November 28th, 2019
Did you see the television programme ‘Meat: a Threat to our Planet?’ It was on BBC 1, so I hope many people will have seen it (though it was after Panorama, not Eastenders!).
I thought I knew a bit about the Amazon rainforest destruction, particularly in Brazil, but I had no idea of the vast scale of land waste and contamination in the USA and such shameful ‘dead zones’ in the sea around the UK.
I’ll be writing (a ‘fan letter’?!) to Liz Bonnin who presented the documentary – as she said, the scale of the problem of industrialised meat production is made sharply visible because we see her taken up in small aircraft to fly over these places (someone like Jeremy Clarkson is bound to say that is environmentally hypocritical…).
I haven’t quite got the strength yet to write that letter; and also I feel I want to address the woman scientist she interviewed in Texas. It is not for us to tell people what they can eat, she said – science will sort everything out… But why should ‘science’ take on the massive problem of greedy people’s addiction to steak?! That’s a bit flippant of me, of course; and hopefully blinkered devoted carnivores are a minority. Surely if the majority of people thought more about what they’re eating, they would avoid meat…?
The programme ended with the question, should we simply stop eating meat?
Having seen the trailer a few times, as well as the actual programme, I’ve often shouted at the television, ‘yes’! I would, wouldn’t I? I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life!
Environmentally conscious UK farmers, and environmentally conscious UK consumers (including some of my friends and family) will say that methods in this country are dramatically different from in the Americas. But there is still the issue of some land here being wasted to grow crops to feed the animals; and also imported feed, such as soya, may be grown on deforested land or may involve fishmeal….that was a ‘first’ for me, finding out that masses of sardines are ground up for animal feed (depriving African penguins of their natural food)….
And less than scrupulous supermarkets in this country, such as Morrisons, continue to stock beef from JBS, a huge industrial meat company, including in their own brands. Morrisons CEO, David Potts, is declining to respond to letters/appeals….
I suppose my feeling is that if fewer people here bought meat, it might help to send a message to the wider world that the time has come for huge change.
My fantasy is that during the next 10 years meat-eating will become a marginal activity, just as smoking is now – well, maybe that still happens a lot, but at least it is now understood to be unhealthy. Meat eating is unhealthy for the planet.
I’ve not addressed the natural conclusion of this statement, in my campaign so far – veganism.
Partly because I would personally find it difficult (we’ve almost given up ‘ordinary’ milk, though, and butter, but not cheese yet), but probably mainly because converting the minds of most people to live like that seems such a distant dream….?!
I’m just very grateful that there are so many people investigating these issues. I caught the end of a Radio Four programme yesterday evening (in the car!) about various farming initiatives. There is an ‘experiment farm’, North Wyke Farm Platform in Devon, studying the complete flow of nutrients from soil to food, with the clear and distinct aim (quoting their website) of making farming more sustainable. One Welsh farmer/scientist was saying that some sheep grazing is necessary for biodiversity of plants…
Back, briefly, to the subject of Jeremy Clarkson…. After being so vile about Greta Thunberg, he has now accepted the existence of the climate crisis – he and his Grand Tour jet boats had to slow to a crawl in the usually vast Mekong river system, which has been affected by water shortages.
But it doesn’t look as if he thinks we should take any responsibility for the crisis, (“I hope people are working out what to do about it”), let alone alter any of his ‘petrol-head’ activities….Selfish, opinionated man!
How amazing it would be if his ‘handbrake turn’ could be used to positively influence people and prove that opinion of mine wrong….!
Also on the subject of water shortages, I’ve started watching a new series of the American drama ‘Goliath’ (available on Amazon, I think) – a drought has frightening consequences: as well as the physical problems, human greed and homicide are highlighted.
The way the world ‘works’ needs to change – it’s so clearly not working.
In the financial pages of The Guardian on Monday, there was such a positive article – Green Capitalism, the businesses putting purpose before profits.
This is the opening paragraph – ‘In a volatile world jolted by protest, revolt and environmental alarm, capitalism is showing signs of twitchiness. For decades, business has been all about maximising profits and keeping owners happy. Now, thousand of companies and organisations (that is the excellent part – my words!) are experimenting with broader values – purpose over profit, staff and communities ahead of shareholders – to meet the mood of the times.’
Well, this evening I’ll be watching the climate debate on Channel 4; and tomorrow I plan to join the second Global Climate Strike, organised by schoolchildren (who want & deserve adult support too) – fair-weather activists might be put off by the weather, though, ironically….
Finally, I’d really appreciate it if anyone reading this could follow my twitter feed please (#grandmaglobal) – I post/re-tweet lots of appeals on it that I’d like people to support. Thank you!