Are we too far gone? Can coffee help?

We know we need to do something about climate change. We’ve known it to some extent for at least 50 years. And yet, little seems to be changing in regards to our cultural habits. Sure, we’re recycling more, we might insulate our homes better, and the auto industry is moving toward electric cars. But at what point do we make wholesale, lasting changes in the way we live, so that future generations can still enjoy a non-scorched earth?

Perhaps never. There were more electric cars than gas cars at the start of the 20th century. Yet gas cars won out from then until just recently, not only because they were more efficient and “practical,” but because they could be made more cheaply and therefore create more profit for automakers. The promises of a shift to electric cars by most major automakers within the last year, did not come about because of a concern over climate change. Again, we’ve known the risks for a long time, and an earlier attempt at creating mass-market electric vehicles was snuffed out in large part due to automakers’ bottom lines (as documented in the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?). GM’s EV1 was not canceled over its relatively high price point, or because consumers didn’t want them. In fact, the car was still in high demand when GM recalled all of them, shipped them to a junkyard, and had them demolished. It would be a stretch to say that this was a financial move, except in the sense that there was fear over electric cars taking revenue from non-electric, gas-powered vehicles.

No, the recent move to electric vehicles was instead an almost overnight reaction to Tesla’s unprecedented rise in the 2020 stock market. Again, economics are more of a driving factor in the move to sustainability than concern over climate change, up to this point. Of course, it could be argued that the general public does care, and that Robinhood making the market more available to that general public led to Tesla’s rise. But big corporations are concerned with that bottom line – and they can’t really be blamed given the structure of our economy and how dollar-based growth is rewarded.

Amazon head Jeff Bezos pledged billions to his Earth Fund for sustainability, and other corporations have made similar pledges, recently. Of course, in Amazon’s case, the question is still whether they help more than they hurt (think, millions of cardboard boxes, etc. in transit every day). But this is not a diatribe against big corporations, even if they might deserve it. No, this is a question that general public – what are we doing to fight climate change? There are countless ways we can do this, already alluded to. But at what point do our habits, our spending habits in large part, change to reflect a true commitment to sustainability?

Maybe it starts with a cup of coffee.

Americans drink more than 400 million cups of coffee per day. The greenhouse-gas intensity of coffee is higher than almost any beverage. If our morning (and often afternoon) coffee routine were totally sustainable, this would be one big step in the right direction.

LouisAndBeans is not the only coffee company committed to sustainability, but it is one of several. By supporting their mission, you support making our everyday habits better for the planet that future generations will inhabit.

This was not meant to be an ad, and I do genuinely care about the climate issues we are facing. But Tesla influenced the auto industry to sustainability, so why can’t a roaster like the Bellwether and coffee companies using it to roast coffee better, do the same to the giant coffee industry?

In case you were wondering, we also make a dang good cup of joe.

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