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The 9% Lie: Industrial Food and Climate Change

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/28/9-lie-industrial-food-and-climate-change


Excellent article!!!

This is good too

The Role of Biology in Climate Change



Ronnie forgot to mention that we need to overthrow capitalism first, just a little thing…


Overthrow capitalism and do what?

Three of the five regenerative practices listed in the column involve animals. Those three should be replaced by one practice: Go vegan.

A vegan diet eliminates CAFOs and all of the problems and horrors associated with them, it lowers your cholesterol levels, makes you healthier, and thereby reduces overall health care costs, and it frees up all of the farmland now used to grow corn and soybeans for animal feed and allows that land to be used for trees or hemp to recapture carbon.


What do we do with all the domesticated animals? I think it is going to be a slow process. Change a little everyday, go on tree time.

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Democratic Socialism is heavily regulated capitalism. Maybe start with that first.

Incrementalism people! ; - ) lol


nice thought but I don think we have that much time left.


Well, it is not the first time this has happened, but we do have choices(a good thing) that will determine the future. Humans are not the most adaptable creatures on the planet but we do share a commonality with trees and also destiny.

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Actually, I think the 9% figure is the reasonable one to quote, even though the author is correct in saying that improving agricultural practice will have positive effects on the other sectors contributing to our carbon footprint. This is great news - as it illustrates how there are multiple things that we can do to contribute to a solution to global warming.
Let’s look at the chart on the EPA website cited by the author. It gives the following as percentage contributions to greenhouse emissions:
Agriculture: 9%
Transportation: 29%
Electricity: 28%
Industry: 22%
Commercial & Residential use: 12%
(the information comes from this report.)
Obviously these numbers are intended to be categories so that the total will add to 100%. But in reality these are really overlapping categories, so you need to make a decision about what category particular emissions should go in. Food is transported from the producer to the customer - should that go under agriculture or under transportation? I think putting it under transportation is the sensible thing to do. Huge amounts of cement are needed to build roads and bridges. Should that be put under transportation or under the cement industry usage? I think putting it under the industry side is sensible. I say these are the sensible categorizations because that is where it is better tracked. You can much more easily track how much fuel is used in total than try to track how much is used in transporting food and try to account for that under agriculture (i.e. things are in the categories they are in order to make the data more reliable - a good thing).

But this is precisely why the article’s describing the overlaps is good news. It implies we can reduce the carbon footprint in the overlap in more than one way. If food is produced and consumed locally - you have less need for trucks running around needlessly. But also, if trucks run on renewable fuel then transporting things leaves a lower footprint.

The fact that efficiencies in one sector improve things in other sectors is a reason for hope - not despair. In the opposite direction, it also shows how inefficiencies in one sector compound themselves into other sectors - but hey - I’m an optimist.


California is working on the transportation portion of reducing emissions as we speak. I’m optimistic, but with a huge asterisk. I’ve written about it before, but driving up the cost of transportation in some way, either directly via vehicle and gas taxes for example, or indirectly through making capacity-inceasing transportation projects more expensive (which is what California is doing), is the most effectual way of reducing transportation emissions. The theory is raising transportation costs changes land use—encourages compact development—and drives investments in regional transit and rail.

The problem we are facing in California is voters don’t seem to like a lot of this while professing to want to deal with climate change. The new governor is already wavering on some of his most aggressive initiatives and the previous governor put out technical guidance much looser than he initially proposed on VMT reductions. The legislature tabled a bill that would have given Air Resources more ability via the permitting process to oversee transportation projects and the Board itself, after much resistance on the local side, has refused to list carbon as a criteria pollutant. We are trying to move forward, but in a state way ahead of other states on climate change initiatives, it’s proving to be difficult to get people away from large vehicles and into compact development. Voters back climate change initiatives, as long as they don’t have to make sacrifices themselves. It’s a conundrum.


True - the political fight is definitely front and center in the climate crisis. Elect a man like Trump in the U.S. who promotes rather than works to eliminate fossil fuel use and the environment takes a huge hit. Elect a man like Bolsonaro in Brazil who promotes exploitation rather than protection of the rain forest and the environment takes a huge hit.

The solutions are there. The political will is another matter.


As I noted, some of the more aggressive measures both the present and previous governor were looking at have been set aside, and the state is now looking at more indirect ways of altering transportation behaviors. My hope is we figure it out here (as we mostly have with cap and trade) so other states have a way forward and/or new leadership in Washington does.

