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Extinction Rebellion urges farmers to join the cause

The co-founder of climate direct action group Extinction Rebellion has called on farmers to take to the streets and help pressure the government to act more urgently to tackle the climate crisis.

Gail Bradbrook spoke at a conference last week held by the Sustainable Food Trust to discuss how the food and farming sector can achieve net zero carbon emissions.  

“Economic growth falls by 1 per cent with every one degree of warming,” she said. “We’re on track for four degrees. This system is over whether you believe it or not.

“What we’re doing is based on social theories of change. You need an active confrontation if you want to see change, that’s what it takes. It can be beautiful and peaceful. Join us and bring your tractors,” she added, calling on farmers to start a “rural rebellion”.

She noted the sixth mass extinction of biodiversity as well as the impact of climate breakdown on food production, describing future scenarios as a "multi bread basket failure". 

Gail Bradbrook
Gail Bradbrook spoke at Glastonbury Festival as well as the recent Sustainable Food Trust event.

Bradbrook also noted consumerism as a cause of environmental degradation, saying: “The ultimate cause is overpopulation and overconsumption by the rich. If people reduced their consumption to that of the average European, emissions would go down by a third. There is an issue here about individual action as well as policies.”

President of the National Farmers’ Union, Minette Batters, joined Bradbrook in highlighting the severity of the climate crisis. “Above all else, climate change is the challenge of our time,” she said.

The NFU has called for net zero carbon emissions from agriculture by 2040.  

Batters also used her keynote speech to highlight other major threats to British farmers, including access to seasonal Eastern European labour and the lowering of quality and welfare standards to secure any proposed trade deal with the US.

Shadowing both of those issues is the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, Batters said. “No deal will set us back decades. It is catastrophic. If we have no deal, we won’t be able to negotiate for anything on standards,” she said.

Several academics took to the stage to outline the latest research on the role of livestock in methane emissions and global temperature rises.

Professor Michael Lee of Rothamsted Research, who specialises in sustainable livestock systems, said: “Ruminants produce methane so they are not sustainable – it’s not as black and white as that. It’s too simplistic to combine methane into a carbon equivalent.”

Lee said his team have developed a sustainability metric based on the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of nutrients consumed per 100g of product, which can be combined with other measures including methane emissions and land use, for an analysis that combines environmental impact with beneficial impacts.  

“Sustainability is complex, but if we only have one metric we will have a skewed view,” he said.

Professor Myles Allen of Oxford University said reducing methane by 20 per cent has a cooling effect on temperatures and negates the effect of carbon emissions.

“Reducing agricultural emissions to zero will contribute to global cooling and take you back to the levels of the 1960s. But the question remains: will livestock farmers get any credit for doing this, and how do you achieve it?" he said. 

Allen said there is ongoing research into how methane from cows and other ruminants can be reduced, such as changes to diet, but pointed out: “In a world of net zero emissions, we would probably want to increase domestic production [of food] for environmental reasons, rather than increase production overseas.”

Comments

morganHC

2 Months 1 Week

There are so many anomalies in this.

One.. tractors? D o you not mean plough horses? Because part from plough horses and electric tractors, what other way can farmers have 0 carbon emissions?

Two everything is ‘based on social theories of change’, so if everything is a theory, and we do everything they want and it doesn’t work, does than not just prove it is nature and what is happening will continue to happen anyway?
Three... The ultimate cause is overpopulation.. we all know that, but unfortunately religion dictates that people must breed. Please note I said religion as there are 2 possibly three religions that do not encourage having only the children we need to ensure the elderly are looked after, but to breed so they can rule the world as is their god given right and contraception is banned.
Four.. I totally agree on consumerism and watching the ER followers using their phones and tablets to ensure we all knew what was going on in London back in Aprils one can only ask, why are they not leading the way?
Five.. “No deal will set us back decades. It is catastrophic. If we have no deal, we won’t be able to negotiate for anything on standards,” Oh gosh, I wish I had her crystal ball to make such a categorical statement! Again this is only theory based, no one knows what is going to happen, it has not happened yet! We can speculate, and cause disruptions, but until it happens we cannot say, categorically, what will happen.
Six.. are they saying we must live without meat? Who are they to dictate what we can and cannot eat? The only way meat eating can be reduced is by reducing the population .. see number three as to why this cannot be done.
Seven.. so let us say the UK adhere to all this, we reduce farm carbons to 0, we stop eating meat, well that’s 67 million people..now.. what about the other 7 billion people? That’s the 242,495 km2 sorted, now what about the other 510.075 million km2? When are ER going to cover that? Admittedly we are no 15 in the ranks for emissions but at 189.77 methinks they need to start with China (9040.74) and USA (4997.50) this makes us less than ten times the amount! (https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html)
Eight.. the UK are already doing their bit so why does the ER think we can do more? Why are they not having a go at the worse countries? Why are they not telling religions to stop breeding? Why o why is it always the UK who have to be the ones who stop as if they, and only they, can sort out the environmental degradation when the members of ER are using everything in their power (mobile phones, tablets, the internet) to tell us to stop, including consumerism?
Nine..? If the UK becomes vegan what cloths will we wear? Wool will be a no no, leather on the feet will be a no no..No greenhouses to grow foods, back to relying on what is in season at the time, after all with no planes we will not be able to fly extra foodstuffs in, refrigerated ships would take too long, and pollute as well.. so where do we stand? Oh and please do NOT say.. reduce the population until you have done something about religion. ( I refer you back to number 3)

