To all of the ill-effects blamed on man-made global warming, we might add one more. It appears that an obsession with climate change can make sane people warm to mad ideas.
Take the Soil Association proposals to make it harder for produce from Africa to be labelled as organic, in order to cut the amount of fruit and vegetables flown into the UK. The justification is that this will reduce “food miles”, CO2 emissions and man-made global warming, and thus protect the developing world from the impact of climate change. The likely effect will be to put some of the most downtrodden farmers in the world out of work.
So how do we save Africa from a possible future disaster? Apparently, by creating a real disaster in the here and now: making poor Africans even poorer. That sounds like madness – or plain badness – to me.
Air-freighted produce makes up 1 per cent of total UK organic sales – and those remain a tiny niche in the grocery market. Only a mind as sharp as an organic Kenyan banana could seriously believe that this is a big factor in Britannia’s “carbon footprint”. Indeed, the whole notion of “food miles” is hard to swallow. Research suggests that growing food in the sunshine of Africa and flying them to Europe produces less carbon – not to mention more taste – than growing them under glass and artificial heat in Britain or the Netherlands. Greenhouse effect, anybody?…
Even this old man of the Left can see that here the corporate giants are on the side of the angels, while the “radical” organic fruitcakes are flying in the face of progress and equality. We should defend the freedom of African farmers to air-lift their produce on to our plates.
Remember last year we were all meant to feel guilty about flowers, I think, because a single something-or-other (I’m crap with flowers — botany is not my strong suit) has something like 10,000 “flower miles”? Then someone pulled out a calculator and figured out that they were counting each flower flown separately, not taking into account “flower carpooling”?
And everybody is in favour of carpooling. It’s an essential way to cut carbon emissions. So eat that African banana!