I recommend the following Guardian Weekly article. I'm tempted to write a longer response to Jonathon Porritt's "Hard facts to swallow," but I've made clear my perspectives regarding the ecological value of a vegetarian or vegan diet before. Porritt, the Programme Director of Forum for the Future and Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, doesn't tell readers anything new, but he highlights new studies and research which confirm that a shift to a global "meat-lite" diet will do more to reduce carbon emissions than strict mileage standards and the like.
"'Stop eating meat' is unlikely to be the favourite slogan of the new Stop Climate Chaos coalition. Even 'eat less meat' might not go down too well, even though Compassion in World Farming has produced an utterly compelling explanation - in their report, Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat - of why this really is the way forward.Being a country boy at heart, and having grown up surrounded by neighbors who made, and still make, their living from the land and the ocean, I champion the push for sustainable, local economies. The sustainability movement, for lack of a better label, is gaining much public support in the U.K. and throughout northern Europe, but these progressive attitudes often conflict with the development schemes and aspirations of so-called "Third World" countries; furthermore, carbon cutbacks and vegetarian diets certainly won't find favor in the great, red dragon that is China's burgeoning economy. That said, I believe significant in-roads can be made in the United States and Canada, particularly in New England and the Pacific Northwest, where the foundations for sustainable, local economies are already in place.
[...] Food isn't 'just another commodity', it is the foundation of personal wellbeing and is inextricably interwoven into a nation's culture, character and land use. In that regard, farming and food production embody a set of skills and capabilities on which the long-term security of any nation still ultimately depends.
[...] Modelling [the food production] variables is a policy-maker's worst nightmare, but they absolutely cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, they barely [figure in most government plans], which seek to persuade...readers that there is no alternative but to accelerate the globalisation of the food economy. 'Complete self-sufficiency' is summarily dismissed, as if anyone is out there arguing for complete self-sufficiency anyway. What [ecologists] are arguing for might be termed 'cost-effective self-reliance', as a hedge against the growing threat of widespread ecological and social disruption - food security seen in terms of land use, quality, sustainability and food safety, not just temporary availability and access...And that means policies that do not leave our farmers gratuitously disadvantaged by overseas producers who care little for the state of the environment or animal welfare; policies that actively promote local sourcing, obliging our retailers to be as smart and creative about local supply chains as they are about global supply chains; policies that set out systematically to reduce carbon intensity in food production and distribution; policies that build on the excellent work already achieved through the public sector food procurement initiative, and the development of new agri-environment measures. It also means a rather different vision, acknowledging up front that a sustainable future for the UK depends on securing a thriving rural economy, and that this, in turn, depends on keeping sustainable food production absolutely at the heart of the rural economy."
On another note, a bit of uber awkward hilarity. As his father did for him, my dad regularly sends me newspaper or science journal clippings he thinks I may find of interest. Occasionally, he'll annotate the articles. As I read through a recent package of these clippings this morning, I came across an article on sperm donors and their progeny. Across the top of the page, my father had written the following.
"Your mom wants you to start selling your semen. A) You're too bright and handsome to let your semen go to waste. B) Mom can now use the Internet to find out who her grandchildren are. Grandchildren at last!"Uumm....okay. I don't embarrass easily, but I'm sure I blushed. I know why my parents feel this way, but still...
Beginning in my early twenties, I made it known that I don't want children of my own and that I don't plan to marry. When pressed about this choice, I allowed that if I were to blindly stumble into a long-term, settled relationship, adoption would be my ticket to the parenting roller coaster. Mind you, I don't condemn procreation off hand. As I see it, one child per couple is fine - even two, if you want to push it - and I am genuinely happy for those friends and acquaintances who are proud parents, but I'm something of an extremist when it comes to my own actions.
This note from my pops suggests that my parents, after years of dismissing my stance on such matters as a temporary one, a product of misguided, youthful idealism, have accepted that I really do feel this way...and they are not happy about it. And so they tell me now that my semen (I know it's accurate, dad, but c'mon....I really don't want to think about my mom discussing 'Christopher's semen'!) must not go to waste! Every time I think about the note, I start laughing. Life is absurd.
Photo credit: www.equine-reproduction.com