Friday, 21 March 2014

Never mind, I'll find someone like you... + FAQ

Hello, people of the world!
...And an extra special hello is extended to those vegetarian pals of mine out there (my brethren forever). Woah, stop. Take your cursor off the 'back' button. This is no vegetarian propaganda - and I am no propagandist. Frankly, I am honest. Thus, today, I'm giving you an honest account of vegetarianism with all its trials and hardships. Make of it what you will.
Loyal followers of mine (if you exist) may be aware from a previous blog post of mine, A Conversation With A Bacon Sandwich, that vegetarianism is a relatively new phenomenon for me. The vast majority of my, albeit quite short, life has been spent as a meat eater. I have spent roughly the amount of time as a vegetarian as I was in the womb... (That is such a weird analogy... could I not just say nine months?) Ah, those days... do I look on them with nostalgia? Sure, the swimming around and sleeping all day was pretty appealing, but... OK, I do miss those womb days, but I'm talking about my omnivorous past here. But in regard to that, I really don't. You forget about it - you really do. In fact, the idea of meat seems really weird now!

I have to admit the breakup was traumatic though - severing that sixteen year relationship. I took it out for dinner first, to try and soften the blow. We went to Wagamammas. I had chicken ramen. That was my last non-vegetarian meal - Wagamammas Chicken Ramen. Perhaps, in hindsight, it should have been different. There's no point dwelling now - back to the story.
"Look, we need to talk." I blurted. This hypothetical meat substance, that I was in the process of wining and dining, looked up at me from over its menu.
"I..." my cheeks blushed red, and a tear rose to my eye. "I'm sorry."
It stared at me, aghast.
"It isn't you, it's me." I continued. "Well, it is actually you. You're just not sustainable enough. You're - " I burst into tears. "You're responsible for eighteen percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Most of that is methane. Methane! That's - well, sources vary, but - that's over ten times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its climate-altering capacity. Some scientists say more. If it was just carbon dioxide, maybe I could handle it, but - " I took a deep breath. " - But it's methane. It's methane."
I broke down into a cacophony of sobs.
"Is this how you want it to end?" it asked in a low voice. "You and me. Here in Wagamamas. With this chicken ramen. Is this how you really want it to end?"
I picked up my chopsticks and skewered a noodle. It slipped out of my grasp. I tried again, repeatedly, to no avail, and then I cut the pretense and requested some cutlery from a waitress, still sobbing. She passed it to me discreetly, out of sight of the other diners to minimise my shame. I scooped the noodles up with a fork and ate them defiantly.
"Yes." I said. "This is where it ends."

"We can still be friends..." I called after it as it raced out of the restaurant, wailing - but then my call cut short. We can't still be friends! When is that ever a realistic option? We couldn't still be friends, because that substance is liasing with the enemy. That substance licks the enemy's butt! I was only ever a third wheel in a filthy little love triangle between greenhouse gases and meat.
And I will be nobody's 'bit on the side'.
So I paid the bill and left. I felt determined, triumphant. I felt empowered.

At home, I made myself an omelette, then opened the freezer.
"Never mind, I'll find someone like you..." I sang to myself.
And I opened a packet of Quorn.
The rest is history.
(I spent a vast amount of that day eating, you'll have noticed).

And that's how a whole new life of mine began. Quorn and I are very happy. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—

"An’ live off the fatta the lan’," Quorn shouts presently, interrupting me. "An’ have rabbits. Go on! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that."

"Why’n’t you do it yourself? You know all of it." I respond.

"No…you tell it. It ain’t the same if I tell it. Go on... How I get to tend the rabbits."

We're only gonna tend those rabbits, see? We're not going to eat them. 
(Please, please tell me you get the reference)

In short, we're living the Vegetarian Dream. So I'll conclude my happy little tale with some Frequently Asked Questions. These are questions that people ask you repeatedly in wonder and revulsion when they learn of your conversion.

FAQS for veggies:

  • 1. But why are you a veggie? Do you have a problem with killing animals? Do you think slaughter is evil? Cos your shoes are made of leather. You do know eating meat is natural, right? Like, people have been doing it for like, millions of years.
Dear me... did you read this blog post at all?

