Credit: CIWF

Looked at through the lens of the four seasons, our society is currently living through summer, an endless party, a time of limitless consumption as if the planet has no boundaries. Yet, the browning leaves of autumn are starting to show as anxiety grows over the climate crisis.

The world’s leading climate scientists delivered a ‘final warning recently as rising greenhouse gas emissions push the world to the brink of irrevocable damage that only swift and drastic action can avert.

Carry on as we are, and we face a perpetual winter. Covid-19 gave us a collective taste of that perpetual winter. It showed how society is vulnerable, fragile, not to be taken for granted.

We urgently need a new spring. The good news is there are beautiful, life-affirming, compassionate solutions to help us get there.

But with time running out, we need to focus on where we can have the most impact.

So, what is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other sector? – it’s food.

Animal agriculture alone is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s planes, trains and cars put together.

Yet, when governments the world over come together to discuss climate, food barely gets a mention.

It has hardly figured in global climate talks, rendering previous COPs (Conference of the Parties) a copout.

It’s the elephant in the room.

Confined and crated, exhausted looking sows in dark sow stalls | Credit: CIWF

Addressing the elephant in the room means facing up to the prospect that as things stand, over-consumption of meat alone could trigger catastrophic climate change.

Which is why we need a food system based on capturing carbon, working in harmony with Mother Nature, and respecting the welfare of animals.

All of which can be done with nature-friendly farming, something desperately needed if we are to address the climate emergency and save the future for our food. Soils are vital for growing food and store carbon that would otherwise be heating the atmosphere. As soil degrades and disappears, so it releases that carbon.

Current industrial agriculture with chemicals and cages is undermining our soils and heating the planet. Unless we change course, the UN has warned we have just sixty years left before the world’s soils are gone.

As consumers, we can help by choosing to eat more plants, and less but better meat, ensuring that any we do eat comes from ‘better’ farming methods – more regenerative, nature-friendly food systems such as pasture-fed, free range or organic.

Done right, these can rewild the soil by returning animals to the land regeneratively as part of mixed rotational farms where they can help capture carbon underground by turbo-boosting soil fertility. Farmed animals can get to live their best lives, experiencing the joy of life.

Credit: Linda Yolanda

Governments too need to step up and show leadership by developing a UN global agreement to end climate and nature-damaging industrial agriculture. Transforming food systems so they protect the future for coming generations.

We are beyond the eleventh hour. We have received our ‘final warning’. For animals, people and the planet, the clock is ticking. There is no time to lose. What we do now will define the next one thousand years.

Note: A version of this blog was originally published as an article in The Scotsman on Friday 19th May 2023

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