Thoughtful Response to Environmental Crises

Monday, December 05, 2011

Small Planet Institute co-founders, Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé, argue that it isn't physical challenges like climate change that threaten us the most, but how we think about them. Frances, author of Diet for a Small Planet, also discusses her new book EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want.


Anna Lappé and Frances Moore Lappé

Comments [12]


Growth? Another hippy-esque term. Define it when it comes to the Economy. We all know what growth means for our "grand-babies" - but ask a 100 people what it means for the National economy (forget personal and regional) and you will actually get 150 different answers. (Figuring at least 50 of the hundred have more than one idea)

I agree with many ideas of these women and those like them, but they talk in vagueries and cliches, and Brand-Logo like terminology.

Growth is like the term "Green". It means ZERO, it has no workable ideas behind it...that can manifest and coalesce into a direction of action.

The thought trap is that all this talk is gonna do a damn thing about the problems. As a Nation we're talked out. All we do is via a multitude of devices. But we DO VERY little.

Dec. 05 2011 05:59 PM

Sheep and goats can be damaging to an ecosystem when they are an invasive species, but so can plenty of plants. Plenty of animals can be raised sustainably as part of a farm that looks at the whole system on an ecological level, and plenty of farmland is not even well suited for growing plant crops, but is more suited for raising grazing animals.

Plus raising animals in a biodynamic way allows farmers to use natural fertilizers. Many of the plant crops cause just as much degradation through the use of excessive nitrogen and petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides.

There are farmers out there actually increasing the health of the land by raising animals, (the likes of Joel Salatin comes to mind as one well known). Conversely plenty of farmers are destroying land with monocrops like corn in the Midwest, the current farming methods of which have destroyed half the topsoil in the last 100 years.

Dec. 05 2011 04:12 PM

I want to correct one thing one of the guests said. She said that two things causing higher food prices are agrifuel and commodity speculation. She is correct about agrifuel. Commodity speculation, on the other hand, is not a cause but a symptom. The cause of commodity speculation is the worldwide increase in the money supply by central banks that is creating inflation. I can't answer for the rest of you, but I can tell you that I've seen the cost of a number of the basic foods I buy each week go up in the past two years.

Dec. 05 2011 12:32 PM
April from Manhattan

I'm 66 now, and became a vegetarian at age 21. People say "It must have been hard giving it up. And how do you do it now?" Meat doesn't look like food to me. It looks like what it is, a being's body, who cherished its life, as we do ours. I use a fridge for veggies, fruit, and cheese, which IS necessary for vegetarians. When I was macrobiotic, I had half the hair I do now. Woman friends stopped menstruating. The main thing humans can do is stop reproducing at the same rate. Bangladeshi and some African men know that. It should be macho to have fewer children. Makes me sick when, is it Mitt Romney? says he has seven. When the glaciers have melted, because of us all, Bangladesh will no longer be under water, it'll be part of world wide desertification. See a film called "World Water Wars". Look at news of Somalia, and a google earth map of drought across the western US. We need to decrease our population. No exceptions. No excuses. Each couple should have one child. If they want another, adopt. Kids are starving on streets all over the world, while yuppies on the upper west side are having three. A fashionable number, I hear. Even though we're supposedly Homo "Sapiens", and we do think. We just aren't rational. Or won't be, until it's too late, if it isn't already. My brother, a brilliant scientist who's aware of climate change, lives in Newfoundland in Canada, where he moved in part because he loved cross country skiing. Used to ski up into the wilds of Labrador and ski camp. it was always frozen, lots of snow, but yesterday it was 70 degrees F. The ponds aren't frozen. Not much snow in recent years. It'll snow then rain or get warm. He's utterly awre of why this is all happening, but won't teleconference, instead of flying to Europe. "It isn't the same." Well, it isn't going to be the same. And it will be much worse until we try to be rational. (Notice the "we"? I'm planning a trip to Rome this spring.) As for sheep and goats, they destroy earth. Goats will tear up anything. I lived on a Greek island where all the houses on the hills had been abandoned. The only plants growing were spikes that went through thick sandals and into my feet. Wells had all gone dry with no plants to hold the water. Greece and Egypt used to be heavily forested. The fertile crescent was green. Anyone who looks at a drying world., on TV see so many young Egyptian and Somali men who won't be able to get a job, Texas ranchers who will never be able to ranch, and not see a problem, is uninformed or willfully ignorant. How about a stay-where-we-are project? Birth Control as a human right, available everywhere. Bill Maher, who calls people "rubes", "red necks", and "hillbillies", & thinks Americans are stupid, will prove HE's not stupid flying around the country to make fun of those who don't believe in climate change, instead launch the stay where you are project. Watch Werner Herzog's "Encounters at the End of the World".

Dec. 05 2011 12:31 PM
John A. from LED villiage

to EatVegWNYC,
I'm not sure its humanly possible to get even environmental Al Gore to eat less, I mean look.
But seriously, when you eat no meat, the reason you have a refrigerator decreases. I powered mine off, what, maybe 7 years ago - don't miss it.

Dec. 05 2011 11:07 AM
David from Queens

Those people who "fail to get there" fall short to see that we have become a sanctuary city of people who will do anything to take advantage of making money. They will even have more babies to get more benefits that we generously grant them, especially if they are not Americans. Stop promoting births by not giving them more and more money.

Dec. 05 2011 11:00 AM

To build on what Todd said, human's evolved eating meat, and there's a lot of suggestion within evolutionary biology that predation may have helped our brains grow. Both as a new source of dense energy, and in the way are minds had to work and to work in groups to hunt.

Also have to say it's debatable whether vegetarianism is really good for the planet. Lots of areas of the planet are not even prime for growing plants, but ruminants such as sheep and goats are able to live on them. The answer is to go more biodynamic in farming, and more away from factory food, including monocrops.

Dec. 05 2011 10:58 AM
ml from inwood

I read the first book many years ago but found it hard to implement while cooking for a dedicated carnivore. Since joining a CSA from a biodynamic farm, we're now rarely eating meat. My dedicated carnivore hardly misses meat when the vegetables taste so great. The small amount of meat we do eat comes from the CSA also, from small, local farms.

Dec. 05 2011 10:56 AM

My son is a second generation Diet for a Small Planet follower. I learned about the book when i was an undergraduate student, and my college animal science teacher took class time to make such ridiculous arguments against Lappe, that I had to read her book. I've heard my 17 year old explain to his friends why most meat eating is anti-environment, and if they really care about the causes they espouse, they'd cut way back.

Dec. 05 2011 10:54 AM

To John: Agreed, any change is gonna be tough. But the biggest dangers aren't just what we've done, but what we're going to do. The big danger is in the new sources that are coming on line, be they new polluting cars or power plants. The answer is to up the standards on the new things we're building and then just let the old stuff gradually come off line. We can do it tough!

Dec. 05 2011 10:51 AM
Todd from LES

Really? Human's have been eating a whole food vegetarian diet for how long? Certainly not longer than 10,000 years, which is a tiny fraction of human evolutionary history, no? This diet might be good for the planet, but it's very debatable whether it's good for human health.

Dec. 05 2011 10:48 AM
John A. from the 5% (USA)

I am a believer in Global Climate change. But isn't it true that there is no humanly possible strategy to fix it, given the time constants involved, for at least the next 50 years of increases?

Dec. 05 2011 10:19 AM

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