Saturday, May 29, 2021

Slow Food International Quiz

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Since it is Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer vegetable gardening season in the upper Midwest, I thought it would be fun to have a quiz about food--more specifically about Slow Food International. Many of you may have heard about the concept of slow food, but you may not know that the group, Slow Food International, is largely responsible for bringing the idea to mainstream culture around the world. Here are 10 questions to check your knowledge about Slow Food International. Answer to the quiz are in the comments. Also, check out links to other On the Brink quizzes at the end of the post.

1. Slow food began in one of the world's great food cities. Name the city.

2. The motivation for the organization emerged after protests in the city referenced above. The protests were around the planned opening of a fast food restaurant near an important landmark in the city. Name the restaurant chain and the landmark.

3. In what year did the protests noted in 1 above occur?

4. When the organization formed, an animal was selected to be part of the organization's logo. Name the animal.

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5. One of the critiques of the slow food movement is that it does not explicitly embrace a specific type of farming or a specific type of diet. Name the farming practice and the diet.

6. An outgrowth of Slow Food International is Terra Madre. What is the focus of Terra Madre?

7. In a very short time, Slow Food International created chapters all over the world. Approximately how many chapters are there?

8. Slow food focuses on local food prepared well, clean food production that doesn't damage the environment, and fair prices and accessibility of food. This philosophy comes into direct conflict with what type of food production?

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9. Anyone can start a local Slow Food International chapter if you have ideas around how to protect or promote your local food culture. What name is given to a local Slow Food chapter?

10. One of the newer initiatives of Slow Food International is Disco Soup day. What is the educational theme of this event?


Check out these previous On the Brink quizzes!

Appalachian Trail Quiz
Robert Bullard Quiz
James Lovelock Quiz
Gifford Pinchot Quiz
John Muir Quiz
John Muir Quiz Part 2
Aldo Leopold Quiz
Rachel Carson Quiz
Bill McKibben Quiz
Teddy Roosevelt Quiz
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Quiz
Zora Neale Hurston Quiz
New York City National Cave and Karst Research Institute Quiz
New York City National Cave and Karst Research Institute Quiz Answers Revealed (note that answers reflect spring of 2015)
Introduction to Sustainability Quiz
U.S. Renewable Energy Quiz
Wangari Maathai Quiz
Black Friday Consumption Quiz
Green Building Quiz
Edward Abbey Quiz
Earth Day Quiz
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Quiz

Friday, May 28, 2021

Sustainability Case Studies 19: Environmental Law

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This is the 19th post in this blog series, Sustainability Case Studies, that is based on the book The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability: Case Studies and Practical Solutions edited by Robert Brinkmann (yours truly) and Sandra Garren and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. Each post in the series will comment on the content of the chapter as well as some general take-aways or practical teaching or personal/organizational initiatives that could be gleaned from the chapter. Links to previous posts on the series (including the post that introduced the series) follow after the review.

This chapter is called Environmental Law and is by Yumiko Nakanishi of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. The chapter begins with a background around environmental law within the confines of sustainability--particularly sustainable development. As the author points out in the introductory paragraph, there are questions as to whether or not sustainable development can be considered a legal principle. 


Regardless, the chapter does review some of the main international agreements and accords that address sustainable development such as Our Common Future, the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, the UN Millennium Development Goals, the outcome from the Rio+20 meeting in 2012--The Future We Want, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These agreements are largely considered soft law. For the most part, they do not have binding requirements. As a result, the ability to fulfill the intent of the agreements varies considerable from country to country.

The article points out, however, that these international agreements have led to the development of regional, national, and local soft and hard laws. For example, Article 20a of the German Constitution brings in the idea of sustainable development. The European Union took a more specific approach in adopting a series of environmental policy guidelines and priorities. However, these have not been widely tested in courts and it is unclear if they will be binding.

The chapter concludes with a discussion of new trends in environmental law within the context of sustainable development. New agreements between nations are now specifically addressing sustainability. For example the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement with nations in much of the Pacific rim, specifically recognizes sustainable development in several ways including issues of biodiversity and education of policy. A trade agreement between the European Union and Canada, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, has a whole chapter on sustainable development. Thus, there are emerging international binding agreements on sustainable development within the realm of trade agreements outside of the realm of the United Nations.

The article takes a very specific look within one aspect of environment law--sustainable development--to see how it is applied within international agreements. As the author points out, much of the legal framework around sustainable development falls within the realm of soft law. However, there are emerging trends that better codify how nations navigate sustainable development policy.

Click here for more information about the book.

Here are some discussion questions when using this chapter for a unit on environmental law within the realm of sustainable development. These were suggested by the author within the chapter.

