It’s the end of summer and the long beach of Calais is dotted with British tourists enjoying the last few days of their holiday. Kids build sandcastles and run around hunting for hidden treasures. A few brave swimmers splash in the shallows. Along the promenade couples swing their legs over the sand and throw chips to the gulls. On a clear day like today you can easily see all the way across the Channel to the white cliffs of Dover, gleaming in the sunlight.
When it comes to important topics, food is an absolute necessity. We literally cannot live without it. For those of us fortunate to be alive today, it’s also overwhelmingly easy to forget its importance. Never in human history have we had such a wide variety of cuisines to choose between, so many places to buy it from or number of ways to prepare it. But that luxury of choice can breed negligence, especially when it comes to knowing where our food comes from and the impact it has before it arrives on our plates.
I recently watched the activist documentary Cowspiracy and was shocked by the claims that agricultural emissions were the number one cause of climate change. The take home message was that changing your diet will have a a bigger impact on the planet than cutting out all of your fossil fuel use.
It is a powerful message and indeed was partially responsible for my transition to a primarily vegetarian diet. But as a journalist I rarely take things at face value and keeping in mind this was a documentary with a specific agenda I felt obliged to investigate further.
What’s 21 billion kilometres away, 40 years old and carries a record featuring both Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”?
No it’s not your reclusive uncle with the strange taste in music who lives in the middle of nowhere. It’s the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
Last Friday Voyager fired its thrusters for the first time in 37 years, which is all the more remarkable considering it involved sending a signal that took 19 hours and 35 minutes to travel outside of our own solar system to a radio antenna just 3.7m wide.
Now you may be thinking (much like your hypothetical uncle) why on Earth should I care about some random spacecraft? Why are we spending all this time, money and effort on some trivial pursuit?
Well I believe it’s far from trivial. In my opinion exploring the universe is one of the greatest uses of time, money and effort that exists. Hopefully after reading the rest of this post, you’ll understand why.
Let me tell you three simple facts about the tobacco industry.
- Roughly 5.8 trillion cigarettes are smoked worldwide every year, which equates to two per-person per-day.
- In the previous century, tobacco use killed 100 million people, more than all deaths in World Wars I and II combined.
- The world’s top six tobacco companies make a profit of over $44 billion every year.
There’s no place on Earth like the Great Barrier Reef. And Australians know it.