By Peter Murphy
America and the rest of the world are headed for food shortages if policymakers enact laws based on climate change.
The effort to “decarbonize” or to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions has led to deliberate policies to reduce consumption of fossil fuel energy, that is, oil, natural gas and coal. It also is leading to policies to reduce livestock, namely cows since they emit methane, and nitrogen gas, which is essential to produce fertilizer for farming and food production.
The climate industrial complex comprised of non-governmental organizations, the United Nations, the Biden administration, government-funded scientists, activists, and virtue-signaling billionaires are relentless about wielding power and control over the global population, especially in the United States. The ostensible purpose for their tyrannical impulse is to address a supposed “climate emergency” affecting the planet they claim is inexorably turning warmer to the point of an “existential threat” to human life itself.
The climate alarmists’ delusional idea of controlling Earth’s climate means controlling Earth’s inhabitants, including what kind of energy we can use and what we can eat.
Meat is in the climate crosshairs, and not because these fanatics are vegetarians who care about animal rights. Rather, they wish certain animals did not exist, especially cows, which they view as a major climate malefactor since they flatulate methane gas that purportedly is warming the atmosphere and contributing to eventual planetary doom.
The logic of climate activists goes like this: banning beef means fewer cows, so less methane, less warming and we save the planet. Who knew that back yard barbeques and fast-food hamburgers put the planet in peril?
Restricting energy and beef consumption means the cost of both will rise to the point of being unaffordable to all but the wealthy.
Food prices have increased sharply due to general inflationary actions by governments that are cheapening the value of currencies and from policies to raise the cost of fossil fuel energy, which is essential to produce and transport food to the marketplace. In the U.S., food inflation has consistently exceeded overall inflation for more than a year. For example, in the 12 months ending in February, inflation jumped by six percent while food increased overall by 9.5 percent [update – trend continued in April].
A study by the University College, London, published in 2022, warned less fossil fuel also means extracting less sulfuric acid from these energy sources. Sulfuric acid is essential for producing phosphorus fertilizers that maintain global food supply. Restricting this ingredient will lead to less food production and shortages.
Fewer cows, less fertilizer and undependable energy will lead to food shortages and higher prices. Indeed, such climate policies are a recipe for malnutrition, starvation and revolution.
The canaries in the proverbial coal mine are two small nations on opposite sides of the planet: Sri Lanka and the Netherlands.
Sri Lanka banned the use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, which resulted in a major drop in the rice and tea production in 2022, both major exports of that nation. Rice alone is a staple food in Sri Lanka, which ended up having to import the product. The fertilizer ban greatly exacerbated underlying economic problems that led to rioting, a state of emergency and the fall of that nation’s government last July.
In the Netherlands, since at least 2019, climate policies have caused upheaval in the agriculture sector, which is the world’s second largest exporter of beef. To meet the European Commission’s rules for lower emissions, the Dutch government proposed to cut emissions from its agriculture sector in half by 2030. This necessitated reducing livestock through buying out or terminating farms, especially smaller, family-operated businesses which could not survive financially with fewer beef-producing cows.
Unable to afford using nitrogen fertilizer and reduced livestock, Dutch farmers rebelled. In 2019, they also created a new political party, the Farmer-Citizen Movement, which has won several provincial elections that determine the make-up of the Netherlands Senate. Since the Senate can block legislation from the lower house of Parliament, the nation’s policies to curtail nitrogen emissions and livestock are in jeopardy.
International organizations continue their crusade for meatless “climate smart” food production. The U.N. Environment Programme maintains that worldwide meat and dairy consumption — the cows, again — must be reduced by 50 percent by 2050.
The World Economic Forum has promoted the eating of insects, which it claims is an “unsung category of sustainable and nutritious protein,” and that “insects require less care and upkeep than livestock [and] positively impacts climate change.” Still, at the annual WEC meeting last January in Davos, Switzerland, attended by many the world’s political and financial elites, I hadn’t noticed insects were on the menu.
This penchant for power and control is not only replete in U.N. and other international organizations, but in the Biden administration. Samantha Powers, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, last year, said fertilizer shortages, particularly from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, are opportunities to “hasten transitions” in farming toward more so-called green alternatives.
The climate obsessive Bill Gates believes developed nations should convert to synthetic meat. He has been steadily putting his billions of dollars to work to become the largest private farmland owner in the U.S. and is an investor in plant-based protein companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. All of this is designed to reduce and ultimately eliminate farming and ranching that produce meat and dairy products for a balanced, enjoyable protein-rich diet for Americans and the world.
The founders of these companies in 2019 made the hysterical, self-serving assertion that, “the destructive impact of animal agriculture on our environment far exceeds that of any other technology on Earth; there is no pathway to achieve the Paris climate objectives without a massive decrease in the scale of animal agriculture.”
Curtailing carbon emissions by reducing fossil fuel energy use and meat consumption is all about the year 2050, which stands as the latest of many arbitrary climate goalposts established by U.N. bureaucrats. During this imminent, yet distant enough period, we are told the global community must achieve net carbon zero emissions to keep the average global temperature from rising by more than 1.5 degrees — or else …what? No one honestly can say since the number is more political than science based. Nor can anyone accurately predict if the temperature will warm due to higher carbon emissions. In fact, some indications suggest average global temperature may cool.
Global carbon emissions have risen steadily in the last 100 years (and longer) according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Yet, average planetary temperature has fluctuated throughout, while slightly warming overall during this period. Despite the predictions of so many climate charlatans, the polar ice caps remain, polar bears have proliferated, and wealthy people still own and build on oceanfront property. Moreover, warming periods are influenced by natural causes other than carbon and methane emissions, including ocean temperature and currents and sunspot activity. In reality, over millennia, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have no historic correlation to global temperature.
So long as politicians, billionaires, celebrities and their media stenographers warn us of planetary risk and doomsday in the future, they buttress their means for societal control and feed their self-importance. But, like our fellow global citizens in Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, we should unapologetically embrace freedom and promote genuine science to work in our chosen profession, warm and cool our homes, travel freely, and decide our own meal choices.
This article originally appeared at Eagle Forum
- Peter Murphy
- Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki.
- He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: https://www.petermurphylgs.com/
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