1. How is sustainable development defined?

2. From where does the concept of sustainable development emerge?

3. How has the concept of sustainable development developed?

4. What is the legal character of sustainable development?

5. How is sustainable development expressed in economic, social, and environmental issues?

6. How is sustainable development expressed at international, regional, and national levels?

7. What is the principle of environmental integration in EU law?

8. How is sustainable development expressed in free-trade agreements?

Previous Entries in This Series


Thursday, May 27, 2021

5 Ways to Green Your Memorial Day Weekend

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Memorial Day is considered the official start of the summer seasons here in the United States. Here are 5 ways you can green your Memorial Day weekend.

1. Learn how make a great vegan barbecue. There are lots of wonderful ways to make veggies the star of a cookout. I am particularly fond of grilled corn, eggplant, and tomato and zucchini skewers. If you want to get really showy, get out the paella pan and make a vegan paella using veggie sausages and lots of extra vegetables. To see how to make a paella on the grill check out the video linked here.

2. Visit a national park or monument. We have 63 national parks and 129 national monuments in the United States. Why not take a weekend trip to visit one of them?

3. Reset your water heater and air conditioner. Now that the summer is looming, many of us are turning to air conditioning to beat the heat in our homes. Why not take a moment to take stock of how they are set? Most of us like warm or hot showers in the winter to warm up, but we don't need that heat in the summer. Lower the setting of your hot water heater to save energy and consider setting timers on your air conditioner and water heater so that they are in use only when needed.

4. Take a trash hike. Many of us go out hiking during this weekend. Take along a garbage bag and pick up some trash along the way. You'll get extra exercise benefits from all the bending and squatting.

5. Sequester some carbon. If you have the space, plant a tree. If not, consider purchasing some carbon credits for yourself or a loved one. There are many companies out there working on amazing carbon sequestration projects. Terrapass is and example of one company where you can purchase individual carbon credits. 

If you have any other ideas for greening Memorial Day, leave them in the comments. The most important thing is to have fun and to take a moment to honor those who have lost their lives in service to our country.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Chevron, Exxon, and Shell Face Climate Change Challenges

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There were three big pieces of news today from top energy and greenhouse gas producers. In a normal news day, each piece would be big news in the climate change policy world. However, with three coming on the same day, it is a rather striking news day.

First, Chevron shareholders voted to slash tertiary emissions from its products. Second, Exxon lost two board member positions to climate change activists. Finally, a Dutch court ordered Shell to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030. A busy news day indeed!

These cases demonstrate that the large energy companies are facing growing political, social, and legal pressures around their responsibility for the current climate crisis. For many years, these large companies had many political and economic advantages over climate activists. Those days seem to be fading.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument

 Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.

Today's featured monument is Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona. This is one of the monuments that was under review for delisting as per executive order by the former president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

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Previous On the Brink posts on the U.S. National Monuments

Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Cape Krusenstern National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Castillo de San Marco National Monument
Castle Clinton National Monument
Castle Mountains National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument
César E. Chávez National Monument
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Chimney Rock National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument
Effigy Mounds National Monument
El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort McHenry National Monument
Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Ord National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Stanwix National Monument
Fort Union National Monument
Fossil Butte National Monument
Freedom Riders National Monument
George Washington Birthplace National Monument
George Washington Carver National Monument
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Gold Butte National Monument
Governors Island National Monument

Sustainability Case Studies 18: Political Leadership and Sustainability in Africa: Margaret Kenyatta

This is the 18th post in this blog series, Sustainability Case Studies, that is based on the book The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability: Case Studies and Practical Solutions edited by Robert Brinkmann (yours truly) and Sandra Garren and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. Each post in the series will comment on the content of the chapter as well as some general take-aways or practical teaching or personal/organizational initiatives that could be gleaned from the chapter. Links to previous posts on the series (including the post that introduced the series) follow after the review.

This chapter, Political Leadership and Sustainability in Africa:  Margaret Kenyatta, by Jo-Ansie van Wyk, takes a look at the importance of personal leadership in moving forward a sustainability agenda. Many of my American readers know of important political leaders on sustainability issues such as Gaylord Nelson, Al Gore, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. However, few are likely familiar with Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya, the subject of the chapter.

The article begins by pointing out the unique issues of sustainability--particularly related to endangered and threatened species. Kenya, as the author notes, has been a leader in seeking to advance an environmental agenda in Africa. Richard Leakey and Wangari Maathai are notable Kenyans who have helped to bring the agenda to the world stage. In this chapter, the work of Kenyan First Lady is highlighted within three dimensions of sustainability:  social dimensions, political dimensions, and environmental dimensions. Prior to reviewing Kenyatta's contributions, it is important to note that before becoming First Lady in 2013, she was a noted educator.

