Questions


This is Blog 17 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Questions

The other day I watched a Dutch TV documentary with the title “Climate of Confusion” (those of you who understand Dutch can watch it here). A handful of people were interviewed with a varying set of ideas on climate change.

The documentary featured an interview with a wealthy Dutch real estate executive called Niek Sandmann. The point of interest was a substantial donation he had made to a skeptical thinktank (Climate Intelligence).

According to his alternative calculations even our maximum effort would only make 0,0003 of a degree difference, in the end. So, according to Sandmann the whole “climate crisis” and accompanying policies are really just “a storm in a glass of water”, as we say in Dutch, and therefore not worth pursuing.

Sandmann emphasized he is not interested in this for his own sake, as he is already making all his new buildings energy efficient thanks to state-of-the-art technology that he can easily afford.

It is true that for people with low incomes making the transition is not so simple. Also government measures may bring on additional costs in already extremely tight financial situations.

Niek Sandmann

So, Sandmann’s donation to Climate Intelligence is a form of philanthropy for those less fortunate, which is a thought I can appreciate.

By asking the questions he feels mainstream scientists don’t want to ask and digging on grounds that politicians have already built policy plans on top of, he hopes to find out if it is really worth it to continue down this path.

While watching the documentary I complained about mr Sandmann’s skepticism, making parallels with another tanned real estate mogul across the pond. The fact that his appearance would make for a very convincing villain (or white walker) means nothing for the point of this blog (or anywhere really), but I admit it took some effort to get past that as well…

Zombie movie villain or not, I must applaud mr Sandmann for asking unpopular questions and in truth I wish people would do so more often.

Asking questions is only a problem when you aren’t actually interested in the answer or when you only accept the outcome if it is convenient for you.

I will try to keep track of this Climate Intelligence investigation and look forward to reading its conclusions. I may have some questions of my own in return though!

Milk

This is Blog 13 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Milk

The Netherlands is a country of dairy producers, processors en consumers.

I am not a huge dairy addict myself, even though a milky-crunchy cereal breakfast is one of my favorite ways to start the day.

When I started to think of ways I could reduce my ecological footprint, dropping milk was actually one of the easiest things to do. Especially now that there are so many tasty alternatives.

First I switched to soy milk, because that was the one I heard about the most. Then I tried almond milk which I quickly decided was much tastier than soy milk. Then I tried a coconut based milk and… wow… that is just such a heavenly combination with cheerios (or its Dutch equivalent) that I now run the risk of not eating anything else ever again…

Then I read an article in which dairy alternatives were discussed and I realized that oat milk was actually the better option, environmentally speaking. The video below is a pretty good summary of what I found out:

I actually hadn’t tried oat milk yet and that wasn’t an accident. I imagined oat milk would be a watery version of oatmeal, which I don’t like the taste nor texture of.

Luckily oat milk turned out to be delicious and I totally recommend it to everyone as a dairy substitute.

Hobbes

This is Blog 8 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Hobbes

I was already past the letter C when I realized my alphabet blogseries wouldn’t be complete without including at least ONE Calvin & Hobbes inspired post.

So, this post is dedicated to Hobbes.

Hobbes is actually a stuffed animal, but that doesn’t stop Calvin from having great adventures with him. Hobbes is Calvin’s very best friend as well as his tormentor and his conscience. To Calvin, Hobbes is very much alive.

This following little conversation between Calvin and Hobbes, is a good illustration of what makes these comics by Bill Watterson so wonderful.

Four frames. Super simple, yet still interesting and thought provoking. A message I think Greta would approve of.

And just to remind you, this comic strip was drawn up in April 1989… That was 30 years ago… talk about becoming cynical…

Greta

This is Blog 7 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Greta

Greta Thunberg is asking all the hard questions and holding up a mirror to show us our incompetence.

If you don’t want to watch her whole TED-talk, click play anyway and fast forward to minute 9:30 for her final words of encouragement.

This girl deserves the Nobel Prize of something or other. And a hug.

Actually, I take that back.

A hug would be condescending. She deserves a high five.

Or no, maybe what she deserves most is for us to stop congratulating her on her bravery, eloquence and awesomeness and simply start doing better.

The verbal ass-kickings she gives us every time she has the chance, have inspired me greatly.

As I admitted in my confessional blogpost about flying though, I am still more of a burden to the world than I would like to admit, but I’m working on improving.

I hear you, Greta. Thank you for being you!

Flying

This is Blog 6 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Flying

Yesterday I gave us all a break by writing something sweet (literally) and simple. No politics in there, whatsoever.

