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Biofuels and GM crops

On 7 Aug 2008 at 11:04pm Dirk Campbell wrote:
Been away at the Climate Camp - got arrested by Kent police at 3pm yesterday for refusing a mandatory stop-and-search. You might have seen me being manhandled to the ground last night on ITN - a few people have told me they saw the event featured. Anyway bail conditions are I can't go back to the scene of the 'crime' so here I am back in Lewes.
Thanks Webmaster for your kind words about Transition Town. I can now confirm Polly Toynbee will be speaking at the launch of the Lews Pound as - and you heard it here first (drumroll) - David Milliband won't be on a foreign tour in September as he will be preparing his campaign for the Labour leadership.
In answer to x's points re my post on the Lewes Pound: I did not say growth cannot continue in any form, I said that infinite growth is impossible within a closed system: that's a mathematical fact, no way round that one. The global economy is based on constant growth in all areas, so at some point it's going to reach its limit and many people think that is now. Hence rising fuel, food and commodity prices along with economic stagnation all at once.
GM crops cannot increase food supplies. Again it's a mathematical formula: whatever you get out is what you have put in. There is no way to make something out of nothing. A plant uses the resources around it to make itself. If there are not enough resources in the form of sunlight, water and chemical compounds in the soil, no plant can thrive no matter how much you fiddle with its DNA. Selective breeding (also known as traditional farming) has already produced the most abundant plants suitable for local conditions. Unfortunately world agribusiness has decided that these traditional plants cannot be grown any more as they cannot be patented. So they are replacing traditional crops with their own genetically modified and patented seeds which are not as abundant.
As regards biofuels, here is another simple mathematical formula for you: the more food you burn, the less you eat. Biofuel production has a direct impact on world food production, i.e. food scarcity and price rises. If we carry on driving as before but on biofuels instead of fossil fuels we will end up starving to death in a traffic jam.
On 7 Aug 2008 at 11:44pm Private Fraser. wrote:
We're doomed.....!!
On 8 Aug 2008 at 9:00am Hairdresser wrote:
Come and see me as you desperately need a haircut!
On 8 Aug 2008 at 9:48am Mystic Mog wrote:
A dramatic reduction in meat production is a simple way to reduce global warming and reduce hunger. However developing countries want a western diet and we, the west, are consuming more meat than ever before.
On 8 Aug 2008 at 12:58pm X wrote:
GM allows more opportunities to create plants that are more efficient with the same resources and is much more flexible than selective breeding, which requires useful genes to exist in the first place rather than be introduced. That said I agree with you on patents - GM used to create species that don't reproduce so farmers must be new seed each year are utterly unacceptable. But just because the legal situation is flawed doesn't mean it can't be fixed.
On the infinite growth point - the boundaries of the closed system aren't as fixed as you suggest. Technology has repeatedly shifted those barriers and there's no reason to think with the right effort that won't ever happen again. Few could of imagined the discovery of antibiotics for example and how that transformed life expectancy and health.
I agree with you on biofuels - it's a waste of argicultural land. Instead we need to look at electric and hydrogen technology for transport.
On 8 Aug 2008 at 7:51pm sashimi wrote:
Dirk, it's interesting that a large battalion of Police are sent to Kent to intervene in an innocuous political dispute, and that they operate an illegal mandatory search policy (it's meant to be selective and evidence-based) but they can't be arsed to check out a large gas canister on the disused railway at Malling that presents a clear and present danger to the public when it's reported by Neighbourhood Watch. Are they there to protect the public who pay them - or to prop up the state?
On 8 Aug 2008 at 8:25pm SHS wrote:
Oil no $116 a barrel & heard some companies are betting on prices as low as $70 before long. Luckily the threat of global warming and the spiralling national debt should cause transport taxes to be raised enough to counteract any short-term oil price drop, thus ensuring continued attempts at localisation. However we will have to fight the govt on this or trigger a local govt rebellion against central powers. That old castle could be useful.....
On 9 Aug 2008 at 1:15pm Dirk Campbell wrote:
Hairdresser thanks for the offer - my hair is usually neater than that, I was looking a bit dishevelled due to being forcefully manhandled by several police officers.
Sashimi, you're right the police operation is NOTHING to do with health and safety although that's the excuse they keep trotting out for their outrageous behaviour. It is political policing. Orders have come down from central government to 'criminalise' the demonstration and that is what they are obediently doing.
Poor policemen. They have to do exactly what they are told regardless of moral or ethical considerations. No wonder they are dehumanised. Seeing that in the flesh caused me to feel a deep grief which is still with me.
But the culprit is at the highest level of government. Gordon Brown has decided on a new generation of new coal-fired power stations and that's it. He is ultimately the criminal and a judicial review currently in preparation will prove that.
X I don't think you've quite got the point. Our culture is based on the assumption of infinite growth and the fact that it has in the past found ingenious new ways of using up resources is precisely the problem. Resources have been used up faster and faster and they are all now peaking. Increased human population due to successful medical treatment and longer lives is a contributory factor. I'm not saying stop modern medicine of course but please get this: resources are finite and if we carry on as we are, they will eventually run out, even if they are not now running out. It's just a matter of time unless we are willing as a species to change our culture, i.e. our assumptions and beliefs.
SHS good post, I agree! Police powers are being notched up all the time on grounds of 'health and safety' and localisation initiatives will soon be the target of that. Anything that takes power away from central government and puts it in the hands of local communities immediately attracts suspicion.
On 10 Aug 2008 at 3:46pm The Super K wrote:
And the winner of Prat of the year.........................................................Dirk Campbell
On 10 Aug 2008 at 4:33pm Swampy wrote:
Hope the old Bill kicked seven shades of s**te out of you and your filthy hippy bum-chums Dirk....you probably deserved it
On 10 Aug 2008 at 5:03pm Skeptic wrote:
Polly Toynbee to launch the Lewes pound, eh Dirk? Quelle surprise.