Margaret Kenyatta. Click for figure credit.
Kenyatta's contributions to the social dimensions of sustainability fall mainly within the role of women, local traditions and cosmology, and technology. She has been a champion for women and gender equality. She has highlighted the conservation of elephants by creating the East Africa Grass-Roots Elephant Education Campaign Walk to highlight the important role of individuals within the region in the protection of elephants--while recognizing that there are traditional relationships that many have to elephant hunting.

On the environmental dimensions of sustainability, Kenyatta has highlighted four main areas:  traditional livelihoods, working with local communities to protect wildlife, building on the work of Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, and creating a rhetoric that builds and identity for Kenya's unique wildlife that is important to Kenya's economy and national security. 

Kenyatta is also active on political dimensions of sustainability. She works within existing conventions of her role as First Lady such as hosting leaders of NGO's; she supports her husband's environmental agenda, such as confiscating and burning confiscated ivory; she makes public endorsements for sustainability initiatives; and she uses her position to advance an international and regional approach to sustainability.

The chapter concludes with a series of lessons learned from the case study and a section on challenges and barriers that includes a review of the challenges that First Lady Kenyatta faces in her role as well as the environmental challenges faced by Kenya overall. 

The article highlights how one person can have a tremendous impact on an organization, in this case a nation, if they take advantage of their position. Margaret Kenyatta's work on women, local economic development, conservation, and international cooperation around sustainability issues shows the power of the position.

Click here for more information about the book.

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Here are some discussion questions when using this chapter for a unit on leadership and sustainability or sustainability in Africa:

1. Why is sustainability, particularly protection of wildlife, important to Kenya?

2. What sets Margaret Kenyatta apart from other First Lady's in Africa?

3. Why did Kenyatta focus on women in her work on conservation and sustainability?

4. What is the Green Belt Movement and why is it important in Kenya?

5. Why is Richard Leakey important in the Kenyan conservation movement?

6. The author of this chapter highlights that Margaret Kenyatta is active on an array of political dimensions in sustainability. Describe one of these dimensions and its impact.

7. Thinking about your leadership roles in your school, job, or family, how can you use your influence to advance a sustainability agenda?

8. How does the role of First Lady vary from Kenya to that in your own country?

Previous Entries in This Series

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Population Bust?

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There was a recent interesting article in the New York Times here about changes in global population in the coming decades. The article is worth a read--even if it had me scratching my head a bit around the numbers. The article points out that in many parts of the world, particularly in developed nations, the birth rate is declining rapidly which suggests that there will be significant declines in global population. The article uses a Website  from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation to come to their conclusions. For example, the population of China is expected to go from 1.4 billion to about 730 million in 2100. The United States population is expected to rise a bit in the coming decades and then decline to about where we are at right now by 2100. Germany, which has had a relatively stable population of 80 million or so over the last several decades is expected to decline to around 60 million in 2100.

What is odd about the article is that it suggests that overall, global population decline is going to be a serious issue with very high populations of older folks with very few younger folks around to take care of them. While that may be true in some places like Italy and South Korea, the reality is that global population is really not expected to decline at all by 2100. In fact, right now, the global population is about 8 billion and the population in 2100 is predicted to be 8.8 billion. Certainly the population is expected to decline after the world hits a peak population of around 9.7 billion people in the middle of the 21st century, but there is no global exponential decline expected for generations--and by that time, the model will have to be changed based on new data and conditions.

The other part of the article that I found odd is that there is an overall sense that the environmental footprint of human activity is going to decline due to these changes. The article references loss of populations in Germany and how that led to the demolition of thousands of residential buildings. While this may be true, many parts of the world are experiencing the exact opposite as I noted in my piece here on the population crisis in Egypt. Africa is experiencing a population boom while many areas in Europe and South Asia are seeing populations contract.

The article also notes that the population decline could somehow ease environmental problems like resource scarcity and climate change. However, the data really do not suggest this at all. The global population will be higher in 2100 than it is today. Plus, we all know that globally we are using more resources per capita than any time in global history. Even if population declined a small percentage from where we are at today (which is not what is expected to occur) we would still have significant recourse and climate change problems. It is easy to equate population decline with improving environmental conditions, but environmental improvement is not just how many fewer people there are on the planet, but how the people on the planet chose to live.

Population is definitely a hard thing to write about. The numbers are hard to predict and population planning is difficult to discuss in some quarters. However, when looking plainly at the data referenced in the article, you can draw very different conclusions and inferences than those put forward by the authors in the Times piece.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Governors Island National Monument

 Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.

Today's featured monument is Governor's Island National Monument in New York. This is not one of the monuments that was under review for delisting as per executive order by the former president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.

Previous On the Brink posts on the U.S. National Monuments

Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Cape Krusenstern National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Castillo de San Marco National Monument
Castle Clinton National Monument
Castle Mountains National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument
César E. Chávez National Monument
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Chimney Rock National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument
Effigy Mounds National Monument
El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort McHenry National Monument
Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Ord National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Stanwix National Monument