Tag Archives: Sustainability

Florida needs a psych eval

The existence of climate change has been a hotly debated issue in the not-too-distant past. At least, that’s how it went for most of the world. Unfortunately, headlines have been telling a different story about Floridian politicians.

You can’t sound more ridiculous than shouting the world is flat. Why? It isn’t because every person has walked completely around the entire world to test the theory. We trust our scientists to do their research and fact check one another. After enough of a percentage say they tested it and found that they were able to disprove the flat earth theory, the popular belief is that the world isn’t flat.

But despite this, Florida’s own DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) has gone and created a censorship on climate change.

Barton Bibler, an employee of Florida’s DEP, was required by his administration to take a leave of absence and complete a mental health evaluation for using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a presentation on March 2.

Apparently, Bibler was unaware of the off-the-record ban on both of the terms, which has been enforced since Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011. When asked about the reason for Bibler’s punishment, Scott’s office stated that there’s no such policy and Bibler had been reprimanded due to his performance, insubordination, and behavior which was not becoming of an employee of the DEP. However, a former DEP attorney stated that more than a dozen complaints had been reported by DEP employees on this topic in the last five years.florida

Another attorney, Christopher Byrd, gave this statement: “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability.’ That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Regardless of the proof of a real policy or simply an atmosphere of fear and hostility in Florida’s DEP, the state should be concerned about how the reality of climate change is affecting them. Miami Beach alone is victim too unusual flooding and dying coral reefs — which are a major tourist attraction and source of revenue. And, despite being nicknamed the Sunshine State, Florida is behind dreary, cold Massachusetts, as well as California and Nevada, in solar power. In fact, it’s illegal for homeowners to rely entirely on individually produced electricity.

Bibler’s punishment for his presentation — whether due to his use of censored terms or not — is a wake up call for the state. If Florida’s DEP is afraid to talk about climate change, it doesn’t bode well for the future of the state.

Climate change and coffee

Attention coffee lovers: climate change is dramatically affecting the world’s coffee supply. For those of you who may not know, coffee beans come from five regions of the world — East and Central Africa, Indonesia, India and Latin America. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the effects of climate change, such as higher temperatures, long droughts and uncharacteristic rain patterns, are dramatically reducing these areas’ abilities to produce coffee.

There is also a huge problem with coffee berry borers, a pesky beetle that infests the coffee plants. Usually, the regions in which coffee grows are inhabitable by the insect, but with changing temperatures they’re flourishing. Another issue is coffee rust, a deadly fungus wreaking havoc on coffee plantations.

Coffee berry borer beetle on a coffee bean. Photo from Creative Commons.

What does that mean for the devout coffee addicts? Prices rising 25%. With the supply suffering in the three biggest coffee producers — Costa Rica, Ethiopia and India — prices must rise to deal with the losses. But as college students, we can’t afford that. We can barely afford Ramen.

I’ll be honest — I’m a true coffee snob and buy the more-expensive-than-normal organic brands anyway, but for regular coffee consumers, this price hike hurts. I allot my pricey coffee in my monthly budget by going without other things because it’s something I care about. Many people don’t have that luxury.

The effect of climate change on the coffee supply doesn’t just hurt the consumer, it devastates the farmers’ livelihood. Even with the supply being completely normal, they live in poverty. Many retailers don’t even pay the farmers a living wage. That’s why the Fair Trade movement has surged. The problems for the farmers are so great in normal conditions, I’m concerned for their future if the crops dwindle.

There are a few solutions to this problem.

As a consumer, we have the power of the purse. We need to do our research and only purchase from companies who practice sustainable farming and provide the farmers with a better life because with no farmers comes no coffee. Global Exchange has a great list of Fair Trade coffees to choose from.

Do you drink fair trade coffee? Photo from Creative Comons.

Another is to actually get involved in the political aspect of climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists suggests writing to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address the severity of climate change. It’s on everybody’s mind, but on few politicians’ political agendas. Another great way to participate is to vote. Check up on the environmental impacts a candidate’s political actions have made and show up on Election Day.

Greening up your life is a very small but significant step to help fight climate change. Start recycling and driving less, turn off the lights when they’re not needed and get outside to maximize the sun’s potential, be a smart consumer and only buy what you need (preferably made from eco-friendly materials).

From one coffee lover to another — we can’t let a preventable situation deplete the world’s coffee supply.