Our Economic Choices Demonstrate our Values

In a previous environmental workshop I attended, they explained

Economics is a value system masquerading as mathematics.

To me this was so powerful because it reminds me that I can make a contribution to a better world by what I choose to buy. Yesterday I went to my monthly Vegetarians in Pitt County (VIP) dinner and we saw the movie, Before the Flood with Leonardo DiCaprio.  It is available for free on many sources such as Amazon, Google, YouTube and other places.  Below is the trailer and a clip from Leonardo DiCaprio about the movie.

While it was depressing, it drove home the importance of generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.  An easy choice we can all make, that I write about often, is our. food choices.  Personal and planetary health promoting choicest are plant strong and organic rather than resource intensive and personal and planetary health depleting animal agriculture based choices.  While food choices is a powerful way to make personal contributions, because what we choose to buy, will be made and, politicians, in time, follow the will of the people, this clip from the movie demonstrates how Elon Musk is showing other profitable ways to live restoratively while improving our quality of life.

An important related aspect I learned in this movie was about more connections and our choices.  As this EcoWatch clip from the Before the Flood movie, the Rain Forest is being leveled to grow palm trees for palm oil because it is a cheap ingredient used by:
Palm Oil Using Companies

This makes our organic, whole food plant choices even more powerful, because as we make more healthy, plant strong choices, it means we increase demand for whole unprocessed plant foods as we decrease demand for processed foods that are made with palm oil.

Thomas Friedman’s April 19th column, Coal Museum Sees the Future; Trump Doesn’t also explains how our economic choices demonstrate what we value.  Friedman’s column demonstrates the fight between maintaining the status quo or making choice to benefit the future – I encourage you read his column.

Although this not my usual positive message, I hope you see the value and importance of working to generate comprehensive improvements, rather than less bad choices.  I look forward to hearing how you are making choices that create positive, pervasive, reciprocal interactions that enable everyone and everything to benefits.

Choose to Be Well’r,
Craig Becker
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Interesting Article – Thoughts?

I get the FastCompany newsletter(click on newsletter if you want to signup). This newsletter alerts me of many things of interest.  It also has led me to several books.  For instance, the article below got me interested in reading, The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet, by Brian Kateman.  The article below got me interested and I though it may interest you.  Enjoy.

  • 6 MINUTE READ

Eating Meat Is Bad For The Planet: But What About Just Eating Less Meat?

The new book The Reducetarian Solution makes the case that easing our carnivorous tendencies will curb climate change and probably make us all healthier—and is a better solution than trying to make a vegetarian world.

Eating Meat Is Bad For The Planet: But What About Just Eating Less Meat?
The book argues it’s more important to focus on gradual cutbacks and their benefits than forcing yourself to be a vegan. [Photo: Elena_Danileiko/iStock]

Around seven years ago, Brian Kateman was eating a hamburger on a plane as he flew to a conference where he was presenting research on tree ring data and climate change that he had conducted for a college class. “I was always the guy on campus who identified as an environmentalist, telling people to take shorter showers and carry around reusable water bottles,” Kateman tells Fast Company. But until his friend looked over, saw Kateman chowing down on ground beef while poring over notes on the declining state of our planet, and tossed him The Ethics of What We EatPeter Singer’s seminal book that explores the impact our food choices have on animals, ourselves, and the environment—Kateman never made the connection between meat consumption and climate change.

Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet
The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet, by Brian Kateman [Image: Tarcher Perigee]

That moment, Kateman says, began a real shift for him. Learning that large-scale meat production accounts for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Kateman became a vegetarian shortly thereafter. But the strictures of a completely meat-free life chafed at him. One piece of turkey at Thanksgiving, Kateman reasoned, would not dig a deep enough carbon footprint to negate the benefits of every other meat-free meal he consumed. With the idea that any variety of meat reduction—whether it be veganism, vegetarianism, or just deciding to cut out meat one day a week—still benefits the planet, Kateman founded the Reducetarian Foundation in 2014 while studying conservation biology at Columbia University. In The Reducetarian Solution, a new anthology edited by Kateman, thought leaders from Singer to economist Jeff Sachs to environmentalist Bill McKibben sound off on the reasons why less meat is a good thing for humans and the planet we inhabit—and why it’s more important to focus on gradual cutbacks and their benefits than forcing yourself into a category like vegan or “flexitarian,” where the focus might drift more toward obeying a set of rules than focusing on a specific global outcome.The reasons, according to The Reducetarian Solution, are legion. The anthology contains no less than 72 short essays, organized into three overarching categories of mind, body, and planet that traverse every possible argument for meat reduction, from the moral-ethical (large-scale livestock operations expose animals to inhumane conditions), to the health and productivity focused (red meat is linked to sluggishness, heart disease, and cancer), to the environmental (meat production pollutes the air and is an inefficient use of resources). “I love the idea of all these different thought leaders coming together and being united on a single front,” Kateman says. “We don’t have to agree on everything. We don’t have to agree on what the ideal reduction is; we don’t have to agree on the most important cause areas. But we all agree that reducing societal consumption of animal products absolutely has to happen. And we’ll reach that common goal much faster if we work together than continuing to work in silos.”

