Friday, 18 December 2009

An Open Letter to Sir Paul McCartney ...Please Get Your Facts Right!

Oh dear! Oh Dear! Sir Paul

Please get your facts right before you slam the livestock farmers over carbon emissions.

On the 3rd Dec Sir Paul McCartney addressed the European Parliament in Brussels urging a move to vegetarian diets & launching a European campaign called "Less Meat=Less Heat". In doing so he ignored science & misquoted the UN 2006 report "Livestock's Long Shadow".

Much of the confusion over the relative importance of livestock & global warming comes from a sentence that reads " The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents). This is a higher share than transport"

This is clear nonsense given that the UK FAO has clearly stated prior to Copenhagen that.....

"Agriculture (in total)is a key source of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 14%. But the sector also has a high potential to reduce greenhouse gases by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering it in soils and plants and by reducing its own emissions."

Sadly Sir Paul is not a lone misinformed can add "Meatless Monday", Foodforchange lobby group & even The Lancet where researchers want a reduction in livestock not only to save the world from global warming but to save our health too
This has led to UK government ministers making ridiculous suggestions too.....wanting cattle numbers reduced by 30% in the UK
(It's not only the articles that worry me on these websites it's the public comments!!)
Nor has the BBC's role been exactly unbiased. I actually think the BBC's reporting of Copenhagen has been very poor....thank goodness for the Guardian newspaper.
There are several issues of importance to UK grass based dairy farmers in this mad debate:- firstly, there is alot of misinformation being used by all sorts of lobby groups & even poorly informed ministers.....there then follows much internet chat by the public on newspaper sites & twitter....these are changing the public's perception of livestock industries & dairyfarmers.
Secondly the UK public in general are appallingly ignorant about Global Warming & the risks to Agriculture & Food security worldwide.
And lastly good science is being lost in the debate.
Grass based dairy farmers need to work hard to argue for good science in our community to promote a better understanding of agriculture.....not only do we have climate change issues to tackle but we may well be the centre of many of the solutions to global warming too eg. Carbon Sequestration under permanent pasture grazed by dairy cows.
Agriculture & farmers have access to & are custodians to the future environment of much of the world land mass.....most of which is in pasture.
Our focus needs to be on research & on farm management that:- Improves grassland management to optimise yields per hectare & to increase the organic carbon in the top soils.
Top soil & permanent pasture with efficient grazing systems are not marginal ideas but central to global warming solutions. This crisis will reinvigorate grass/clover based systems & the renaissance of low input grazing for dairy cows.
We should be excited about but want to see more action on Biochar. Carbon needs to be seen as an agricultural commodity = a farm comodity that should be traded.
Never has it been truer to say 'The Answer lies in the soil'
Where is DairyCo????? One of the items on the DairyCo Business Plan is protecting the image & PR of dairy farmers.......Sorry I haven't seen them nor am I getting excited in anticipation! Each individual dairy farmer must take responsibility for the good PR of our industry.
But lets champion the likes of Prince Charles, Lal Rattan(Ohio State Uni), Frank Mitloehner (Davis Uni), David Garwes(RASE) & others who are up for "Good Science" & see agriculture as a solution not only to climate change but food security

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