Silver Linings of Bad News

Just about every piece of bad news has a good-news flipside. For example, the news that food waste is worse for the climate than plastic. According to BBC News, “Zero Waste Scotland calculated that the carbon footprint of food waste collected from Scottish households that year was nearly three times that of plastic waste collected from people’s homes” — and food waste rotting in landfills generates methane gas, a major cause of climate change.

The flipside of this news is that we, on the individual and household level, can do a lot of good by composting our food scraps, and using the resulting soil to grow more food (or other plants). Underneath every large problem lurks a large opportunity.

Now, I just read another piece of bad news that was so sad and horrifying, it took a bit more thought to find a silver lining. That was the news that, every year during the Mediterranean olive harvest, millions of songbirds are vacuumed to death by the mechanized equipment used to harvest the olives.

The silver lining of such horrifying news is that it forces people to wake up and make changes (similar to what has happened as people have learned that plastic straws are harming sea turtles and other marine life).

The mechanization of agriculture brings us cheap goods but has many hidden casualties. Some of them are not only sad but deadly.

There’s no silver bullet, but “right-sizing” and localization of agricultural enterprises are surely part of the solution. Might be time to go “back” to using human labor for certain tasks. Thus potentially creating sustainable jobs … which would be another silver lining.