand between our toes, the soothing rhythm of rivers or oceans against our skin. Nature has healing powers, but you have to be willing to get out into it, sans phones, or earbuds, without walk-mans or those electronic leashes that so many of us carry around out of habit. You see, those things will distract you from paying attention to your heartbeat as you listen to the wind in the trees. They will pull you away from awareness of the warmth of the sun on your skin, the smells of rich earth and deep greenery beneath your (bare?) feet. Nature has a language and it can help heal the mind, heart, body, and yes, the spirit or soul.


Image by wendy CORNIQUET from Pixabay

Japanese people have long practiced shinrin yoku, or “forest bathing”. There is even a Japanese Society for Forest Medicine. The chairman of that group, physician Qing Li, has written a book called “Forest Bathing” and he points out: “The country’s two major religions, Buddhism and Shintoism, consider forests mystical. “For Zen Buddhists, scripture is written in the landscape,” writes Li. “In Shinto, the spirits are not separate from nature, they are in it. They are in the trees, in the rocks, in the breeze, the stream, the waterfall.”

If that isn’t enough to at least pique your interest, there are dozens of articles and research papers published about the very real benefits to humans of being in and around nature. An article in Psychology Today about how the healing works in nature says, “Nature also frequently provides positive images for meditation. Just as winter turns to spring, one’s self-healing capacity can move from sickness into health. The restorative quality of nature and your own body is an important image to hold onto throughout your health and wellness journey.”


Image by kordula vahle from Pixabay

Consumer Reports even recommends getting outside in nature to get well! Time Magazine did a post about the healing power of nature. The University of Minnesota discussed studies about how nature impacts our well-being. Yale University focused on studies about How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health and asked/answered the question, “How long does it take to get a dose of nature high enough to make people say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being?” The answer is: Precisely 120 minutes.

If you’re still at all skeptical, I challenge you to get outside and wander the woods, the parks, the beach…anywhere that you can “get back to the Earth” and sit quietly, just enjoying this beautiful planet on which we live. You never know…it might help you heal in more ways than you expect.


Posted in Ecology, Environment, Health, Inspiration, Life, Nature, Peace, Renewal, Resistance, Science, Spirituality, Trees, Uncategorized, Zen | 1 Comment

~ Asking For A Friend ~

The theme this quarter for The BeZine is "Waging Peace through finding common ground". Any changes that happen for the important issues concerning humanity must come through us finding common ground from which to start the conversations. Empathy is being able to fully place ourselves in another's position. It starts with being able to care enough about other things, people, places, etc. besides yourself. What will it take for global empathy?

If you knew
Your whole family would die tomorrow,
From a senseless war not of your making,
Would you wage peace,
For just one day,
To keep your heart, 
From needlessly breaking?

If I knew
Next week would poison rivers, the air,
Turned toxic by corporate dumping, pollution,
Would I wage peace,
For just one week,
Use my money instead,
For a “Greener” solution?

If we knew
Plants and animals would die next month,
Climate Change pushing them past the brink,
Would we wage peace,
For just one month,
Wage peace for the planet,
Could we do it, you think?

You, I, We, Us,
What will it take to make us care?
A day? A week? A month? A year?
Whole continents burning, unbreathable air,
Fishless oceans, concrete leaving all lands bereft,
Endless bodies, choked rubble from War’s bloody fare,
By the time we wage peace, who and what will be left?

© C.L.R. 2021

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SustainABILITY in turbulent times

The theme for this quarter’s issue of The BeZine is “SustainABILITY in turbulent times”. Everyday life is challenging right now all over the world; things are especially chaotic because of the pandemic, with political unrest and natural disasters only adding to the “turbulence” that is affecting communities and ecosystems around the globe. But the important part of that phrase at the top is the last part of the first word: “ABILITY”. We ALL have the “ability” to do something sustainable, whether it’s for ourselves, our communities or the planet, even if it’s something small.

“Sustainability in Turbulence” © 2021 Corina Ravenscraft all rights reserved

Figure Out How To Sustain Yourself

You won’t be any good to anyone else if you cannot figure out how to sustain yourself. This has been an especially important lesson for so many during the unprecedented challenges presented by Covid-19. We’re having to learn how to keep going, despite being isolated or cut off from places, activities, and often people that we love. We each have had to come up with things to “sustain” us through this pandemic…sustain us physically, mentally, emotionally. Some of us have done better than others, but it’s something we all have to face and figure out.

