March 16th, 2020
This feels like the most awkward blog post I’ve written…
Despite climate change being the ultimate biggest issue worldwide, I somehow feel apologetic for engaging with it instead of with Covid19/coronavirus.
Everyone else in the world seems focussed on the virus, understandably wanting to stay safe (but madly panic-buying too….).
Here goes, anyway.. I’ll try to do my ‘work’…
I’d intended this ‘edition’ to look at food and farming.
British agriculture is responsible for 10% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, mainly through methane from cows and sheep, nitrous oxides that are produced by fertilisers, and CO2 that comes off the land when carbon-rich organic matter in the soil oxidises during ploughing. And internationally, as shown in the graphic last week, 7.8% of the 10% of agricultural land is used for meat and dairy. So livestock grazing and animal feed production is prioritised, massively, leaving only 2.2% of the agricultural land for growing crops to feed people…..
Choosing to eat less meat and dairy would, in principle, free up more land for plant crops for us.
I do hope more people will consider becoming vegetarian – it’s not hard, but I would say that, wouldn’t I, having not missed eating meat for 40 years?!
Of course there are lots of details and degrees of change involved in changing farming.
In this country, the current change is enshrined in a new agriculture bill (connected with the environment bill that makes polluting farmers pay for chemicals running into rivers…) – intensive agriculture prioritised a bumper harvest, while the new approach emphasises the preservation of the land (soil health).
Food shortages might of course be an issue (and will be, globally, if climate change is allowed to ‘run its course’…). The obvious way to mitigate shortages of food is to throw less away. In Britain, we are very guilty of food waste – about one-third of the food produced each year (about 1.3bn tonnes), is thrown away…
I now want to promote two positive food ‘stories’ – Tom Hunt, who writes in the Saturday Guardian, has a passion for ‘climate-friendly cuisine. He created the first zero-waste banquet for the Thames Festival in London in 2011. He has a new book out, ‘Eating for Pleasure, People and Planet’. And Meera Sodha, ‘The new vegan’ also in the Guardian’s Feast magazine, tells us about Anshu Ahuja’s company Dabba Drop which delivers home-cooked Indian food by bike.
I’m not going to write much more this week (that was a very long post last time..!); but I just want to point out that ‘stretchy’ plastic wrapping bags can be recycled at large supermarkets. Some people might not know this (there’s a label on them, although I know most say ‘not yet recycled’… why not and when?…). Terracycle and other companies are a much better solution, though, actually using the plastic for making new stuff…I’ve written to Sainsbury’s, and my local council, asking them to become collection points – all crisp packets can be used again by them, for instance.
I’ve also written to our MP, as I was very disappointed with the Budget – a few ‘green’ bits and pieces, but not the urgent large-scale measures we need.
Finally, I’ll refer to the dreaded coronavirus again – after it all ‘dies down’ (sorry if that’s an insensitive phrase…), might the world see the chance for change…?
The aviation industry has been ‘knocked for six’ – I’ve written to Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, the IAG, EasyJet and RyanAir and KLM, not expecting replies really but just to ask about future plans….
Always hoping for light in the darkness, I wonder if this could all be an opportunity to prefigure the world we want to build: one that chooses life and regeneration over despair and fear.
To put it more simply and personally, maybe the restrictions people are having to cope with now make us realise we could make some permanent changes (less flying and driving, more home based living) that would help with climate targets.
PS I had a very informative, detailed reply today from Brendan McNamara at HSBC’s Executive Office, showing the bank is investing more in renewable energy. And he didn’t mention ‘the virus’, thank goodness…