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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Methane, Meat and Water

Lord Stern - the intelligent apostle of the climate change lobby - has been quoted this morning as advocating vegetarianism as a step towards mitigating climate change. He notes that methane is 23 times more dangerous a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide: a proposition interestingly similar to one used on the other side by an early denier of anthopogenic climate change, who argued that the methane excreted by millions of buffalo and elk in North America until their extermination by European settlers would have been a greater risk to climate than all the vehicular pollution created by the modern USA.
British farmers reacted to the latest comment by saying that they were now challenged [and modestly paid] to maintain the countryside as it is, which is largely based on sheep and cattle farming. That land is mostly unsuitable for intensive food crops; so there is no practical alternative to the present use of the land.
Whether the future is to be vegetarian or carniverous for the human who survive the next sixty or seventy years, one thing is clear: a crisis at least as great as the potential consequances of global warming is assured. The predicted growth in population will outstrip available water resources, even if rainfall in the most heavily-populated areas is not drastically reduced by climate change. The ability of humanity to address climate change is heavily questioned: but there is no question about the water problem. If population grows at the rate that has been predicted, thirst and filth will inescapably create incalculable human misery; and food supplies will fail as crops wither and animals die. This is no distant prospect: it is happening today in Africa.

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