Articles / Bill McKibben: There is So Much We Can Be Doing

Bill McKibben: There is So Much We Can Be Doing

Published July 26, 2023

Plus: “climate-friendly” beef, my Mike Pence obsession, and yet another reason to avoid Starbucks

This Week’s Marksisms

Food with Mark Bittman: Bill McKibben

A year ago, almost to the day, we ran an interview I did with the esteemed Bill McKibben, a friend of mine and one of the frontliners in the war against the warming of the planet. Bill has referred to the climate emergency as a war, actually — I wrote about this on the Bittman Project a couple weeks ago, that his suggestion that we treat the climate crisis the way we treat a big war, by gearing up, rallying the troops, attacking, and defeating, is imagery that some of my friends don’t like, and I get it, but to me it makes more sense than the mindset that says, “Well, if we dither around, and small changes are made gradually, it won’t affect most of us.”

Anyway. Regardless of how you want to think about it, the fact remains that Bill is, and has been for a very long time, a visionary when it comes to this very real, very HERE emergency. And, unlike the majority of us, and our government, he takes very real action, which you’ll hear about in our interview. Even if you listened last year, I recommend listening again. He’s inspiring, and smart, and I look up to him.

Follow Food with Mark Bittman on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Pocket Casts | Amazon Music

“Climate-Friendly” Beef? Ha!

This month, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) implored, even petitioned, the USDA to prevent cynical beef producers from claiming that their products are “climate friendly,” which is the rough equivalent of claiming that they’re cattle friendly: in other words, A Big Lie. They’re singling out Tyson’s “Brazen Beef”; as EWG’s Scott Faber says, “The only thing ‘brazen’ about Tyson’s beef is its brazen claim that beef can ever be climate friendly.” There’s no reason to believe Tyson’s claim that some of its farmers have reduced emissions by ten percent, but even if that were true, that beef would still be contributing about 25 times as much greenhouse gas per unit as legumes do, and almost ten times as much as chicken. Eating less or no beef—and, even then, only beef produced by farmers raising their cattle on pasture—is the only climate friendly way to deal with it.

A New Café in Oakland

Our friends Luigi and John Di Ruocco of Mr. Espresso have opened their gorgeous café in downtown Oakland. I can’t get there until September, but you should go sooner if you can.

Starbucks’ Dirty (Labor) Laundry

The content below was originally paywalled.

Speaking of coffee chains, and David and Goliath, this is a fantastic piece about Starbucks’ anti-union agitating.

My Curious Pence Obsession

I can’t help it: I find Mike Pence fascinating. He’s close to a religious fanatic, he’s an arch-conservative, he is famously homophobic and anti-choice, he was essentially Donald Trump’s lap puppy for four years and then, in a moment of truth, he does the right thing. Not that he’s a hero for doing the right thing; not doing the right thing would have ranked him right up there among the great bad-decision-makers of history. And even he could see that denying Trump on January 6 was the only decision consistent with the history and potential halfway decent future of the country. But it may have cost him, which lends an air of tragedy to the whole process. I mean, no one is going to vote for him, right? But compared to the other Republican candidates, he’s as normal as George W. Bush, which I recognize isn’t saying much.

One of the Greats

On the other end of the spectrum, a man I’d love to see president (or prime minister, given that he’s a Brit) is George Monbiot, one of the great environmental writers of our time. If you don’t know George’s work, start with this piece about the impending collapse of the food system.

See you next week!