That’s a bit wuff…

If we really want to go green, we eat all the dogs and ban their keeping. The average pet dog has an environmental footprint twice that of a heavy fuel-guzzling SUV from the 2000s, according to the book Time to Eat the Dog (Thames and Hudson, 2009). It’s a book that’s not new, but is new to me.

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A “sharp decline in Amazon deforestation” reports Bloomberg today

A sharp decline in Amazon deforestation drove Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions down 2.3 percent in 2017 over the previous year”, reports Bloomberg…

Fewer trees cut last year means emissions from that sector declined 12 percent in 2017, according to the report by the Climate Observatory, a network of 44 nongovernmental organizations that measure Brazilian emissions.

Most of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions arise from the deforestation process, rather than industry. What’s never said in such media reports is that, in recent years, Brazil’s emissions were doubled by ‘green energy schemes’

a plan aimed at improving the environment did more harm than good … caused significant deforestation of native forests for charcoal production … doubled Brazil’s carbon emissions … according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

A plan to tackle greenhouse warming went catastrophically wrong on a huge scale. Who knew? But that is becoming rather a sad trend, these days. Palm oil for motor-fuel, bringing an early death to millions through raising food prices. Diesel vehicles and particulates, again likely to bring an early death to millions. Wind farms that actually increase rather than reduce CO2 outputs, as well as killing raptors and bats and thus disrupting the local ecosystems. Wood pellets as ‘green’ fuel (see above), another global disaster. Here in the UK, huge increases in domestic electricity bills to pay for ‘green’ subsidies, leading to shivering old folks each winter.

One wonders what other horrors are yet to be revealed about similarly wrong-headed schemes in the coming years. And what the death tolls will be. In the short term, I also wonder if the knee-jerk ‘palm oil boycott’ trend might actually have unintended and unwanted consequences. In five years will we see a low-key report, shamefacedly admitting that the boycotts actually brought local poverty and suffering, sending people into the forests en masse and thus increasing the national deforestation rate?

But the optimistic big-picture on this is that, globally, the deforestation rate has been in freefall according to the U.N. We could even be moving to net afforestation of the planet by around 2030, especially if the mega-plantings in the likes of Pakistan and China can thrive. Broadly, the planet’s deforestation/planting is currently in balance, albeit after too much devastation. And the tide is turning toward afforestation, aided by nations becoming affluent enough to care about the long-term future of their environment and tourism incomes.

Yes, there are still local hot-spots remaining. In basket-case nations such as Burma (Myanmar), Paraguay, Zimbabwe and Argentina. I see there are some new patches of deforestation, arising from things like a gold-panning rush in Peru, and gross forest mismanagement by eco-worriers in California. In Brazil logging does appear to have temporarily surged, due to the period of political instability over the last year. Brazilian farmers and loggers are said to have increased activities, presumably fearing that a big crackdown on corruption would be coming with a bold new government there.

But, overall, it seems to me that the global picture on the future of deforestation/afforestation is starting to have more bright patches than dark patches.

New book: Thanks a Thousand

A.J. Jacobs on his new book Thanks a Thousand, on the venerable EconTalk podcast this week…

Journalist and author A. J. Jacobs talks about his book, Thanks a Thousand, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Jacobs thanked a thousand different people who contributed to his morning cup of coffee. In this conversation, Jacobs talks about the power of gratitude and different ways we can express gratitude in everyday life. He and Roberts also explore the unintended web of cooperation that underlies almost every product we encounter in a modern economy.

EconTalk is a serious and well-planned one-presenter weekly show, in which the pro-capitalism Russ interviews someone in-depth for an hour.

Direct MP3 link | Thanks a Thousand on Kindle.

I imagine that the book would make for a fine non-fiction graphic novel adaptation.

Such thankfulness should probably run alongside the cultivation of a ‘material savvy’, a basic level of savvy knowledge about how and where production happens. The knit-your-own-tofu eco-left has had that sort of awareness of products since the mid 1980s, but what would a more pro-capitalist version of that ‘production-level awareness’ look like? We might start with an app which reminds me which corporations are posing as anti-capitalists or have taken real action to harm conservatives, and then build a pro-‘real capitalism’ pro-innovation production and materials database on top of that when it has a thriving user-base.