Reducetarianism, Kateman says, differs crucially from categories like “flexitarian” and “semi-vegetarian” because while the latter describe people who primarily consume plant-based diets and occasionally “cheat” on their commitments (a concept for which Kateman has little patience—punishing yourself for taking the occasional bite of burger distracts from the fact that eating less meat overall is still a net positive), reducetarianism aims for inclusivity, and an acknowledgement, as Kateman writes in the anthology, “that people are at different stages of willingness and commitment to eating less meat.”

The most strident vegans and vegetarians, Kateman says, advocate for a complete end to global meat consumption. Kateman recognizes that at least for the time being, that is an impossible request for various reasons, not the least of them being the cultural inertia of meat consumption: An especially fascinating essay by author Anastacia Marx de Salcedo navigates the influence of the military on linking carnivorousness with masculinity. And for some people, it’s a matter of habit. For an example of this, Kateman looks to his parents, whom he estimates eat around 200 pounds each of meat per year, shy of the 270 pounds the average American puts away each year, but still 100 pounds over the global average. “If you think about it, getting people like my parents to cut back 20%—for say, a reduction of 40 pounds per year—that’s actually a greater win for the planet than getting someone who eats maybe five pounds per year to go completely vegetarian,” Kateman says. “I think we have to think about this in terms of societal consumption of animal products rather than pinning it on one particular person.”

While the majority of the essays in the book are written through the lens of the U.S., the philosophies have a global application. China now consumes over a quarter of the world’s meat, despite new governmental dietary restrictions aiming to cut the country’s meat consumption in half by 2030 (and reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion tons). One could much more easily see that goal being accomplished if everyone rolls back their individual consumption than if half of China spontaneously goes vegetarian.

Even for those well-versed in the arguments in favor of the consumption of meat reduction, like Kateman, The Reducetarian Solution will likely illuminate a previously unconsidered angle. For Kateman, that happened when he read the essay by Dawn Moncrief, the founding director of A Well-Fed World, an organization aiming to tackle world hunger by cutting back on animal consumption. Moncrief’s essay slices into the livestock industry’s crop-use inefficiencies, describing how 25 calories in the form of feed are needed to produce one calorie of edible beef. “Just imagine if you were at a restaurant and saw someone present you with 25 plates of food, then they threw out 24 of those plates and you were left with a single plate,” Kateman says. “The restaurant would be in an uproar, but that’s what happens every day on factory farms in terms of having to feed these animals.” It’s a difficult concept to grasp, Kateman says, because we are so removed from that process, but reading Moncrief’s essay brought the inefficiencies into sharp relief in the context of global hunger.

The Reducetarian Solution anthology, Kateman says, is neither a prescription nor a fix for livestock-industry produced climate change. But the variety of approaches and perspectives contained in the book testify to how open the avenues are for bringing about this kind of change. In late May, a month after the release of the anthology, the Reducetarian Foundation will host its first summit in New York City to tackle the question of, “How do we as individuals, organizations, communities, and societies work to systematically decrease meat consumption?”

While much of this change will begin at the level of individual choice and demand, Kateman points to the Impossible Burger, which uses plant-based ingredients to create a meat-like but entirely vegetarian patty, as one graceful off-ramp from our cultural meat dependency. In a way, the Impossible Burger encapsulates the ethos of reducetarianism: It meets people where they are, and offers an alternative to meat that could perhaps, over time, become a habit. Whether you’re most concerned with your personal health or with the fate of the planet, The Reducetarian Solutionshows, Kateman says, that “each time we sit down to eat is an opportunity to make a vote for the issues we care about.”

