Saturday, December 02, 2006

Adapting vs. Curbing Climate Change #1

David Cameron has endorsed the Slow Food movement. One reason he cited: "And it matters greatly to the environment – not least because of the carbon emissions that come from air-freighting food around the world." The question of the contribution food air-freight makes to carbon dioxide emissions is one I have no real inclination to tackle in this post. Instead, I just think it is important to note that Stern was having an absolute tiz about the effect global warming would have in lowering agricultural production.

The Slow Food movement's doctrine, like that of organic farming, is a response to modern farming methods but these methods weren't created by industry because they thought the idea of filling planes with tomotoes was funny or they had a rather sadistic relationship with certain insects. They are all designed to increase yield. Now, if our problem is declining agricultural land the most plausible response is increasing yields further through technologies, like genetic modification speeding up the old processes of breeding improved plants and lifestock, as these improvements have allowed us to escape Malthusian Traps before.

The idea of trading secure food supplies at their current level and the possibility of further increase in yields as technology continues to improve for the marginal reduction in emissions brought by the Slow Food movement is not sensible.

1 comment:

Calvin Jones said...

Hi I thought you might be interested in supporting this petition for contraction and convergence and carbon rationing.

Tim Worstall has already endorced it ;-)