Meat in the Middle
When it comes to the carbon counters, your diet is on their menu.
“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it's a start.” – Anthony Bourdain
This week in the United Arab Emirates, the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change begins. Always a spectacle, this year’s edition of the carbon pilgrimage looks set to be an epic circus, with all manner of extremists colliding against the grating challenge of lowering global carbon emissions. We have long held the view that the progressive environmental left is asking for the impossible—a global populace voluntarily lowering its living standards to abate intangible risks that might materialize far into the future—and that pressing for such degradation is the ultimate political dead end. The world is simply going to roll the dice on climate change and manage the consequences accordingly.
Uncertainty of outcome notwithstanding, if one truly believes the world is heading for a cataclysm, it is easy to be convinced that extremism is morally justified. From there, it is a short walk from balking at resistance to your views to demanding blanket power to enforce them. For a glaring example of such a setup developing, we turn to an article in Bloomberg that published last week (emphasis added throughout):
“The world’s most-developed nations will be told to curb their excessive appetite for meat as part of the first comprehensive plan to bring the global agrifood industry into line with the Paris climate agreement…
The guidance on meat is intended to send a clear message to governments. But politicians in richer nations typically shy away from policies aimed at influencing consumer behavior, especially where it involves cutting consumption of everyday items.
‘Livestock is politically sensitive, but we need to deal with sensitive issues to solve the problem,’ said Dhanush Dinesh, the founder of Clim-Eat, which works to accelerate climate action in food systems. ‘If we don’t tackle the livestock problem, we are not going to solve climate change. The key problem is overconsumption.’”
Being previously unaware of “Clim-Eat,” we headed over to its website to see what we could learn about Mr. Dinesh, whose official title is “Chief Climate Catalyst.” The only thing surprising about his biography is that it is written in the third person:
“Meet Dhanush, a fearless visionary determined to shake up our food systems and take on climate change. He refuses to settle for the status quo, which is why he’s assembled a top-notch team at Clim-Eat. Together, they’re on a mission to disrupt the industry, challenge norms, and create a more sustainable future for all.”
Food is at the literal center of nearly all cultural development worldwide. Ingredients and methods flow with care from generation to generation in an emulsion of evolution and preservation. Our calendars, holidays, and rituals are punctuated by epicurean treats, and there is no greater sign of respect for a hosted guest than a memorable, generous meal. Be it pork in China, ribeye in the US, or poulet in France, meat plays a defining role in who we are as people and how we experience well-being. The thought of meat not being available at affordable prices is inconceivable in much of the West, and its temporary scarcity has ended many a political career.
We recently predicted that the climate warrior league is rapidly losing the political center—the “soft right” and “soft left,” if you will—as its demands become more unhinged and political tactics more totalitarian:
“We have long suspected that the soft left is only willing to go so far in this regard, reasonably drawing a line to shield their standard of living. This group is now aware of the Big Lie™ sold by climate alarmists — that we can radically reduce our use of fossil fuels without meaningfully impacting our lifestyles. It was fine enough to play footsie with such assumptions when energy was plentiful and interest rates hovered around zero, but as the energy crisis unfolded and inflationary pressures took hold, the initial consequences of decoupling from fossil fuels left many quietly wondering what exactly it is they signed up for…
With COP28 approaching, quivering under the fresh sting of their weakening political power, expect the hard left’s hyperbolic rhetoric and ugly protests to accelerate.”
We expect the ongoing assault on meat to only escalate as the true believers become more desperate under the prospect of waning political influence—it might well be the issue upon which the Big Lie™ is finally made real for the plurality of everyday voters. It is one thing to buy an electric vehicle as the family spare or to install a few virtue-signaling solar panels on the roof, but giving up the filet of beef on Christmas is another matter altogether. Just how closely tied are our food habits to carbon emissions? How would limiting global meat consumption work? What can the energy market teach us about the calamitous effect of forced scarcity in animal protein? Let’s head to the farm and find out.