Free Thinking, Why are we Stuck on Prevention?

This post will be a free thinking post.  I am trying to get to something but it is not clear.  In this post I will outline my confusion and questions in hopes it leads to answers.  Why are we stuck on prevention?  The evidence is clear, it is not as effective as we need it to be.  I also do this with colleagues an it always helps.

I just finished reading my students philosophy papers again.  My students do this each semester I teach.  I enjoy them because I get to know how they think and they help me learn more.  However each time I read them, I end up with more questions than answers.  Although they all want to do great things, most students are stuck believing they will do great things if they stop doing things that lead to undesired outcomes.  They explain how they would make a better choice to avoid bad without ever saying what they can do or should do to create what they want.  How can  what is desired be created without taking action to create what they want.  This of course relates to my common discussions about, Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant!

How do I get to the point where it is clear prevention cannot work to create what is desired.  Most understand creating a desired life increases capacity and potential to overcome, withstand, and recover from any bad things that do happen.  Even though most know all bad cannot be avoided, they still focus on prevention. No matter what we do, all bad things cannot be avoided.  It is also important all bad things are not avoided because when we meet unexpected challenges, we develop and use skills we never knew we even had.  We also must understand good or bad is only made so by how we think about it.

I recently heard more about population health efforts from Ray Fabius. With population health efforts, supposed less bad is shown from these efforts.  People did not die, suffer diabetes, have heart disease etc.  How can you know it worked?  How do you know it would have happened? You can’t.  If it works, nothing happens.  Hard to motivate people to achieve nothing.

People suggest, if you prevent they will be able to do more. Possibly, but why would they be able to do more.  What new skills do they have? How has their capacity, their alliances, their partnerships increased that would enable them to do more?  Efforts for prevention are focused on creating a wall against oncoming obstacles that may, although it is uncertain, be barriers.  In other words, successful population efforts may result in less targeted problems treating for without creating a path to getting more done.  It seems efforts could focus on building more skills, abilities or connections.  Difficulties of success from prevention is documented and outlined by Geoffrey Rose (my next post will share more about this book).

Geoffrey Rose has demonstrated in The Strategy for Preventive Medicine, how traditional efforts are insufficient to improve health status of the population.

9780192630971

Although, as in most fields, it seems appropriate to use a targeted rescue effort for vulnerable interventions, prevention, it is an inadequate response.  Besides it is reactive and not proactive, it is acting after exposed so at best all it can do is fix or repair rather than create better.  Besides success is hard to determine because grateful patients of prevention are few and SUCCESS IS MARKED BY A NON-EVENT.  As Rose states, targeted approaches can assist but they are insufficient and may not be necessary.  Instead he suggests focusing on social or societal risk factors.  Although this may be better, success would still be documented by non-events on a population level.  Better but still insufficient.  As Thomas Friedman has noted, freedom from something as can be done with a revolution is easier than freedom to something that must be created.  Many unintended negative side effects such as isolating problem populations results from these good intentioned efforts.

When prevention efforts, population or individual, what is there to point to for these effort. What was accomplished that cause pause, that make people say, wow!  This is where were we need to aim our efforts.  We should do great things because this is what most people hope to achieve and do.

Problems are endless, if the focus is on fixing problems the job is never done and the best result is not bad instead of better than it could have been otherwise.  As we all know, once we fix one problem, another materializes and we must attend to that.  As Tolstoy explained,

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Just like families, problems have many reasons while success has similar causes. Instead of attending to problems, we should focus efforts on building skills, abilities, connections that generate comprehensive improvement by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits which is the practice of paneugenesis.

When we practice paneugenesis, we are likely to experience progress because we can feel like we are moving closer to internally generated goals.  To me, and it seems many agree, progress is what it is all about and is also why I suggest we experiences wellness, a positive health phenomenon, during progress (see Experiencing Wellness = Progress Toward Desired)

 

A big confusion I have is that many people may think they are already creating positive as they work to prevent bad. David McRaney, in his book, “You are not so smart: Why you have too many friends on Facebook, why your memory is mostly fiction, and 46 other ways you’re deluding yourself“, suggest some reasons why we think we are always right, even if we are wrong. Its our evolutionary predisposition and it protects us. This point was also described well in Julia Galef’s TED presentation, “Why You Think You’re Right – Even if You’re Wrong“. In this presentation she discusses how this tendency led to false accusations in 19th Century France. This predisposition also explains much about our past, present and if we work on it, can be used to improve our future.

