A roundup of some of the main news stories over the past few months
By Bronwyn Slater
Amazon in Flames
More than 2000 fires were raging in the Brazilian Amazon during August. These fires happen every year. Most are started deliberately in order to clear land for cattle grazing. You can read more in our article on the fires here.
June and July hottest months on record
July 2019 was the hottest month on record globally since records began, with heat waves affecting many parts of the world. The continent of Africa experienced its hottest month on record, and countries across Europe — including France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and Luxembourg — experienced the hottest days in their nations’ history.
July was 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit (.95 degrees Celsius) warmer than the average of 56.9 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the 43rd July in a row (and the 415th consecutive month) with temperatures above the 20th century average.
It followed the hottest June on record, with temperatures rising .71 degrees Fahrenheit (0.95 Celsius) above the average temperature for that month. Scientists say that as long as the world continues to emit greenhouse gases at the current rates, climate change-related impacts will continue to be felt.
IPCC Report says plant based diet could help fight climate change
A new report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) entitled ‘Climate Change and Land’ was announced in August. The report argues that the current climate crisis cannot be solved only by cutting emissions from transport, factories, and the energy sector. It urges changes in the way food is produced and how land is used. It encourages the adoption of plant-based diets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stating that half of all methane emissions come from cattle.
“The consumption of healthy and sustainable diets, such as those based on coarse grains, pulses and vegetables, and nuts and seeds … presents major opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the report says.
Extinction Rebellion to team up with Vegan Activists
A new group has been set up in partnership with Extinction Rebellion to encourage people to go vegan as part of the fight against climate change. ‘Animal Rebellion’ will take part in a 2-week long series of protests in October to communicate the urgency of ending the animal agriculture and fishing industries, and the need to transition to a plant-based food system to stop climate change and restore biodiversity.
Members say that they want ministers to end subsidies for meat and dairy, and to encourage farmers to switch to growing crops. They also want the government to support the public in adopting plant-based diets to help reach the target of zero-carbon.
UN Issues Urgent Warning on Antibiotic Resistance
A new report says the overuse of antimicrobial drugs in humans and animals is creating resistant pathogens that could kill 10 million people annually by 2050.
Antibiotics are vastly overused in farming and this is one of the biggest factors behind the growing problem of resistance. Globally, by far the majority of antibiotic use is for animals. Antibiotics are also used as growth promoters in animals, something which is illegal in the UK and US but is common elsewhere. Fish farming is also a major concern, as the use of antibiotics has been largely overlooked in that industry.
“The threat of antibiotic resistance is as great as that from climate change”, said England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies. The report calls for the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in farm animals to be abolished globally, and for the strongest antibiotics to be reserved for human use.
UK should cut meat and dairy by 50% by 2030
The Eating Better alliance, which is made up of more than 60 organizations including Compassion in World Farming and the WWF, presented a report to politicians, businesses, and NGOs at Westminster in July. The alliance told MPs that the UK should cut its meat and dairy consumption by 50% by 2030, citing the impact animal agriculture has on the planet.
“The value of diversifying diets to include more vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and pulses is clear. But it isn’t always easy for people to make good food choices. The Eating Better alliance are clear that this is a complex challenge which no one can achieve on their own”, the group said.
The organisation does not advocate for veganism, however, as they encourage farmers to create a “livestock sector that works with nature and delivers excellent production standards and decent living conditions for farmers”.