  • 2. But... what do you even eat?
"What do I NOT eat?" I tend to shout back, invariably met by a smart-arse responding, albeit truthfully, "Uh, meat." But the options are widespread and varied. In a typical week I'll eat pasta, omelettes, quorn; you can still eat pizza, so many curries, and you'd be surprised how delicious a nut roast can be. Nandos do a fab beany burger. Wagamama's yasai katsu curry is food of the gods. Risotto, salad, quiche... when you consider it, your options are practically endless. Well, they do end at meat, but you know what I mean.

  • 3. Aren't you, like, anaemic now though? 
Actually, no. I donated blood the other week, and they lapped it up. They were vampires. They weren't. (I think). But they tested my blood on-site for anaemia, and after nine months of vegetarianism I still possess a healthy level of iron in my blood, so it's all good on that front.

  • 4. Yeah, but you must be all pale and skinny and dead-eyed now?
It's a matter of opinion, all those factors, I think. My opinion says not quite. 

  • 5. OK, well at least answer me this:  do you miss it?
Ah... I get asked this so much. On the whole, no. I suffer moments of weakness. I looked very longingly at some slices of salami the other day. But for me, it didn't take a huge amount of willpower. The idea of eating meat seems genuinely weird now; you move on quite quickly. 

  • 6. What is your opinion on vegans?
I mean, I do admire them a little. It's definitely far better for the environment typically. I don't think I am ready to commit to that at this stage - call me a flawed and hypocritical human being if you will. But, just as with my own brethren vegetarians, I don't think anyone should strut around claiming that consuming animal products is 'wrong' or 'evil'. For me, vegetarianism/veganism is not a question of ethics, but just a move to safeguard our future. The notion that any dietary choice is 'wrong' will only ever just be an opinion, and never a fact. Don't listen to extremists. 

  • 7. What does Quorn taste like?
"If you're so interested, try it!" is what I tend to snap back, but then I relent and explain. It's not quite meat, granted, but I think the taste is pretty pleasant and the texture is NOT as bad as people make out. It does taste of meat. Not overpoweringly, but you can definitely convince yourself. 

  • 8. You do know that the production of Quorn emits greenhouse gases too?
I do indeed. However, the primary emission is carbon dioxide (far less potent than methane, as aforementioned), and one of the main arguments I believe strengthens Quorn's case, is that it is space-efficient. All over the rainforest, trees are being slashed and burnt (as explained briefly in Saving The World From My... Study?) to make room for cattle farming. Livestock as means of food production uses land inefficiently. And in a world with a growing problem of overpopulation (see A staggering fact) we need all the space we can get, because it's fast running out.
(Sorry for linking practically my entire body of work in this post, by the way - I am practically namedropping myself). 

  • 9. Do you ever shut up?
I do now - arrivederci, people!

- SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen

Thursday, 19 December 2013

So, will there be snow in Africa this Christmas time?

Hey, people of the world!
Back when I was fifteen, I did a speech on global warming, and I thought actually, why not adapt it into a blog? Yes, you are getting an insight into my blatant laziness and my clearly uninspiring life (have you tried taking A-Levels?! They are killer, I tell you). But hey.
I give you my speech, voila. Just call me Al Gore. Or don't. It sounds like a Spanish horror movie or something.

Hello, hello my little friends. (they were my age, but I'm condescending).
I’m pretty sure that you know what global warming is, and that you know what’s causing it. You know what effects it will have, and you’ve already decided where you stand on the matter. Now, seeing as I’m supposed to talk for five minutes on the topic, this leaves me with something of a predicament.
Where do I start when you know so much about it? I decided to start on safe grounds, so I went with an anecdote.
I was with my friends, and we were talking about the lyrics of that Band Aid song, Feed The World. And I was being pedantic as usual, and I was saying, “It’s so stupid how they say, there won’t be snow in Africa, because what about Mount Kilimanjaro? It’s going to be snowing up there! It’s nearly 6000m above sea level. Bob Geldof really needs to check his facts. No rain or rivers flow? What about the rainforest? WHAT ABOUT THE NILE?!”
Then I did a bit of research. It’s something I tend to do; make some wild claims, and then check if my facts are right later. And I came across this picture.

The only words that resounded repeatedly through my head were, “Bob Geldof was right.”
There won’t be snow in Africa.
Maybe there is this Christmas time. There might even be snow next Christmas time. But one year, not very far in the future, there won’t be snow in Africa.
This is six thousand metres above sea level. And this isn’t right.