How do you know what sustains you? I’m not talking about the basics, like food and shelter, although there are plenty of people who don’t even have those things right now, so their path to personal sustainability is a million times harder. But if you have food and shelter and even a job, what keeps you going? What drives you to awaken each morning and tackle the day ahead? I suggest that you stop, take a moment, and close your eyes. Breathe deeply for a count of ten and ask yourself, “What makes me happy? What brings me joy?”. Really search for and find whatever it is that brings you joy, whether it’s a hobby like painting, knitting, wood-working, gardening, or simply taking ten or twenty minutes each day to get some exercise outdoors or relax with your favorite music and meditate. And if you can’t come up with anything? Now is the perfect time to find and try something new. You have the ability to discover what truly makes you happy and can keep you going, what will sustain you through these hard times and beyond.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is meditation-by-h.koppdelaney.jpg
“Meditation” by h.koppdelaney licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Find Ways To Sustain Your Community

As an individual part of your community, you have the ability to make it better. You can help others around you, and by doing so, make where you live a more inviting and sustainable place. Perhaps you can start small, and make a commitment to check on your elderly neighbor every day, to make sure that they can keep going. Maybe you have the ability for something on a larger scale, like getting together with a few people in your neighborhood and starting a sustainable, community vegetable garden that will provide for several families?

Perhaps you have an artistic ability that can be used to paint murals on ugly cement walls in the neighborhood to brighten the space, and you can even invite others to help (socially distanced, of course). If you’re an animal lover, maybe you can help the strays in your area, by TNR-ing and feeding a cat colony, or commit to not using chemicals on your lawn so that the birds, bees and butterflies have a non-toxic place to feed. When people ask you what you’re doing, invite them to participate! Maybe you can prepare and distribute meals or care-packages for the homeless in your area? There are so many ways to help keep the community going, to sustain that sense of “belonging” that has been sorely missing in these days of isolation and loneliness. The challenge is looking for ways to help improve the community with your unique abilities.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pilsen-smart-communities-murals-by-danxoneil.jpg
“Pilsen Smart Communities Murals” by danxoneil licensed under CC BY 2.0

Help Sustain The Planet

This is probably what most people consider the toughest challenge when it comes to sustainability, but it doesn’t have to be. We each have the power, the ability, to make choices that have ripple effects. We can choose to be more sustainable in our lifestyles and follow one or all of the “Five R’s of Sustainability“.

Beyond those five steps, you can research the companies from which you buy things. Here is one list of the top 100 Most Sustainable Companies of 2020. Use the power of your wallet as a consumer and reward companies that are trying to be “green”, “eco-friendly“, or who are committed to helping the planet instead of trashing it. Would you consider using a shampoo that came in a biodegradable bar (like a bar of soap) instead of in a plastic, non-recyclable bottle? How about NOT buying snacks which use an unsustainable source of Palm Oil – instead, find snacks that are committed to only sustainable sources.

“Sustainability poster – Ripples” by kevin dooley licensed under CC BY 2.0

Yes, it takes time to do the research and you have to actually care about it in the first place. But you have the ability to decide to be a part of the human race who either helps the planet or hurts it. In truth, we are all probably a mix of both. As for me, I would rather work towards an Earth where there are still large, green spaces with lots of plants, animals and trees, where the rivers, lakes and oceans aren’t a toxic, plastic and garbage-filled soup and where the air and water are free of so much pollution. How about you?

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Her Light Continues…

In early November of last year, we lost one of the dearest members of The BeZine Team, our founder and editor, G. Jamie Dedes. Jamie was a huge inspiration to all of us; always a soft, gentle and encouraging voice who gave us the courage to write and the faith to succeed. One of my favorite poems of hers is this one, where she speaks to us about spirit’s immortality. Despite the tears, I know she’s close. I can hear her enthusiastic, “Poem on!” and I know she will always be with us.

One Lifetime After Another

one day, you’ll see, i’ll come back to hobnob
with ravens, to fly with the crows at the moment
of apple blossoms and the scent of magnolia ~
look for me winging among the white geese
in their practical formation, migrating to be here,
to keep house for you by the river …

i’ll be home in time for the bees in their slow heavy
search for nectar, when the grass unfurls, nib tipped ~
you’ll sense me as soft and fresh as a rose,
as gentle as a breeze of butterfly wings . . .

i’ll return to honor daisies in the depths of innocence,
i’ll be the raindrops rising dew-like on your brow ~
you’ll see me sliding happy down a comely jacaranda,
as feral as the wind circling the crape myrtle, you’ll
find me waiting, a small gray dove in the dovecot,
loving you, one lifetime after another.

~ © 2016 G. Jamie Dedes

Below is my own, small tribute to this unforgettable woman who lifted us all.

© 2020 Corina Ravenscraft All Rights Reserved

~ For Jamie ~

Gracious guide to my muse inside,

Joy lifted me every time we spoke.

Always so humble, yet beatified,

Mentor, mother, how our hearts broke

In two when we learned you’d be leaving.

Ever strong, you gently eased our grieving.

Dauntless, you waged fierce peace for us all.

Encouraged, blessed each effort we penned,

Delivered your maestro’s clarion call,

Even now, your love remains, without end.

Slip peacefully into the Bardo, Dear Friend…

~ © 2020 C.L.R.

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World’s End or World Without End?

“It’s the end of the world as we know it,
It’s the end of the world as we know it,
It’s the end of the world as we know it,
and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)”

~ It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, by R.E.M.