10.. As plastic is a no no there will be no windmills, no solar panels, etc so on and so forth, after all why stop at just a few things? Why not go the whole hog?

Just my two pennorth

0 Reply

mike162

2 Months 1 Week

@morganHC So your answer is to do nothing? Do you have children, grandchildren, a conscience? I am horrified at the thought of the world that we will leave the young people.
What you are doing is worst of all. Your are sowing the seeds of doubt even though the science of this issue is quite clear.
We can be in no doubt, our CO2 emissions are causing the planet to warm. Unchecked this will lead to a catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions.
My partner & I have just offset £12k of our lifetime contribution to CO2. What is worse, to be called a fool for doing that, or to be callous and do nothing?
Now is the time for everyone to do whatever they can to mitigate the problem of the climate emergency.
Don't wait for others, don't wait for Governments or corporations, start NOW!

1 Reply

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morganHC

2 Months

I started over 40 years ago.. and you say you just started? Interesting..

You make a categoric statement there, Do not judge others by the small amount they write but about their entire life actions. As you do not know me, you are in no positiion to judge.

Well I amneither a fool or am doing nothing.. so not sure why you ask that.

The problem is, not everything is in place to do what ER want us to do by 2015..

We in the UK have already taken coal emissions from 40% down to 5% but I dont see ER mentioning that aywhere..

Things are happening and will do in their own time, and until we get the rest of the world sitting down at the same table, then things are going to prgress really slowly.

This is a reply I gave to some earlier as to what I would do..

"The problem is, we, the human race, are all at odds with each other, whilst we can start small and work our way up, we will eventually come to a brick wall as there are those who will not comform, or who do not believe in climate change or who cannot chage for economic reasons, then there is war, and religion. I hope something can be done, but until we can get every single country of the world sitting down around that big round table, we could be flogging a dead horse. Obviously what can be done must be done and a start to be made in the hope that eventually others will follow.. To task something with the solution for the problem one has to look at the whole picture and not just parts of it.. I would love to be able to sit down and put together a paper suggesting strategies and have been doing this off and on for 40 years, but each time i think, yep that looks good, another brick wall comes along.. perhaps one day i will complete it.."

And ti rieterate, I am so glad you started now.. wheras i started 40 years ago!!

0 Reply

Nickyrids

2 Months

Morgan, in the words of the great Noam Chomsky .. if you assume there is no hope, you guarantee there is no hope . If you assume there are opportunities for change there s chance that you will help make a better world. The uk is not always the first or the only country to try to mitigate climate change but our consumer society is most definitely one of the highest co2 per capita producers and one of the richest , why on earth would you take the childish stance that “it’s not fair why should we ...” the question is why on earth should we not ?

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morganHC

2 Months

Please, do not show ignorance by putting words into my mouth, at no point did i say ;'its not fair' I suggest you grow up and reread exactly what I put,

I have been making changes for 40 years. When did you start?

We are 15th in the world I know, but look at how low ours is compared to the top 5!

To reiterate what I said to someone else..

The problem is, not everything is in place to do what ER want us to do by 2015..

We in the UK have already taken coal emissions from 40% down to 5% but I dont see ER mentioning that aywhere..