For the letter F I had several ideas:

The first two already featured in previous blogs and the third and fourth are too heavy and complicated for a quick ABC-post. All though the penultimate option was a close contender until the last minute (because, what is friendship really?) I chose for the latter.

Last year I travelled quite a bit:

  • North Finland (January)
  • Denmark (June)
  • France (August)
  • Londen (September)
  • Spain (November)
  • Ireland (December)

With the exception of my trip to France all of these voyages were made by airplane, which means I have a ginormous ecological footprint. I feel bad about this.

Apparently not bad enough though, because for 2019 I have two new trips to faraway destinations planned and maybe a third (but this one I could try to organize with some other means of transportation).

It’s a flying shame!

Mea culpa. Mother earth, please forgive me…

Awareness is the first step, right? So, here I am. I’ve reached level 1.

Now I’d rather not t stay here too long, on the one side because a gnawing conscience is annoying and on the other side because… well… because I actually want to do better.

So, what would level 2 entail?

No more flying until the airline industry makes cleaner air-travel possible, I guess!

I must admit it hurts a bit to think about it, but I am willing to go there (right after I visit my brother in Canada this October)…

Activism

This is blog 1 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Activism


In recent years I have walked and chanted in several marches; the largest ones being the Women’s March in 2017 and more recently, the March for the climate.

Both times I couldn’t believe that the topics at hand were even things we could disagree on in the society I live in.

Facts and common sense issues have become opinions and (how I despise the term and the one that made it fashionable;) fake news.

Until recently, I would say my political views and voting behavior would be considered pretty middle of the road, maybe slightly left of center.

These days though, some would call my views extreme and “far left”.

Am I an activist?

I’m not sure.

I do want us to be better. I do want us to stop being so afraid of each other. I do want us to make decisions more (earth)consciously. I am willing to start with the person in the mirror and work from there.

Doesn’t sound very radical to me…

Oikophobia

The Netherlands had provincial elections earlier this month, with unexpected results. Right wing populist party FvD won 13 of the 75 available senate seats, to all appearances out of nowhere.

In all truth I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was, taking my last five blogs into consideration… But I was. I really didn’t see this coming, at all.

Apparently, my social bubble only consists of people who are on my side of the political spectrum and the ones that are not, no longer voice their opinions when I am in the room.

I am still ruminating on the why’s and how’s of all this, but in the meantime I would like to focus on something Thierry Baudet said in his victory speech (and repeated and explained in this interview).

In the middle of his (slightly bizar) tirade, he said the following:

It is pure oikophobia! Pure self hate.

It is a guilt complex, that apparently needs a way out. […] That arrogance, ladies and gentlemen, friends, that stupidity is what they were punished for today.

In this specific segment of his speech, he was referring to recent climate reports and political measures that are being taken to reduce our ecological impact, or in his own words “climate sorcery”.

Image: Vincent Jannink / ANP / AFP)

I realize that I am very much on the defense here. He’s talking about me. I am one of those self-hating oikophobes that believes we should repent and change our habits, traditions and culture. I even believe in climate change! I’m radical like that.

Self-hater in the house

The thing is that I can’t deny I am extremely critical of my country.

Take our role in global slave trade, for example. Small a nation as we are, our part in this slice of history was substantial and this is something we are only just starting to see as anything other than “good business”. I believe our apologies for this should be explicit and generous.

When it comes to Dutch governance in our former colonies, I guess we weren’t the worst in the region, but it was still nothing to boast about. Our position in the top twenty of wealthiest countries was achieved on the backs of others. I realize we can not turn back time but I do feel we can be more honest about this in our education system and history teachings.

Our cuisine is bland and unexciting, our landscape is basically flat-earther-heaven, our favorite pastime is complaining and I think the way we celebrate carnaval is the stupidest on the planet.

Heck, I’ve even been bashing our national anthem and motto on this very blog.

So yes, I realize that people that voted for mr Baudet were basically voting against me and my way of thinking.

Self-critique is not self-hate

The diagnosis Mr Baudet has given me and my country is oikophobia. He even wrote a book with that very title, apparently…

In short oikophobia is a word based on the Greek word “oikos”, meaning home or household. In political context it is used to describe those that criticize their own culture and heritage and defend or praise cultures outside of their own.

What bugs me is the fact that my criticism and my wish for us to improve as a nation is seen as “hateful” and “disloyal” somehow. That sentiment feels so foreign to me. The Dutch have never feared the mirror nor shunned an argument.

When did we turn into cowards? How is it that I don’t know a single person that voted for this guy? Why can’t we talk about shit anymore?

The fact that I hold my country to a high standard is because I am in fact an oikophile, not an oikophobe!