Thursday, September 11, 2008


Dilemmas abound in the world of green.

And, sadly, nature is not always the best guide. I think I am safe in saying that we, humin beans, are essentially omnivores. And that includes eating meat. It's not strictly essential, but what we were designed for (OK, actually raw, but that can be covered in an appendix... geddit).

And, in the great climatic scheme of things, that is actually a bit of a design fault, if we are also to ignore our developing intellectually beyond the level of pragmatic and practical population balance measures.

There's no getting around the fact that, for a day's worth of sun, an acre of crops feed a lot more folk than an acre of crops feeding a cow... feeding some folk.

So... and accepting it is just another delaying tactic, vegetarianism is another potential mitigation in our march to destruction. Though it does I suppose leave around an awful lot of belching and windy Friesans to serve the cause of greenhouse reduction less well. So, just one last T-bone then?

Note: National Vegetarian Week in May

Links (evolving, natch, as advised or I stumble over new ones)


Indy - Can you reduce your carbon footprint with a vegan diet?
Guardian - Credit crunch? The real crisis is global hunger. And if you care, eat less meat - I think this is the right place for it. A few other sacred cows ('scuse pun) get dragged in, too - biofuels, population, etc. Nice holiday ads though... somewhere to stay when writing about those on $2 a day I guess)
Indy - The Big Question: Is changing our diet the key to resolving the global food crisis?
Observer - It is time to become a vegetarian?
BBC Newsnight - Is it time to turn vegetarian? I argue with the 'facts' of the statement, not the ethics: In environmental discussions, Mother Nature, or doing what's 'natural' is often cited, in my view rightly, as a good thing. As one of her creations, it seems odd that our omnivorous design is now deemed by many as a flaw.

And the meat-banning advocacy might not serve too well some of the poster children of the climate change movement. Polar Bears or Tigers, for instance.

Whilst seeing the logic in part of what he says, I have to disagree with Mr. de Boer that this option is 'a solution'. At best it is a measure that buys some more time if other factors are not addressed.

Especially with greater affluence bringing currently already quite carnivorous cultures to the... er... table. In their billions. I kinda think we've been here before, too.

Guardian - UN says eat less meat to curb global warming - married to a Chinese with a great culinary repertoire, 'one meat free day' is not a stretch for us.

Guardian - Meathead mayor - I didn't post his piece because I thought he was being a bit silly and unnecessarily provocative (basically 'bacon breakfast, lunch and dinner 24/7, 365/365 - which is how to wind up the Guardian readers and ensure a high rating). QED.

Spiked - Why I’ve got a beef with going vegetarian

Guardian - NEW - Eating less meat won't save the planet


Veggievision - source of info


One law for the [ ]*

*insert exceptions/interest groups that will not be you here.

I think this op-ed from Ch 4 sums it up best:

We’ve just heard that Greenpeace have won in their legal battle over their protest at the Kingsnorth power station in Kent. They’ve been found not guilty of causing criminal damage in their protest against the coal-fired station. Essentially the Greenpeace argument was that climbing up a chimney and daubing “Gordon” on it was not criminal damage, as it was lawfully right because it was needed to prevent the greater damage caused by the government’s energy policy and resulting carbon emissions. If you like, it was the old argument: you can bash down a door legally, to put out the fire on the other side of it. So where now? Can you go home tonight and chuck paint over the neighbour’s 4x4, to make a case against emissions? Anyone up for super-gluing the gates of the nearest coal-fired power station? I could go on whilst the lawyer is out of the room. But does it actually open any precedent at all? We take a look, hopefully with a lawyer. Precedent is doubtful. Environmentalists have already pulled something similar to this before, damaging GM crops, but beware of wider precedents.

So now, to add to when I go on holiday overseas I can claim I am raising awareness of climate change, I might try spinning some bit of local law-breaking as part of addressing a greater truth, possibly elsewhere. Worth a try, I guess. Always wondered what lay beyond those flood gates.

Guardian - Policy, not protesters, should be on trial

Times - Protesters cleared over damage to power plant

Spectator - Greenwashing A Jury - Not a good few days for jury decisions to some, but also not great to those who then decide they don't like the result. The system was used, and delivered its result. Seesm to me there was a failure by the prosecution to prove their case. Maybe not enough irony-free experts flown over from the USA to further help, um, 'awareness'?

Pitching envROI

Subsidised recycling is poor value for money

An interesting piece. Whilst there is little to disagree with in matters of fact, the slant taken become significant. Here an almost pure approach to the financial aspects in terms of return is considered. One can almost imagine that at the other extreme there might be one in the Guardian with uncritical green-tinted glasses advocating the 'environment', no matter what.

Such a shame, as surely between the enterprise and the social there is something more valid in terms of money possible, that can both serve the needs and interests of the planet and those upon it.

An attempt to encapsulate these economic AND environmental principles is attempted in the definition of enviROI*

It is hard to put subsidy and value for money together in the same sentence without accepting the 'value' of the social benefits that are gained.

Rationally, 'wasting' anything cannot be a good thing, and sticking raw materials back in the ground lacks a certain logic, unless one looks at it in a purely short term, time-dependent monentary manner. Surely this is evident by virtue of some landfills being considered for mining now? One has to wonder, much as one would putting one's 1960's mass-production sports coupe on blocks until now, what the 'value' might have been of setting aside useful materials in a segregated manner ready for economies re-embracing into the manufacturing system now. Nothing is infinite. So anything that does not tackle a problem and shunts it away is only a delaying tactic imposed on the future. Understandable, if not laudable if there is no imperative to even think about the problem, much less solutions, but very dubious if clear issues have been identified on the horizon.

I fear I must therefore take issue with the defence of landfill just on the basis of there being more places to stick stuff. It doesn't seem very nice, and it doesn't seem to make much sense.

Therefore my personal advocacy is much more energy (mental, that is) is devoted to more creative ways of reducing our waste in the first place, and making more of that which is, I accept, inevitably produced and discarded. Reduction, reuse...recycling. I fear the current cabal who should have/be addressing this for long enough - government, LAs, quangos (so many quangos), manufacturers, retailers, and even many media - have so far been WOEFUL, if not plain dishonest. At best we have bazzillions going on disjointed systems, little empires and epic comms budgets, all of which seem primarily designed to make it the poor public/consumer's problem.

I agree about the targets. I agree about the jobsworths. But also I agree about the green-blinkered groups, who see anything that is not consumerist as therefore automatically 'good' when, if I understand the debate correctly, the key issue now is Co2 emissions rather than stuff in the wrong place... or generating methane in an unmanaged way. Hence silly ban-wagons that make some feel good when in fact pumping more up in the air than was before.

Sadly, this debate already seems polarised. It's either landfill or recycling. I rather like to think there may be something in between that occupies a satisfactory middle ground and even, god forbid, ticks a few boxes, too.