Author Archives: Keith Akers

“Code red for humanity” — what does this even mean?

The High Park Wildfire burns on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland on June 10, 2012. U. S. Forest Service photo (public domain).

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, says that the latest IPCC report is “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.” Of course, this is not news for many of us. How should we react to this?

Climate is a well-discussed problem, with a variety of “climate action plans” and a variety of climate groups to choose from. You’d think that we’d have action by now! Why is climate, despite all the attention it has gotten, such a difficult subject? Continue reading

Life After Fossil Fuels — review

Life After Fossil Fuels: A Reality Check on Alternative Energy. Alice J. Friedemann. Lecture Notes in Energy 81. Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2021.

Most people assume that when fossil fuel use ends, we will probably be living with different types of renewable energy, mostly wind turbines and solar power. Allow Alice Friedemann (engineer, architect, and creator of EnergySkeptic.com), to puncture a few of your illusions.

I loved this book. Probably not everyone will be as nerdy about energy issues as I am, but for me it was just what the doctor ordered. Realistic, humorous, objective, this book is oddly hopeful in an apocalyptic sort of way. Alice Friedemann shows us that there is life after fossil fuels, even after the failure of all our dreams about alternative energy, and as industrial civilization crashes down around us. Continue reading

Less is More — review

Less is More. How Degrowth Will Save the World. Jason Hickel. Windmill Books, 2020.

NOTE May 20, 2021: I have altered the first and last lines of this review, see my discussion in the comments below.

Less is More is an important book that seeks to popularize the idea of economic “degrowth,” though it is somewhat flawed in significant details. Degrowth is a deliberate attempt to reduce the physical size of the economy — for example, we should prefer bicycles to cars, and plant foods to animal foods. Degrowth is widely discussed in Europe, where the idea originated. In America, the “heart” of the capitalist beast, it is still a relatively unknown idea.

Jason Hickel is right on his key point in this book. Our economy is already massively unsustainable. If human civilization is to have a future, we cannot continue with the growth economy. This should be the starting point of any discussion about the environment. Continue reading

“Livestock and Climate Change” – part 4 (video)

Here are three concluding thoughts (strictly my own opinions) about the reception and impact of “Livestock and Climate Change,” by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang. It’s my opinion that the FAO is now dominated by the livestock industry, that “Livestock and Climate Change” represents only a minimum estimate of greenhouse gases due to livestock agriculture, and that we shouldn’t get distracted by the 51% figure.

“Livestock and Climate Change” – part 1 (video)

“Livestock and Climate Change,” by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, was published in WorldWatch in 2009, and stated that 51% of all anthropogenic greenhouse emissions come from livestock. This is one of the most significant articles written on global warming, even though at this point it’s over a decade old. Many people, including me, have found the article a bit dense to understand, even though as vegans we have an obvious interest in its conclusions. Goodland and Anhang make five points in their article, and this video explains points 1 and 2: overlooked respiration by livestock and overlooked land use.

In defense of drastic moves to curb CO2

This letter to the editor of The Denver Post appeared in today’s paper (February 5, 2021).

Re: “Moves on energy, climate need to be smart,” Jan. 31 letters

Flooding in the US Midwest, 2008. Don Becker, USGS (public domain).

In a recent letter to the editor, someone said that the President’s suspension of oil and gas leases had put him out of business and had failed to stop one CO2 molecule from being released. Good points! To be consistent, we need a “cap-auction-trade” system restricting both the production and consumption of oil. Continue reading

Has the world-wide vegan revolution started — in Israel?

The Vegan Revolution. Saving Our World, Revitalizing Judaism. By Richard Schwartz. Lantern Publishing and Media, 2020.

Any other book titled The Vegan Revolution, if one didn’t look at the subtitle, would not necessarily seem to have anything to do especially with Judaism or Israel. But from page 1 forward Richard Schwartz starts talking about why Jews should be vegans. Surprise! The title is accurate. He really is talking about a world-wide vegan revolution. The vegan revolution taking place in Israel and among Jews is, in effect, the model for the world-wide vegan revolution. Judaism and Israel just provide the spark. Continue reading

Why isn’t “limits to growth” obvious? (video)

Why isn’t “limits to growth” obvious? We live on a finite planet, with finite resources. The economy depends on these resources. This shouldn’t be that complicated, but somehow it is. If we’re going to deal with the environmental crisis, and get to a vegan world, we need to figure out these questions.

This is my second video on “limits to growth and veganism,” based on the ideas for the talk I gave last fall on “Limits to growth and veganism” via Zoom. Please comment below on questions that you have or things that you’d like to hear more about.

Limits to growth and veganism (video)

What do we mean by “limits to growth”? Why should vegans care?

Last fall I gave a talk on “Limits to growth and veganism” via Zoom. I did make a recording, but the recording quality wasn’t very good, so I produced this YouTube video instead. This isn’t exactly what I said, but it’s closer to what I should have said. Let me know any questions below in the comments.  I haven’t yet covered all the topics I promised to cover, but there will be more such videos.

Was Jesus a vegan?

Jesus in the temple (detail) – Scrovegni – public domain image

The historical Jesus would have completely rejected the casual torture and killing of animals. This practice of compassion was quite clear in the early church but was then lost as Christianity spread into the wider Roman world.

What does this imply about Jesus’ practice of compassion? Definitions of veganism vary, but the basic concept is not to kill or harm any sentient creature, especially for food. There is no word in ancient Greek or Latin for “vegan.” In fact, there was no word in English for it, either, before the first Vegan Society was formed in 1944. But the concept was present even in ancient times. It is roughly analogous to the ancient Sanskrit term “ahimsa,” referring to non-harming of sentient creatures, found in Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Veganism is not about purity; it is about compassion, “which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose,” as the Vegan Society puts it. Continue reading