(Incidentally, the world’s rainforests are experiencing an unequivocal rate of destruction, and the Nile region of Egypt is severely water stressed - climate change induced, I hear. Bob Geldof is a wise, wise man.)

(yes, this particular section of the presentation was inspired by 'An Inconvenient Truth'. But I was fifteen, I was drowning in homework, and I only really had about an afternoon to write this speech. And plus, does this point ever get old? I mean, look at that mountain. LOOK AT IT!")

Now, six is a small number. If we add a word after six, you get six degrees. In the sense of global warming, a common synonym of six degrees is “death”.

We have evidence that a warming of global temperature by less than this has caused mass extinction before. It happened in the ice age. Ever wondered why we don’t see these guys anymore? 

Actually, I lie, we see these guys everywhere. Hasn’t it been FOUR movies now? Alas, I am digressing.
Now, we probably won’t suffer the same fate as these species – we can adapt to different conditions in time. But what global warming could do is kill other species, mess up the food chain, and just generally, make life unliveable for us. And there is no point to it. No real benefits for anyone - no-one at all. Now I only have one question for you guys: why? Why are we letting this happen?

Now, I’m throwing crazy ideas out there and adding so much major drama that I might as well earn a drama A-Level straight out – but I’ve got to carry on now I’ve started.
Hurricane Sandy. 253 human Fatalities.
Hurricane Katrina. 1833 human Fatalities.
We are causing these hurricanes. If we’re not starting them altogether, we’re taking their initial severity and increasing it tenfold. (The warmer the ocean, the more severe the storm forming above will be. To put it in basic, basic terms).

Have you ever killed a person?

We’ve got to stop this now, or there will be blood – metaphorical blood – on everyone’s hands.

*dun dun dun*

The class pretty much stared at me, shell-shocked. It was a dramatic moment in my Year 11 career.
And then that was it. My speech.
I tell you, my teacher loved it (full marks, not that I'm bragging), but at the end of the day, we all went home and polluted some more. And the same people who I gave the speech to in that classroom are the same people I see around school littering. They walk out of the room without turning off lights, they drive to school when I know full well they don't live further than a fifteen minute walk away.
And this year, I've looked out the window to green grass on the ground as opposed to snow, which had been there for so many previous years at this time. People in my class still wear vest-tops! 

And I can't wash off that metaphorical blood Typhoon Haiyan splashed over my hands.

I will try and write some more original blog posts, when I'm not struggling to locate my reason to live underneath all these textbooks!
- SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen

Saturday, 2 November 2013

My Life As A Walking Metaphor

Hello, people of the earth!
So over the past few months or so, I've really been able to feel like I can empathise with Planet Earth. I can feel its pain. I guess, for me, it's a case of : 'you can take the kid out of India, but it's a lot harder to take the India out of the kid. No matter how many times they go to the toilet.' Yeah. I think you can guess - I've recently been 'home' to a whole host of lovely little intestinal parasites, apparently.

(Yes, that is why I have not posted for so long. I have spent the past two months in the bathroom. Well, okay, I haven't - I've mainly been writing A-Level essays. But, in fairness, both have involved large quantities of shit).

Now, you know, I loved India - and I miss it - I really, really do. But by the time I had received the diagnosis, I was at such a level of nostalgia over my trip that the news made me feel absurdly flattered - "Aw, India enjoyed my stay so much that it can't even bear to part with me. Out of all the 1.1 billion people in that country, those parasites chose ME to host their species!" I even felt slightly maternal and protective towards these tiny parasites. I felt proud: "These millions of little creatures all call my intestines home; I'm like this little planet for them to live and thrive on. I feel like the giver of life!"
Questionable though it may sound, I was content. I was at one with my, um, offspring. Perhaps the real truth is... I was no longer lonely.
Unfortunately, however, I had a burning curiosity and I could not bear that curiosity any longer. I told myself it was dangerous. I begged myself not to. But of course, I did it.
I Wikipedia'd the parasite.
It is safe to say I have been haunted forever.
Let's just say that reading the words "flagellated", "swimming" and "feeding" in the first paragraph, was nearly enough to make me violently ill once more. And the PICTURE.
Well, that flipping burned my eyes.
I mean, it had a FACE.
It made me shrieky, the whole ordeal. Every maternal instinct I had ever felt for the vile things vanished, as sure as any mother's would if the DNA test revealed that Satan was their child's father. Suddenly, I broke free of the rose-tinted haze of Indian nostalgia. I remembered the days of hitting the bathroom sixteen times a day, the sadistic stomach cramps and the feverish days of... fever. That fever they gave me - the scorching inferno blazing inside me on a temperature equivalent to Hell itself. Well, the memory of that made me hit the roof.
"I gave you a home!" I shrieked to the ungrateful little sods. "I gave you a roof over your heads and a protective sanctuary for you to raise your children!" 
("Not quite so protective," they muttered back to me "I mean - your bowels have been relentlessly trying to evict us for the past few months.") 
"I'm the only home you've got! The only home you'll ever know! AND THIS IS HOW YOU THANKED ME?!" I shrieked on, oblivious "BY HIKING UP THE TEMPERATURE UNTIL I COULD BARELY STAND IT! I MEAN -"

