March 12, 2018
Will a future Labour government perpetuate myths about monstrous techno-fixes for climate change? Or advocate radical policies to deal with global warming that don’t heap the pain on the global south, and industrial strategies to hasten the transition away from a fossil-fuel-centred economy?
This question was raised – by implication, anyway – at the Campaign Against Climate Change conference in London on Saturday. The 200 people present heard essentially opposing answers from
Photo by Garry Knight under a Creative Commons Licence
Barry Gardiner, Labour’s front-bench spokesman on climate change, and Asad Rehman, chief executive of War on Want.
The contrasting approaches were starkly evident when a question was asked from the floor about Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) – an untried technology on which the world’s most powerful governments are relying heavily to claim they are on course to meet their climate targets.
Basically, BECCS would involve growing plants, burning them in power stations, and then capturing the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted and storing it somewhere. (See also “Quick technological catch-up” below).
Despite the fact that BECCS has never been used anywhere yet, the latest (fifth) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has included huge amounts of it in its scenarios that plot how the world economy could move away from dangerous global warming. To make the numbers add up, Read the rest of this entry »
August 31, 2014
Review of The Ecological Hoofprint: the global burden of industrial livestock by Tony Weis (Zed Books, 2013)
The rapid expansion of world meat consumption is (1) an indication that more people are getting better fed, right?
This “nutritional transition” is (2) great news for human health, right?
And (3), notwithstanding issues of excessive cruelty to animals, industrial
… and not only Walmart. (Photo from the Mercy for Animals web site.)
meat production is just a high-tech version of what humans have been doing since they started hunting, right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong, Tony Weis argues.
Weis demolishes justifications for the global process he calls “meatification” with a rigorous analysis of how it exacerbates inequality, and widens the rift between capitalist economies and the natural environment. It’s damaging and unsustainable.
At a time when academics are forced to focus more and more narrowly, he looks at the big picture.
On question (1) – who benefits from growing meat consumption – Weis unpacks the extent of inequalities: people in rich countries consume more Read the rest of this entry »
September 20, 2013
A monumental and very slick land grab in Cameroon, west Africa by a US-based company appears to be heading for collapse. The Herakles Farm project “appears to have now gone off the rails”, the Oakland Institute, which monitors land grabbing, said in a press release.
“Herakles Farms had purported to herald a new era of ‘sustainable agriculture’ by replacing old-growth rainforest with palm oil plantations”, Read the rest of this entry »
January 14, 2013
Between 30% and 50% of all food produced – 1.2-2 billion tonnes/year – is wasted or lost, a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) says. It argues that the waste is caused mainly by marketing techniques in rich countries, along with poor practice and/or insufficient investment in harvesting, storage and transportation.
The report, published last week, highlights the vast amounts of farmland, energy, fertilisers and water swallowed up by the production of food that is thrown away or left to rot.
In my view the report points to an important conclusion: it is the way food is produced and sold for profit, in a process controlled by agri-industrial giants and supermarkets – rather than food consumption or human population growth as such – that pushes at the earth’s natural limits.
The IME says that in poor countries, “wastage tends to occur Read the rest of this entry »
November 11, 2012
Financial markets on which speculators can bet on the cost of clean water supplies are getting closer, STEVE DRURY writes.
Food policy commentator Frederick Kaufman has called on financial market regulators to stop the betting on water supplies before it starts, in an article in the renowned scientific weekly Nature.
“Currently, no-one is trading water futures, but it won’t take much to spark the market into life”, Kaufman warned. After the recent drought in the USA, Read the rest of this entry »