Thursday, November 08, 2007

Climate change

I went to a talk last night (part of a series being run by Winchester Cathedral and University) on climate change by Professor Sir Ghillean Prance of the Eden Project. His main thrust, being a botanist, was the disastrous consequences of destroying the Amazon rainforest. Just 7% of the original forest remains along the Atlantic coast of Brazil and Argentina. Only last week, there were 15,093 fires burning there. Deforestation causes 23% of total carbon emissions and he's also very concerned about the plants and species which are being lost. One of the points raised was that much of the cleared land is being used to grow soyabeans which are used to feed livestock which produce methane. This point is raised in an article about China in today's FT.
China feeds 22% of the world's population with 7% of the world's farmland. As the Chinese become wealthier, their diet is shifting from rice, vegetables and pork to more meat, eggs and dairy products. The urban population is growing by 15-20m people a year and eats three times more meat than the people in the countryside. 70% of China's corn and soyabean crop is used to feed livestock. It is now a net importer of soyabeans and will soon become the world's largest net importer. So China is responsible for a double whammy of climate change: not only is it encouraging deforestation but it's also building a massive amount of coal-fired power plants. No wonder they're having to shut down the power plants and ban driving temporarily for the Olympics:the smog's so bad over there that the spectators wouldn't be able to spot the winners.


Blogger Eurodog said...

How very depressing!

2:45 pm  
Blogger CityUnslicker said...

on the other hand, china's one child policy will eventually stem their impact.

most of the climate change problems are caused by too many humans; however even a rationalist like me finds it hard to recommend the obvious solution to this....

5:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone out there hasn't already read 'The Revenge Of Gaia' by James Lovelock, I would recommend doing so pronto.

Things are going to have to change and very very quickly - especially the ostriches who currently have their heads in the sand on this issue.

My view is that it is better to start making small lifestyle adjustments immediately so that when the real tsunami of change comes, one isn't caught out by it.

7:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:14 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Anon- I still haven't read the Lovelock book. Maybe that'll be the intermission between Bleak House and Little Dorrit.

Anon - thank you for the link. I didn't know about that film.

8:36 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fascinating post, WW. I hadn't realised any of that - and certainly not the measures they will have to take to be able to stage the Olympics.

8:34 pm  

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