Climate/ecological breakdown

Where does that leave the ‘developing’ countries though, should they stop growing and return their populations to poverty?

I see the piece mentions ‘beef’, do we assume it’s okay to switch to pork or lamb instead? :grinning:

You’re equating ‘growth’ with ‘development’ there Tim. The point is made early on in the linked article - and it’s a point explored in detail by many proper academic analyses - that the poverty of ‘developing’ countries is the inverse side of the same coin as the wealth of ‘western’ countries. ‘Developing countries’ were perfectly viable, even rich, before the colonialists and slavers came - it was exploitation of labour and natural resources - and pretty often simple looting -that was largely responsible for the existence of rich and poor nations.

Beef is the most damaging - actually by quite a long way - but it’s important in my view to avoid simple ‘either/or’ choices. The first priority is to stop buying industrial food - heavily processed ‘convenience’ food - and get into proper cooking (which fits perfectly with the ‘degrowth’ vision of working less in ‘bullshit jobs’ and spending more time in our homes, families and communities).

But in terms of diet I think we should try to eat a mainly plant-based diet - if possible locally and organically grown - with perhaps occasional meat or fish, giving preference, obviously, to the least environmentally damaging choices.

This is the vision:

In short, life in a degrowth economy would involve less work, and more time together. Less individual ownership and more sharing. Less debt and more services provided by the government to everyone. It’s a ‘back to basics’ approach with more time in nature doing things we enjoy with people we enjoy, less time working to pay for things that we don’t need or use very often. We have more meaning in our lives because we have a greater sense of community, co-operation, and connection, rather than the current focus on individualism and perpetually trying to find happiness through our next purchase.

The change is so radical that it won’t happen in our lifetimes. You can do it because you’re retired and I guess I could at a push but for the majority of the West not a chance.

The reality is though that it’s mainly the young, not the old that are advocating and making these changes in their own lives. Why is this? because for them there is no choice. Our lifestyles and economies are literally unsustainable. For young people the only realistic choice is between taking environmental action now, or the disaster that will at some point overtake their future lives.

Seriously, if that’s correct why are fast food chains booming across the world?

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Do you remember the old ‘random facts’ app Tim?

You need to look up age-based surveys of views on the environment - there are hundreds, all (as far as I know) offering support for my view that it’s the young rather the old that are advocating environmental action.

To address your specific question - it’s a feature of globalised capitalism. As developed countries discouraged smoking, the tobacco industry saturated developing countries with advertising to hook as many people as possible, even though they knew it would kill many of them. Junk food is directly comparable with this: it acts on the brain, physically, in very similar ways to addictive drugs, and is also similar in terms of psychology.

And please don’t come back with those simplistic ‘big business is only responding to demand’ kind of arguments - nobody really believes that Tim, least of all those really in power in big business, who are nowadays almost entirely focused on ‘creating demand’.

I have read many reports in both camps and its not as clear as you think. Over consumption drives a trend like Americans who eat huge portions. Amazed that vegetarian diets do well for some whilst meat is better for others but as you said processed food in particular processed vegetarian diets are far worse so storing up problems in a few years time.
Both camps do well as does the planet when we stop grazing 18 hours a day on processed junk, eating less is better for our health and our planet and the reduction of reliance on medication to put right what was caused by things damaging us and the planet.

I would be interested though, @tim17 , in what you think we should do about imminent climate/ecological breakdown?

You responses here seem to move from ‘random facts’ and questions that are generally associated with ‘denialist’ or ‘sceptical’ perspectives, through to the helpless ‘it won’t happen in our lifetimes’ resignation to disaster. What do you really think?

But are you approaching this more from a healthy diet perspective Corona?

All things considered - including aspects like methane production, the type of land taken by beef as opposed to alternative uses, the sheer volume of beef production, etc - most environmental scientists agree that beef is more damaging than other foods.

I’m well aware of what ‘needs to happen’ to avert the impending climate meltdown but I’m also conscious that the majority of the world’s population are in denial by default, whilst I mostly agree with the sentiment and ideas in the Resilience piece it is such a radical change to what we do now that people will dismiss it.

A lot of my comments are flippant simply because I don’t believe there will be enough change in my lifetime, you just have to look at little progress has been made on reversing climate damage since the start of the century to see that.

I know you are a great champion of ‘the young generation’ but I just don’t see that that the current crop are much different to previous ones, if they were then why are ‘fast fashion chains’ expanding along with ‘fast food’ (you’re not telling me that the over 60’s are the age group driving this), then there are the social media ‘influencers’ who are predominately under 30, the list is endless.

I’m happy to alter my lifestyle to help the climate but then I’m mean so I know it also helps my wallet, if everyone followed my example the world would be fine. :grinning:

When I can find it Geof, I’ll try to post links to data that clearly shows the alleged methane problem in cattle mostly relates to indoor reared cattle, fed a processed diet. Cattle along with other farmed animals do an invaluable job in locking carbon into the soil and providing nutrients not just for the pastures but other organisms that live in the soil. A vast amount of the worlds over production of methane is generated by human waste activity, rubbish tips containing excess vegetable matter produce colossal amounts and is an issue that should be prioritized as in need of urgent change. Blaming meat production is a simple and easy target and profoundly flawed argument.


It is a popular conclusion, not sure of its accuracy. You can farm beef on land you cannot grow or easily harvest crops. Animal breeding can have a symbiotic help for poor quality land.
The ridiculous size of agriculture to grow crops like soy and maize to feed to animals that dont naturally eat such things in order quickly fatten animals is all steered by who’s paying for the research and whether they have internal bias like vegetarian often do.
Trying to sort through the conflicting information is really hard.
Over production of anything to feed mans desire for constantly available trash food is mans own desire to become more ill and die out.

The production of soya is massively destructive especially to the Amazon rainforest! Roughly 80% of soy oil is extracted for use in human foods, it’s extracted using chemical solvents like hexane, residue from this stays in the end product along with nickel and aluminum. Most soya is grown using Roundup and residue also remains in the oil. I try to avoid as many processed food and foodstuffs as possible, but it’s not easy as stuff like this is hidden in so many things.


This is one of the myths that a vegetarian/vegan diet is healthy for the planet let alone ourselves as so much is highly processed.

Plus we conveniently forget the damaging air miles involved! We do need to change our attitude to food but it has to be a well thought out balanced approach, starting at the bottom, the health of the soil we all depend on.

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It has been said that roundup is the guts of most western people. The fact Monsanto patented as an antibiotic is beyond anything except it killed off most of the microbiome and left people open to C-diff, I am seriously looking for real information on chlorinated/flourinated water consumption and the gut microbiome.

Everything we produce on mass has a big effect on our climate and all so a very few can become super rich. Bring back le guillotine!

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Many thanks Debby.

Just to be clear I’m not a vegan/vegetarian purist, and agree that the main problem is not having a little meat and fish in your diet, but eating ‘industrial’ food - including intensive chemical crops.

The other issue with beef nobody has mentioned is dairy - and I’m a great cheese-lover. Although I think it’s clear that a mainly plant-based diet is best all round, I also think some small scale mixed farming, including some with cattle integrating milk and meat production, and enhancing soil fertility, would be desirable.