/ Should we now pass laws?

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TheDrunkenBakers 08 Oct 2019

As a normal citizen who prefers to be self determining I wonder, begrudgingly, if it is time for laws to be passed as we as citizens are apparently unable to make personal decisions for the collective good.  I can imagine the outcry from many people but what at what cost are we knowingly walking into the abyss.

Im talking about the UK government, any government, taking a stand against climate change/global warming by means of passing laws to change peoples behaviours.  No edge tinkering, such as refusing to take any possible recyclable waste or increasing on fuel tax but a wholesale law change which will be good for the planet but will impact on some people in a material way.

One example I can think of is the widespread banning of livestock farming for meat production and the importing of this meat in the UK.  As a species do we really need red meat to survive?  Could the land used to rear animals be reforested to help recapture carbon?  Could the new land become nature walks or other recreational land so that the farmers dont suffer (win/win/win when animal welfare is also considered)?  Would it be enough to offset the loss to the farmers?  

Im thinking this in the context of the ExtReb protests and the fact that more extreme protesting may well continue and more radical solutions needed to deal with the emerging issues.

I love steak and lamb (no so much pork) but would my life be worse without it?  I dont think so.  

Are there other laws which could be passed which would be deeply unpopular but perhaps necessary to see climate change halted and perhaps even reversed?

Post edited at 12:46
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Harry Jarvis 08 Oct 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Are there other laws which could be passed which would be deeply unpopular but perhaps necessary to see climate change halted and perhaps even reversed?

Every one is allocated a carbon budget, every product and service has its carbon footprint allocated, so purchasing choices are made on the basis of carbon costs, and once your annual budget is used up, you have no further discretionary carbon spending. There would need to be some allowances for essential products and services, but anything deemed non-essential becomes subject to carbon-based restrictions. This would essentially be a personal version of an emissions trading scheme. I'm sure that would focus the minds. 

Unfortunately, it would also probably make a lot of people unemployed. 

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Eric9Points 08 Oct 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I can't post a link right now but there is a plan in place to become carbon neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris Climate agreement. It covers everything, power generation, transport, agriculture, industry. It's a great shame most people seem entirely ignorant of the fact that we are doing something and there are detailed plans laid down to do it.

If you don't think 2050 is early enough then fine, argue for an earlier date and propose changes through legislation that would allow us to meet it but bear in mind that even if the UK were to become carbon neutral at an earlier date the effect on global warming would be slight, perhaps negligible.

It is worth bearing in mind that for example, the deliberate burning of virgin forest in Indonesia this year has produced more CO2 than the entire yearly output of the USA. God knows how much CO2 has been produced by similar destruction of Amazonian forest. Perhaps our militancy should be directed towards those bent on destroying the planet rather than anguishing over our past mistakes that so many activists seem eager to use as a reason for self flagellation.

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subtle 08 Oct 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

> I can't post a link right now but there is a plan in place to become carbon neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris Climate agreement. It covers everything, power generation, transport, agriculture, industry. It's a great shame most people seem entirely ignorant of the fact that we are doing something and there are detailed plans laid down to do it.

Carbon neutral by 2040 is the aim in Scotland https://www.gov.scot/news/climate-change-action-1/

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tom_in_edinburgh 08 Oct 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> One example I can think of is the widespread banning of livestock farming for meat production and the importing of this meat in the UK.  As a species do we really need red meat to survive?  Could the land used to rear animals be reforested to help recapture carbon?  Could the new land become nature walks or other recreational land so that the farmers dont suffer (win/win/win when animal welfare is also considered)?  Would it be enough to offset the loss to the farmers?  

Why should we offset the loss to the farmers?  In any other industry where there is a large scale transition if your business is stuffed then it is stuffed e.g. small shop and supermarkets take its customers.  Landowners always seem to think when something goes wrong they should be protected from loss.  The rest of us don't really have an interest in land staying in the same hands forever: it is normal that from time to time, businesses get wiped out and new ones owned by different people grow.