I stopped. Now there's a thought.

I am more than just a breeding ground. I am a walking metaphor for global warming!

Because, as my dear old David Attenborough pointed out earlier this year, "we humans are a plague on the Earth". And, I, as a microcosmic representation of this, can tell you that further proliferation of this plague will not have happy results. That good old Mother Earth may try and exterminate us by the million if we raise her temperature any higher. I am not suggesting that we should stop "swimming and feeding" on her entirely (O.K. I am making myself feel sick. All I need to do now is mention the word "flagellated" again and... oh dear. Bathroom trip number 17). I am just pointing out that we should stop exploiting our only home, because one day, its immune system might kick in.

And then, that's it, our future is down the toilet.
(yes my friends. Anecdotes about your bowel movements are surely the most persuasive of linguistic devices).
I will refrain from further potty talk (hahaha, no) for your benefit, and instead hand you a snippet of advice:

My advice is this. Look outside. Watch the news. Reflect back over the past few months.
I have been doing all three. I have seen flooding, the polar vortex, I have seen Typhoon Haiyan. I have seen evidence that climate change is making an appearance - today, not in the future, not in some distant time ahead.

I have seen evidence of a plague infecting a noble host, and an immune response making itself felt.
Incidentally, this "noble host" is now parasite-free (I had the all-clear a few days back) - but the omen should be noted.
It will happen again, y'know, if we don't mitigate all of this crap we're throwing into the atmosphere and get our shit together. It will keep happening until we can't go on any longer.
Look, people have died in these recent catastrophes. We have to accept a partial responsibility for that.

Sombre, I know. Here's some more practical advice:
Advice To Fledgling Vegetarians I Wish I Had Been Given: scotch eggs contain meat. The clue is NOT in the name.
Aside from that incident, vegetarianism is all good, with the exception of Quorn ham. Whilst in general, I find most Quorn products both healthy and appetising, I have to admit that Quorn ham tastes, quite literally, like arse.

... I'll leave you with that thought, and the promise of a longer blog post in the near future.

SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen - you know what to do, folks.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Day I Silenced The Bacon Sandwich

Hey, people of the world...
I tell you, right at this moment I can barely type. Not because I'm trembling with the sheer excitement of telling this story, but because I can genuinely barely remember how to. Spend a month away from technology and you'd be surprised at how alien it seems once you finally reunite yourself with your ball-and-chain (known colloquially as a computer, laptop, or anything with a WiFi connection).
"A month away from technology? Where were you, halfway up a mountain in the middle of nowhere, or something?" you snap sarcastically.
Oh... well actually, yes.

I've just got back from spending a month in the Indian Himalayas!
I'll cut my usual crap and tell you seriously - it was the most incredible experience of my life, and Ladakh, the region of India in which I was mostly based, is the best place in the world! And why am I telling you this? Well, to tell you the truth, it's because I got a job at a Ladakhi travel agency and am trying to push trips to Ladakh to any potential tourists out there. I get a commission from each booking, and the money's really not that bad. So, now you know. 

Let us begin:
The plane journey was a nightmare. 
Don't get me wrong, we experienced no real turbulence, and might I say that the cabin crew of Jet Airways India were very hospitable. But there was something else for me - the bane of my life:
The voice of a bacon sandwich in my ear, berating me furiously, for the entire duration of the flight.

