Consumo di carne e cambiamenti climatici

Esperienze

L’Economist è una delle mie fonti di informazione preferite. Ha un approccio globale ai problemi e guarda ai numeri, prima di dare giudizi. Nell’ultimo numero si parla del consumo di carne a livello globale e delle conseguenze, positive e negative, per gli anni a venire.

I numeri innanzitutto sono impressionati. Qualche dato preso qua e là:

Between 1961 and 2013 the average Chinese person went from eating 4kg of meat a year to 62kg. Half of the world’s pork is eaten in the country.

In the decade to 2017 global meat consumption rose by an average of 1.9% a year and fresh dairy consumption by 2.1%—both about twice as fast as population growth. Almost four-fifths of all agricultural land is dedicated to feeding livestock, if you count not just pasture but also cropland used to grow animal feed. Humans have bred so many animals for food that Earth’s mammalian biomass is thought to have quadrupled since the stone age

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an agency of the UN, estimates that the global number of ruminant livestock (that is, cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats) will rise from 4.1bn to 5.8bn between 2015 and 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario. The population of chickens is expected to grow even faster. The chicken is already by far the most common bird in the world, with about 23bn alive at the moment

Between 1982 and 2007 a 1% increase in the female employment rate was associated with a 0.6% drop in demand for beef and a similar rise in demand for chicken. Perhaps working women think beef is more trouble to cook

Milk production shot up from 20m tonnes in 1970 to 174m tonnes in 2018, making India the world’s biggest milk producer. The OECD expects India will produce 244m tonnes of milk in 2027.

The UN thinks that the population of sub-Saharan Africa will reach 2bn in the mid-2040s, up from 1.1bn today. That would lead to a huge increase in meat- and dairy-eating even if people’s diets stayed the same. But they will not. The population of Kenya has grown by 58% since 2000, while the output of beef has more than doubled.

Official statistics suggest that the number of chickens in Senegal has increased from 24m to 60m since 2000. As people move from villages to cities, they have less time to make traditional stews—which might involve fish, mutton or beef as well as vegetables and spices, and are delicious. Instead they eat in cafés, or buy food that they can cook quickly. By the roads into Dakar posters advertise “le poulet prêt à cuire”, wrapped in plastic

Africa has 23% of the world’s cattle but produces 10% of the world’s beef and just 5% of its milk.

The FAO predicts that in 2050 almost two out of every five ruminant livestock animals in the world will be African. The number of chickens in Africa is projected to quadruple, to 7bn.

Morale della favola? Dal punto di vista ambientale, questa tendenza va nella direzione opposto del ridurre le emissione di gas serra. Ergo: siamo spacciati. L’articolo evidenzia più i benefici in termini di sviluppo di chi oggi ha un consumo di calorie limitato (Africa e India), lasciando la questione ambientale ai margini, ma con un passaggio chiaro:

On a planetary scale, the rise of meat- and dairy-eating is a giant environmental problem

Nello stesso numero dell’Economist un altro articolo racconta della sfida del Regno Unito di arrivare a emettere zero gas serra entro il 2050 e cosa significa questo, in termini di singoli industrie e comportamenti:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body, has found that to have a higher than 50% chance of avoiding more than 1.5°C of global warming, worldwide emissions of CO2 alone must come down to zero by mid-century, and all emissions must cease by 2070.

Norway and Sweden already have net-zero targets, for 2030 and 2045 respectively, but both allow for offsets. This is convenient nationally, but incompatible with global decarbonisation.

The public would need to eat 20% less beef, lamb and dairy products.

Detto in parole povere, non ce la faremo mai a invertire la tendenza. Non è questione di essere pessimisti od ottimisti, ma di vedere i comportamenti attuali e tirare una riga nel futuro. Senza un coinvolgimento globale, che non c’è, e senza un trasferimento di tecnologia, che non sta avvenendo, il processo di cambiamento del clima, in corso, sarà inarrestabile. Non c’è la volontà della massa dell’opinione pubblica dei paesi sviluppati e non c’è la volontà da parte dei governi di tutti i paesi che si stanno sviluppando, dalla Cina, all’India, all’Africa. Punto. C’è solo da prepararsi al peggio.

Detto questo, continuo a essere vegetariano, per questione di salute e di sostenibilità (oltre che di crudeltà verso gli animali), continuo a consumare meno e continuo a riciclare e riutilizzare ciò che posso. E provo a fare di più e meglio.

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