By Georges R. Dupras, Director | January 17, 2022
I doubt that anyone is surprised at the apparent lack of movement by our government since Cop-26, 2021 in Scotland. In fact, if anything, our response has been business as usual. This apparent inertia is not exclusive to Canada and I’m sure that Covid-19 has had a lot to do with our lack of progress.
Each delegation assured the assembly that they were committed to climate change objectives. Despite these promises, the Trans-Mountain pipeline continues to cross native lands carrying Bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta. The possibility of accidents aside, the end use of this product, as well as a return to so-called clean coal, does not suggest that we’re moving forward.
Modern day animal industries appear to have been given a free pass despite the damage caused by methane gases, which we are told, create greater damage than the fossil fuel industry. Concentrated Animal Food Operations are not only responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, but there is compelling evidence linking commercial animal production to pandemics. As for dealing with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, this same government, along with the provincial authorities in British Columbia, has turned a blind eye on the felling of old growth forests.
OLD GROWTH FORESTS
These ancient trees act as an environmental Registered Retirement Savings Plan for the environment. While our use of fossil fuels is at its highest level, and still climbing, these trees absorb tons of GHG and hold these gasses in a sort of depository. In years to come, when we have diversified and developed other sources of energy, our dependence on fossil fuels will subside. When the old growth giants finally die, they will release their captive gases – but into a much lower density. The impact on the environment should be considerably less. This projection can be improved if we change our present mindsets from trying to produce more food, through cattle ranching, fish farming, genetic re-introduction of extinct species or modification of food animals, to becoming more efficient with the food we already have.
Plant-based food production could see us reduce our carbon dioxide levels by just under one billion tons by the end of this century*. By reducing our dependency on animal agriculture, a significant cause for loss of habitat, due to cattle grazing, we can return more land to wildlife and to the plants that are an important component for many of our pharmaceuticals.
Having written before about the connects that exist between humans, animals, health, climate change, environmental degradation and loss of species, I would think that changing our mindset to one of efficiency rather than growth, might be our best option for years to come. This will not happen if our elected representatives confuse talk for action in order to protect their personal or political ambitions.
*Dr. Paul Behrens, Leiden University, Netherlands.
** One facility in southern California houses just short of one hundred thousand pigs while another CAFO in Ontario has several stories of living inventory.