"Don't you know air travel's one of the biggest man-made contributors to greenhouse gas emissions?" it screamed, enraged. "Have you learned NOTHING from me?"
"I thought that was cattle farming." I said tiredly. It was the middle of the night, and sleep had become a distant memory. "I'm going to India, I won't be able to eat beef even if I wanted to. I thought that'd make you happy."
It dimly occurred to me that the bacon sandwich would never be happy.
"NO!" it snapped. "Air travel's worse. Now, eject yourself from this plane immediately."
"But - but ... DO YOU WANT ME TO DIE?!" I cried in horror.
"Well, it would mean you'd emit less carbon dioxide..." it considered thoughtfully.

 ... Oh, well hello first - (and possibly last) - time readers of my blog! Please don't be too afraid of my strange, delusional rambling. This paragraph requires you to have read my
previous blog post to be able to vaguely understand it. Here's a clue: the bacon sandwich is a metaphor for my environmental conscience...

In plain English: air travel pollutes. Don't do it unless you have to. 

"Yeah, but, did you really have to go to India? Like, really? Was, like, someone going to die if you didn't go?" I can hear you inquire sarcastically, but I am interrupting your pathetic quibble, as I've heard enough of that kind of thing from the sandwich. I don't need you on my case too. 


"Maybe you should start telling people about the environmental side of your trip." the bacon sandwich says gently. "Because really, darling, you're just spewing bullshit."
Ugh. You know, people just don't realise how hard it is to be inside my head sometimes.
... No, no, please put the phone down! I don't need medical help!

Anyway, so. My job at the travel agency aside, one of the greatest pleasures I experienced on the trip was working for an NGO (non-governmental organisation) for the first time - in this case, the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust! I can hyperlink it if you want to learn more - - but if you don't then you have my word that it is a very worthwhile charity. Additionally, the name is quite self-explanatory.
We undertook our work with a small village community in the Ladakh area of the Himalayas, which is home to a (relatively speaking) large population of snow leopards. Well, it isn't really large at all - there's only an estimated 4,000 - 7,000 snow leopards in the world, let alone India. One of the main causes for the snow leopard's decline is human conflict. Snow leopards prey on rural farmers' livestock, and being subsistence farmers with other livelihood except their animals, they often kill any snow leopards they see to protect their sole source of income. It's a sad but true story being written all over the Himalayas.

Our project aimed to try and ensure the villagers have more than just their livestock to rely on - and that the crops and livestock they do have are protected. This was in the hope that people would stop seeing snow leopards as a threat - hopefully reducing snow leopard killings. Our eleven-strong team from far, far away (plus two members of the SLC-IT who needed to help us probably more often than they would have liked) set about building a fence for local farmers to protect their crops from predators. I have to admit, watching certain people in my group pick up a pickaxe and attempt to use it for the first time was highly amusing - if faintly alarming - but in general, I found the fence-building part of the project really enjoyable.

We also set about revamping the village's parachute cafe - a roadside tea tent run by the local women's group. The cafe met all the requirements a cafe should meet - but it lacked customers. Direly. It was down to the eleven of us, many with questionable artistic talent, to try and change this - with the help of four cans of paint. Results were mixed. I consider myself a particularly crap painter (as do the rest of the world), but some of the signs our group painted on rocks to attract trekkers' attention were exceptional. I mean, a fox shat on one of the best ones the very next day, but hey. It was still legible, and the cafe has since reported record profits - which makes me feel about as rewarded as I've ever felt. 

Yet through all the hilarity, I was reminded that as fun as building fences in the sweltering heat may be (in fact, it was vaguely reminiscent of a labour camp, and I fell victim to a particularly severe case of sunstroke, but that's what it's all about, isn't it?) there was actually a serious issue at the heart of it all.
To cut a long story short (something I've never actually managed to do), this one evening I was talking to the director of the SLC-IT at our campsite.  I was asking him questions about the charity's work so rapidly I don't think I gave him a chance to breathe, and they were all ridiculously over-complex, but eventually I cut the crap and asked him something simple:
"Do you think that without your charity, the snow leopards would go extinct?"
His response was... "Yes."
Well, that was bit of an anticlimax.

So, folks, you see where I'm coming from. It's all about the charities and NGOs.

...But it is also about you.

