Global warming warning in the Fifties

“Is Earth warming up?” This is the surprising question that I came across, leafing through a 1956 almanac. The answer is even more startling. After all, back in those days, we were decades away from environmental concerns.

1956_0001Since meteorological facilities are installed on floating ice floes in the Arctic Ocean, Russians and Americans have recorded significant rising temperatures in the North Pole. The same phenomenon was observed in Antarctica. In the 50s, the Arctic ice caps had a retreat of 150 meters per year, while in Siberia, melting ice was revealing mammoth carcasses.

But that is not all. The average temperature of the city of Leningrad increased by 1° Celsius (33.8° F) between 1940 and 1954. And in the northernmost parts of Europe, birches and pine trees were spreading.

global-warming-1494965_640Scientists such as Charles Keeling and Roger Revelle had already studied the greenhouse effect in the late 50’s but their work had little impact and mostly lack of interest back then. The men were ahead of their times because it was not until the 90’s that governments start taking action and consider the need to embed the protection of the planet into sustainable economic development.

At that time though, it was still unclear whether this trend was a slow and steady one since the end of the Ice Age, or a sudden one. For a century, the average annual temperatures across the globe increased depending on the locations, from 1° to 4° C (33.8° to 39.2° F). “One day,” the author says in the almanac, “our temperate regions will be hot and dry. Population and civilization will move northward, causing a change in the global balance of power. Canada, Alaska, Russia, Siberia will be humanity’s new poles of attraction.”

polar-bear-1509103_1280Therefore, Russians and Americans will set new stations in Arctic areas, the journalist concludes. Since 1930, 5 million Russians have been colonizing the area. Northern Lights and the melting of the ice caps are to be studied in the years 1957 and 1958.

“One of the most surprising consequences of the melting of the ice caps will be the sea level rise of several dozen meters, and Paris will perhaps become a real seaport! …” Um .. Not really looking forward to this prediction.

In 1958, Frank Capra produced an educational film titled “The Unchained Goddess”. Amazingly it is clearly stated that global warming may be the next danger humanity will have to face. This statement gives you shivers up and down your spine: “Because with our present knowledge we have no idea what would happen. Even now, man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the waste products of his civilization. Due to our release through factories and automobiles every year of more than six billion tons of carbon dioxide, which helps air absorb heat from the sun, our atmosphere seems to be getting warmer.”

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If a meatless diet bugs you, try eating insects

big_047-4.png“Flesh eating is unprovoked murder“(Benjamin Franklin). Considering all we know today, I am not sure that eating animal flesh is still unprovoked.

One day, whether we like or not, we all will be vegetarians. It is a simple matter of life and death. From many perspectives, changing our eating habits has become a compelling argument.

Mad cow disease, swine fever or dioxin-contaminated chicken have had massive media coverage those past years. Many heath issues are indeed related to immoderate meat consumption. If cigarette packs have a warning label and if public awareness campaigns are aiming alcohol or drugs use,  there has never been any public advisory on the hazards of meat consumption. How would you feel if you read such a tag on cellophane wrappings: “Caution! Meat eating may be hazardous to your health” ? OK, you have got a point. It probably would not change anything. The whole world is saturated with warning labels anyway. Still. Studies clearly show that vegetarians are about 40% less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters. I suspect that it is also because vegetarians are prone to be health aware and more environmentally friendly.

Moreover, exponential livestock  farming in Amazonia or elsewhere is a major threat to the world ecosystem. Cutting down on our meat intake is an effective way to reduce cattle producing areas and let nature reassert itself. It also means that greenhouse gas emissions will significantly decrease. A meatless choice is hence a step for a better environment in a growing world. We do not have to stop our meat intake but limiting animal flesh eating would make a huge difference.

There is another option. In many countries where meat is too expensive or rare to be a staple, proteins supply is not neglected though. Other protein sources are being taken for granted. It’s been centuries since insects are ingested in Africa or Asia. Grilled caterpillars are very much valued in Kinshasa and grilled insects of all sorts are popular in the streets of Bangkok.  Are we too picky ? Is bug eating bugging us ? It is all about culture and minds. Maybe that grasshopper will be best swallowed as a powder or as a liquid. After all, some food pigments are insect-derived, like cochineal. Yes, it is that E120 that most of us may be more familiar with.

I am no vegetarian… yet but I have cut down my meat consumption. I have never eaten a plateful of bugs and would probably feel a bit reluctant to do so, but I am not wholly averse to the idea. We just cannot go on the way we do. We are more than 7 billions Earthlings. Check on the worldometers website : http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ Quite disturbing, isn’t it ? Isn’t it high time we seriously reassess ? Our consuming habits have a major impact on industry giant. We somehow tend to underestimate the scope of our acts. This Planet has much to offer but if we rip it off and keep our conscience lying dormant, we are doomed.