To that latter point, the FHWA and EPA are not helpful at all right now. That’s the other huge wrinkle. Where the previous administration was hands off about or encouraged GHG reduction measures, the current one does not even permit its employees to discuss these things openly at professional conferences. There’s a not unreasonable likelihood that California could lose millions of dollars of federal highway funding if the Feds don’t like our new transportation metrics, which aren’t focused on congestion reduction and capacity increases. On a personal level, I can’t stress how important this next election is if we are really serious about climate change. Even a hands-off DOT Secretary could be all the difference.

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From the article:

Otherwise, we’ll pass the point of no return – defined as reaching 450 ppm or more of CO2 in the atmosphere sometime between 2030 and 2050 – when our climate crisis will morph into a climate catastrophe. That’s when the melting polar ice and Arctic permafrost will trigger catastrophic sea rise, fueling deadly forest fires, climate chaos, crop failures, famine and the widespread disintegration of society as we know it.

We should be grown-up enough to recognize the same thing cryospheric researchers are recognizing in 2019: Earth’s icecap has broken loose – maybe this means something.

I’m going to repeat that, with the assurance that this is not hyperbole (I wish it were) even though the agitprop machine has not yet seen fit to tell you anything about the dramatic demise of Earth’s icecap. I mean literally: Earth’s icecap has broken loose. Maybe you don’t believe me, but I’ve got photographic proof from Worldview.

That’s the northernmost tip of Greenland at 84N, today, folks. That big crack full of open water runs from there west over the entire Canadian Arctic Archipelago. These places are where the thickest ice is supposed to hold out until the very end, but meltwater from Greenland and points west has pushed away the whole icepack. This has never happened before.

Statisticians concentrate on whether the 2019 minimum will be a new record (< 2012) or a Blue Ocean Event (< 1 million km2), but we’re already sailing far out into uncharted waters with the icecap churning, and a slow-motion heatwave headed for Greenland.

Just the albedo (surface reflectance) implications of losing so much sea ice are jaw-dropping. A recent study finds the heating from sunlight hitting dark water instead of white ice will be the equivalent of 1 trillion tons of CO2 emissions (on top of 1.6 trillion so far in the industrial era). Another way of putting it: 25 years of emissions at current rates, only jammed into the next few years, as we watch the ice disappear.

It’s time to recognize that humankind has manifestly failed to avoid the worst from the climate crisis. The mission of the IPCC has crashed and burned. It’s going to be very bad. Don’t buy real estate in Florida. Get used to it. It gets worse and worse from now on, and we still have to stop fossil fuel extraction. Even if there’s no hope for us. We still have to do the right thing: to limit our continuing damage as much as possible; to absolutely stop the extraction of fossil fuels.


The impact has to be explained in a deliberate fashion, and repeated ad nauseum.

Awake to these facts
or the earth will break.

9% will make the meat or nothings eyes glaze over
Lets just say 20%

Screw the facts.
Considering everything in the article, we should lie like there is no tomrorow
Because there isnt one


Oops, sorry, I should have doublechecked the paper. In fact I should have linked it:

Loss of Arctic’s Reflective Sea Ice Will Advance Global Warming by 25 Years

The one trillion tons of CO2 equivalent from melting-ice albedo is correct, but the comparison to historical emissions I mangled. The correct figure: 2.4 trillion tons, so the Arctic albedo kick (which has already started) would be about 40% more, compared to historical emissions.

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LIfealism–an economy and civilization that prioritizes the needs of human and planetary life. There’s no way to save humanity and planet if we hold onto an economic model whose core values and principles inevitable create the problems that are destroying society and the planet.

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I agree with what you say, I’m not sure “overthrow” is the way to get there, and even if or when that happens what replaces that system? I think there is a natural response for restoration when something is in collapse. Also, there is a possibility of something worse. I would think we can still take humane steps regardless of economic models. You have to start by seeing it differently.

Not a coincidence that they involve animals – soil will not be built without them, and building soil health is the key to regenerating agriculture and all the other beneficial outcomes Ronnie discusses. Going vegan solves nothing.

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Sometimes I savor your verses a few days
before I can decide whether I like them or not.
Take that however you like.
For my part, I’m digging the ambiguity so far,
like moral suspense?