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AEP’s Climate War On Big Food

February 23, 2019
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By Paul Homewood

 

h/t Patsy Lacey

  

What is it about otherwise perfectly sane journalists, that they lose all critical faculties when discussing climate change?

 

This is AEP’s latest effort in the Telegraph. It is behind a paywall, and they don’t like me showing the whole piece, but the first bit gives a pretty good clue to the drivel to follow:

 

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First it was the fossil energy industry. Then came plastics. Now society is turning the screws on agriculture and Big Food. The global land economy generates a quarter of man-made greenhouse emissions in one way or another.

Among them are methane and nitrous oxide, which pack an immediate punch. It is no longer tenable to exempt this behemoth from full accountability.

Farmers and food producers will have to slash emissions like everybody else after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave us 12 years to avert a potential catastrophe.

The safety buffer for our ecosystem is lower than we thought. The limit is 1.5 degrees and we have already used up two thirds of it. 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/02/21/agri-tech-will-next-boom-industry-climate-warriors-turn-big/

 

One reader commented that he gave up reading after this introduction, and I can understand why!

So let’s start by dissecting it:

 

 First it was the fossil energy industry-

Society turning the screw? What planet is he on?

In 2017, 85% of the world’s energy came from fossil fuels. On top of this, you can add the use of oil, gas and coal in producing plastics and so on.

Consumption of fossil fuels continues to grow remorselessly, reaching a record high in 2017:

 

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BP Energy Review

 

Does that sound as if society is turning the screws? No, I though not.

As for plastics, this is purely a litter problem, and is utterly irrelevant.

Apparently AEP thinks we are now all so concerned about greenhouse emissions from agriculture, that we are going to throw it under a bus, regardless of the consequences.

 

Farmers and food producers will have to slash emissions like everybody else after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave us 12 years to avert a potential catastrophe.

The safety buffer for our ecosystem is lower than we thought. The limit is 1.5 degrees and we have already used up two thirds of it. 

Oh dear, did AEP really believe that piece of fiction from the UN? More to the point, does he think most of the world gives a toss, outside of the climate zealots of the EU?

Has he not realised that the 1.5 degrees is simply a figure pulled out of thin air, because we all refused to be scared by the previous one of 2 degrees?

As for using “two thirds” of it already, maybe he would like to tell us just exactly how our climate, or our ecosystem, is any worse than it was in the 19thC.

 

Here’s some of the other things he has written:

 

This has explosive financial consequences, with winners and losers to match. Big global banks and investment funds are already swarming all over it. A 56-page report by Barclays hones in on the neuralgic issue of livestock, source of 9pc of man-linked global emissions.

“Burping cows are more damaging to the climate than all the cars on this planet,” said authors Sebastian Satz and Alex Steward.

Well, no surprise there then! Big banks are always on the lookout for ways to make money out of scams, particularly when politicians clear the way.

It is a pity AEP is not exposing the con.

 

We are in trouble and doing something about it will involve massive technological and economic disruption. Any incumbent betting that the status quo can continue risks being swept away, much as the great telecom companies of the 1990s were outflanked by mobile phones, or as the sleepy power utilities saw their business models wrecked by solar and wind.

Barclays says investors should brace for a methane tax – or a global ‘red meat tax’ – and “aggressive regulatory change”.

“Sleepy power utilities saw their business models wrecked by solar and wind.”? On the contrary, they have seen them wrecked by obscene government subsidies for solar and wind, two rather different things. As a business correspondent, one would have hoped that AEP would have vehemently protesting against such market distorting policies.

As for phones, mobile phones took over because they offered something better to buyers.

None of this applies to meat producers, or farming in general. As for global meat taxes and aggressive regulation, we are still waiting for the global carbon tax he predicted a few years ago. Readers may recall what AEP wrote in May 2015:

The political noose is tightening on the global fossil fuel industry. It is a fair bet that world leaders will agree this year to impose a draconian “tax” on carbon emissions that entirely changes the financial calculus for coal, oil, and gas, and may ultimately devalue much of their asset base to zero.

In any event, I can’t see many countries prepared to impose food taxes, intended to make us eat less.

 

AgriTech will of course be supremely important in years to come. But not for the reasons AEP says.

Countries around the world don’t care about greenhouse emissions from farting cows. Their one concern is keeping their populations well fed. Increasingly, middle classes in Asia are picking up western eating habits, which will add to demand pressures.

Quoting an Oxford study from last year, AEP writes:

There is no magic formula or technology coming that can avert grim choices. They argue that the only plausible way to feed a population growing by another two billion by mid-century is to switch to a ‘flexitarian’ diet and work on every front at once.

Europeans and Americans will have to cut their consumption of beef and pork by 90pc and milk by 60pc. We will have learn to live on beans and pulses. That is the world’s default setting and our probable future.

