A new approach… to Chomp Climate Change

As the UN climate conference began this week in Durban, South Africa, twenty years had passed in which constant increases in greenhouse gas emissions continuously broke the promise of the framework that countries are trying to salvage in Durban.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that petitions promoting alternative approaches are now being put forward by organizations whose efforts to implement the old framework have coincided with rising atmospheric carbon.

For example, the World Bank, where I’ve worked for 23 years, has endorsed an “open letter” asking negotiators at Durban “to recognize the important role of agriculture in addressing climate change” (a thttp://www.agricultureday.org/openletter). The rationale for doing something like this was affirmed on November 9 when the International Energy Agency reported that the next five years will likely be the world’s last real chance to combat climate change (at http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org).

In this context, those at Durban may find it useful to consider the analysis contained in the new “Chomping Climate Change” project.

One of the key sources for this project’s analysis is the physicist Alan Calverd, who in 1995 wrote in Physics World that he was “[not] convinced that CO2 is a significant contributor to climate change.” Others who have been as unconvinced as Dr. Calverd may be partly responsible for the world’s failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But Dr. Calverd was bolder than most. In Physics World he proposed that those who could see difficulty in reducing fossil fuel usage should be especially open to consider a more simple and inexpensive approach, which would involve replacing livestock products with alternatives. As evidence for the scientific and economic basis of his proposal, he testified that he was neither a vegetarian nor an animal rights advocate (at http://www.sciencefile.org/system/component/k2/item/2499-a-radical-approach-to-kyoto).

Similar proposals were made in 2008 and 2009 by none other than Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Nicholas Stern, author of the seminal Stern Review on the economics of climate change. But they did not keep pressing their proposals after seeing negotiating parties and others ignore them. Perhaps they will see fit to raise their proposals again, now that there seems to be fresh interest in looking at ways in which agriculture can address climate change.

Under these circumstances, it seems to be a good time to launch a project on “Chomping Climate Change” (at http://www.chompingclimatechange.org/). The project’s website and forthcoming video aim to raise awareness on how measures involving simple changes in diet and growing more trees can achieve the objectives of the negotiating parties in Durban.


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