Climate change affects food production, and in a planet where population is growing and food sources are needed, that has become a problem. It means that agricultural methods need to adapt or find new ways to grow more food. Along this line scientists have found how to use photosynthesis to increase soybean production. Photosynthesis is the process through which plants use sunlight, when combined with water and carbon dioxide, they can produce oxygen and energy rich carbohydrates which improves crop performance. It’s still new and still requires adjustments. It’s also not without its critics who wonder if it is so possible why isn’t nature itself doing it. Regardless it has been successful in yielding more soybeans and since soybeans are often used to feed livestock instead of humans, the plan is to apply it to other crops such as rice, cow-pea and cassava.
Maybe other methods such as reducing food waste or consuming less meat may ultimately be faster to improving the food crisis, the point is that humankind is at a stage where food production must increase without using more land, and photosynthesis offers such a promise. It is a form of genetic modification, yes and yet it is one which can be so helpful particularly in helping vulnerable populations feed their families. The process will still need to meet government regulations, but it has been attempted in several settings with success. Although it is not yet a reality ready to be used on a large scale it still provides an example of working to create adjustments to the consequences of climate change.
There’s been a lot written about friendship recently, mainly because of a study showing how poor children having friends who are wealthier than they are makes a huge difference in their future. They are exposed to ideas, to ways of life, to contacts, to opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise. They are therefore more likely to pursue an education and be more successful. It makes so much sense and in retrospect we have all experienced, witnessed or observed, what the researchers discovered. Still it was both surprising and reassuring. Perhaps it’s related to a developing trend which is just as surprising and which didn’t receive as much coverage, it is one finding that friendships are fundamentally more important to our overall wellbeing, that what we call relationships, those that are more romantic and lead to a more traditional form of intimacy. When I was in my 20’s we used to say relationships come and go but friendships remain. It was a thought trying to console ourselves after a breakup with someone we thought would be our significant other. It turns out that more and more people are not only discovering but using the notion that friendships are more important than other relationships. Whether people are in a committed relationship or not, their friends nurture them and give them something unique. That is because friendships give us something no other relationship can give us including inner strength and a sense of fulfillment. This is becoming increasingly evident as blogs, organizations, and websites emphasize the enduring benefits of friendship–Including it seems longevity.
Queer Britain is a new museum in London, as its name lets us know it is a museum about LGBT+. We have museums dedicated to many issues and causes, but this is a first in the UK. Since 1985 the Schwules Museum in Berlin has existed and both it and Queer Britain predate the US where the first American LGBT+ Museum will open in New York in 2026. The 50 years it took for Queer Britain to become a reality, since a march in 1972, underline the accomplishment of being able to highlight a community which has been marginalized, and one which is still not recognized in at least 70 countries. One exhibit in Queer Britain for example is the door of the writer’s Oscar Wilde’s cell, a reminder of his having gone to prison for what was called gross indecency, a sentence that destroyed his reputation and maybe his health. He died 2 years after being freed at the age of 46, and for many he has become a symbol of the injustice the LGBT+ community has been subjected to. But this is also a time when in countries like the US rights such as marriage equality which were fought for for generations may well be in jeopardy. And our current discussions reflect questions these museums must address. Are they to speak to the general public, or address their own communities? It’s a line which each addresses in its own way. Queer Britain as it traces the arc of the LGBT+ history is aimed at the larger community, but then neither does it want to forget the issues affecting LBGT+ people in the present. In Berlin the focus is almost the inverse.
As they work through those issues, the fact remains that those museums exist, and regardless of what the public discourse ends up being, it’s hard to imagine the momentum will cease.
931 million tons of food are wasted every year. That’s what the UN Environment Program estimates. Of course in view of world hunger that figure may have moral and ethical implications. But it also has environmental ones, because that amount of waste represents about 8 to 10% of global carbon emissions. 800 million people go to bed hungry each night while a third of the world’s food is wasted. Food waste costs the world about a trillion dollar a year, and that’s why several governments are introducing policies to tackle it. Doing something about food waste is on the agenda of several countries, of policy makers, organizations, activists. And now as part of these efforts there are smart phones apps which facilitate sharing, and giving food so that it does not go to waste. These apps are meant to help shoppers, food manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants cut their food waste. In the process they can help many. They exist in several countries, and it seems the US is lagging behind.
Olio is an app began by two young mothers, one brought up on a British farm, the other in Iowa. The app is simple to use. The user posts a picture of what is to be given away, and selects what geographical areas it is to be posted in and how it is to be picked up. When someone responds, their profile can help sort out who they are so that the giver can make a choice if necessary. Other apps are Tekeya in Egypt where stores and manufacturers sell at half price what they would throw away , which benefits both them and the consumer. Too Good To Go is another British app where people buy at great discounts a kind of mystery bag from restaurants and stores and are in for a surprise as to what the bags contain.
How often have I wished for an app like Olio. Maybe you have too.