2019-08-14 No meat

In Spectre at the Feast, George Monbiot talks about Assessing the efficiency of changes in land use for mitigating climate change by Timothy D. Searchinger, Stefan Wirsenius, Tim Beringer & Patrice Dumas, a paper which accounts for carbon costs by asking: “how does farming compare to the natural ecosystems that would otherwise have occupied the land?”

The astonishing quote that made me read the rest of Monbiot’s essay was this:

The Nature paper estimates the carbon cost of a kilo of soya protein at 17kg. The carbon cost of chicken is six times higher, while milk is 15 times higher, and beef 73 times. One kilogram of beef protein has a carbon opportunity cost of 1250kg. That’s roughly equal to one passenger flying from London to New York and back.

We really need to make an effort to live as vegan as possible, as vegetarian as possible. We really do.

And how much power we have! All we need to do is get rid of most of our meat eating. Here Monbiot talks about the UK only, Repurposing UK agricultural land to meet climate goals by Helen Harwatt and Matthew Hayek:

If our grazing land was allowed to revert to natural ecosystems, and the land currently used to grow feed for livestock was used to grow grains, beans, fruit, nuts and vegetables for humans, this switch would allow the UK to absorb an astonishing quantity of carbon: equivalent, the paper estimates, to 9 years of our total emissions. And farming in this country could then feed everyone, without the need for imports. A plant-based diet would make the difference between the UK’s current failure to meet its international commitments, and success.

Or here, talking about Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers by J. Poore and T. Nemecek:

A famous paper in Science shows that a plant-based diet would release 76% of the land currently used for farming. This land could then be used for the mass restoration of ecosystems and wildlife, pulling the living world back from the brink of ecological collapse and a sixth great extinction.

It boggles the mind.



Unrelated: The Anthropocene Is a Joke: “On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch.” Noooo!

If, in the final 7,000 years of their reign, dinosaurs became hyperintelligent, built a civilization, started asteroid mining, and did so for centuries before forgetting to carry the one on an orbital calculation, thereby sending that famous valedictory six-mile space rock hurtling senselessly toward the Earth themselves—it would be virtually impossible to tell. All we do know is that an asteroid did hit, and that the fossils in the millions of years afterward look very different than in the millions of years prior.

It is this idea that Robert E. Howard’s Conan World, Hyperborea, might have been possible, that excites. Not possible possible, for sure, but “possible”. It would be virtually impossible to tell.

I do remember hearing that us digging up all the oil and all the coal and burning it would leave a lasting impression, making a future recovery based on fossil fuel impossible.

Ah, just the worlds. Fossil. Fuel. To run a ton of steel on exploding dinosaur corpses...

But then:

Fifty-six million years ago, the Earth belched 5,000 gigatons of carbon (the equivalent of burning all our fossil-fuel reserves) over roughly 5,000 years into the oceans and atmosphere, and the planet warmed 5 to 8 degrees Celsius. The warming set off megafloods and storms, and wiped out coral reefs globally. It took the planet more than 150,000 years to cool off.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-15 05:48 UTC

Sometimes I read things that just put me down. Today, for example, @The_ogier write the following, slightly edited:

We must de-grow now

The data shows there is no way to stay below even 2° (see sources below).

We have been missing every target catastrophically. And physical reality limits what we can do now.

But there is one obvious way to avoid catastrophe, drastically de-grow.

We are being sold false hope to keep the profits flowing.

Globally we must use significantly LESS total energy 2030 even as China’s & India’s economies of then ~3 billion are set to almost double.

This will not happen. Our current system cannot avoiding climate catastrophe.

It gets worse.

Just in regards to power-generation, the area we are doing “best” at: By 2030 we must double our current solar and wind power and we must have more exponential growth from there.

Instead renewable growth is stalling.

There is almost no chance that we will be able to have the factories and workforce online in time to cover the current massive shortfall.

Even if we do that means we must offset additional factories & mines.

And we need massive advances in batteries.

All of this was foreseeable and likely foreseen a decade ago or even longer.

And it is not clear that our current system ever had a chance. What little progress we’ve made is entirely based on technological advances that were not available a decade ago.

But the situation for our current system is actually far worse.

The above is based on the optimistic IPCC projections. And devestatinglyd the projections all absolutely require fracked natural gas to be a relatively clean transition fuel. It is not.

We do not need a WW2 style mobilization. We need a post-WW2 de-mobilization now or face a catastrophe that will devastate millions who did nothing to cause it.

Selected sources:

#climatechange #anticapitalism

And I’m sitting a restaurant after Aikido practice talking to somebody who claims that the CO2 concentration is a consequence of the temperature change, not a cause, and that global warming is not man-made.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-16 20:24 UTC

China and India lead in greening of the world through land-use management.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-25 15:30 UTC

Then again, @wilfredh just posted:

Usage of many raw materials has actually decreased due to smartphones replacing other consumer devices:

This is from How the iPhone Helped Save the Planet in Wired. Interesting.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-09-08 23:14 UTC

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