Some Earth Day initiatives off the planet

April 22, 2009

When you work on the land, every day is earth day.

Even when you don’t, but live with someone who makes a living from the land, every day is earth day.

For everyone involved in primary industry on land or sea, the environment isn’t an academic concept, it’s where we live and work and the majority of us regard our responsibility for doing as much as we can to make a positive, and lessen any negative, impact on it seriously.

But today is not every day earth day, it’s capital E capital D Earth Day.

That’s when we’re all supposed to save the world but some of the calls to action have come from people who seem to be not so much for the earth as from another planet.

The most deluded of these had to be European Green MP Caroline Lucas who compares people who fly with those who stab others (Hat tip: Kiwiblog 

Then Alf Grumble spotted PETA’s media release calling on Environment Minister Nick Smith to turn vegetarian and saw an opportunity for Busted Blonde.

She wasn’t impressed  about that, and also took exception  to the suggestion that fat people contribute more CO2 than thin people.

Deborah reacted with justifiable ire to the same story from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine  with a cross post on fat hatred at In A Strange Land and The Hand Mirror.

And now I’ve come across to be green eat less red.

Conventionally raised livestock generates 18 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released by the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization in 2006. That’s more than the emissions created by all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats combined. In comparison, transportation is responsible for 13 percent of the emission problem.

 I’m not sure what conventional means;  and whether this is just the emissions from the animals or from the total production chain from paddock to plate because there is a big difference in the environmental footprint of free range, pasture raised stock like the majority of animals farmed in New Zealand and those reared in feedlots as many are overseas.

Regardless of that, this might not be as off the wall as comparing flying to murder, linking obesity with climate change  and PETA’s call to go vegetarian, but it’s still misguided.

Eating moderate amounts of lean meat is recommended for personal health but I’m not convinced that in itself it would be any better for the planet. If people chose high fat, high sugar, low fibre alternatives to meat their diet would be less healthy and the impact on the environment might be  worse too.

It’s silly to take just one behaviour in isolation, everyone’s total impact on the environment is what matters and if someone chooses to eat a bit more meat but use less petrol it would be difficult to say that they were treading less gently on their patch of the earth than a vegetarian who drives an old, inefficient vehicle.

We have only one world and all have a responsibility to look after it, but let’s base our policies and practices for doing that on science not half-baked emotion.

P.S.

For every action there is a reaction and the reaction to Earth Day is Exploit the Earth Day about which Not PC has a comprehensive post.


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