It sure has felt that way for the last few months, hasn’t it? We’ve had plenty of time to “have some time alone” and our routines have been turned upside down (though if I hear the phrase “New Normal” one more time, I think I might scream). Of course it’s been bad here in the U.S.A., but can you imagine how much worse it has been in so many of the other places on the planet? Can you empathize with those people who are already living day-to-day trying to scrape up enough food or water to survive and then to have to deal with this pandemic on TOP of that?

Image credit – credit Anumeha Yadav, Al Jazeera

In many ways, it seems that COVID-19 has been like a giant RESET button by Mother Nature. The real question is: can we, as humans, learn any lessons about how to treat the planet better because of it? Perhaps, more importantly, WILL we take this golden opportunity to at least and at last become more sustainable?

Merriam-Webster defines “Sustainable” as:
1 : capable of being sustained
: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. See sustainable techniques,  sustainable agriculture
b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods, sustainable society

Did you know that there are three “pillars” of Sustainability? They are:

  • Environmental (Planet) ——————–\
  • Economic (Profit) —————————- SUSTAINABILITY
  • Social (People) ———————————/

Figure 1.1. Interplay of the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainable development.
Credit: Mark Fedkin. Adopted from the University of Michigan Sustainability Assessment [Rodriguez et al., 2002]

In trying to develop goals towards true sustainability, all three of these pillars must be considered and brought together. Here’s a good video that describes how these definitions fit and work together to create a sustainable future.

In 2015, a group of 193 countries at The United Nations came up with 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). These “17 Goals to Transform Our World” were first  implemented in 2016, with the hopes of meeting all or most of these aims by the year 2030. “The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted unanimously by 193 Heads of State and other top leaders at a summit at UN Headquarters in New York in September. “They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success,” he added of the 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.”

So, we’re 4 years into the initiative. How are we doing? Overall, not that great, but where there is room for improvement, there is also the hope and willpower to make it happen. Some countries are making better efforts than others, and some are actually on track to meet their nation’s goals even before 2030. If you want to see the good, the bad and the ugly about how well (or not) we’re doing, this Ted Talk from last year shows specific numbers.

We’re a good species when it comes to adapting, but there are some things we won’t be able to adapt to quickly enough, like rising global temperatures (on land and in the oceans) caused by climate change.

PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) recently published an article that suggests “…depending on scenarios of population growth and warming, over the coming 50 y, 1 to 3 billion people are projected to be left outside the climate conditions that have served humanity well over the past 6,000 y. Absent climate mitigation or migration, a substantial part of humanity will be exposed to mean annual temperatures warmer than nearly anywhere today.”

By 2070, they predict that (bolding mine) “…in the absence of migration, one third of the global population is projected to experience a MAT (Mean Annual Temperature) >29 °C currently found in only 0.8% of the Earth’s land surface, mostly concentrated in the Sahara. As the potentially most affected regions are among the poorest in the world, where adaptive capacity is low, enhancing human development in those areas should be a priority alongside climate mitigation.”
~ Source

Rolling Stone did a wonderful article about the coming heat waves due to climate change, asking the important question, Can We Survive Extreme Heat?. “As temperatures soar in the coming years, the real question is not whether super-heated cities are sustainable. With enough money and engineering skill, you can sustain life on Mars. The issue is, sustainable for whom?”

Image borrowed from https://live.staticflickr.com

Humans still aren’t trying hard enough to live sustainably. According to Overshootday.org, we currently consume global resources at a rate where (bolding mine) “…we’d need 1.75 planets to support our demand on Earth’s ecosystem. The calculations include resources such as the amount of water, land, fish and forests we use as well as how much CO2 we’re pumping into the atmosphere – basically a measure of our ecological footprint. Our carbon footprint specifically is now 60 percent of our total global ecological footprint – with a massive 33 days of our budget overshoot used up due to CO2 emissions alone.” You can learn more about that and see some interesting graphs and pictures about that  here.

For us here in America, the COVID pandemic has meant temporary shortages on things like toilet paper (Here’s a fun history of how we came to have this “necessity”), which requires millions of felled trees per year to create. We’ve also witnessed a break down in the supply chain for foods like dairy, vegetables, and meats. Why? Because we’re not farming sustainably and rely heavily on large, corporate farming aggregates (whose number one concern is not feeding the world, or even the USA, but making as much profit as they possibly can – using the Economic ‘pillar’ to excess and at the expense of the other two pillars) and partly because we are a country who not only resists giving up eating meat, but who leads the world in meat consumption. ~ Source

Despite everything I’ve posted here, it’s not ALL Gloom and Doom. As societies become more conscious and responsible about their own roles in sustainability, and consumers demand that companies and corporations become sustainable, there is hope that we can still come out the other side of this with a “win” for the Earth and its inhabitants. At the very least, maybe now you’re seriously thinking about what you can do as an individual to help save us all, now and in the future.

IF it helps us make meaningful, lasting change, then maybe…the end of the world “as we know it” can turn out to be a good thing, after all.

Image credit – Screenshot/Twitter/Greenpeace India

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