Because, when I asked about the leading causes of snow leopard decline, he gave me two reasons.
One was human conflict, and I will give you precisely one guess as to what the other factor was - because you sure as hell knew this would spring up at some point.
Yeah. That was not very surprising.
And what I am about to tell you now should also not be a surprise. Because this news has stopped being surprising. It has stopped being surprising when, every year on the news, we're informed of record Arctic ice melts. It has stopped being surprising when we hear of countless floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters caused by rising temperatures. And it has stopped being surprising when climate change comes up time and time again as the story behind species extinction.
It has stopped being surprising because the only thing that's changing about the world is its climate. Not people's lifestyles.

(ok I am generalising, but give me this).

I am telling you now: go over to the mirror. Look at the person in front of you, and sing these words:
"I'm gonna make a change, for once in my life. It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right... I'm starting with the man in the mirror! I'm asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change!"
I admit, if you are female, you may need to change the pronouns.
I agree with the philosophy of leading by example, so I went ahead and did just that. I also sang various other Michael Jackson songs and quite a lot of Elvis. But what is important is that I then followed through, and I made that change - and I have now been vegetarian for six full weeks!
And since then, believe me. I have not heard a peep out of that bacon sandwich since.

Arrivederci, folks!
- SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen

PS - In case you are interested, India in general was flipping amazing. I miss it so much! I met people and saw places that will inspire me forever. 

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Saturday, 1 June 2013

A Conversation With A Bacon Sandwich

Hey people of the world,
Genuine danger is being bestowed on me upon the writing of this blog. My future is in mortal peril. I'm sitting here writing this post when every minute that passes for me now is numbered... counting down rapidly to the two GCSEs that I am sitting in approximately 36 hours. I will attempt to complete them on a diet of no revision. I am dead meat.
(Isn't it coincidental that my main blog entries are published during exam seasons? But then again, where I live, exam season is all year round for me).
Incidentally, I recently encountered dead meat - a mere hour and a half ago, in fact. Craving some late night sustenance, or perhaps comfort food to console me as I plodded through the vale of tears that was my physics revision, I indulged in a bacon sandwich to lift my spirits.
Yet I picked up the sandwich in my zombified, slightly hallucinogenic state of revision-induced, sleep-deprived insanity, the most disturbing thing happened.

I kid you not, my dear friends. The sandwich started talking to me.
"ARGHHH!" I dropped the sandwich in shock. Stared at it in horror as it lay broken on my plate.
"Do not be afraid, dear child. I have come to tell you... not to eat me." it whispered up to me. Strange, it kind of sounded like Grandpa Simpson.
"All my food says that." I said sulkily, wishing it'd just shut up so I could devour it. "I don't blame it; who'd want to be eaten? I understand it's your attempt at self-preservation, and you have to kind of admire a sandwich without a brain for that, but I'm hungry.Why should I listen to YOU?"
"You should listen to me, my child" - I really hated how it referred to me as "my child", it implied my mother was a pig (she isn't) - "Because I know what you want from life. I understand your dreams, your desires..." I looked at it dubiously, slightly panic-stricken. I really hoped it didn't.
"How?" I asked suspiciously. My friends have called me an open book, but I didn't realise I was so easily legible to all - including my mid-evening snacks.
"I read your blog." it explained. "Your second post - Saving The World From My... Study? I believe it's entitled."
"Ah," I relaxed. "Continue?"
"Yeah, so I read how you want to save the world and stuff. I just wondered if you knew that meat is probably the most unsustainable component of your diet. You know livestock production generates eighteen percent of all greenhouse gas emissions? Two pounds of beef uses the same amount of energy to produce as driving a car for three hours does."
I clutched the sandwich in horror, ignoring its squeals of pain. "Seriously?"
"Seriously." came its muffled response. "Please let go of me." I released it and waited till it had caught its breath again. "You're always on at everyone to reduce their carbon footprint by walking to school and stuff, but in a world of lazy-asses, is that really going to happen?"
"Yeah," I said defiantly, but under the sandwich's stern and disbelieving glare, my resolve cracked. "Maybe not," I conceded.
"You're barking up the wrong tree," it said gently. "We all know how much you want to reduce people's consumption, but I hate to break it to you... no-one listens to you."
"That's not -" I began, but it gave me another pitying glance. I shut up.
"We all know it's true, stop deluding yourself." it snapped. "Anyway. Vegetarianism, on the other hand, is so much more eco-friendly. Eighteen percent." it reminded me.
My face crumpled. I knew it was right. "It doesn't have to be painful," it soothed me. "There are plenty of meat-substitutes out there these days, and more are being developed each year. Approximately 12-17% of the world are either vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian. It can't be that hard, can it?"
"It's food for thought," I admitted grudgingly.
"Or even just cut down on meat. Have it less often. It needn't be drastic." it encouraged.
"I'm not going to stop campaigning for people to cut down on fossil fuels," I told it. "But I am definitely going to cut down on meat. With a view to becoming veggie."
"That's the spirit!"
I smiled at it. "Thank you," I said emphatically.
"Absolutely no problem. Good for you, I say."
We regarded each other in amicable silence, until a sound broke the hush. A low rumble echoed across the kitchen... originating from my stomach.
I noticed the sandwich pale with fear. "Well... take care of yourself." it said nervously.
"I will," I assured it.
They were the last words it heard before it met its untimely end.
R.I.S, sandwich - (rest in stomach).

