Sunday, 7 September 2008

UN v the pig "farmer"

Listening to: We'll Live And Die In These Towns (The Enemy)
Uh-oh: he's ranting again

The ice caps are melting, Morpeth in County Durham is under water, millions are on the brink of starvation, thousands of species face extinction. . . dear God, that crappy film with Kevin Costner might be right.

Now it appears it's all my fault. At least that's according to a scruffy man with a beard and a dodgy comb-over by the name of Rajendra Pachauri.

By all accounts he's the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - one of the United Nations' gravy trains - and therefore can claim to be the UN's top climate scientist.

Obviously it's a post of some importance and influence and he's about to start a second six-year term - can't for the life of me remember voting for him.

Raj has taken a look at the global warming problem and, rather than tackle major industrial powers or pick a fight with India and China, he reckons the reason polar bears are up shit creek is down to the farmers.

"Meat production represents 18 per cent of global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 per cent of global methane emissions, which has 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and 65 per cent of nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide."

So says Raj and that 18 per cent figure is pretty shocking. What I doubt are his answer to the problem (eat less meat) and his motivation.

What has red lights, sirens and alarm bells ringing chez pig "farmer" is the fact that Raj is a strict vegetarian. Of course he wants us all to eat less meat. He doesn't want us to eat any at all.

Raj would, of course, rather see the world turned into a desert by the overuse of agri-chemicals which would be necessary in the face of the march of vegetarianism, the collapse of a balanced form of agriculture that stood the test of thousands of years and have farmers put out of business (some almost before they've got started) in their thousands.

Yes, the dramatic clearance of rainforests for meat production in South America and Asia is wrong, but rather than talk to governments about their agricultural policies and what they can do to bring about a more sensible, sustainable way of farming the land, Raj has decided it's time to push his own misguided beliefs. Using your (no doubt very well paid) post to do that is unacceptable.

I'm all for reducing the amount of crap meat that is produced and eaten. I'd heartily endorse any global boycott of McDonald's, KFC, Burger King or the Flamin' Tasty kebab shop in Walsall.

But to give the impression that eating any kind of meat is harmful to the environment is ludicrous. British farms are reducing methane emissions year-on-year, local produce is becoming more fashionable, organic produce is edging its way gradually towards the mainstream, more and more people are becoming aware of food miles.

Instead of cutting back on meat consumption, maybe it's a good idea to be more selective. Buy your meat from a good local butcher, preferably one who can tell you which farm the beast came from - a good butcher will be only too happy to talk to you about his produce. . . go to a farm shop or a farmer's market. . . order direct from the farmer (my e-mail is on the sidebar). . . avoid intensively-reared meat. . . sack Rajendra Pachauri.

Monday morning note: Please don't misunderstand me, the threat of global warming must be taken seriously and that 18 per cent figure is a real shocker. But to come up with such a trite "solution" just because (a) animals fart a lot and (b) the boss man is a strict vegetarian strikes me as, at the very least, ridiculous.

I'll carry on recycling, using public transport whenever I can and so on, but I expect people with real power to come up with some real solutions.


susi said...

Well said, Malc. I so agree.

If there were no animals kept for meat, the only way to fertilise the land would be with chemicals that destroy the structure of the soil.

We have never put any artificial fertiliser on our land. In the late spring and summer our sheep eat only grass so the system works like this: the grass grows - sheep eat the grass - sheep manure the field - the grass grows.

In the winter the sheep eat hay (plus some supplements around lambing time) in their building. When we clean out the building, the straw and muck is heaped and later goes back on the land.

It's a simple system but, as you say, similar systems have worked since farming began.

Ginni Dee said...

Yes, very well said! I think it would be more advantageous to look to the automobile industry to fix harmful emissions! Cow gas can't possibly be worse for the environment than all the cars spewing their emissions! Where's that elusive carburetor that gets 100 mpg? They should bring that out of mothballs, if global warming is such a concern!

I really wish I lived near you...I'd be ordering a pig for my freezer! But, alas, I'm afraid shipping from the Orkney's to Illinois-USA would make the cost a bit prohibitive!

mig bardsley said...

I totally agree.
The last few summers I've seen dust devils on the fields round here.
Time to bring back the old methods and hedges and breeds which kept the land healthy.
And time to live according to the seasons before we lose it all, seasons and the good farming land and all the diversity of our domestic animals.
The human race needs some cut-backs in its habits!

(I've got a broken blog Malc, started a new one here )

Brad said...

Raj's perspective seems a bit narrow. I'm sick of the dithering and wish the powers that be would jusy get on with it and start some measureable intiatives that have some effect. However until we stop letting big business rule the world I'm afraid were all just in for more of the same.

ziggi said...

well said Malc - now send us a bacon sarnie!

Richard said...

Guess what happens when I eat a lot vegetable fibre?

I, like the view said...

yes yes yes and yes

all matters very close to my heart

(and what mig said about hedges too)

(and do you think that Raj and his UN cronies probably fly about rather too much, to get to the various conferences that they speaks at. . .)

Malc said...

Thanks everyone - it's not often I look back on something I've written that's as opinionated as that and not wish I'd written it differently, but this time I stand by every word.

The focus on the individual can only go so far. We can cut back on air travel, do all we can to reduce our carbon footprint, install solar panels or wind turbines (for the few able to afford such luxuries), but nowt's going to really change until we tackle the big players in the game.


Simple - can't think why everyone doesn't do it.


The petroleum industry is obviously more powerful than the meat industry. I'm sure you can find a local producer for your pork.


Love the new blog - looks great.


I'm preaching to the converted, aren't I?


I'll stick one on the next ferry.


I don't know - you discover a big hole in your carpet?


Yes yes yes and yes? It's been a long time since I inspired that reaction in a woman.

I've no doubt the whole global Establishment costs the planet a fortune financially and environmentally.

Richard said...

Malc, the same thing happens to me when I eat beans as when cows eat. By my reckoning, there are far too many vegetarians in the world spewing noxious gases. What's more, they nearly all drive cars whereas cows don't.

Am I getting this right?

Malc said...


My hero - not just because you're brave enough to live in Crewe.

Anonymous said...

Keep doing what you're doing, Malc. It's making the world a better place in that very important E.M Forster "only connect" kind of way.

Richard said...

I shouldn't be too harsh on them though as some of them are very nice people and I do have meat free days. These would have been the days I would probably have eaten cheap stuff from Tesco so it's no hardship. Yesterday I had the best chicken I'd ever eaten and surprisingly it was from Asda. Organic it may have been but it could well have been the honey, mustard and coriander I cooked it in.

Anonymous said...

Good one, Malc! And while we're at it, how about firing a salvo at the supermarkets and governments who tell us to stop using plastic bags and use the "enviro-carry-bags." Wonder when someone besides me will realise they're made from a form of plastic in poison-spewing Chinese factories with poor safety records.Hmmm...
For the record: I do sometimes eat flesh, but only free-range and humanely slaughtered.

Arcadian Advocate said...

the last time I went through there Morpeth was in Northumberland perhaps owing to the floods it has floated south to C. Durham!!.

I think we have similar ideas on meat production do come visit my blog:
The post entitled food and farming in the news is the one that touches on this subject but there are other posts that you and your readers may find interesting too,
hope to see you soon.
Happy fencing!

Hayden said...

I don't remember why I have your blog bookmarked, but I do, hear I am, and I'm glad. I'm in agreement on the meat thing - further, am always curious as to what percentage of the notorious cow farts we're always hearing about are the result of feeding grain.

(self-identification aside: I eat local, humanely raised/slaughtered meat.)