Written By: - Date published: 11:28 am, February 2nd, 2019 - 85 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, farming, food, global warming, health, jacinda ardern, making shit up, national, same old national, Simon Bridges, spin, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: simeon brown
It’s summertime. The economy is improving, unemployment is down, major corporations are signing up to be living wage employers and our leader dazzles where ever she goes in the world.
And the opposition leader is clearly not cutting it. And his social media team are that bad they think creating a cartoon character of him will be a hit with the young people. Maybe but only if they are under the age of 5.
It is a decidedly warm summertime but people are basking in the climate change induced heat. People are feeling optimistic. So what is an opposition to do?
How about make up fake news about how the Government intends to tax meat eaters?
The proposal actually came from the Lancet Commission on Obesity, a joint venture between World Obesity, Auckland University, George Washington University and UK based The Lancet. Participating commissioners are from throughout the world.
The commission has made what should be the uncontroversial point that eating too much red meat is bad for our health and our environment. Stuff has the details:
A report by The Lancet Commission on Obesity, released on Monday, said a tax on red meat was an example of the urgent action needed to address the greatest threats “to human and planetary health” – obesity, under-nutrition and climate change.
University of Auckland population health professor and commission co-chair professor Boyd Swinburn said national and international responses to all three problems had been “unacceptably slow”.
Agriculture production accounted for about 50 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand and foods high in saturated fats, sugar and salt, including red meat, were the biggest cause of ill health and premature death, he said.
“We need to consider these together so we have food systems that continue to give us wealth, but don’t promote ill health and death, and inequalities and drive up climate change.”
I am astounded that this should be thought to be controversial. The health benefits of a reduced meat diet have been known about for decades. And reducing the amount of meat that we eat is one of the most important things that a Western individual can do to reduce the creation of greenhouse gasses.
The situation is summarised in this Guardian article:
Recycling or taking the bus rather than driving to work has its place, but scientists are increasingly pointing to a deeper lifestyle change that would be the single biggest way to help the planet: eating far less meat.
A swathe of research released over the past year has laid bare the hefty impact that eating meat, especially beef and pork, has upon the environment by fueling climate change and polluting landscapes and waterways.
Industrialized agriculture and the onset of the worst species extinction crisis since the demise of the dinosaurs means that livestock and humans now make up 96% of all mammals. But despite consuming the vast majority of farmland, meat and dairy accounts for just 18% of all food calories and around a third of protein.
The mighty hoofprint of farmed meat isn’t just inefficient. Deforestation to make way for livestock, along with methane emissions from cows and fertilizer use, creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the world’s cars, trucks and airplanes. Meat rearing practices risk mass extinctions of other animals, as well as spawn significant pollution of streams, rivers and, ultimately, the ocean.
In October, scientists warned that huge reductions in meat eating are required if the world is to stave off dangerous climate change, with beef consumption in western countries needing to drop by 90%, replaced by five times more beans and pulses.
Consumption of pork, milk and eggs will also need to decline sharply, all as the world’s population balloons by an extra 2 billion people by 2050. Researchers said there will need to be a global shift to a “flexitarian” diet to help keep the global temperature increase from breaching a 2C limit agreed by governments.
In a clumsy attempt to conflate the report with the work of the Tax Working Group, whose final report is due to be published soon, the story started to circulate that the Government wanted to tax meat consumption. I can safely predict that the report will not contain a recommendation that meat be taxed. The interim report does not mention the word “meat” once although it does explore the concept of environmental taxes.
Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter was asked about the possibity of a tax on meat and was reported as saying this:
Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter said the Government did not plan to tax red meat “at this stage”, but an increase in awareness about climate change was affecting people’s behaviour.
“Obesity and climate change are often framed as problems for individuals to change. This report shows it has been a failure of public policy and we need government action to protect our health and our climate.”
The usual suspects climbed in however and interpreted “not at this stage” as something more sinister. National MP Simeon Brown in particular should reflect on the contents of the eighth commandment because he has told a doozy.
Elements of the idiot media chimed in.
And it looks like the campaign may have some international coordination. As evidenced by this recent tweet from the UK:
And this from Canada:
To get back to the basics of this. The Government is not proposing to impost a tax on meat. The proposal came from an international committee of academics. But if we are going to address climate change we have to address how much red meat we eat.
Toad’s tweet sums it up in a way that even a National back bencher should be able to understand.