Many of the foods we eat every day — energy bars, canned goods, deli meats and more — were invented not for civilians but for our men and women in uniform. Many food innovations resulted from efforts to make soldiers’ rations taste good and last longer. But just as the U.S. military has influenced the food and beverages we eat, it also may be showing us the way to making sure we don’t waste it.
The military is doing this for myriad reasons. For one thing, those who defend us have openly voiced their concern about the impacts of climate change on national security, calling it a “threat multiplier” which will increase the likelihood of conflict as the earth warms up. And food and beverage waste is a major driver of climate change. Another is the economic — dealing with food and beverage waste is expensive for the military just as it is for businesses. Also, the less the military has to haul out means a more streamlined supply chain that increases the safety and effectiveness of our troops.
We live in peculiar times. While markets are booming and unemployment in the United States now is at it’s lowest in nearly a decade, economic inequality is worse than ever. More than half of Americans are just a $500 unexpected expense away from financial ruin. And the world’s richest eight people have as much wealth as the bottom half of the global population. Meanwhile, pressing environmental challenges, punctuated by climate change, are threatening communities across the nation.
While there has been plenty of talk about “making America great again,” this misses the point. The world always is moving forward, and there’s no going backward. If we want to ensure America’s greatness, then we need to “make it green again.” Continue reading “It’s time to make America green again”
Just over a year ago, the world came together at COP21 in Paris to forge a landmark climate change agreement to take collective action to halt climate change. The resulting Paris Agreement pledged to cut global greenhouse gas emissions enough to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels — the threshold scientists say we mustn’t breach if we hope to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. In September, the United States and China finally committed to the climate deal, which was reaffirmed by the global community at COP22 in Marrakesh.
But while much of the focus has been on how we will transition to a low-carbon economy through renewable energy, energy efficiency and even fighting deforestation, one of the largest drivers of climate change has largely been ignored by the headlines: global food waste. With around 1.3 billion tons of food being wasted each year, according to the the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this spews 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And it’s worth worth nearly $1 trillion at retail prices.