Category Archives: Climate Collapse

DIY Climate Adaption: Diet

So, it’s 2022 and the US continues its utter and complete failure to meaningfully deal with the climate crisis. At all levels. The government is failing at so many things, most importantly, the climate crisis. But we, the people, we are also failing because we insist on living high-carbon lives. We refuse to walk or bike away from cars, trucks, and SUVS. We insist the highest level of comfort in our homes, cooled to 72 in the summer, heated to 76 in the winter. We must have the latest, best and most consumer goods. We deserve that flight across country for a vacation.

In short, we behave badly and wait for a broken government to force us to behave in the way we must. I’ve heard the argument that only government can fix the problem with mass, large scale programs. I get that such programs can and do help and are needed. But we as individuals make choices everyday and if 332 million US citizens insist on making selfish choices it adds up to a lot of carbon in the atmosphere. Everyday we insist on the maximum comfort and convenience we can afford.

I’ve written before about the steps I take in my daily life to try to adapt, to explore and express and act on my concern in the way that I can. I’ll continue to do this because I think it’s the most important aspect of life in 2022. A few weeks back I wrote about cutting plastic out of my life as much as possible.

Another adaption I’ve made is food choice. I’ve been vegetarian for 28 of the past 30 years. I do sometimes eat fish out of a nearby lake. For a brief period I also ate locally raised pork and beef as well as venison from deer hunted locally. With the exception of fish a couple times a year I’ve cut all of the rest back out of my diet and have gone to a nearly vegan diet. The only exception is ice cream and on rare occasions, cheese. My diet is fairly healthy but is very simple and cheap. Don’t let anyone tell you a healthy diet is expensive. Anyone could do this diet or a variation and save money, and reduce carbon. This is the diet I’m personally happy with.

Most days it’s this:

  • Breakfast: Coffee, oatmeal with an apple or berries, malt-o-meal with peanut butter
  • Lunch in the winter: Vegetable soup
  • Lunch in the summer: Enchiladas or hummus and pita
  • Dinner or snacks in late afternoon: Malt-o-meal with peanut butter, popcorn, pumpkin-butter oatmeal balls, pumpkin-butter on toast, pumpkin-butter on graham crackers (yes, I like pumpkin butter), oatmeal with an apple or berries.

Drinks: water, tea, coffee, hot chocolate

The above diet is packaged in paper, cardboard or steel cans with limited to no plastic so, recyclable or compostable. It’s a healthy diet with lots of fiber, adequate protein, not too much sugar, and a good balance of vitamins.

My shopping list, all available at any standard grocery store:

Breakfast: Oatmeal purchased in large paperboard box tubes (Much cheaper than boxes with serving size envelops of that also usually have lots of extra sugar), apples, cinnamon (purchased in bulk), brown sugar, soy milk (paper carton), coffee

Lunch, enchiladas: Refried beans in a steel can, enchilada sauce in a steel can, corn tortillas in a plastic bag, nutritional yeast ordered in bulk, plastic bag.

Lunch, soup: Crushed tomatoes in a steel can, beans from steel can, frozen mixed vegetables from a plastic bag, pasta from a paperboard box, spices, salt, nutritional yeast.

Snacks or dinner:
Plain popcorn kernels sold in plastic bag, vegetable oil in spray can (quick spray onto popcorn after popping to help flavoring spice to stick), nutritional yeast, garlic, salt.

Pumkin butter: Easy to make using canned pumpkin (1/4 cup), peanut butter (2 tablespoons), cinnamon, brown sugar (2 teaspoons) and salt. I mix that up and put it on toast or graham crackers)

Pumpkin butter oatmeal balls: 1 cup of oatmeal. I blend half of it into flour then mix it up with the above serving of pumpkin butter and roll it into balls. No baking needed and ready in minutes.

Any peanut butter will work in the above. I used to buy whatever “natural” variety available at the store that was cheapest and in glass. Lately I’ve been buying big bags of peanuts and I blend them into peanut butter. Takes more time but it’s cheaper and I’m reusing all the glass jars I saved from buying the store bought peanut butter. And really, the peanut butter I make is better. I’ll do a separate post on a few tips when making peanut butter.

