Who’d have thought that Paul McCartney and Rajendra Pachauri would be a stellar double act? The UK-based musician and the India-based climate scientist have come together (I couldn’t resist that) to bring attention to an issue that’s still not quite on the radar of the main global warming analysts and campaigners: farmed animals or rather, human consumption of them and the products they produce. Sir Paul and Dr. Pachauri, head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“Patchy” in emails to friends and close colleagues), co-wrote a letter on the issue to the UK newspaper, the Independent. In it, they note that becoming vegetarian, or at the very least reducing significantly one’s intake of meat is “the single most effective act” individuals can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They continue building their case, noting other crucial benefits – equity and greater food democracy:
Unfortunately, with higher incomes, societies, even in developing countries, are turning to greater … consumption of animal protein, which reduces the availability of food grains for direct consumption by impoverished human beings….We are writing this letter not because vegetarianism is a fad or an emotional issue but because it is a very attractive option for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and stabilising the Earth’s climate and ensuring global food security.
Sir Paul, a vegetarian for nearly 30 years, and Dr. Pachauri, one for eight, harmonize persuasively. One can only hope others, in their multitudes, will begin humming or singing or just plain mouthing the same tune.
Dr. Pachauri has, in recent months, exhibited considerable passion on the topic of livestock and global warming, giving a talk on the connections in London in September. And more recently, penning (without, it seems, Sir Paul as writing partner) a foreword to a report just released by the World Society for the Protection of Animals with the self-explanatory (if not exactly musical) title, Eating our Future: The environmental impact of industrial animal agriculture. You can read about it here. Of course, you can also read, or re-read, Brighter Green’s recent paper on the impacts of the intensification of animal agriculture on the climate, and on people and animals (see below). Think of it as an EP to the McCartney-Pachauri CD, or vice versa.