Later that night, sitting in the dark to save electricity, I considered the late sandwich's words.
As much as it pains me to say it, I know vegetarianism is the way forward. Of course, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. My heart is telling me that in order to truly set an example, I should become a vegetarian. I don't condone hypocrisy. Yet my heart also seems to be suffering from multiple personality disorder, because it is ALSO telling me to remain true to my meat-eating ways. It's not a nice dilemma, y'know?

And it is in memorial of that noble sandwich that I have come to two short term solutions, which I share with you today. It really shouldn't be THAT hard, and if other people gave it a shot as well, it's a case of every little helps. Eighteen percent, remember? Here goes:
1) I will attempt to omit meat from my meals for an absolute minimum of two days a week. (currently, I have it basically every day. It's bad, I know).
2) I will sample at least one meat substitute, because you never know, it might be even better than the real thing. (wouldn't that be convenient?)

I will undertake this challenge, I swear ("THIS I SWEAR BY THE STARRRSS" - have you guys seen Les Miserables? WHAT a great film.).

I wouldn't like to call the sandwich thing a miracle, but it really opened my eyes. A smart guy, was that sandwich.
Oh. My. God.
Yeah, I really should be revising.

- SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen

share the link
great website:

In memory of a sandwich. 2013-2013.
Forever in my stomach.
Because I have a digestion problem.
I don't.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Scalding Potato Of Shame

Hey, people of the world!
It's that exam time of the year again, which means for me, it's time to write a blog instead of revising! Today I thought I'd talk to you about... well, seeing as it's just been Christmas, I'll deliver it to you in charade form. It's two words...first word. Starts with C. Second word... starts with C...
To be honest, I think you guys could have guessed before I even started the charade. No-one wanted the charade! ... It's climate change, pretty unsurprisingly.

Now that we've cleared that up, I will launch into the main body of the blog.
I'm going to talk to you a little bit about emissions of a rather infamous gas. Gas and money, to be more specific. Let's get down to it.
Okay, so countries that emit the most CO2 are GENERALLY more economically developed countries (MEDCs). Not mentioning any names, of course. Hang on, I'm having a coughing fit... *coughs* *emits a cough that sounds strangely like "united states", then dissolves into a fit of chokes*... Phew, that was some coughing fit. Anyway, not mentioning any names, that is usually the case. They have more money, so more power. Power having a bit of a double entendre here - power in the political sense AND power in the energy sense. This, of course, leads to an insane amount of energy being consumed, and... well. Karma finally catches up with those icebergs that sank the Titanic.

However, it's not ALWAYS the case.
Perhaps I am all to keen to stick up for my people (I'm not American, but at the same time, as much as we try to deflect this on them, we're not entirely blameless either), but it's quite hard to overlook the fact that the HIGHEST CO2 emissions by country actually come from China. Which is not actually classified as an MEDC yet, although it's on its way there. Yet, whilst we're so busy throwing the blame around like a hot potato, it should be noted China has a much bigger population, and emissions of CO2 per capita (person) are actually MORE THAN THREE TIMES LESS than the USA's.

The potato is back in the USA's scalding fist.

(If that was not a dramatic sentence, believe me, there is not a sentence on this earth that is.)
And hang on, I thought you weren't mentioning any names? Shame on you!