Yesterday's article in the Times about Polly and her chum Dave may be going a little too far, though I found it amusing nonetheless:
On 10 Aug 2008 at 5:36pm Spinster Of This Parish wrote:
Skeptic - the link contained in your post is hilarious, as are the comments associated with it!
On 10 Aug 2008 at 5:54pm Skeptic wrote:
Glad you enjoyed it SotP. It is about the best piece of satire I have ever read. I had not scrolled down as far as the comments section until I saw your post. This is my favourite:
"My dad was a newsagent, I went to state school, I'm Asian, I work in the city and I earn loads of money. I do it so my parents and future children can have something close to the only kind of life Toynbee has ever known. Me explain my position? How about she explains her right to speak for the poor?"
On 10 Aug 2008 at 7:45pm SHS wrote:
Granted some people on these green demos are far too one-sided, anti-everything and un-realistic. However imo the reason behind this particular demo was very valid - the govt continues to take rash decisions affecting everybody but without consulting anyone except a few so-called think-tanks and expensive consultants. In this case (although I've only skimmed a couple of headlines on the subject so may be wrong), it seems that plans have been rushed through to build more coal-fired power stations just when other nations are cutting back on coal to avoid heavy climate-change penalties. The result will be that you and me pay even higher fuel bills as taxes are added to pay for these multi-billion pound power stations and the associated emissions & global warming implications. Irrelevant whether global warming is really happening - it is now enshrined in law as a reason to impose huge financial penalties and taxes on businesses and consumers. It needs people to take action, not just open our wallets.
On 10 Aug 2008 at 10:36pm Dirk Campbell wrote:
Prat of the year... Is that what passes for intelligent comment among schoolboys these days? Anyone who calls himself The Super K can't be older than 14.
Hippy bum chums - what's with the homosexual fixation Swampy? Don't worry, it's just a phase, most pubertal boys go through it.
Actually SHS the Climate camp people are not anti everything, just anti cynical, short-sighted and self-serving government decisions in the face of the most serious challenge ever to face the human race, as the Stern report, David King and the majority of IPCC scientists have plainly stated. The fact that the majority of the people on this forum apparently can't engage intelligently with such issues says more about them than it does about the issues.
Unrealistic? The opposite in fact. There are some very good workable solutions to the climate change problem being designed and proposed. Unfortunately central government is more interested in large-scale power generation, which requires either fossil fuel burning or nuclear power. As I said above, all decentralising initiatives are regarded with suspicion by those who are invested in centralised power. So don't expect investment in developing free energy systems any time soon.
On 11 Aug 2008 at 1:19pm Mystic Mog wrote:
Dirk awating for you to comment on my suggestion or is reducing meat consuption more than a green activist can bear?
"A dramatic reduction in meat production is a simple way to reduce global warming and reduce hunger. However developing countries want a western diet and we, the west, are consuming more meat than ever before."
On 11 Aug 2008 at 2:04pm Class 1 Carnivore wrote:
Meat tastes good and I think we should eat more, loads more.
On 11 Aug 2008 at 3:05pm Taff wrote:
If God didnt want us to eat animals he would not have made them out of meat.
On 11 Aug 2008 at 4:30pm Mystic Mog wrote:
On 11 Aug 2008 at 8:23pm Dirk Campbell wrote:
You're right MM, meat-eating should be reduced or if possible avoided completely by anyone seriously concerned about green issues, and actually this is now widely accepted among eco-conscious people. Methane emissions from billions of ruminant animals are 20 times stronger as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Large areas of rainforest are cut down every year in the third world so as to raise animals to feed obese people in rich nations. Serious erosion and degradation of land is caused by overgrazing. And there are the moral issues of killing animals for food and the horrifying conditions animals and birds are kept in in many parts of the world.
There is no real justification for eating dead animals. Cannibals think that dead people taste good but that's not an adequate justification for killing people.
All the food at the climate camp was vegan and very nice it was too.
On 12 Aug 2008 at 8:18am Taff wrote:
100 hairy savages
sitting down to lunch
gobble gobble glup glup
munch munch munch
On 12 Aug 2008 at 8:37am Nosey Parker wrote:
Dirk, what a stupid post.
What about the methane produced by vegetarians and vegans? What about the methane produced by rice paddies?
If eco-conscious people had a conscience, they would not reproduce and would stop spouting hot air.
I'm off for a bacon buttie.
On 12 Aug 2008 at 10:39am Taff wrote:
Methane, a very large constituent of marsh gas. Marsh gas is a bi product of vegetable matter decomposing in an air free environment. So we all bloody contribute. Not just animals, farmed or wild!
Its OK to fart stood next to a Davy lamp!
On 12 Aug 2008 at 11:58pm Dirk Campbell wrote:
Everything that lives produces methane so therefore we should just carry on breeding animals to churn out millions of tons of it annually? Great thinking guys! If that were the typical level of intelligence among top decision makers we'd be stuffed. Oh hang on - it is. And we are.
On 13 Aug 2008 at 5:10am SHS wrote:
Prince Charles for King! Some spot-on comments from this noble young man yesterday.
On 13 Aug 2008 at 9:38am Taff wrote:
So you want to limit animal headcount, how are you going to apply that to humans?
What do you propose we do with foxes, badgers and all wild animals?
If vegetarians ate some meat would they produce less methane?
Some tough managament needed for these I think, which will probably result in too many years of procrastination before anything like a decision becomes apparent.
Or is it that the veggies and vegans are worried becuase these animals just might be eating their next meal?
On 13 Aug 2008 at 1:23pm Dirk Campbell wrote:
It's pretty simple Taff - if people ate less meat, farmers would breed less stock animals because there'd be less demand.