That sounds a fun world! I suspect though that progress in AgriTech in decades to come will bring us improvements in farming which we cannot even imagine now.

27 Comments
  1. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 23, 2019 7:43 pm

    Question to AEP: If you had to change your lifestyle to benefit humankind (but you were not sure how it would benefit you); and that the change would only make less than 1% difference to that lifestyle; and it cost you more than you could earn: would you go for it? (Oh. And how would you know – in your life-time?)

  2. stephen kent permalink
    February 23, 2019 7:48 pm

    Can we not just plug all the cows into the gas mains and burn the methane and save on extracting from gas fields ??!! hahahhha

  3. John Palmer permalink
    February 23, 2019 7:52 pm

    “Europeans and Americans will have to cut their consumption of beef and pork by 90pc and milk by 60pc. We will have learn to live on beans and pulses. That is the world’s default setting and our probable future.”

    So… that’s somewhere over 800m people changing to a diet of beans and pulses.
    What will that do for our emissions of toxic gases!!
    Move over, farting cattle – 800m new vegetarians coming’ in!
    What on earth has AEP been taking?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 23, 2019 8:09 pm

      ..not to mention, where will the production of beans and pulses for 800m more consumers come from?

  4. M E permalink
    February 23, 2019 8:19 pm

    On New Zealand TV this type of climate report is often followed by an an advertisement for better grass seeds and pictures of happier beef and dairy cattle.
    If you ban beef cattle it follows that you will need to ban dairy cows. No beef no milk.

    • mikewaite permalink
      February 23, 2019 9:23 pm

      And no milk , no babies . Not every mother can successfully breast feed. Ah! penny ‘s just dropped . That is the objective.

  5. Graeme No.3 permalink
    February 23, 2019 9:17 pm

    Did AEP really call for a world wide tax on carbon in 2015? I gave up reading him when he kept predicting an imminent Chinese economic crisis. I haven’t missed him.

    But I think those harnesses shown might well be adapted to a better use….fit one to the mouth of every Climate Doomster and eliminate their noxious & dangerous emissions.

    • keith permalink
      February 24, 2019 10:46 am

      And according to David North of eureferendum.com, Leverson at his press inquiry said he rated the high quality of our journalists, whereas Bloggs are just bar room chats.
      It is quite evident from AEP’s so called article and the c*** coming out from the so called journalists over Brexit, that our journalists have now sunk to an all time low.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    February 23, 2019 9:27 pm

    But the amount of gaseous evacuations from all the cattle in this country of pifflingly small and could not change the amount of methane in the whole global atmosphere one iota.
    Contrast the amount of methane that must be coming from other natural sources like the bacterial breakdowns from the wetlands of Britain, and methane from old coal mines and mines generally, and the sulfurous and methane outgassing from old rubbish tips.

    Also of note is https://phys.org/news/2018-11-year-old-termite-mounds-brazil-visible.html , where they show a recently discovered rather large termite community in Brazil.

    Researchers reporting in Current Biology on November 19 have found that a vast array of regularly spaced, still-inhabited termite mounds in northeastern Brazil — covering an area the size of Great Britain — are up to about 4,000 years old.

    “These mounds were formed by a single termite species that excavated a massive network of tunnels to allow them to access dead leaves to eat safely and directly from the forest floor,” says Stephen Martin of the University of Salford in the UK.
    “The amount of soil excavated is over 10 cubic kilometers, equivalent to 4,000 great pyramids of Giza, and represents one of the biggest structures built by a single insect species.”

    The UN-IPCC acknowledge that termites are a significant source of natural CO2 and methane (hopefully they have now updated their numbers to take into account this new discovery).

    Also by the UN-IPCC’s own decree on burning trees (instead of coal) is ‘carbon’ neutral, surely cattle farts are also ‘carbon’ neutral as the cattle are just digesting sustainable grass and other green matter.

    Tomorrow being Sunday I believe I’ll have roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, cabbage and a mix of other vegetables. Later in the day I probably will have a good fart but I doubt that I will feel guilty about increasing the methane levels in my immediate vicinity. 🙂

  7. David Ashton permalink
    February 23, 2019 9:33 pm

    I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating. AEP doesn’t believe in the AGW nonsense but he has to earn his annual invite to Davos.

  8. Michael permalink
    February 23, 2019 9:43 pm

    if they make me eat beans instead of beef it’ll be me generating the methane instead! just remember the greatest film ever, Blazing Saddles…

    • Rowland P permalink
      February 24, 2019 6:36 pm

      “Save gas; Fart in a jar!” There’ll be plenty more if we only eat pulses and beans! Re how the financial industry is ruining economies world wide, “The Finance Curse” by Nicholas Shaxson spells it out on no uncertain terms.

      Methane a threat at 0.000175% of the atmosphere? Pull the other one.

