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Is the next step a Meat Tax??

This weeks long read is an article I wrote on the green economy and an inclusion of a meat tax.

Can humans change their behaviour without economic incentive? Let me know what you think!

We have entered into an age of human caused ecocrisis, a situation compromised of climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat loss, pollution and countless other pressing issues (Curry, 2011). In order to survive on this planet we must keep our population and ecological footprint below the carrying capacity (van den Berg, 2012). One of the largest contributors to a human’s footprint, especially their water footprint, is the consumption of meat (Mekonnen & Hoekstra, 2012). If everyone were to replace all meat in their diet by an equivalent amount of crop products such as nuts it would result in a 30% reduction of the food-related water footprint of the average American citizen (Mekonnen & Hoekstra, 2012). Although it seems like vegetarianism and veganism would be the obvious solution, global meat production has almost doubled between 1980 and 2004, and this upward trend in meat consuming behaviour will continue given the projected doubling of meat production in the period 2000 to 2050  (Mekonnen & Hoekstra, 2012). One solution is that businesses internalize the environmental impact of the beef, as well as take into account the price of the animal’s life, so that meat would quickly become a luxury good, inducing a forced behaviour change.

One of the reasons that behaviour change has been so slow is that humans do not consider animals in our moral circle, the limits end at the human species. Peter Singer calls this prejudice “Speciesism”; bias in the favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species (1977). So far the only animals granted moral consideration are ‘higher’ species, those such as primates, but animals like cows and pigs are freely available for consumption (Curry, 2011). In addition to expanding our moral circle to include animals, Tom Regan argues for animal rights, and that animals have a right to life, which includes quality of life (1983).

Until all humans have widened their moral circle to include non-human animals, a social regime must establish preconditions to channel the greed and self-interest of its citizens (van den Berg, 2013). One method would be to turn to a green economy, which includes the direct valuation of natural capital and a full cost accounting regime in which costs can be accounted for by the entity that harms the animals, in this case the meat producing business (van den Berg and Meindertsma, 2013).

One of the six virtues of business is responsibility, a business must try to be a responsible citizen of the planet (van den Berg and Meindertsma, 2013). Consider in a green economy where meat producing businesses had to include the price of an animal’s life into the price of the meat, it would then become so expensive it would be considered a luxury good. If people were to be charged a higher price for animal products then demand for beef would fall, and less beef would be produced. Although to some people it may seem absurd for meat to be priced as a luxury good, taking the life of an animal should not be something we take so effortlessly for granted.

 

References
Curry, P. (2011). Ecological ethics. Polity
Mekonnen, M. M., & Hoekstra, A. Y. (2012). A global assessment of the water footprint of farm animal products. Ecosystems, 15(3), 401-415.
Singer, P. (1977). Animal liberation. Towards an end to man’s inhumanity to animals. Granada Publishing Ltd..
Van den Berg, F. and Meindertsma, J. (2013) Business Ethics. Infograph. Utrecht University, NL
Van den Berg, F. (2012) Ethics: Philosophy for Sustainable Development and a Better World. Infograph. Utrecht University, NL
Van den Berg, F. (2013) Philosophy for a Better World. Prometheus Books

Book Review – Deniers and Freedom

Hi everyone, I just wanted to share with you a book review I wrote a short while ago. It’s on the book by James Delingpole “Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future (2012). Give my review a read and let me know what you think! What is the craziest conspiracy you’ve heard?

One common theme amongst conspiracy theorists is that their arguments are rooted in liberalism, and they use these arguments to play upon people’s inherent fear of the loss of their freedoms. This argumentation can be seen when examining the James Delingpole’s book “Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future” (2012). If the public can acknowledge this strategy it is possible to take a more critical look at theories put forward by denialists, and not be so easily persuaded. 

In the book “Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future” James Delingpole relates global warming, and its call to action, to a massive international plot to replace our current western world with a New World Order (2012). “So brazenly open are the leading ideologues of the green movement about their plans for New World Order, I’m not even sure the word ‘conspiracy’ properly applies.” (Watermelons, 2012). A New World Order is a common theme amongst conspiracy theories that includes the emergency of a totalitarian world government (Goldberg, 2001). In Delingpole’s New World Older this totalitarian government would impose rationed resources, enforced equality and a barter system all executed under the gauze of environmental regulation (2012). Although these claims seem hard to believe from a scientific perspective his arguments are based on limiting of freedoms and are getting through to the public, one review of Delingpole’s “Watermelons” says that ´Delingpole makes a strong case that this cunning hijacking of well-meaning concern for nature by ambitious ideologues is hidden in plain sight.´ (Spectar 2012). 

Liberalism is a philosophical idea that has been characterized by liberals such as John Stuart Mill, who defined liberalism to be the absence of interference from government and from other individuals (1869). Liberals claim that freedom to develop unique abilities and capacities is a right; “the only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way” (Mills, 1869). Many global warming deniers such as Delingpole have a common neoliberalist ideology, they detest communism and socialism, and most things to do with regulation (Groenewege, 2015). Delingpole’s book refers to those that sympathize with the environmental movement as “Watermelons” which means that they are green on the outside, but red on the inside; using an environmental façade to cover their true communist intentions (2012). Deniers and conspirators take Mill’s theories to the extreme, labelling every act that may potentially compromise your freedoms as censorship and government control. Conspirators like Delingpole are aware that they initially seem irrational, and so they back up or contrast their arguments with cherry picked quotes from scientists, who seem to be completely delirious when it comes to expressing their dislike for the human race and the idea of freedoms, therefore making the conspirator’s argument seem like the rational one.

Through the use of fear mongering, cherry picking of facts, and pushing arguments forward with the label of liberalism, Delingpole (2012) and other deniers hope to convince the general public of their theories. However by realizing these tactics, it is hard to imagine someone will read these theories as an objective source of information on climate change and environmentalism.

Resilience Work Week

Hello again!

I’ve just finished up with the resilience work week at Cordaid (there I am on the left in the flower dress!). It was a great week of idea sharing and coming up with actions for the future. We had colleagues here in the Hague come from all over the world, and it was very interesting to hear how they implement community resilience projects in their countries and cities.

One of my favourite stories was hearing how Cordaid is promoting social interaction and resilience building in Kenya by creating a local soccer league that merges kids from two warring tribes. This was kids and parents are playing together as a team. Check out more on this project at https://www.cordaid.org/en/news/woman-changing-world/ 

Very excited to see the next projects to come out of this working session!

Consultant to hire!

Hello everyone,

Very excited to say that I’ve decided to branch out into the world of consulting. Although I have very much enjoyed the stability of full time paid work, I feel that consulting would give me the freedom I desire to explore different projects in new locations.

If you, or anyone you know, if looking for an expert in the field of sustainability, environmental education, workshop facilitation, or related topics, do not hesitate to send me a message!