Full disclosure: Editor-in-chief of Life, Love, V, Kamal Prasad, did some videography for Cowspiracy but does not have a financial stake in it.
On the evening of June 19, I attended the San Francisco premiere of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, an environmental documentary about the elephant in the room that is responsible for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions (drum roll)…animal agriculture.
I have been raising awareness about this issue for a few years and had high hopes for this film, because humanity really needs this conversation to be mainstreamed now. My expectations were exceeded.
The documentary follows the journey of Kip Andersen, co-director, who wants to figure out how to make a difference and live as sustainable a lifestyle as possible. What he discovers astonishes him, and he decides to ask some questions and make a documentary to track his findings.
Kip visits executives at major environmental organizations like the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), The Climate Reality Project, Oceana, Greenpeace, The Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Sierra Club and others to ask simple questions about what they think the impact of animal agriculture is on environmental degradation, habitat loss, climate change, and deforestation. The film captures awkward moments when executives falter as they attempt to give coherent responses. There’s a sinister feeling as we, the viewers realize that these leaders are either hiding something, or have completely missed the mark on letting their membership know the best way to stop and reverse some of the biggest environmental problems facing our planet today. Sailesh Rao of Climate Healers perfectly captures these organizations’ predicament in his recent review of the film.
Co-director Keegan Kuhn masterfully captures the compassion and eloquence of those who are not afraid (including a former board member of Greenpeace) to talk openly about the solution that is staring us all in the face. Perhaps most powerful is the transformation Kip undergoes while making this film.
I was getting goose bumps while watching this documentary, because I’ve never seen all the facts laid out so clearly and with such visual simplicity. I admire how vividly this duo has captured the reality of climate change and environmental degradation in our era. They have tastefully and beautifully illustrated the defining challenge of our time, including the failure of leading environmental organizations to see the issue for what it is and to align their actions with real solutions. When I was talking to Keegan after the premiere, he mentioned that their goal was not to shame anyone, but to honestly portray the current situation. They have certainly done that.
Basically, the current situation is that environmental organizations are doing a great disservice to those of us who donate time and money for causes that are sidestepping the real solution. If you donate to environmental organizations, you need to watch this film. On a more positive note, folks at the Center for Biological Diversity, after watching Cowspiracy, have taken the lead in telling its members about eliminating animal products from their lives.
No spoilers here. Suffice it to say that if you care about the environment, or children, or wildlife, or animals, you need to watch this film. Even if you don’t care, and want to see an exceptional example of good storytelling and exquisite filmmaking with disarming humor and touching depth, this could be the most important film you see this year.
This is a story of what it means for one person to have the courage and common sense to discover and act upon facts. It’s about how to face the reality we live in today, on the path to transforming that reality into a better tomorrow for all life. As Kip put it at the San Francisco premiere, “The transformation is already underway. Just enjoy the ride.”
Remember this conversation from The Matrix?
Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?
Morpheus: You’ve never used them before.
Find a Cowspiracy screening near you and prepare to see.
Image credit: Cowspiracy
I have a strong radar for greenwashing, so when I started reading a recent interview with IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard, I was fully expecting my eyes to glaze over. It didn’t happen.
Three aspects of IKEA’s sustainability strategy stand out as authentic: IKEA’s management team apparently understands climate change as a long-term risk management issue, goes after transformative change instead of just incremental tweaks, and puts its money where its mouth is.
Howard describes IKEA’s view on sustainability as a way to build resilience for an uncertain future, based on solid values, concomitant strategies, and investment to back it all. The company is building its own wind, solar and geothermal capacity to ensure it can meet its own energy needs. Another strategy is to invest in paradigm shifts instead of improving on existing inefficient technologies; rather than improving on CFLs and halogens, IKEA has invested in 100% LED technology. IKEA is also implementing cost-effectiveness and efficiency measures to save money and energy, and proactively considering its role as a furniture provider in a resource-scarce world with a burgeoning middle-class population, and an unstable climate.
Says Howard: “All the challenges are solvable with the solutions we have today, but we don’t have the right leadership, policies and priorities in place. Most political and business leaders are in a state of denial. Sustainability will be a decisive factor in terms of which business will be here in 30 years time. It’s also the future of business.”
We, at LLV, couldn’t agree more.
Image credit: kobaku via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution
Vertical gardens are becoming popular as more and more of the world’s population lives in urban centers. Patrick Blanc has built the world’s tallest vertical garden in Sydney, Australia, with over 450 plant types, of which 250 are local plant species. Blanc learned to make vertical gardens as a child, once he understood that plants don’t need soil; they can grow in water, absorbing nutrients while also filtering the water. According to Blanc, vertical gardens afford a more complete view of all the plants when compared to a horizontal garden. Trained as a botanic scientist, Blanc is able to match plants to their preferred climate easily; this makes him a more time-efficient vertical garden creator compared to competitors.
Offering opportunities for showcasing architectural creativity, vertical gardens can be quite beautiful. Importantly, aside from being esthetically pleasing and well suited to urban populations, vertical gardens also help in “reforesting” urban landscapes, providing fresh air and humidity. Research also shows that vertical gardens can play a role in adapting to climate change through their cooling effect in office buildings.
Image credit: SanGatchie via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
A recent article in the Huffington Post has beautifully captured what leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos are calling for: change that addresses not just the economy and science, but health and spiritual well-being as well.
What’s more, the integration needed isn’t just across disciplines, they say, but across sectors such as business, industrial, educational and others, with women in central roles.
Notably, leaders are redefining success in terms of happiness, not just money. And, profit-making is being left behind as an incomplete goal of business; global change makers are calling for a new vision of business as a vehicle for change, and a force for good, beyond profits alone.
It’s promising that multinational CEO types are making these statements. Many leaders have already put these ideas into action. For example, former McDonald’s executives now run Lyfe Kitchen, which states sustainability as one of it’s core values.
Also, Method has revolutionized cleaning products by eliminating toxins, using 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, and recently merging with Ecover to form what they call the world’s largest green cleaning company. The time is certainly ripe for what leaders in Davos are calling “seismic” change.
Image credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
Source: Huffington Post