Lower Your Cholesterol and Save the Planet!


Check out this Washington Post article entitled Gut Check: The Meat of the Problem by Ezra Klein.

It discusses a 2006 United Nations report which finds that the production of meat is one of the worst sources of greenhouse gases, trumping even the global transport sector. It also says "a study out of Carnegie Mellon University found that the average American would do less for the planet by switching to a totally local diet than by going vegetarian one day a week."

While I am a biased vegetarian, I think the article (and the Carnegie Mellon study, which is readable by a layperson such as myself, although there are some econometrics that are above my head) is a fairly mild rebuke of meat eaters and meat production with the modest recommendation for people to cut back, not eliminate, their consumption of meat and dairy products.

So what do you carnivours think?



Living in the vast suburbs of Dallas-Ft. Worth, I have a true
understanding of the need for "re-burbinization." Check out this


That Would Save Some Trees


From The New York Times:

"Democratic Group's Proposal: Give Each Student a Kindle"


I'm an avid reader, and I own a Kindle, and it's way, way better than
reading a paper book. Plus, think of all those trees.

Mahout'n it Up in Thailand


In about a week my wife and I are flying to Thailand for a vacation to celebrate the defense of her PhD dissertation.

Let's get the dirty part out of the way.  Between the two of us, we are laying down an elephant-sized carbon footprint with our flights half-way around the world. This is slightly tempered by the fact that we have not flown much at all in the last few years.  Certainly not a greenius move though.

We are going to be doing some so-called ecotourism by visiting and staying at the Thailand Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, Thailand.  We will be doing one of the Mahout Training Courses. 

A Mahout is essentially an elephant master.  Southeast Asia has a long history of domesticating elephants and Mahouts have been an essential part of this process.  For thousands of years Mahouts and their elephants were employed in agriculture, most recently in the logging industry in Thailand. Recently though the Thai government outlawed the use of elephants for such purposes. This has led to hundreds of Mahouts and their elephants being out of work and it is not cheap to keep a multi-ton animal well fed.  A lot of these pairs now roam cities begging for money in exchange for quick rides on the elephant or worse the elephants are killed because the Mahout can not take care of it anymore. (For a more in-depth account and interesting commentary from someone who has gone to the TECC go here.)

As you may know, Marija and I are both vegetarians and vocal advocates for animal rights. We did a lot of research in trying to decide whether or not to visit this center. Marija is pretty much completely against zoos and the like that keep animals in captivity. I am a good bit more torn on the issue.  I would love to see man stop encroaching on the natural world and even revert a lot of "civilization" back to a more pristine state, but I know this ain't happening.  I think the best we can work for is a sustainable hybrid existence between civilization and nature, which I think if stable over time the natural world can adapt to eventually.  In my opinion, well-run nature-like zoos and ecotourism sites fit within this thinking, especially if they are able to keep a threatened species going through captive breeding programs.

So off we go to Thailand to experience for ourselves whether this ecotourism business is sustainable and an acceptable home for these threatened giants. I'll post a follow up in this regard when we return.

Have any of you done any ecotourism and if so what is your opinion of it as a green or not so green enterprise?

Google Rolls Out Home Energy Software - Green Inc. Blog - NYTimes.com