Tea is herbal from a box or mint that I’ve grown. Hot chocolate is straight baking cocoa in a paperboard container… just add sugar and soy milk.

With a fairly standardized diet I generally shop just once every 5 weeks. I tend to buy most of the same stuff and know what I need for that period of time. Of course it’s just me, with a family this would be more complicated. But primary, underlying point is the same. A healthy vegetarian or vegan diet restricted to recyclable or compostable packaging is possible and cheaper.

Want to add in some junk food? Go for it but if you buy ice cream get it in a paperboard container. Cake and brownies can be baked from a mix that comes in paperboard boxes. If you must buy fruit juice (not all that healthy given the concentration of sugar) buy it in frozen concentrate in paper and dilute it a bit with extra water.

When I shop I have a few rules that I refuse to break. It limits my diet and I don’t get to eat things I like. For example, no yogurt because it only comes in plastic containers. I buy coffee in the vacuum sealed bricks packaged in a kind of plastic/aluminum. It’s not something I can recycle but it’s less waste than the other options. There’s only two options for coffee in this brick packaging… luckily, it’s good strong espresso and that works. Happily, it’s cheaper too.

The point is that my options are more limited and I don’t cry about it. We have to stop acting as though we are entitled to anything we can afford. We have to limit ourselves even if that means doing without things we like. The whole point of adapting to this climate emergency is that we will have to do without certain options and luxuries but we should be thankful if we are privileged enough that we can afford the things we need.

Oh, last, eating out at restaurant/take out: I almost never do. Probably once a month or less, just when family are visiting and it’s a group thing.

So, that’s my basic approach to grocery shopping for a climate-adapted diet. There are other details I didn’t cover that might be a consideration but for now I think that’s a start.

When daily life becomes constant crisis

From climate collapse to the continuous move of the U.S. further and further to the right, we seem to be living in very dark times. With the recent recent decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and hints of more to come in the fall, not to mention the elections, it’s all a bit much. These are the things that dominate my daily thoughts and, like the gravity of the Earth, I don’t seem to be able to escape them. To be honest, I don’t exactly want to escape because to do so would seem wrong. This is our reality and I don’t want to escape or deny it. It’s true that at the moment I feel powerless to affect much change but the solution isn’t to ignore it or to pretend things are okay.

The result is that any happiness I feel is fleeting and strongly tinged in guilt. Visiting with family or friends is increasingly difficult because all I can think to talk about is climate collapse or one of our other current crises. And not only that, I find it difficult to listen to others share anything from “normal” life. I just don’t want to hear it because, again, it feels wrong to be talking about anything other than the crisis.

My life for many years has tended to be one of solitude as I live in a tiny house in the woods. It’s easy for me to be secluded, on my own. Perhaps that has contributed to how and what I think about. I hold myself apart because I don’t know how to participate in “normal” life and don’t want to because in my view, normal is destructive. And, something that frightens me almost as much as the destruction is the fact that so many people either don’t see it or actively seem to ignore it and carry on with a shrug of the shoulders. I think of the humans of the future looking back at our time. They will shake their heads and ask: What were they thinking? How could they let this happen?


June 21, 2022

Short, excellent animated video explaining the origin of fossil fuels and providing context for what it means in relation between carbon and climate collapse.


June 18, 2022

UN General Secretary, António Guterres:

He said: “We seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in pseudoscience and public relations—with a false narrative to minimize their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies.”

The human world is done as we know it. But we have delayed too long and by we I mean the U.S. which has led the world down the wrong path, blocking progress to the needed changes for decades.

Speaking to the Major Economies Forum, a climate conference organized by the White House, Guterres also castigated governments that are failing to rein in fossil fuels, and in many cases seeking increased production of gas, oil, and even coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. He said: “Nothing could be more clear or present than the danger of fossil fuel expansion. Even in the short-term, fossil fuels don’t make political or economic sense.”
US president, Joe Biden, is traveling to Saudi Arabia to push for more oil production, some EU countries are seeking to source gas from Africa and developing countries around the world, and the UK is licensing new gas fields in the North Sea.