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Ben Sharp 09 Oct 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

It's been a while since I've chipped in on something as emotive as this, I'll probably regret it but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently and I’m still confused on where I stand. I eat meat and although my environmental credentials are as poor as most westerners I think my diet often has a much lower impact on the environment than many vegan diets. Being largely left leaning I know this is hugely unpopular but the ExReb movement troubles and disheartens me, all I see is a largely uninformed, polarised and ideologically driven mob seeking revolution. I can sympathise with the cause but not the protesters themselves, I think their time could be much more productively spent but then so could mine. Either way, polarising revolutionary ideology doesn’t seem to have particularly positive outcomes historically, whatever the ethical status of the cause.

The environmental impact of our food is clearly very nuanced and now heavily politicised and propagandized by ideologues on both sides. There are many vegan foods which take a heavy toll on the environment and local communities. The Kenyans had to ban avocado exports because of the effects the increase in demand had on their country. That's as well as being responsible for vast swathes of deforestation in other exporting countries such as Mexico. Price increases in quinoa (driven by western demand) have meant the local producers can no longer afford to eat it themselves and are forced to subsist on less nutritious and cheaper foods. Each almond you eat has taken over a gallon of water to produce which has had pretty appalling effects on the Californian eco system. How many vegans are choosing barley, acorns and cabbages over red meat? I'm yet to meet one. You can keep going through the list of popular vegan foods like that. As a consumer it's incredibly difficult to make ethical food choices and contradictory information spouts up on a daily basis. That's a strong argument for not going down the "ban xyz because I read yesterday it was bad", we'd be banning new things every week. This is without even getting into how damaging crop production has been and continues to be to the environment. It's very difficult to grow any food without either animal based fertiliser or fertiliser derived from the petro-chemical industry. It is incredibly complicated and I don't trust anyone to start banning things least of all on the back of the ExReb movement who would be better off educating themselves and pursuing soundly reasoned reform instead of going on another thoughtless, self-congratulatory frolic under the banner of revolution.

The science around meat's effect on the environment does seem pretty clear and I do agree with some of your points but I think the problem is largely one of scale and a lack of diversity in our diet. Banning any subset necessarily reduces diversity within that group. I think a lot of the calls to ban meat are merely another symptom of our desire for the next ethical bandwagon to jump on. There is nothing wrong with eating an avocado and there is nothing wrong with eating a pork chop, consuming disproportionate amounts of one type of food is a bigger problem. As far as I can see the solution to our diets is something like consumption of as wide a range of largely seasonal and locally produced foods as possible. For us in the UK that includes meat. A lot of our land is useless for anything else. For example, there is a rare breed organic pork producer about 1.5 miles from my house whose meat is sold in the local butcher. A portion for me is about 100-150g. One beast will yield about 50,000g of edible meat. It's an excellent and efficient source of calories and protein which can be fed largely organically on otherwise wasted foods. There is no issue with raising pigs in woodland, they can coexist together very well. Contrast the environmental impact of getting the same amount of calories and protein from imported legumes or the many highly processed vegan alternatives to meat. Is having a jackfruit brought to me from India so I can make vegan pulled pork really any better than buying extensively farmed British meat?

One of my meat meals this week was venison and pheasant meat balls, the venison was Scottish but I don't think local to me. The pheasant was left overs from another meal which I put through the mincer and came from a local shoot. I'm sure there are plenty vegan eco-warriors who would chastise the environmental impact of my meat eating but there are very few that would bother to criticise the tomatoes I put in the sauce which came from tesco and were probably farmed in a giant greenhouse somewhere under artificial lighting and flown into the UK before they spoiled. If you ban meat then at least accept that an environmentally friendly vegan diet in the UK will look something like this: barley, cabbage, apples, chestnuts, potatoes, turnips, leeks, porridge, wheat etc. I don’t know anyone who eats like that, is it even possible to feed the country like that and if not who is going to decide on what foods we import to make up the surplus? Veganism has well and truly become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Banning things is rarely the solution. In fact large scale ideologically driven radical change is rarely the solution to anything, it always carries the potential to make things worse and the enviornment is no different. We don't need to ban meat, we need to change our relationship with food but the how is something which is not clear to science and certainly not clear to me. Fish/shellfish, chicken, eggs and small herds of extensively farmed red meat probably all have an important role to play for us in Britain. Whatever the real solution is the only thing I’m pretty certain of is the science is unclear, contradictory and highly politicised. No one knows for sure, least of all the ExReb protesters. Ask yourself, do you have the requisite scientific knowledge to be adding to these calls for unprecedented radical legislation?

