When the Spirit(s) Move You

Seth Kaplan

A fairly accurate critique of climate advocates and global warming advocacy can be that we can be a bit depressing.  This is not surprising when we are telling a story about how current trends will lead to large portions of the world becoming uninhabitable and sea levels rising to swallow many of our coastal cities and every day another study comes out that shows even the unenforceable and aspirational pledges by our governments will not be met and we face “potentially disastrous consequences.”

But an different and reoccurring theme in work around climate is interesting interaction with “adult” beverages like wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages – and not just because it is tempting to give up and just spend the day drinking (perhaps at a Green Drinks event for environmentalists).

There is the story of a leading climate scientist who is also a wine expert – and therefore the leading voice on the impact of global warming on the production of wine – a very serious matter when you consider that changing climate will undermine the ability of centuries old vineyards to thrive. Similar concerns bedevil the world of beer, where a changing climate endangers the production of the hops that are the heart of quality beer.

But spirits may also be part of the vast bank of solutions that we will need to make the fundamental shift in our economy and society that will be needed to stop our runaway greenhouse gas emissions.  Advanced biofuels, like high energy biobutanol, may well prove to be one of the many tools we will need to power a thriving post-carbon economy and entrepreneurs and researchers in Britain are working on converting distillery waste into that fuel – creating the possibility that brown liquor could helps us to go green and save ourselves from the consequences of global warming like the sea level rise that threatens our beaches and coastal communities.

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