That right there.

Guterres is understood to be furious that, six months after the Cop26 climate summit, and after three dire reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the “starkest warning yet” from climate scientists—countries and businesses are ignoring the science and squandering opportunities to put the world on a greener path, when renewable energy is cheaper and safer than fossil fuels.

Source: The Guardian


June 3, 2022

It’s early days in this new reality of climate collapse. For the most part the people I know still live in the old reality. Climate collapse isn’t something they care about. They’re beginning to see it as extremes become the new norm. More drought in some areas, more intense storms, wildfires, and changes in the local weather seem to remind them of the larger global patterns. They’re not responding in any meaningful way. Life goes on in the normal way they are used to living.

But for some of us daily life in the early days of climate collapse feels like living with a blaring alarm sounding, in a house on that’s on fire. It’s been that kind of alarm for me for more than 15 years. My response has been, in part, to try to live as though it mattered. To live as though my actions were just one person acting along with the larger collective also doing it’s part. That person by person, community by community, people would learn and respond to the problem.

In 2022 it’s obvious that our response is too little, too slow, too late. It’s obvious that in the US, the leading emitter of CO2 to date, government has failed to push in the direction needed at the pace needed. There’s little sign that this will change anytime soon. My suggestion is that rather than wait to be told, we begin collective action now. We should be the change we want to see.

What does that look like in daily life? It looks like a life lived with the assumption that fossil fuels are severely restricted, rationed. That material goods will also be severely restricted. It means reusing or doing without. It means thinking about not just reducing waste but eliminating waste. It means conserving energy and material resources as though every little bit matters. Fewer appliance replacements. More careful choices when we put things in our carts.

I’m planning to do a series of posts about what this means for me. And again, yes, yes, I agree, individual consumer choice is not the whole answer. Ideally we continue to pressure government for systemic change, larger change. But in the end, there is no magic wand here. Sure the government create large scale programs for solar and wind energy generation, mass conservation programs, a massive shift towards mass transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. Rationing of air-based travel.

But individual action should not be undervalued. At the end of the day millions of people add up to billions of people and we’re not powerless. We need to stop acting like we are powerless. We need to stop waiting to be saved. Individual and cooperative direct action: households adding up to communities and towns and regions etc. We need to make more of an effort to figure out the solutions ourselves.

In my nearby rural town the recycling program was closed because they were having difficulty selling/getting rid of the collected materials. In my case I have some storage space and live alone, so I’m still saving steel and glass in the hopes that one day I’ll be able to recycle them. In the mean time, I also re-use glass and compost all paper and cardboard. I’ve nearly eliminated plastic from my waste stream. It means I have fewer choices and do without some things.

Bar of soap wrapped in blue and white packaging. Dr. Bronner's All-One Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Bar Soap

First up, let’s talk about soap. Years ago I stopped buying shampoo in plastic bottles. I use Dr. Bronners for all personal hygiene. And recently started using it for dishes too. It works. It’s not exactly the same as dish soap formulated in a liquid that is sold in a plastic bottle. But that’s the point isn’t it. We have to adapt. This one bar of soap does it all and the packaging is paper that I can compost in my garden. Multiply that by millions.

It’s different, yes. It’s not what many are used to. But it is a simple, quick change that anyone can make. I know that there are powder products being sold in paper pouches that are meant to be mixed with water in the home for different washing purposes. That’s another great solution. Imagine stores without shelves upon shelves of plastic bottles holding liquid soaps. Plastic should be banned but until then we can choose to stop buying it. The result is less waste, less energy used, less CO2.

Next time around I think I’m going to delve a bit into food choices in terms of climate, energy, nutrition, packaging, preparation…

Denny H

May 12, 2022

Andrewism on YouTube: “Misanthropic, borderline ecofash narratives about humanity’s relationship with nature have become way too common in discourse about climate change, highlighting the urgent and critical importance of a social ecological approach.”