‘If we all regarded meat as a novelty and had one portion a week, we could drive all the cars we wanted, and fly in all the planes till we got sick of the lovely food” -me
Firstly, there is a paper written that states and calculates that “IF” livestock raring was calculated correctly (by this they mean that the standard practise of calculating emissions in this sector does not cover everything or disregards vital points) then this would equate to 51% of global emissions. If this is true, to a learned person in this field the above statement needs no further justification.
However, One can only argue how correct and accurate this is so let me discuss meat and it’s problems anyway:
Animal raring, and the by-products, for consumption are currently at unsustainable levels. The ramifications of the practise are causing serious problems to the climate, water security, species habitat and human health, not to mention the grotesque inhumane practices currently adopted to produce the products at the level demanded. Some quick facts about it:
- The Amazon is affectionately called ‘Earths Lungs’
- Amazon absorbs about a quarter of all the CO2 in the air by the land
- Amazon being cut down at about 6,000 SqKm/yr
- 91% cut down for raring livestock
- Livestock emits 7,516MT of CO2 eq/yr in 2010 according to the UN FAO.
- Similar to all the road vehicles (4972) and the planes in the world (751) according to the IEA
- Species loss in the amazon alone is drastic
- 2500 gallons of fresh water required for each kilo of meat
- Manure from cattle flows into rivers and out to sea causing huge dead zones
There is the argument, and I can see where people come from, that it’s a natural thing to eat meat. I agree that the food chain is natural but I contend that if we know it’s unsustainable to eat meat and causing harm to our environment then the civilised/obvious thing to do is to cut down on consumption until we reach safe levels.
On the other hand, it seems ‘cool’ now to label yourself a vegan or vegetarian and then never enjoy any meat or cheese as if its now sacrilegious to do so. I’m 50% vegan, 90% vegetarian and 10% omnivore, what’s my label? quasi-veggie? This whole thing is ridiculous, stop the labels, eat less meat or none at all if you wish but don’t be a pretentious dick about it.
Anyway, Eating meat was required during our evolution, I imagine, when we struggled to find calories, but this is largely not the problem anymore. We now have an abundance of efficient technologies that can produce sufficient calories and feed the whole population on a diet without meat. Meat could remain a novelty item to satisfy the people who want it.
The problem again is the economic system. Poorer countries need to provide calories to their people, some are starving, therefore they rely on the products for export as a means of development. Brazil for example gains substantial GDP from Amazon destruction related industry but communities and families rely on the deforestation & farming for their livelihoods.
So essentially, in Free-market capitalism, if we wanted to save the atmosphere and have concern for animals & human health, the communities would go without pay, the economic system of the ‘poor’ countries would get worse and the livelihood of the poor would diminish (inevitably).
So the problem is with the economic system not with cows bowls or the farmers, it is just an unsustainable economic system that has no power, no inherent control, no clog in its machine to address problems like this. The problems are fully external, it cannot care.
SO, how do we reform it in a fashion that satisfies it’s current requirements and protect the environment sufficiently to give us enough time to change to a system that inherently reacts to the natural environment & human health?
- At governmental level
- Policy that meat production is 1/7th of what it was per farm*
- Subsidise farmers so meat is 7 times the price
- Or, meat production substituted for veggies gets incentivised
- Policy of 1 portion of meat/wk/capita
- At a personal level: Be happy to eat meat 1/7th of the time
- Chicken on Friday evenings
- Pork for Saturday Lunch
- Portion of Beef for Sunday Dinner
- Fish on Wednesday evening
- Condemn anyone who tries to show opulence by eating more meat
- At community level: support farmers
- Work with them to ensure they retain their livelihoods
- Requires adapting to the changes and working together
- Requires a shift in values to support each other rather than compete
Quickly, an important point is that lots of perfect, fully ready to eat food is wasted (different quantities in different countries), essentially through poor management but you could argue the finer points. Again, it stems from a poor economic system as nobody works together, only against each other. To truly minimise this problem we would need an economic system that doesn’t see human health as an externality. Currently profit is all that’s required and the result is starving people while perfectly good food is produced and thrown out.
As a quick aside: another example of this for clarity: homeless people living on the street while there are empty flats & houses available. It’s not because there’s no house for them, it’s because they can’t ‘afford’ it. People aren’t hungry because there’s not enough food for them.
Quick reform techniques, to minimise it, in the pursuit of a saner system where providing food is a basic right to everyone and not depending on market fluctuations or financial access. (human and environmental health should not be open to the punishments of poor market decisions):
- Waste reduction through ‘full life-cycle cost’ taken by producer.
- Producer must have infrastructure/facilities to fully recycle any good produced
- Incentive to use easily recyclable materials in goods production
- Incentive to minimise transport (GHGs) and to maximise distribution/reclaim efficiency
- This should reduce private property reliance also
- Community based ‘grocery store-come-restaurants’ run by the community for the community.
- Ensures minimum waste as oldest food will be used first and knowledge will grow at exponential rate to ensure perfect quantities & minimum waste
At the start I said we could drive all the cars we want etc. but this is unsustainable too, really. We have the current situation because the oil oligarchs have fashioned it that way. There are plenty of alternatives to internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars, especially privately owned ones where they sit for 95% of their lives then carry one person for the other 5% of their lives. Non-private (always full) Electric vehicles from renewable energy is the goal but the point here is that WE COULD burn all the fossil fuel reserves instead of having livestock, if we cut meat consumption right down and allowed the forests to grow. But this is just silly, cut them both down, solving one problem and allowing another to grow is not a solution.
But it does give us time to wrestle and wrangle up the lunatics, the oil oligarchs and the psychopaths playing their crazy little games, games that are causing serious problems and harm. Then we can choose the optimum way of species development at our leisure.
Thanks for reading ‘Waxy wick: another candle in the dark- shedding light on the abundant nonsense & posing solutions’ new blogs each week.
Comments welcome, follow me @gavgluaisteán or check out my youtube channel ‘what’s the craic?-Gluaisteán’ for some savage banter.