Things are happening and will do in their own time, and until we get the rest of the world sitting down at the same table, then things are going to prgress really slowly.

This is a reply I gave to some earlier as to what I would do..

"The problem is, we, the human race, are all at odds with each other, whilst we can start small and work our way up, we will eventually come to a brick wall as there are those who will not comform, or who do not believe in climate change or who cannot chage for economic reasons, then there is war, and religion. I hope something can be done, but until we can get every single country of the world sitting down around that big round table, we could be flogging a dead horse. Obviously what can be done must be done and a start to be made in the hope that eventually others will follow.. To task something with the solution for the problem one has to look at the whole picture and not just parts of it.. I would love to be able to sit down and put together a paper suggesting strategies and have been doing this off and on for 40 years, but each time i think, yep that looks good, another brick wall comes along.. perhaps one day i will complete it.."

And ti rieterate, when did you start?.. i started 40 years ago!!

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charleslaugharne

2 Months

We obviously have a problem as a world. Lets take positive action- change faming methods, stop using chemicals on the soil, plant more trees. The point ER make is valid- the methods though annoy more people than support. I have never thought demo's work- instead encourage positive change. Most people react better to been shown things they can do than reacting to a demonstration that affects their movements. Just an observation.

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andytn34

1 Month 4 Weeks

Real change that will save the planet's present inhabitants will only happen if the largely sociopathic global corporations around the world are taken to task and prevented from further destroying our environment, but I don't see many governments that aren't hand in glove with them and just making meaningless "promises" like ours with absolutely no will to take any action. Anything they say is purely to appease those of the general public who give a damn. We have a level of wilful ignorance and a desire to maintain the status quo that seems to defy any amount of attempts at education or enlightenment.

People talk of their "right to eat meat" and to carry on as usual with no regard to the impending catastrophe. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, but also a major cause of pollution, antiobiotic misuse, disease proliferation and a whole host of problems that really push the methane issue completely into the shade. And that's without considering the misery, suffering and death caused by the slaughtering of between 56-74 billion, mainly factory-farmed land animals a year. Totally and utterly unsustainable and unethical. And to those who say "I only eat organic, grass fed"- if actually true, that's a marginally better, but very privileged position which is irrelevant to the huge majority. People also blame China, when the present industrial revolution there is driven by Western economics and consumerism. Yes, human population is a problem, but only because of the greed-driven consumerist, extreme-capitalist system that continues to shovel money into the pockets of the 1% at the expense of everyone and everything else in existence.

Ultimately, either we all start doing what we can and also tackle the sociopathic greed for wealth and power of the 1%, or our societies and so-called civilisation will crash like never before.

People are easily led to become obsessed with plastic for a few months rather than considering the issues holistically. The seas are being emptied of all life by the indiscriminate catch methods of trawling, but they are made to feel that by refusing that plastic straw in Macdonalds, they are making a real difference to the health of the oceans (incidentally, one third of all fish caught are made into livestock feeds).

Buying all our food from RIverford and other ethically-minded suppliers is at least minimising the harm done by what we eat, of course.

ER are just giving us a glimpse of the dystopian future that we seem to be happy to race headlong towards, without a second thought. At the moment, anyone who suggests a different path for the sake of a better existence for all is smeared and pilloried by the well-oiled far-right machinery that the establishment has become. The idea that activists should never have mobile phones is a ridiculous argument when communication is obviously essential for any movement and to have effective opposition to the current system. I personally try to buy second hand where possible and keep things until they are worn out or stop working, at which time they are recycled, but there is much more I could do, if our society was led by a very different government, rather than one which rewards greed, selfishness and personal wealth. The present neo-liberal model of society which requires everything to make a profit and perpetual economic growth with no regard to the environment is not only completely unsustainable, it is ultimately also incompatible with life.

I don't particularly support ER, but they are at least doing something, and like Greta and the school strikes, it is not something that people can ignore easily, but without radical changes in government around the world, the path we are on will not change enough to save us or most other inhabitants of the planet.

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morganHC

1 Month 3 Weeks

Totally agree...

I remember watching as they cut down the homes of indigenous people in South America.. for no more than to make room for prawn farms, something that the locals lived on, to sell the prawns to the rich western markets, not thorugh necessaty but through wanting to put another product on the shelves!

And in Argentia the wontan distruction of jungle to grow grass not for meat to help feed the world, but to put into restuarants like Macdonalds!

All totlaly unecessry

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