  9. Broadlands permalink
    February 23, 2019 9:56 pm

    It has also been said before that these “Climate Warriors” so worried about farting cows seem to believe they can grow agricultural foods in the same places as they plant new trees and “grow” large solar and wind “farms” for an increasing population in need of energy. Nitwits!

  10. Don B permalink
    February 23, 2019 9:58 pm

    Paul, I could not make a comment on the “Comment” thread. But my information was already filled in on this thread, although it was not on the comment thread.

  11. John F. Hultquist permalink
    February 23, 2019 10:41 pm

    AEP ==> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

    ==> clueless

  12. billbedford permalink
    February 23, 2019 11:16 pm

    Can we just kill this ‘Cows cause Climate Change’ thing?

    Cows don’t eat coal or oil or mainline on natural gas. Cow eat plants. Plants take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and mix it with other good things to make themselves into cow-food. Cows return the compliment by breaking down the plant and return carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere and other nutrients back to the ground. And so it goes round and round in an endless cycle. Whoever invented this must have been a great genius, so certainly not a journalist.

    One thing to remember is that cows cannot possibly produce more carbon dioxide than the plants they have eaten have taken from the atmosphere.

  13. Gas Geezer permalink
    February 23, 2019 11:17 pm

    Even if journalists don’t believe in global warming, they can’t afford to go against the 97% as they would risk being laughed out of Fleet Street . Better to remain respected by their woke colleagues and stay on the gravy train than rock the boat .

  14. Greg permalink
    February 23, 2019 11:43 pm

    In all the climate debate I have never heard exactly what the ideal temperature is and why. Until that is specified and reasonably documented the rest is all blather and froth….

  15. Ben Vorlich permalink
    February 24, 2019 8:54 am

    the climate zealots of the EU?
    Isn’t the IPCC,the source of this nonsense, a UN organisation? As Britain is a fully commited member of the UN and IPCC then the UK parliament will probably draught more extreme legislation than the EU as the EU has former Soviet Block countries to resist more radical regulations.

  16. February 24, 2019 10:07 am

    A lot of food production uses inorganic fertilizers, which basically means man-made using lots of energy.

    Nitrogen fertilizers are made from ammonia (NH3), which is sometimes injected into the ground directly. The ammonia is produced by the Haber-Bosch process. In this energy-intensive process, natural gas (CH4) usually supplies the hydrogen, and the nitrogen (N2) is derived from the air. This ammonia is used as a feedstock for all other nitrogen fertilizers…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertilizer#Nitrogen_fertilizers

    Food production would be very badly hit without inorganic fertilizers.

    • February 24, 2019 10:39 am

      Yes, but that’s not what people are saying. Nitrogen fertilisers are used to promote plant growth, while it is specifically animal husbandry that is being targeted. If agriculture switched over to being totally plant-based then I suspect that the use of inorganic fertilisers would increase because much animal rearing is done on poorer quality land.

  17. Phoenix44 permalink
    February 24, 2019 10:29 am

    As I understand it the claims about agriculture have been retracted by the original source as they were not based on proper like for like comparisons. Food production accounts for only around 8% of emissions, not 25%.

    I suggest writing to AEP with the correction.

  18. Mike H permalink
    February 24, 2019 11:15 am

    This sort of scare story about methane always ignores a basic bit of science*.
    Methane’s absorption spectrum overlaps heavily with that of water vapour which outweighs the atmospheric concentration of methane many, many times.
    So, while in lab experiments methane on its own is indeed a greenhouse gas, out in the real world, its effects are swamped by water vapour.

    * This is my layman’s understanding: please put me straight if this is incorrect.

  19. bobn permalink
    February 24, 2019 1:09 pm

    This is all about the significance of farting in a hurricane. Methane isnt a big deal. Its only 0.00081% of atmosphere (last report I saw) that means in 1km of air there is 0.081cm of methane. Wow! It must be magic powerful stuff to influence anything. Oh – its not very powerful as a heat absorder either. Physics is such a downer for journalists.

  20. saparonia permalink
    February 25, 2019 1:22 am

    It’s so ridiculous. Close all factories first, close all office blocks that use electricity, stop all trains and buses, close all shops using electric lighting, shut the animal torture camps and then give us all a cow each

  21. Dr Bob permalink
    February 25, 2019 4:06 pm

    AEP is a serial Cassandra, regularly predicting doom and disaster. I guess if he does it often enough he will be right sometime but I’m not holding my breath.

  22. Slipknot permalink
    February 25, 2019 5:25 pm

    I’m so glad to see AEP’s extraordinary article dissected here. Why this unquestioning acceptance of overblown prognostications? Had he given any thought to the herds of ruminants that once roamed in their millions across Africa and N. America until the 19th and early 20th centuries, then he must be so relieved that they are largely gone, taking their emissions with them. If he thinks I shall stop eating beef and drinking milk, he can think again.

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