Post edited at 10:52
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Dave Garnett 09 Oct 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

> It is worth bearing in mind that for example, the deliberate burning of virgin forest in Indonesia this year has produced more CO2 than the entire yearly output of the USA. God knows how much CO2 has been produced by similar destruction of Amazonian forest. 

Obviously the destruction of these forests has a terrible impact on biodiversity and the resultant pasture can lead to extra CO2 production from intensive beef production.  

However, in itself, isn't burning trees carbon-neutral as long as they are replanted or allowed to regrow?  Obviously the timing stinks, and there are probably lots of other knock-on effects of large scale fires (particulates, subsequent rain run-off, habitat destruction, the effect on humidity and rainfall), but a tree that dies, falls down, is eaten and rots away generates the same amount of CO2 as one that is chopped down and burnt.  If the tree rots in an anaerobic wet environment it will generate methane, which has an even greater effect on global warming.

To repeat, I'm strongly opposed to destroying forests (I find it pretty hard to cut down any tree, even one I've planted myself) but I think it's important to get the emissions story right.  The big issue is whether these destroyed areas are allowed (or helped) to regenerate rather than being converted into a resource for further unsustainable farming practices.  Allowing (indeed encouraging) local people to destroy forests is an ecological crime, but we need to be clear why.

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Duncan Bourne 09 Oct 2019
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Best reply so far.

I see what you say, not as an argument for doing nothing but for doing what makes sense and not what the current fad says.

I take from this:

Think hard about what the real ecological impact of the things you do are.

Things are more nuanced that headline sound bites it pays to look at all angles

Eat a more varied diet (but if you don't want to eat meat for ethical reasons that's fine)

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Ridge 09 Oct 2019
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Good post, and I agree that food production is extremely complex and nuanced in terms of environmental impact. 

However, I disagree about the Extinction Rebellion protests. Without this sort of action, (Kinder trespass for example), nothing would ever change.

Yes, the protesters no doubt contain a few moonhowling vegan extremists who send hate mail to small dairy farmers and keepers of free range hens/pigs etc. However if more sensible heads engage with the movement that can change.

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EdS 09 Oct 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

yep --- uncontrolled breeding.

Too many peole wanting too much.

Licence to breed and limit on numbers

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wercat 09 Oct 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Are there other laws which could be passed which would be deeply unpopular but perhaps necessary to see climate change halted and perhaps even reversed?

Immediate benefits from reducing the national Speed Limit to 50mph as from 0000hrs tomorrow.   Reduce carbon footprint of accident responsess, pollution from producing and consuming brake pads and tyres as a result of a reduction in the KE they have to handle and consequent increase in useable lifespan.

Also reduces the speed at which traffic queues build up

Worked in 1973

The failure to do this so far is the biggest single justification for accusing our politicians of inaction and the reason these protests need to cause inconvenience. 

Downside is lower fuel requirements and tyre and brakepad sales

Post edited at 13:03
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Jon Stewart 09 Oct 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> One example I can think of is the widespread banning of livestock farming for meat production and the importing of this meat in the UK.  As a species do we really need red meat to survive? 

Obviously, we don't need red meat to survive, but that's no argument for banning it. Almost all of the things we do aren't required for survival, and cause some degree of environmental damage - but we can't ban everything. Our aim isn't just to survive, it's to live good lives. And eating well is a big part of a good life, if you ask me.

A point about food that I think is really important is that food is a major part of our culture. I wouldn't mind seeing the end of chicken nuggets, but I would be very upset to see the end of Sunday roasts. The idea of a family sitting around for a really good meat meal once a week (and using up leftovers) is something I think we should keep hold of and encourage. And one of the first things we learn in our lives is that cows go moo and pigs go oink. I don't want future generations to have no idea what a farmyard is - this stuff is deeply ingrained in our culture and isn't something I think we should just bin. Our food culture has largely gone down the toilet thanks to our economic system and its exploitation of our desire for instant gratification at the lowest possible cost. Let's not lose the last vestiges to well-meaning policies on climate change.

