Insects: A Climate Change solution?

Too cute to eat?

One UW-Madison grad student was not just driven buggy by the climate change crisis, she was driven to bugs for a solution. My interview with Valerie Stull about her and Rachel Bergmann’s mighty MIGHTi project (Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects)aired on WORT-FM March 17, 2015. Their unconventional idea brings a small solution – insects – to help with two big problems: hunger and climate change. As Stull explains, meal worms provide a highly efficient source of edible protein requiring 1/5th the feed per pound than beef. Additionally, meal worms produce none of the potent green house gas methane that beef cattle does.  Listen here (about 4 minutes).

By Mnolf (Photo taken in Rum, Tirol, Austria) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Larvae of the meal worm beetle (Tenebrio molitor), before (dark) and after skinning (light)
How does raising meal worms and other insects equal a “win-win-win?” In their own words,

“Insects can feed people, serve as an inexpensive feed source for poultry as well as fish, and are relatively easy to raise. Farming insects is also climate smart, as they require less energy to produce and emit fewer greenhouse gases than other livestock. They can even recycle agricultural waste products, not edible for people. In areas where food is not always available and protein sources are scarce, insect farming offers an inexpensive, environmentally friendly option. (1)

What creative problem-solving!  UW Madison’s Climate Quest competition awarded Stull and Bergmann top prize for their project’s creative potential to impact climate change in 2015. It may even have more potential than those of us acculturated  in the industrialized west may give it credit for.

In case you’re still skeptical about eating bugs, remember that John the Baptist did just fine on a diet of locusts and honey (Mark 1:6 ; Matthew 3:4 ).  For more examples of insect eating (called “entomophagy”) throughout history, check out National Geographic’s “Bugs As Food: Humans Bite Back” and“For Most People, Eating Bugs is only Natural”.

(a version of this post by Kermit Hovey originally appeared at www.climatechangehope.wordpress.com )

After winter, spring… After despair, hope: An Easter Devotional

Tulip tip in springtime
An early sign of spring.

I’ve just come in from a walk around our office’s neighborhood.  Even though winter is technically over, the landscape is brown and dead.  There are no leaves on the trees.  There are no leaves on the bushes.  Flower beds are empty, some still covered with winter mulch.  If you dropped in from, say, Florida, your reaction might well be, “Why do you guys live in a place like this?  It feels so… dead!”

But it isn’t winter any more.  The air is warm.  Those bare branches are teeming with birds whose songs seem even louder in the stark, brown landscape.  And if you know where to look, you can see buds on trees and bushes getting ready to explode with new green leaves, and pointed green sprouts in otherwise dead flower beds.  It isn’t quite spring, but it isn’t winter any more – and we, having lived through another long, cold Wisconsin winter, breathe deep and rejoice.
Continue reading

Energy Slavery and What it Means to be Human

Two of the cutest energy slaves in cinematic history.

Following last week’s post by Brittany Ederer, Standing Face to Face with Injustice, today we explore what seems to be a quite different topic – our dependence on what some call “energy slaves” – and we discover that the similarities to and connections with human slavery and injustice are deep and real.

Make no mistake:  “Real” human slavery remains a serious issue in our modern world.  By some estimates, there are more slaves today than there were at the height of the slave trade,  perhaps as many as 35 million human beings trapped in some form of slavery.  This is tragic and shameful – and those organizations dedicated to confronting this problem and correcting it are worth noting and supporting. Continue reading

Standing Face to Face with Injustice

CC License, Wikimedia Commons

I moved from a rural farming town to the “big city” to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, and I’ve lived in Madison ever since.  I felt that I’ve always fit in here, and I’m proud when I tell people where I live–after all, Madison and her suburbs consistently receive recognition in contests of “Best Place to Live, Raise a Family, #1 City to Live in 2015,” and that’s pretty cool.  According to some sources, we are also the #1 Greenest City in America!  Recently, I became aware of information that pretty much shatters my paradigm that Madison is a near-perfect place.  The 2013 Race to Equity report, undertaken to promote greater public awareness of racial disparity in Dane County Continue reading

So what is an “Environmental Missionary” anyway?

Originally posted June 25, 2010.  Check out Lowell’s NEW book called “Environmental Missions” and let us know what you think!

 Lowell recently wrote the following piece for the Evangelicals for Social Action newsletter, answering the question, What do we mean by “Environmental Missionary”.  Enjoy!

What Is an Environmental Missionary?

At first, the question remained the same, but my answer would change.
People asked me, “Lowell, why are you a missionary?” Before I left for India in 1993, I’d tell them my conviction that Jesus is worthy of the worship of India, that the Great Commission is a mandate given to us all, and that those who die without Christ are lost eternally. But then after just a few months on the field, while those central convictions had not changed, I added to my answer, “I love Indians.” Over time, however, I had to change that answer, too, and admit, “Well, I don’t know if I can say that I love Indians, but I do love Shivraj, Munnu-ji, Prakash, and Prem Kumar.” I would rattle off names of individual friends. It’s hard to love disembodied aggregates, but it’s impossible not to love those God has placed in your heart.
Now, however, the question has changed. People are curious: “Lowell, why do you call yourself an environmental missionary?” The question has changed, but the answer is remarkably the same: I love Shivraj, Munnu-ji, Prakash, and Prem Kumar. Continue reading

What’s killing the frogs? And does it matter?

originally published January 24, 2010.

I had just finished giving a talk for Blackhawk Church‘s  adult fellowship group, and had included a short video from Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth in which one expert says, “I think we’re facing the loss of half the world’s frogs.’

On the way out, one of the participants asked me:  “So, exactly what is killing the frogs?”

It happens that I had just run across an article on this very topic two or three days ago.  Richard Black, BBC Environment Correspondent, was commenting on a world-wide precipitous decline in amphibians of all kinds (think frogs, salamanders, etc) in a post he called ‘The Attack of the Killer Everything“: Continue reading

A Conversation about God, His Creation and Our Role in Creation