As always, please share your thought about how you are creating good.  I look forward to hearing from you and hearing about how you use pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions to generate All Good so everything and everything benefits!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Did we give up? Hospice for Earth? We Need Better!

My focus has been on how we must create more good, not just less bad (see Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad). My recent experiences, however, indicate some have given up. As we know from Prospect Theory, we are most afraid of losing what we have or our status quo.  For that reason, when we are unsure of an outcome, we go for the possibly not lose what we have option.  This means we attempt to keep what we have because we are afraid working toward creating an uncertain but better future may risk some of what we have, our status quo.  This creates what Kahneman and Tversky suggests are mental illusions because this, risk averse or “perceived” safe path is actually more risky because working to have a better will more likely,  at the least, maintain the status quo.

Prospect Theory documented that when there is uncertainty, we are risk averse and we therefore avoid novelty or new possibilities such as attempts to create a possibly better future.  This seems to be the situation with the environment, we are working like crazy to hold on to what we have, fossil fuel dependence, or at least what it has helped us create in our world today, even though doing so will likely destroy what we have.  I know we are better than this and we can use a better way. Hospice, after all, is appropriate when there is no hope. Hospice provides care for the sick, especially the terminally ill.

There is hope but we must move toward a new but uncertain future. Thomas Friedman, in his March 29, 2017 column, “Trump Is a Chinese Agent: Ignoring Climate Change and the Benefits of Clean Energy only Helps a Rival“, describes that thriving future must be one that integrates  and finds more efficient, non-carbon, ways to function better.  He explains we must do this rather than just finding ways to maintain what we had or the status quo to have a better tomorrow. Have we given up?  Are we providing hospice for earth? Is it over?

After reading Friedman’s March 29 New York Times (NYT) column, Johan Rockstrom’s March 23, 2017 NYT column by , Why the World Economy Has to Be Carbon Free by 2050 and attending the Climate Change and Health Symposium, it confirmed we must take action. The actions described at the Symposium I attended, however, in contrast to the NYT editorials, left me very depressed and confused. It seems we must find a better way than to start a hospice like protocol to meet the challenge of climate change.  From my perspective, a better way must focus on the benefits we can realize by taking action. Despite knowing for sure what will happen, uncertainty and its debilitating effect, we must take action. Action on Climate Change is a wager we must make (see Today’s Pascal’s Wager, One We Must Make!)

The symposium keynote presenter George Luber, PhD, Chief, Climate and Health Program, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC, was exceptionally knowledgeable and informed about the damage being caused and how we must react.  His presentation, like he said was an effect his presentation had on a 3rd grader, left me in tears.  It left me feeling helpless and hopeless thinking all that we can now do is figure out how to deal with and attempt to adapt to related problems.

Experts in the field suggest we must do more than react if we want a better tomorrow.  While reacting may be necessary, it is insufficient, but insufficent. We must work to make things better, not just less worse. (see Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant!, and Fixing Problems is Inefficient, Ineffective & Insufficient)

In listening to Dr. Luber’s presentation, it was almost as if he did not listen to what he said at the start of his presentation.  He started by explaining that we used to believe we must stay under 2°C rise in temperature to avoid irreparable harm and that now research indicates we cannot go over 1.5℃ rise to avoid significant problems.  He also pointed out that we have already had a .74℃ rise that is expected be a 3℃ rise by the end of the century. Wouldn’t that mea game over for humans?

Based on that beginning at the  Climate Change and Health Symposium, I was expecting to hear how we can stop and hopefully reverse what has been documented to be caused from human actions, as they also documented in presentations.  It was explained much of the damage is from the burning of fossil fuels.  However, it was as if nobody listened to what was presented because the symposium then shifted to how we must prepare to meet and then care for all the problems that will result from these changes.  Did I miss something?  Is that the wisest course of action?   Doesn’t it suggest we must take action to not just be sustainable but to also fix what we have done in sustainably restorative ways, as being done by Ray Anderson and Interface (see We Must Make It Better – Saving the Planet not Enough!), if we want to continue to enjoy life on earth?

After learning Dr. Luber’s job was to adapt to and meet the needs of climate change, his presentation made more sense. Tunnel vision was resulting because he was doing what his job directs him to do.  As Upton Sinclair (author of “The Jungle“) observed a century ago,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

From a societal perspective however, that is not in the best interest of us being able to live well in this age of relative climate stability, the Holocene period.

