Virtual Climate Conversation Luncheon Yields Real Ideas

JHC’s sold-out virtual luncheon, “A Conversation About Climate,” on September 10th, with environmental journalist Tatiana Schlossberg and CNN’s Bianna Golodryga, was a huge success! Special thanks to our committee, Sara Goddard, Michael Kovner, Yvette Killian, Aileen Burdick, and Colleen Margiloff, and our sponsors, American Yacht Club, St. Regis Residences, Rye, and Seaboard Associates.

Golodryga interviewed Schlossberg for forty minutes or so and then took questions from the audience. She opened by asking Schlossberg about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on global emissions. “The pandemic bringing the world in a lot of ways to a standstill has shown one really amazing thing, which is how capable we are of transformative change,” Schlossberg replied. “But it really does take a global cooperative effort.”

Schlossberg’s book, “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have,” delves into the unexpected environmental cost of everyday conveniences like cell phones and streaming video. “It was one of the things that was most interesting for me to learn about,” Schlossberg told Golodryga. “We take the Internet for granted as a system, and we don’t imagine it as an intensely physical system–but it is.” Server farms, she explained, require a great deal of energy to keep running, despite the fact that they represent only around 1 to 2 percent of global electricity usage and greenhouse gas emissions. Still, she points out, “I think it’s important to remember that this is a physical system that’s on and it’s using electricity–and it’s only growing with things like cryptocurrency, AI, self-driving cars. Those things require a lot of data.”

Schlossberg emphasized that even the clothes we wear–from blue jeans to cashmere sweaters–can have an impact on the environment. “The main impact I wanted to talk about by writing about blue jeans was cotton,” Schlossberg said. “Because cotton uses a huge amount of water to produce.” Growing two pounds of cotton, she explained, uses on average around 2,000 gallons of water. She called on clothing manufacturers to be more transparent about the ways in which their products are produced.

The Schlossberg event was the first in a series of virtual programs this autumn that will focus on climate change. On September 23 at 6 p.m., JHC will host a conversation with Doug Tallamy, Andrew Revkin, Eric Sanderson, and Sara Goddard titled “Voices for a Green Recovery: Taking Action on Climate Change from the Ground Up.” Register for the event here.

Thank you again to all our generous supporters who made “A Conversation About Climate” and our other public programs possible!