Saving the Planet one Organic Egg at a Timeby Ed Hall on 05/18/16
There is a Guardian video about global warming doing the rounds, it got me thinking.
This debate is so complex and difficult: what is almost always missing is the importance of the population to this debate. The population of the world has almost DOUBLED in my lifetime. In 1967 there were 3.4 billion humans living on the planet and the concerns about the planet's resources were the theme of the time. Since then another 3 billion people have been added to the human population, and of that growth, most want to live urban lives with jobs, and offices, and cars, and aspiration.
This rapidly growing populations also wants to eat, consume electricity, and have more than one child per couple (even now in China). Just the physical existence of another 3 billion human beings, their energy requirements and the food chain to support them is inevitably driving climate change, and that pressure is increasing, not decreasing and we probably have to take massive steps to change the way the planet operates to respond to this. But the positions put forward by the green movement often seem to me to miss the point.
Wind power is factually inefficient versus nuclear power - although of course there are other strong arguments in its favour. Organic vegetables selfishly use more energy and take longer to grow - although we all like to buy them. Organic meat and milk use up the planet's resources at multiples of the rate of a factory farm or huge indoor dairy - although it seems to me to be the same people posting factory farm horror videos who post about climate change. Being angry about protein production on an industrial scale is all very well when you sit down to eat your egg that was laid by a hen that ran around an actual field. Wouldn't it be lovely if every egg in South East China's industrial axis was laid in a field by a black-legged rare breed hen that only laid 60 or 70 eggs a year, instead of a factory bird in a shared cage laying 180+. Well yes it would, except it is ridiculous to contemplate feeding 8 billion people with outdoor barn-laid eggs.
Most challenging perhaps is that educating people in the developing world and providing health and internet to those populations means billions more people in new cities (there are now more million population cities in Africa than in China) and they are living longer lives - who can argue with that, but what is the impact on use of resources and climate?
Free trade and single markets (a lot of talk about that at the moment) means goods travelling around the world - who the fuck buys an 'organic' bean from South America? It's as 'organic' as a Monsanto pesticide to buy Fair Trade Organic chocolate that has been flown to Waitrose from Madagascar. In any case, the Monsanto GM crops are designed to produce more crops per hectare, and survive better in drought conditions and combat diseases and feed more people with less energy. Isn't that a good thing for climate change?
The whole discussion needs to be refocused away from a debate about lifestyle and re-cycyling domestic waste, where 'green' sort of means kind, and good, and sensitive, to one where providing the maximum output for the least damage is the driving argument. It doesn't really seem to be happening yet. We will have to sell some of our 'green' souls if we want to house feed and clothe a planet with 10, 15 or 20 billion people on it... won't we?