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food | water

We are the problem

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Photo by Bluehouse Skis on Unsplash

Industrial agriculture’s scorched earth policy towards biodiversity is a crime against humanity. By turning a blind eye to the robbing of Peter to pay Paul, we have all signed up to an intergalactic ponzi scheme-based Earth system, producing food in a way that is rapidly poisoning the future prospects of people and planet.

Corporations know it, governments know it, we all know it. If aliens use their version of google to ask: what one thing defines humans? They will know it too: self-harm. It is is the cash crop humans can’t get enough of.

Think about the mass desire for eating flesh, drinking the milk of other animals. We sound like some sort of deranged vampire species addicted to a life of horror – and it won’t end well, unless we act.

European think tank, Chatham House, says unless nations slash their meat consumption, the Paris Climate Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2°C above pre-industrial levels is a pipe dream.

Emissions

Food systems contribute up to 37% of all greenhouse gas emissions. If we are serious about tackling the climate crisis, a revolution in eating and food production habits is a prerequisite.

“Food production is the biggest threat to our planet – 70% of the biodiversity loss [and] 70% of the fresh water use come directly from that. Eighty-five per cent of the marine stocks are exploited,” said Dr Howard-Yana Shapiro, the internationally-renowned agricultural scientist.

According to a UN report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, raising animals for food is a top three contributor to water pollution, soil desertification, loss of rainforests, loss of biodiversity and climate change. 

Another report out this week shows how our dairy obsession is literally Milking the Planet of its resources. The study by the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP) highlights a world where big dairy corporations get to be big emitters with impunity.

“Thirteen of the world’s largest dairy corporations combined to emit more greenhouse gases (GHGs) in 2017 than major polluters BHP, the Australia-based mining, oil and gas giant or ConocoPhillips, the United States-based oil company. Unlike growing public scrutiny on fossil fuel companies, little public pressure exists to hold global meat and dairy corporations accountable for their emissions, even as scientific evidence mounts that our food system is responsible for up to 37% of all global emissions,” states the executive summary to Milking the Planet.

We are the solution

Thanks to innovation and our knowledge of how ecosystems work, it is in our collective power to step back from the precipice.

One of the many solutions available stems from the growth of plant-based food alternatives to meat. Growing in popularity worldwide, as populations increasingly get to grips with the consequences of filling up on flesh, it is helping to move the needle.

Writing for Innovators Magazine, Bruce Friedrich, executive director of The Good Food Institute (GFI) said: plant-based meat is vastly more efficient, avoiding the downsides of food waste and environmental degradation. While Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, said plant-based food has the potential to improve humanity by a factor of tenfold or more.

And Dr Howard-Yana Shapiro’s message is pretty clear. “Let’s breed plants that are ‘more nutritious, that are higher-yielding, that are resilient to climate change, resistant to pests and disease and water and nutrient sufficient.”

A vital step is, of course, ditching industrial agriculture. Adopting more regenerative agriculture practices would protect habitats, and not only reduce emissions but sequester carbon. The Milking the Planet study calls for a whole food system approach and major policy action to support this.

“Public policies to redirect public funds away from highly polluting industrial agriculture systems, regulate the negative impacts and regenerate rural communities and livelihoods through agroecological systems are critical to solving the climate crisis and to mitigating the worst effects of unanticipated emergencies like COVID-19. Concrete policies designed to address the overproduction of dairy, including traditional supply management programmes and a slew of complementary agricultural and competition policies that support producers and workers must be seriously considered to both increase rural incomes and lower GHG emissions,” Milking the Planet’s executive summary states.

We can all make changes to our eating habits now. It is our decisions that dictate the direction and speed of travel here.

Sign the petition calling for a a future free of factory farming.

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Iain Robertson
Written By

Iain is an experienced writer, journalist and lecturer, who held editorships with a number of business focussed publications before co-founding and becoming editor of Innovators Magazine. Iain is also the strategic director for OnePoint5Media.

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