Brasilia and Now Ghent (Belgium) — Still Talking Climate Change & Agriculture

David Cassuto

So here I am on a plane again – this time to Belgium on my way to the Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, which is taking place in Ghent.  I’m back in steerage this time; no business class for our hero.  I swore I would never go back but here I am.

Amidst all the hubbub, I need to recap my time in Brasilia even as I head for Europe.  Brasilia was a very interesting time and I once more want to reiterate my gratitude to the U.S. State Department for making my time in Brazil so rich and rewarding and for taking such good care of me.  This was my first time in Brazil’s capital and I enjoyed it – from the stunning architecture to the fact that the city is laid out like an airplane.  In addition to speaking at private university (entirely successful and well-attended), I lectured also to a government think tank called IPEA.  There, I encountered probing questions from a very informed audience.  When I mentioned the idea of treating meat consumption as a luxury for purposes of regulating and taxing carbon emissions, one of my hosts asked what I thought of the idea of a “meat cap.”  Not only is it an intriguing notion about which I need to think more, but so much do I love the term that even if it were a completely wacky idea, I would probably support it anyway.                    Continue reading

Victory for the Horses?

Seth Victor

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a Republican governor in a traditionally blue state, and an unapologetic brash mover and shaker in Trenton, judiciary and legislature be damned.  He has been making headlines this week following his announcement that the State will essentially take over Atlantic City and other entertainment facilities. This move is intriguing for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the property and land use suits that will inevitably arise from it, since there will be a state takeover of the casinos, while potential privatization of the state managed sports arenas. Having been to Atlantic City, I’m happy for action that will make the place a more desirable attraction, but I am concerned about the impact Christie’s decision will have on the horses.

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More on the Meat/Climate Change Nexus

The link between livestock agriculture (particularly but not exclusively industrial agriculture) and climate change is getting some serious discussion, albeit not by those who actually pass laws about such things.  I’ve blogged about the issue here and am finishing up an essay for the Animals & Society Institute on CAFOs and climate change.

Legal Planet has a post discussing a colloquy at Grist.org about the issue.  The Grist dialogue features Tom Philpott, a sustainable agriculture maven from North Carolina, and Eliot Coleman, an organic farmer and author from Maine.  Essentially, Philpott claims that meat agriculture is a significant contributor to climate change and Coleman says it isn’t (although he decries industrial agriculture).  You can decide for yourself who gets the better of the exchange.  The trio of essays (Sean Hecht’s Legal Planet post and the Grist exchange) very much merit reading.

–David Cassuto

Agriculture, Climate Change and the UNFCC

The International Federation of Agricultural Producers has produced a declaration addressing the role of agriculture in both causing and potentially mitigating climate change.  The document bears reading in its entirety both for what it says and for what it does not.  It advocates creating a framework for carbon sequestration and for increased access to and better technology for the most vulnerable members of the agricultural sector.  The declaration also acknowledges the significant role of agriculture as an anthropogenic source of greenhouse gases (13.5%).

It does not, however, mention industrial farming — a significant and worrisome omission — though it does discuss the need to make agriculture more efficient.  The latter statement, while true, sails perilously close to the deceptive rhetoric of Big Food.  Unless accompanied by specific recommendations, this type of assertion could send next December’s United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) meeting in Copenhagen hurtling toward the abyss.

–David Cassuto