Lockdown #15

June 22nd, 2020

I’m going to quote from an article written (by Damian Carrington in The Guardian) more than 2 years ago – we still haven’t got the message!

Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.

The research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.

While meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.

From a personal point of view, cheese is difficult to give up; but more vegan cheeses are being made. And oat milk, as I’ve said before, is a completely acceptable alternative to dairy milk, I find!

I’ve written to the CEO of Dairy Crest, the biggest dairy firm in the UK.

A disturbing statistic struck me this week – the 13 biggest dairy companies in the world have the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the UK, the sixth biggest economy in the world.

This report’s author, Shefali Sharma, European director at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said: “Unlike growing public scrutiny on fossil fuel companies, little public pressure exists to hold global meat and dairy corporations accountable for their emissions…. Few of these companies are even reporting their emissions.”

The UK’s meat industry is feeling the effects of coronavirus – a meat processing site owned by Asda in West Yorkshire became the third food plant in 48 hours to confirm an outbreak after about 150 workers fell ill with the virus. The Kober plant, which supplies bacon to Asda supermarkets and employs more than 500 people closed; the UK’s main supplier of supermarket chicken, 2 Sisters Food Group has closed its Anglesey plant after 58 people tested positive for coronavirus; and Rowan Foods, which makes food for supermarkets across the UK, had 38 staff test positive.

Conditions for the low-paid workers in these places is another good reason to think twice before buying meat….

Happily, as the latest Extinction Rebellion newsletter points out, ‘amid all the sadness and tumult, there are some bright things happening.’ Whoopi Goldberg voices a lovely little animation, The Gigantic Change, encouraging people to believe that we can change things – have a look, and check out the website. And The Condor & The Eagle is a new documentary bringing Indigenous voices to the forefront – it’s out on Friday (June 26th).

Another broadcast is by Greta Thunberg, entitled ‘Humanity has not yet failed’ – thank goodness!

It tells the tale of her journey ‘to the front lines of the climate crisis’. After her speech at the United National General Assembly in the USA last year, Greta and her father travel through 37 states. Apart from a few wind power plants and solar panels, there are no signs whatsoever of any sustainable transition, despite this being the richest country in the world.

She was discouraged from visiting the state of Alberta in Canada, but went there anyway. Alberta is one of the western world’s largest oil producers and has a very powerful and aggressive oil lobby. Greta Thunberg, a 17 year old girl, had to call for police protection on several occasions, ‘when the level of threats and the sheer harassments become too serious’. How many people realise what damage is being done in Canada?….

I’m going to turn to Australia now – the country’s fire-ravaged forests are recovering, with local residents feeling hugely relieved and cautiously optimistic. In the middle part of a charred tree, lime green leaves sprouting from blackened bark prompt Claire Polach, from the South Coast, to say that Australia’s nature “is doing its thing” and “we’ll follow the nature”.

But scientists are still warning that a warming climate could mean more severe fires, more often, bringing concerns that even the ‘fire continent’ will struggle to recover fully.

Will Scott Morrison listen to the scientists now?

As Greta Thunberg says: “Doing our best is no longer good enough. We must now do the seemingly impossible. And that is up to you and me. Because no one else will do it for us.”

Keep up the activism!

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