I don't want to see uniform (or forced!) veganism, I want to see good quality delicious meat reared to the highest standards being eaten sparingly. Let's keep the great things about meat - the animal stewardship, the landscape (in moderation), the delicious roasts and pies, the fun of preparing meat and using all the bits up - and get rid of the crap (the fast food). If rich people want to gorge themselves on meat every day then let them. But I think it should be normal for that to seem opulent and unnecessary. 

Meat is a treat, it's not a crime.

Post edited at 13:44
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Eric9Points 09 Oct 2019
In reply to subtle:

> Carbon neutral by 2040 is the aim in Scotland https://www.gov.scot/news/climate-change-action-1/


It actually happens for nothing. Scotland can grow more trees and it is for that reason that we'll be carbon neutral earlier than the rest of the UK. Welcome nevertheless.

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Lusk 09 Oct 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

When Scotland gains its independence, will it shut down its oil and gas fields?

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Eric9Points 09 Oct 2019
In reply to Lusk:

I think the word is "if" and not "when" but I completely accept your point.

The last opinion poll was 59% to 41% Remain. I think it was Opinium ;-). But lets not get onto that rather tetchy subject.

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SC 16:51 Wed
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

If you remove the option of red meat then the land won't all be free for re-forestation. Meat needs replacing with crops. Not all of the land is suitable for crop growth (Australian outback for example).

We do need a big cut in red meat consumption though. Just scrapping huge, industrial scale beef & pork production will make a decent start and just allow free range, organic meats.

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jimtitt 17:53 Wed
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Are there other laws which could be passed which would be deeply unpopular but perhaps necessary to see climate change halted and perhaps even reversed?

Ban all forms of heating, we survived for millennia without it

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Lord_ash2000 18:51 Wed
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> However, in itself, isn't burning trees carbon-neutral as long as they are replanted or allowed to regrow?  

Everything is carbon neutral if you wait long enough. The amount of carbon on the earth has never really changed it's just right now a tiny fraction more of it is in the atmosphere than we'd like. 

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mrphilipoldham 19:26 Wed
In reply to Ridge:

The mass trespass had a clear and defined objective, and therefore was chalk to the cheese of ER. I just don't seem to be hearing or seeing any particular 'solutions' coming out of the protests, I don't know ultimately what their exact goal is. Too many people arguing for too many cases under one umbrella name. Food? Flying? Energy production? ..to name but a few. I could well be guilty of not reading enough sources of news on the matter, however.

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pasbury 19:46 Wed
In reply to EdS:

> yep --- uncontrolled breeding.

> Too many peole wanting too much.

> Licence to breed and limit on numbers

Elephant spotted in room.

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pasbury 19:48 Wed
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> Everything is carbon neutral if you wait long enough. The amount of carbon on the earth has never really changed it's just right now a tiny fraction more of it is in the atmosphere than we'd like. 

Making it sound trivial doesn't stop it f*cking us up, Mr Ostrich.

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J Glendinning 21:09 Wed
In reply to Eric9Points:

> I can't post a link right now but there is a plan in place to become carbon neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris Climate agreement. It covers everything, power generation, transport, agriculture, industry. It's a great shame most people seem entirely ignorant of the fact that we are doing something and there are detailed plans laid down to do it.

Do you mean this?

https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/05/02/phase-out-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-2050-to-end-uk-contribution-to-global-warming/

It hasn't actually been legislated against yet.  Its a feasibility report produced by a government committee.  Far from a foregone conclusion, as the report indicates.

"The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency. The public will need to be engaged if the transition is to succeed."

Its also worth pointing out that it relies on various assumptions concerning the development path of technologies such as carbon capture and storage.  These are by no means certain.

As I society, I think we do have to be prepared to consider what further steps people would be willing to take to mitigate climate change.  Necessarily this is going to involve looking at the impacts of different aspects of consumption.

