Archived entries for sustainable living

Old McDonald had a… problem

Test tube meatDuring a recent dinner, a friend asked me whether I would eat artificial meat – i.e. that which is created in a test tube rather than coming from a slaughtered animal. I said that I would, so long as it tasted identical to the real thing. Would you?

Before I get into the meat of the post (ba-da-boom), it would probably be useful to elaborate on my stance regarding animal cruelty because I can almost feel the heat of indignation caused by my many animal-loving friends. Clearly I am a meat eater, which means I haven’t had an epiphany about the ethics of how my food is sourced. It doesn’t mean I think it’s right that animals should suffer for my sake, just that I have not yet found a compelling reason to weigh my rights vs. responsibilities in that area (read: it’s in the “too-hard basket”).

So getting back to test tube meat, something that occurred to me: assuming it were to take off, and the farming of chickens, pigs, cows and other “meat producing” animals was no longer required – what would happen to those species? As far as I know, these animals are complete domesticated and don’t exist in the wild at all. Does it mean that they’ll effectively become extinct, other than the few that might be kept by zoos and as pets or for personal consumption?

Also on the endangered list would be derivative industries such as “organic” manure, gelatin, leather, and a whole host of other products derived from the meat industry or its by-products.

Food for thought, or thought for food?


Interesting reading:

The Conversation: What is the value of an animalslife?

Scientists working on $330,000 test-tube-meat burger

A (not so) taxing idea for the environment

Coal and Australian banknotes

Putting a price on carbon

I’m going through a green bent at the moment. I’m not going out and hugging any trees but I like doing what I can to minimise my footprint on the planet. Little things, like growing herbs out on the balcony, hanging out the washing instead of using the dryer, and worm farming.

While reading a book about the latter – a book called Organic Growing With Worms by David Murphy that spends several chapters teaching how to set up commercial worm farming operations – all kinds of grand ideas entered my mind, one of which involved turning dry, arid desert properties at the outer fringes of populated areas into arable farming land, simply by taking people’s organic waste and processing it through a commercial-scale worm farm. Furthering the delusion was a networking opportunity through a friend, who could introduce me to a person who owns a large scale waste processing operation.

I have many similar harebrained business ideas*, but the reason why none of them, including this one, are likely to succeed is because there’s no economical value in putting things back into the environment. We have all kinds of economic devices for pricing stuff that we dig out of the ground, but not a single blessed one on putting back in (and I’m not talking about the $25 entry fee to dump your trailer’s worth of trash into landfill).

Let’s dwell on that for a moment. We have prices for everything that we do to destroy the planet, and capitalism and consumerism have caused these to keep inflating. Things that benefit the environment however, have no value. Sequestering carbon, using less water, not using plastic bags, etc. the means of controlling these things are all stick, no carrot.

The point is, no “green” ideas are commercially viable unless we have a carbon price, because the costs to implement them are very real, but the “profits”, which can’t yet be measured in dollars, aren’t. Once a carbon price is set, then, and only then, will the innovation (and benefits) follow.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to vote Green at the upcoming election. The only association I make between the Greens and the word “environmental” is the “mental” part; but that’s another post altogether. What I am trying to do here though is to offer up a my perspective on why I believe the carbon tax currently put forward by the Government is so important, regardless of whether Julia Gillard broke an election promise or not. She’s not the first politician that’s ever lied, and as much as the rhetoric is preventing her from saying so, I’d rather suffer a politician that corrected their mistakes even while refusing to admit it, than one that kept their word based on a deeply held but flawed belief.

Do you think a carbon price will make a difference, or just create more problems than it solves?


Here are a couple more of my crazy green ideas:

  • Replace the bitumen in roads with solar cells (a more durable version than the ones on your roof, which would be too fragile for driving on – maybe protected by large sheets of Gorilla Glass like the iPhone? :-P)
  • Take organic waste (think green bins), convert it into charcoal through pyrolysis, and bury it in the desert thereby potentially turning dry, useless properties into farming land (see how).


What a big waste!

Damaged iMac computer

Just needs a bit of a wipe…

Australia’s still going through one of the greatest natural disasters in living memory, and my thoughts and prayers are with those affected, either directly, or indirectly through friends, families and acquaintance. While not trying to gloss over the magnitude of this tragedy, I’d like to bring up an issue that’s got me wondering: as the clean-up effort begins we’re constantly shown footage of diligent volunteers carrying away flood-damaged stuff by the truckload. Where are they taking it all?

Storage issues aside, surely not all of it is irredeemable? On previous occasions I’ve mentioned my affinity for garbage and fixing things. In another life I’d absolutely jump on the opportunity to go up to Queensland and spend my days going through the mountain of refuse, cleaning what can be cleaned, fixing that which can be fixed, and recycling the rest to the greatest possible extent. The goods could then be either: returned to the people of Queensland (although that begs the question of who gets what); donated to those who are in need; or sold and the profits returned to flood victims.

It would be a massive waste (literally!) if it all ended up as landfill.

Do you think it’s worth trying to salvage stuff?


Image credit – Bränd iMac fortfarande fungerande

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