Ruminants - which is what carnivorous people eat - produce a lot of methane because they have to digest very fibrous plant matter. They have four stomachs and a complicated digestive process which produces large amounts of the gas both fore and aft.

Human desire for beef and mutton to feed themselves and their pointless domestic pets has created a whopping ruminant population which this planet has not evolved to cope with.

According to Caroline Lucas a vegan driving a 4x4 has less impact on global warming than a carnivore on a bicycle.
On 13 Aug 2008 at 1:30pm Dirk Campbell wrote:
Or do you mean how are we going to reduce the human population? Again, pretty simple: have less children.

How do we get the government to enforce that? Well they seemed to manage pretty well with the smoking ban. When pressure against a public nuisance gets strong enough and consistent enough, a democratic government will usually act.
On 13 Aug 2008 at 1:50pm Taff wrote:
Please dont touch the sheep!
On 13 Aug 2008 at 4:10pm not from around here wrote:
Hi Dirk,
Erm.. just how DID you get to Kent and back? You can't have used fossil fuels in any way shape or form so you must be really tired having walked all that way there AND back.
By the way I do not agree with the Police stop and search powers - I never have so I have some (not much but some) sympathy with you on that.
You may be right in much of what you say regarding sustainability but I'm afraid you cannot blame the government for their attitudes (I don't like them either - we need the tories back in) as they are doing what they were elected to do.
Although you may be well intentioned Dirk you do not speak for the majority as nobody voted for you, or the local currency, or transition town..
On 13 Aug 2008 at 4:19pm not from around here wrote:
"have less children" - that's easy for you to say as you've had yours - 3 isn't it?
You have also made your money with Adrienne and can afford to do whatever you please.
Please give others a chance to ruin the planet just as you did a few years ago.
Most of us don't have the luxury of spending infinite amounts of time pondering the complexities of global warming when we are working hard just to stay afloat.
On 13 Aug 2008 at 5:34pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I dread to think of the effects on the ozone layer of all those people eating vegan foods.......
the whole site must have been one big bio-hazard.
On 13 Aug 2008 at 5:40pm I SECOND THE ABOVE wrote:
Well said "not from around here".
Dirk, maybe it's time for you to stop making a (bigger) fool of yourself and cease posting.
On 13 Aug 2008 at 10:29pm Spinster Of This Parish wrote:
Pontificating that all should become vegetarian, reduce the amount of children that people have and belly-aching about "pointless domestic pets" is a bit too much to stomach from you.
How do you explain your collection of dead (musical) animals?
On 14 Aug 2008 at 9:22am George Doors wrote:
OK then, lets do absolutely nothing about global warming.
On 14 Aug 2008 at 9:38am Dirk Campbell wrote:
Oh I am guilty of much worse things than you accuse me of. Such as hiding behind pseudonyms so I can safely insult other people on chat forums, and using specious ad hominem attacks to create a distraction from genuinely important issues. Good job you don't know about that, eh!
On 14 Aug 2008 at 10:04am Taff wrote:
Thats not what we are saying George. We all have an appreciation of global warming. I dont for one minute think that all the details will or can be published because almost certainly there is someone(s) out there that will make a serious size wedge from it. Knowledge is power I think its called. With that not all nations are prepared to make the same commitment and trading off clean air is absolute fiction.
There are many simple ways to have an impact that even politics and the like will not commit to. Vehicle usage for instance, why dont they seriously look at improving transport systems if the really want people to reduce their car usage? Whats been done, bugger all. Need I go on.
