How To Help Prevent Climate Change

Bittman talks to Paul Greenberg, author of 'The Climate Diet' on how we can do our part to protect the environment in terms of what we eat and beyond.


Here’s Mark interviewing Paul Greenberg about his newest book, The Climate Diet: 50 Simple Ways to Trim Your Carbon Footprint. Learn about stuff you can actually do today that, if we all commit to it, could dial back the effects of climate change. They include how to cut down on packaging, why we should stick to tap water, and why we should cut down on eating cheese (!) along with:

Why frozen food can be a better choice for the environment 

“I recommend choosing frozen food because the shipping of fresh food is really super carbon-intensive. We spend a lot of time over which we’re going to choose, and before you know it, we’ve chosen something that has to get to us from very far, very quickly….Frozen, however, it seems counterintuitive because it takes energy to freeze stuff. But actually, you can blast something pretty darn quickly. And once you’ve brought it down to temperature, you can seal it up in a cargo ship and then ship it. And shipping is one-50th or more of the carbon cost of flying something.”

The climate costs of local food

This is kind of counter-message. . . . [and I’m all for local food at the farmers market], but there is kind of a false virtue-signaling that goes on with farmers market shopping. Like the person who drives 20 miles to the farmers market and buys a head of lettuce and then drives 20 miles home. . . that’s really silly….Over and above that, the big thing about local is seasonality. I do feel for farmers. I do feel they’re in a pinch: like it or not, they’re always competing with the grocery store. So if they can offer something that’s pushing the season that you might take a detour to the supermarket to get, they may do that. So a hothouse-grown salad, for example, that’s grown in the Northeast, that’s pretty climate intensive. And it’s probably better to get that from California, where there are economies of scale and where there is a better climate. If you want wintertime greens in the winter or in the shoulder season, look at something like cabbage. Let’s learn to love things like the cabbage a little more.

What it means to change our personal energy grids

...What’s cool now... you can choose an energy service can go online, and you can actually choose who is providing electricity to you. So you can choose renewable over fossil fuels....even if you live in an apartment...This is a situation where consumer action can lead to a shift in the market, and more demand for renewables…. Most of the time, there isn’t any added cost to doing that. 

Fighting for racial justice while fighting for climate justice

Ayana Johnson had a column about this: She quoted….’The more that you make oppressed people deal with their oppression, the less they will be free to address … very dire issues… of climate and sustainability for the planet.’

People often talk about this time as an all-hands-on-deck-moment, and I think that if we’re leaving large swaths of the population off the deck because they’re too busy dealing with just basically getting recognition as equal partners in the human struggle against climate change and all these kinds of things...then I think we’re just... putting a weight around our necks and not letting all hands come on deck.  

[While the economically advantaged drive their electric cars to Whole Foods and buy their organic produce]… until we decarbonize the grid, a lot of that electricity is still coming from fossil fuels. And where are those coal and gas plants located? They tend to be in poor neighborhoods….There are a lot of lower-income people, people of color, who are literally bearing our pollution from our clean-seeming, green automobiles.