Forget the quality, it’s the 700 million tonnes which counts

Guest Post by Geoff Russell. Geoff is a mathematician and computer programmer and is a member of Animal Liberation SA. His recently published book is CSIRO Perfidy.


There’s a gross cognitive dissonance when a Government who professes to think that climate change is the defining issue of our generation can’t face down a few blustering cowboys. This is implied in the anouncement that agriculture will be omitted from the CPRS.

Well, that’s not quite true. Doing good things like planting trees will be rewarded by allowing farmers to sell pieces of paper called offsets. Doing bad things … like generating more warming than all our coal fired power stations, like causing 6,000 new bowel cancer cases annually, like giving teenagers athlerosclerotic plaques. These will also be rewarded in the usual way … by the traditional head in sand approach on the emissions and by medical subsidies while continuing to allow Meat and Livestock Australia to mislead the public without being bothered by silly inconveniences like truth in advertising laws. This is analogous to the time honoured principle behind handling the Global Financial Crisis, privatise the profits and nationalise the losses.

Recall that it isn’t very much of agriculture which is the problem, it isn’t the potato growers or the wheat millers, or the fruit and vegetable growers. Their emissions are tiny and we have no low emission alternatives to these foods when it comes to eating. Quantitatively, even the downstream food processors and transporters are relatively low in emissions. For new BNC readers let me just spell it out once more … suppose the emissions generated by making pasta were the equivalent of a car using 5 litres per 100 kilometers. What are the emissions generated by lean beef equivalent to? About 1000 liters per 100 kilometers. Would we allow cars that were so inefficient? Obviously our current Government would, at best, merely ask producers of such cars to join the other pigs at the free CPRS permit trough.

So out of the whole of agriculture, the big emitters are just the sheep and cattle boys and there’s not too many sheep boys left after a couple of decades of culling by market forces and cheaper (and sometimes better) fabrics. Like I said in the beginning its really just a few cowboys calling the shots. The interests of these cowboys so dominates the Australian psyche that Kevin Rudd seriously thought a few BBQs would heal the rift over the bashing of Indian students. Apparently neither he nor anybody in his office seemed to understand that asking Indian students home for slashed and seared roast religious icon between 2 slices of limp white bread substitute wasn’t going to be quite the winner on the sub-continent that it is in Australia.

Leading the charge for the cowboys these days is Australian of the Year in 2007, Tim Flannery. He was recently paid by Meat and Livestock Australia to speak at a meat propaganda forum for young students at Roseworthy agricultural college just out from Adelaide. ABC’s Bush Telegraph last week discussed the forum and featured Flannery not only discussing the sustainability of red meat but prophetically outlining exactly what Government policy should be. And so it came to pass, that before the sun rose and set a few more times, the deal was done and announced. Bush Telegraph did a follow-up program the next day featuring a rerun of Flannery’s statements and a response from philosopher and well known animal rights campaigner, Peter Singer.

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