I agree with some of Dirks points but as usual its a one sided opinion.
Why are we recycling glass bottles for them to be crushed and made in to other glass items, why cant they be recycled as bottles. The dairies used to do that not so long ago. Does steam sterilising use less energy that resmelting? I dont know but I wouldnt mind betting that somewhere down the line there is a Health and Safety regulation that states that recycled glass cannot be used for foodstuffs packaging!
Sorry but there is not enough time in the day to debate this issue to a conclusion, certainly not one that would satisfy all of us.
On 14 Aug 2008 at 6:01pm Mystic Mog wrote:
A very simple and effective way to help both world hunger and our impact upon global warming is to eat LESS meat in the Western world. Just go back to level we ate per head 40 years ago. (please note Taff et al I use the word LESS not none) That in itself will make a huge difference globally.
However no one is prepared to do this when there is such a huge meat lobby, twits who are chefs on telly all the time and idiots saying "I must have my meat". Also there are the usual crass non arguments like "what will happen to the farm animals", "veggies fart more than meat eaters", "vegans wear sandles and hug trees" etc. If one is to eat meat then it shuld be treated with respect and as a luxury. I never had steak until I was 20, brought up on bacon scraps, belly pork, stewing steak, road kill and capons.
If you wish to learn some facts go to www.ciwf.org
BTW Clint Eastwood is vegan
On 15 Aug 2008 at 8:05am Taff wrote:
So, people who MUST have meat are twits. A sound argument that will get a lot of support for sure. What a crying shame the same amount of awareness wasnt applied when deforestation started back in the 70s and 80s!
Each to their own I say, criticise all you want just be reasonable about it.
On 15 Aug 2008 at 8:47am Mystic Mog wrote:
There is a difference between "I must have my meat" and "I must have some meat". This illustrates my point. As I have said on this post numerous times - eat LESS meat. Less does not equal none. Personally I my view is none but I respect other's points of views - unlike others.
On 15 Aug 2008 at 10:57am Taff wrote:
Loads of people do eat less meat than in the past. Why? Because of modern processes, additives and preservatives.
On 15 Aug 2008 at 1:03pm Mystic Mog wrote:
You must have access to different statistics to me please share - or is this just your friends?
On 15 Aug 2008 at 1:50pm Taff wrote:
I was refering to the amount of food that is processed these days.
Most of my friends are carnivores as I am.
Statistics are just another way of not disclosing actual facts so I use a lot of pinches of salt with them.
On 15 Aug 2008 at 6:57pm Concerned wrote:
WHAT - you salt your food as well?!!!!!!!!
On 17 Aug 2008 at 3:14pm blindspot wrote:
The methane problem with livestock is mainly with ruminants such as cows so you can cut it by using less beef and dairy. Farmers can cut it in a number of ways. www.ecoagribiz-digital.com/ecoagribiz/200803/?pg=8 In australia they're planning to replace many cattle herds with kangaroos. www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7551125.stm
In discussing economic growth it helps to remember that growth of GDP (money flows) is not the same as growth in flows of resources-to-wastes. The first is not a closed system, the second is. This means that economic future growth is possible but not if nations blindly continue trying to get it by using up resources faster. www.blindspot.org.uk
I would avoid saying that population is simple, especially since people take it so personally. The simplest view might be that population tends to go up when people have access to either too much food or too little. This ties it to global inequalities of wealth and the current blip of fossil-fuelled agriculture.
I agree with Dirk and others about the misuse of police to prop up political folly.

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