But what about those who don't have a potato to their names? What about the really, cripplingly poor, less economically developed countries? Well, I'll lay out a few facts on the pitifully empty LEDC table. We'll pass a small potato, (perhaps a new potato) from fist to fist. 
 - On the one hand, we have the simple truth: these people do not have enough money to consume energy at the rate that MEDCs can. In metric tons of CO2 per capita, to put things in perspective, in 2009, the people of Sierra Leone had emissions of approx 0.2 tons per person. The USA had 17.3 tons each. 
 - LEDCs often have bigger populations than MEDCs - generally. The USA is something of an anomaly in this instance. India's a prime example, though. I think we can agree that it's somehow ironic that they STILL emit much less CO2 than us, can't we?

So far, the stats are looking pretty good for the LEDCs. They've barely received a glancing blow from the scalding potato of shame. But I think it's time to bring out the burn ointment now, because the potato's just landed in their hands. When these people do use energy, it's often not sourced by the most efficient or sustainable means. For those in LEDCs who don't have access to mains power supplies - 1.5bn people- often, fuels such as Kerosene/(Parrafin) are depended on to provide light and heat at night. For the amount of CO2 that's emitted by these fuels, they're not really getting the highest or most efficient energy output that they could get. And available alternatives to kerosene, like wood, is leading to forests in these areas being chopped down - and desertification happening as a result. It's a vicious cycle.

I think I've reached the general point in this blog in which the sentence '"So what shall we do?" I hear you cry' generally puts in an appearance (i.e. when the article comprises 70% ramble, 30% information).
I know you've been waiting for it, and who am I to disappoint?
"So what shall we do?" I hear you cry.
Well, now that you've so kindly asked, there IS something you can do.

As I was browsing the internet aimlessly as usual, (I'm sure you can relate), I came across this. I was so impressed that I actually 'liked' it on Facebook - probably a first for me on external links. It is genuinely a viable solution to the previous paragraph's dilemma - LEDCs have enough problems on their hands, and I'm determined that burns from the potato of climate change shame should not be one of them.
I'll give a quick summary to entice you in, but I'm not going to go to town on it, because I've already spent an hour and a half writing this.
It's called a GravityLight, and it basically uses the power of gravity to fuel an electric light. You fill the bag with rocks, hoist it up, and as the rocks are slowly pulled towards the earth, it generates electricity. No CO2. Minimal effort. Low cost. A genuine solution, n'est-ce pas?
The guys at the project need a bit of help with funding, so they've got this fundraising page-thing to collect funds. It's got all the information you'd want to know, so I'll link it.

The amount of time I've spent on this blog is getting ridiculous, and the smiling girl on the cover my Chemistry textbook seems to be staring at me in burning accusation. Ouch. I think even the potato was easier to handle than that. I think it's time to put the potato to bed now. In fact, let's just cut it up and share it. Like the famous Christmas song commands, we'll feed the world with it.

And now is the section of links:
Most importantly, here's the link for GravityLight: . Even if you're not planning on donating, all the information on there's good stuff.
As always, I like to link my good old WWF:
Earth hour is coming up again! I'll probably do a feature on it later, but for the time being, the link to the Earth Hour site: and the video:

To view the Oxford English Dictionary definition of "Procrastination from Revising", check out . You might want to share that link a few times, too. 
- SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen
(aka exam dropout of the future).

LEDC = Less Economically Developed Country. A random example would be somewhere like Ethiopia.
MEDCs = More Economically Developed Country. MEDCs are generally... YOU. Or wherever you live (I've seen my global audience stats).
I am a complete sucker for Geography, if you hadn't guessed. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Words of an eight year old...

Just a quickie, people of the world!
I found my first ever 'climate change blog' from when I was eight years old on my computer.

We have used too much electricity and energy witch is producing carbon-dioxide and is creating global warming. You may have heard of this before. It means the earth is getting warmer and warmer. Sounds good to the sunbathers doesn’t it? NO!!! They won’t be doing sunbathing any more. By summer 2050 the temperature will have rose by 2 degrees. Not a lot. But it will melt Greenland’s ice cap and it will flood the south-east of England. Thats US, in case you didn’t know  . And it will cause more forest fires. SO WE BETTER BE CAREFUL!!    

Oh, you've got to love the bad grammar, excessive exclamation marks and Comic Sans font, haven't you?

I think we'd better heed Young Me's advice. 
We really had better be careful. 


(yes, I know that was a very abrupt post, with a very abrupt end. It's designed to create impact.)

If you could, can you share, tweet, facebook, comment or whatever on this?
Read my previous blog posts :)
Although the last one was decidedly a little dodgy. Perhaps ignore that one.