My science-based journey to a plant-based lifestyle

Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

“Heart disease? Oh, c’mon, that’s so old school.” So went my thinking as I rode a conveyor belt into a CT scan in one of those dreary medical-imaging facilities I’d managed to avoid for the entirety of my 51 years. I was fairly certain this was just another test that didn’t really apply to me, one of the many my doctor had tacked on to the growing list of exams we Americans find ourselves subjected to as we move through the decades.

And why should it? I’d never smoked, I drank only in moderation — usually red wine. I exercised…


This is the year to de-center your smartphone

Illustrations from “Goodbye Phone, Hello World” by Emiliano Ponzi

For the sake of yourself and your country, it is time to get off your phone.

Yes, I know you needed to see the latest from the Capitol storming, the impeachment hearings, the Republican backlash, and then you’ll need to know how it’s all going down with the new administration in the first 100 days, and then perhaps you’ll want to check in on the stalled Covid-19 vaccination effort. And then poof, before you know it, midterm elections will be ramping up and you’ll need to scroll and scroll and scroll.

But there’s a good reason to balance a civic…


The story of one scientist’s quest to save the birds he loves

Finches used to test the effects of methylmercury (photo by Paul Greenberg)

It was just another sweltering summer afternoon gathering blood samples from Shenandoah Valley birds when the news came in. The ornithologist Dan Cristolhad been conducting a preliminary assessment funded by DuPont to determine to what degree the company’s pollution of the watershed might have affected the avian community. DuPont was facing potential legal action and had cautiously agreed to one summer of funding for a small team to gauge just how expensive fixing the damages might be. True to his nature, Cristol hadn’t been tentative in his research. He and his students had skulked into stream-bank kingfisher nests, cornered screech…


A change in attitude can do a lot for the oceans

“Father and son fishing, Ibiza” by David de Mallorca is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Forty-odd years ago, while aboard a fishing boat with my father on Long Island Sound, I felt a pull on my line like none I’d ever felt before. And then another. And another still. The wild world had hit my line with all its abundance. I reeled hard and with a crazy swing I swept my multi-hooked rig loaded with five big mackerel in a wide arc over the rail until the whole bloody mess landed with a chaotic thud. I had no care about what I would do with all these fish that I had killed in one haul…


From flooding to biodiversity loss, getting rid of our millions of useless dams will do great things for the nation’s infrastructure

“Dam At Glen Mills” by Thomas James Caldwell is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

In staid New England, if a younger man drives onto the property of an elderly woman and threatens to knock something down, you expect pushback: an argument, a call to the authorities, and the subsequent removal of the man from the premises. But on a cool November morning in Colchester, Connecticut, quite the opposite is occurring. Here, on the banks of a midsized watercourse called the Jeremy River, Steve Gephard, a fisheries biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment Protection, has arrived with Sally Harold of the Nature Conservancy and a backhoe-mounted jackhammer. They direct workmen to rip…


Long before Bernie Sanders, Vermont was building its crunchy, lefty image

“Smuggler’s Notch Vermont Fall Foliage October 2020”by Anthony Quintano is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I n the fall of the year 2000, a federal judge sentenced one Mr. Lyman Jenkins, president of Vermont Country Maple Inc., to 46 months in prison and awarded $342,624 in damages to his victims. His crime? Twenty felony counts of mail, wire, and tax fraud in a scheme to adulterate pure maple syrup with cheap cane and beet sugar.

Jenkins was not the first to run afoul of Vermont’s government-enforced standards. Kingsey Cheese of Vermont, Vermont Maple Orchards, and Snow River Products LLC have all been slapped with fines for falsely implying their products were made in Vermont.

Some…


Why not?

Note to self: practice the seafood flambé before trying to do one on a podcast

Ever since I heard the word “podcast” I’ve been fleeing from that irritating word. Who’s in the pod? Why cast it? And who are these people living in this ever growing nation which I’ve decided to call Podcastistan.

What was weird, though, is how much space podcasts were taking up among the lives of my friends. Not all friends, mind you. But certain friends. I love them all but I do have to say that my podcast friends were just kind of, I dunno, podcasty. They lived in Podcastistan and they all spoke versions of Podcastistani. …


Unless we clean up dairy we’ll never clean up our waterways

“Glass of Milk” by Push Doctor is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

If you were to go looking for a magnificent American body of water worthy of an epic end-to-end swim, Lake Champlain might be it. Carved out of high country by glaciers, fed by Green Mountain brooks and icy Adirondack springs, it stretches 120 miles, forming much of the border between New York and Vermont. It provides drinking water for 145,000 people. But in 2004, when clean-water activist Christopher Swain swam the full length, he was immediately confronted by the truth: Lake Champlain was anything but pristine. “I swam through clouds of manure runoff that were kind of slippery and sticky…


New survival strategies for mental health professionals

“Empathy” by sinclair.sharon28 is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I think it’s time we discussed your therapy. I am enclosing here the bill for your 158 missed sessions. But that’s not what’s really important. I sense a disenchantment with me in particular and with psychotherapy in general. This despite the fact that we have made tremendous strides over the last thirty seven years. But never mind all that. I wanted to apprise you of certain professional choices I’ve made that will address your concerns and open new avenues for treatment.

I have become a life coach.

My three months of intensive training at the You Got It! Institute of…


The world is back. Leave your phone behind

More than three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone. Those 253 million Americans spend $1,380 and 1,460 hours on their smartphone and other mobile devices every year. That’s 91 waking days; cumulatively, that adds up to 370 billion waking American hours and $349 billion. With the pandemic receding and the real world coming back into focuss here’s what we could do instead.

Plant

In most western states, that $1,380 you spent on your phone could buy half an acre of land. In the right conditions, that half acre could easily accommodate 150 trees. A single tree sequesters 48 pounds of carbon…

Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet: Fifty Simple Ways to Trim Your Carbon Footprint paulgreenberg.org

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