Overall, I have some confusion. Earth is going to be fine, at least for our lifetimes. According to the Scientific American article The Sun Will Eventually Engulf Earth–Maybe, indicates earth will be ok until the sun expands and overtakes the earth in a few billion years or so. It has been suggested, and seems correct, that the earth is a living organism with the capacity to care of itself if it is used as intended.  If there was an owner manual, all living things, but one, on earth are following its guidelines. We, homo-sapiens, on the other hand, are not following that manual and are not very accommodating or caring.  This is another mental illusion, for us to live the best we can we need to live in a way that makes it best for all other living things.

All living creatures are guests on earth.   Mother Natures evolution has multiple on-going experiments of  living organisms. If organisms make life more livable for all and facilitate a better way of living, it grows more complex and it stays and keeps evolving. If a species is not agreeable, it disappears and reappears in another form.  This is not survival of the fittest, but of the most adaptable to the situations and all other living creatures.  This requirement is necessary way to make earth the best environment for all its members, which is everyone and everything on earth.  It has to be this way  because everyone and everything on earth is interconnected and interdependent. Humans, We are Just Talking Apes, however, rather than being and becoming part of a giving and providing system, we are damaging the system by making it less rather than more livable.

W Edwards Deming demonstrated this concept in systems appreciation where he could show that one bad department could damage the whole system. Using Mother Nature’s rather than mechanistic ways works so well, Thomas Friedman suggests a new political party should Mimic Mother Nature to Create a New Political Party.  Remember, the earth will be fine, probably better without homo-sapiens.  Interestingly, as I posted previously, George Carlin understood this, see George Carlin Genius:

So what should we do? We must find a better way.  I have offered many thoughts on this and is what I have been writing about. We need to create all good or practice paneugenesis.  To practice Paneugenesis means to generate all good by creating pervasive reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.  That is how Mother Nature works, it is time to use biomimicry as described by Jane Benyus to make things better for everyone and everything.  It is in our best interest to do this, it is selfish, selfless, synergy.

See Thomas Friedman, in his March 29, 2017 column, “Trump Is a Chinese Agent: Ignoring Climate Change and the Benefits of Clean Energy only Helps a Rival“. For previous posts and ideas see Am I in Bizarro World? Lets Make 2017 Great!Create More Good, Not Just Less BadBiological and Evolutionary Basis for Selfish, Selfless, SynergyWe Can Get Better with PracticeSerendipity? Don’t “Have” a Nice Day – Make it So!Its not about Paying More – It is about Creating Better!Capacity Enables Creativity and Crisis Mitigation and many more posts.

Please share how you are creating more good, not just less bad!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

 

Presenting in Florida this Week at BHAC

On Thursday, April 6, 2017,  I will be presenting “Using Data to Build a Healthier Academic Community” at the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities (BHAC) 2017 Summit.  I am looking forward to attending this conference and I hope to see you there.  Below is my abstract:

Background/Significance: Higher levels of health have been associated with enriched performance in multiple work and education settings. Improving health through increased engagement of health promoting behaviors in the physical, social, mental and emotional areas of life has improved performance and decreased problems.

Aim(s): To create a successful health promoting academic community with social integration that has higher graduation rates, improved academic performance, enhanced productivity, and better health status.

Methods: Assess the relationship of student, faculty, and staff engagement in campus supported health promoting behaviors with academic outcomes (GPA), professional performance, and health status.

Findings: Students, faculty and staff more engaged in health promoting actions were related to higher performance levels, heightened levels of life satisfaction, improved health status, and lower levels of depression and relationship problems.

Implications for Real World Academic Communities: Understanding factors associated with higher levels of engagement with health behaviors and greater involvement in campus activities facilitates more efficient use of resources though improved program planning. Collected data then provides evidence to support a program emphasis on factors most strongly related to improved health and performance. Research documents these factors also effectively prevent undesirable outcomes. Specific recommendations about how student affairs, human resources, campus promotion campaigns, and community outreach programs should use these findings will be outlined. 

In this presentation I will talk about my published study, “What Helps Students Thrive? An Investigation of Student Engagement and Performance” and how a healthy academic community is the necessary precursor to creating successful and useful university that helps everyone and everything benefit.

See this video about the conference:

If you are there, please stop in to say hi!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

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