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Monday, April 15, 2024
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HomeClimate WatchThe climate scaremongers – Monbiot, the man who’d starve the world

The climate scaremongers – Monbiot, the man who’d starve the world

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THE eco-loon George Monbiot is demanding the end of livestock farming everywhere in the world, describing agriculture as the ‘most destructive industry on earth’.

Appearing on Irish TV, he ranted on about climate change and pollution, but made it clear that his main concern was that farming takes up too much land, which he thinks should be rewilded instead. He would plainly be happier if the human race died out and left the planet to wildlife.

Before he makes a fool of himself again, maybe he should learn a little about agriculture.

Much of the world’s livestock farming takes place on marginal land which is not suitable for crops. Grazing of livestock is estimated to use 3.4billion hectares globally, compared with about 0.7billion hectares for cereal production. In all, livestock accounts for about two-thirds of the land under agriculture, and a third of the earth’s total land area.

In monetary terms, animal products, including dairy and eggs, amount to just over a third of total food output. To shut down all of this on a whim would be madness, and the loss of so much food simply could not be replaced by the plant-based diets he recommends.

Animal farming also brings many benefits. The UN estimates that livestock are the main source of income for more than 200million smallholder families in Asia, Africa and Latin America. For many of these, livestock act as assets, a form of investment and saving which can be passed down the generations where banks are often too remote and unreliable. What on earth does Monbiot think they are all going to without their cattle and sheep? Grow mung beans and avocados for his tofu-eating friends?

Most importantly of all, animals can provide the fertiliser needed for croplands. Furthermore, by removing biomass, which otherwise might provide the fuel for bush fires, by controlling shrub growth and by dispersing seeds through their hoofs and manure, grazing animals can improve plant species composition. Trampling can stimulate grass tillering, improve seed germination and break-up hard soil crusts.

Most meat is produced in mixed farming systems, where crops and livestock production are integrated on the same farm. As a result, nutrients are recycled from animals to crops and back again in a highly efficient cycle.

Indeed, properly managed livestock farming can improve arid environments. Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean farmer, has spent decades studying the impacts and learning the hard way, and I would thoroughly recommend watching his TED talk from a few years ago here.

Of course, no system is perfect, and sometimes both pastoral and arable farming can lead to overexploitation of the soil and water resources. But the answer is to improve farming methods, not shut down the industry.

The bottom line is that George Monbiot hates the human race. It is puzzling why anybody in the media takes him seriously.

15-minute cities aren’t for our convenience, but for our imprisonment

THE Tory Red Wall MP, Nick Fletcher (Don Valley), has been stirring the hornets’ nest with his recent speech in Parliament on ‘15-minute cities’, which are increasingly being floated by local councils. 

Mr Fletcher wrote on his Twitter feed: ‘Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) in their present format do untold economic damage to any city. However, the second step after ULEZ is this so-called 15-minute cities or 20-minute neighbourhoods. These will take away your personal freedoms as well.’

It is instructive to see how the liberal media immediately and dutifully rallied to the defence of the socialist planners, and in similar terms as well. For instance, Yahoo News called it a bizarre conspiracy theory, while ITV referred to ‘right-wing conspiracy theorists’. (Strangely they did not use the term ‘left-wing’ to label the proponents of 15-minute cities).

Both Yahoo and ITV, along with pretty much most of the media, it would seem, defended the concept as being eminently sensible and all for our own good. Who would object to having all these local services on our doorsteps? None of them have asked the question of how they would be enforced. It is one thing providing shops and amenities at a local level, but what if people still prefer to go into town or to the shopping mall?

We have already seen how ULEZ zones are being used to restrict car travel, not to mention Oxford’s installation of traffic gates. And one thing is certain: once electric cars fill the roads, they too will be subject to the same congestion and ULEZ charges from which they are currently exempt. As many proponents of 15-minute cities are beginning to admit publicly, the real objective is to get us out of our cars and on to public transport, bicycles and Shanks’s pony.

Nick Fletcher is right to raise this issue. As is so often the case, there appears to be little or no democratic mandate at all for any of these policies being imposed on us.

In any event, the whole concept is absurd. Most communities already have shops, schools, doctors etc within a mile or so. But the market is simply not big enough to support the range of shops and supermarkets that people still need, not to mention restaurants, cinemas and so on. It is also suggested that workplaces should also be zoned in 15-minute cities. So they are going to relocate a factory from an out-of-town site and plonk it in the middle of a housing estate? And tell everybody to get a job there?

This would be a return to the middle of the last century, before mass car ownership took off. In those days, most school-leavers either went to work in the local factory or caught the bus to work in the centre of town. Often they stayed with the same employer all their life. This is precisely what used to happen in the small steel town where I have lived for many years. Car ownership gave us all the opportunity to find jobs elsewhere, expand our skills, meet new people and develop new careers. Moreover it enabled companies to relocate away from town centres to out of town industrial and trading estates. This hugely improved the environment in towns as well as business efficiency.

According to ITV:

‘The idea is that everything a person needs should be within a 15-minute walk or cycle from any point in the city. This includes work, shopping, education, healthcare, leisure and any other amenities a person may need in their regular life. The idea has been promoted by leading academics and urban planners in recent years who promote a world where walking would once again become our most common mode of transport.’

But again I ask: what ‘needs’ will be fulfilled which are not already provided for? Most of that list already exists in most neighbourhoods.

The whole thing is really an attempt to take us out of our cars, lock us into our own little neighbourhoods and take away our freedom to go where we want, when we want. In short, to control the way we live our lives.

Conspiracy theory? No, we have already been there with Covid lockdowns, something which environmentalists and bureaucrats loved and which nobody could have possibly imagined beforehand. Don’t bet that climate lockdowns won’t follow.

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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