Sunday, September 22, 2019

Farming and Global Warming

CBC Radio's Sunday Edition with Michael Enright today featured a panel of three farmers repeatedly asserting that farmers are "the good guys in the carbon debate.” The facts are otherwise: study after study has shown that industrial agriculture—and animal agriculture in particular—is a massive contributor to climate change, responsible for something like 15% of total global warming and for much of the deforestation that accounts for another 15% or more. It’s not just the methane the cows emit and the many energy inputs that are required to produce a pound of hamburger; it’s also that getting the same protein and other nutrients from non-meat sources takes several times less land and several times less energy. The best carbon sinks are not on our farms; they are in the Amazon rainforest that’s now being cut down at a tremendous pace to create grazing land so as to feed the world more beef. “Eat less meat” (or better still, no meat at all) should indeed be a rallying cry for environmentalists.

One of the participants went so far as to suggest that the current agricultural policies of our political parties are created “out of the whinings” of those who protest cruelty towards animals in the turkey and other farm industries—the exact opposite of the truth. With the notable exception among major parties of the Green Party of Canada (and among smaller parties of the Animal Protection Party of Canada) Canada's political parties have been just as reluctant to address the issue of cruelty to animals in farming as they have been to address animal agriculture’s contribution to climate change; instead, they continue to direct billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into subsidizing those industries.

In a couple of other interviews earlier this year--notably, one with Isa Leshko, author of Allowed to Grow Old--Enright had sounded as if he was starting to understand the problems associated with animal agriculture. But today, he sounded as much in denial as any of the three farmers.

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