People have all sorts of deep seated ties to eating meat and raising livestock.  Its unrealistic to expect that the entire UK go vegan.  However, if people collectively were to eat less beef and the Amazon were saved as a result.  Wouldn't that be worth it?

There are all sorts of myths concerning the pros and cons of different diets.  Unfortunately the relationship between global demand for meat and tropical deforestation doesn't appear to be one of them. 

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Dave Garnett 21:31 Wed
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> Everything is carbon neutral if you wait long enough. The amount of carbon on the earth has never really changed it's just right now a tiny fraction more of it is in the atmosphere than we'd like. 

Not quite.  The locking up of atmospheric CO2 into coal was a process that won't be repeated no matter how long we wait.  Fungi have developed the enzymes to digest lignin since the Carboniferous, so we can't reverse the CO2 release caused by burning coal simply by growing trees.

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jethro kiernan 22:31 Wed
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

I think their point is to change the political process to allow the scientific consensus to be heard and acted on with regards climate change. Hence avoiding a  Prescriptive approach To tackling climate change, leaving the finer details toO the experts to develop. Concentrating on this is a smart move. 

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sg 23:23 Wed
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Not quite.  The locking up of atmospheric CO2 into coal was a process that won't be repeated no matter how long we wait.  Fungi have developed the enzymes to digest lignin since the Carboniferous, so we can't reverse the CO2 release caused by burning coal simply by growing trees.

Yes, key point and good science. Humans really are managing to make properly long term impacts on the planet in that respect. Not as big as fungi in terms of atmospheric composition but still quite impressive.

More generally on the topic, I think there are properly compelling reasons for banning meat eating, and indeed all animal farming, but they're not environmental. We shouldn't farm animals because it causes pain and suffering, no food fashion involved.

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Darren Jackson 00:15 Thu
In reply to Dave Garnett:

>... Fungi have developed the enzymes to digest lignin since the Carboniferous, so we can't reverse the CO2 release caused by burning coal simply by growing trees.

I like to think that I'm a fun guy, but there really isn't mushroom for this sort of pessimism?

... After all, Old King Coal was a merry old sole. Plant trees, and flatfish, I say! 

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mrphilipoldham 08:18 Thu
In reply to jethro kiernan:

But is it right that they’re not listening to scientific consensus? Plans are in place (I believe) to be carbon neutral by 2050, yet they’re calling for 2025 to be the target date because of one single paper written off the back of the IPCC report? 

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jethro kiernan 09:35 Thu
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

The IPCC report gives us twelve years at our present rate of carbon emissions before we hit a significant tipping point. Bearing in mind the IPCC tends slightly to the conservative side of the consensus so as not to scare the politicians off.

if I might make a slight analogy

If this is Europe in 1939 then the the Germans have already invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland and are massing at the French border, this is where we are at in the climate change equivalence. If we don't mobilise now then we have already lost, waiting until they are at Tilbury before taking any action isn't an option.

This is why declaring an emergency is so important, because every year we leave it the more extremest the action required and the more politically toxic it will become and the more paralysed governments will become or swing to outright denial and f&*k you like Bolsonaro in Brazil.

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mrphilipoldham 09:43 Thu
In reply to jethro kiernan:

I know all that, and that’s not what I asked, is it? 

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jethro kiernan 09:58 Thu
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

I know all that, and that’s not what I asked, is it? 

It kind of was, if the IPCC says 12 years from 2015 to significant tipping point and the government is saying 2050 for carbon neutral on an as yet to be defined plan on a manifesto then we really arn't listening.

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mrphilipoldham 11:55 Thu
In reply to jethro kiernan:

Herein lies the problem and what I was trying to demonstrate. Until everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet all that’ll happen is the uninterested masses will do on thinking that no one really has a clue and as a result struggle to take it seriously. You’ve got three well known public faces all saying different things. Who should every Tom, Dick and Harry believe?

Just so there’s no confusion, I’ve been following the science (all science really!) to the best of my ability and understanding since my early teens. I don’t doubt things need to change, but I can completely see why the ‘uneducated’ or ‘uninterested’ might not be convinced by any of the current crop of protesters, politicians or indeed sadly, scientists.

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