I really enjoy this preamble portion I’ve added to my posts. I’m drunk on power, I could say whatever I wanted… Peanuts!
Sorry to those of you with allergies that was probably very rude. Forgiveness, please!
Annnnyyyywaaaaay, when I say Moon’s history, I don’t mean the great celestial body in the sky, I actually am referring to myself, in the third person… You might think this is weird, but Le’Boo will tell you, I’ve been weirder.
Basically, I’m a trained anthropologist, working in a business management school, with a background in development. I interned with an NGO called Trócaire for 6 months in 2015. Myself and three other interns, who were also students from my Master’s programme, teamed up to write a project for Trócaire.
The theme? Climate Justice awareness on the Maynooth Campus. This was where Trócaire had its headquarters. The results? Stunning. (Is this considered clickbait if you’re already reading?) Also here I am in 2015 nervously competing in a colloquium with PhD students when I was but a wee Masters student.
Climate justice has been in the news lately connected with the 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg. Now what is climate justice, you ask, or maybe you’re nodding along because you already know, and that’s cool. Thanks for reading anyway. For me, climate justice is an amalgamation of the two most important issues facing humankind at the moment. The problems caused by climate change, and human rights.
They may seem like two diverse and unrelated topics but the truth is they are more connected than you can ever realise. Today I will tell you two interlocking stories from the perspective of food anthropology (it’s all I know people).
Let me tell you a story about a cattle rancher in the United States of America. They’ve raised cattle all their lives, and so has their family before them. For generations in fact and they are a staple of not only state beef consumption, but other parts of the country as well.
The rancher’s cattle have won awards and they make a conscious effort to feed them as close to a wild diet as possible, which adds to the flavour of the meat. They are also considered to be more ethically driven than other ranchers as they don’t corral their cattle into tight spaces, and they slaughter them as humanely as possible.
Yet when it comes down to it, there are still people just outside their property accusing the ranchers of being animals. They are murderers because eating meat is murder. The ranchers are both disheartened and angry because they are doing the best they can with what is their livelihood.
Now let me tell you a story of a small family in Africa, (bear with me it will all come back around I promise). Their family have lived in the area for thousands of years, and they cultivated grains for the most part. Their other subsistence was hunting and gathering up until more contemporary history. Now while some hunting and gathering still goes on they are expected to buy their supplementary fibre.
Their forefathers grew food and ate most of it themselves. Occasionally either
trading the excess with neighbours or sharing when there was a feast or a famine. Although food was never bountiful, they rarely went hungry. Now they are expected to sell some of their hard grown food in exchange for money, to buy their remaining food needs.
Yet in the last 10 to 20 years, the farmers have been noticing a shift in the climate. Nothing too drastic at first, but year after year it builds. The summers are longer, and the wet season is shorter. Water is harder to come by, so their crops aren’t as plentiful as they once were. The farmers are falling on hard times, and not only do they have less crops to eat, but they have less to sell in exchange for other foods.
Where they may have sent all their children to school with the excess money, now they only send the eldest or perhaps only the male children. Female children are less likely to receive an education and are stuck in a poverty loop which is exacerbated by the tough climate.
Back in the United States, pressure is put on ranchers for producing beef. “People should eat less beef.” Cry the animal activists. “Beef is one of the worst contributors to Co2 emissions.” Cry the climate activists, and neither are wrong. Beef isn’t the healthiest of protein available, and cattle rearing produces dangerous amounts of carbon emissions.
Yet what of the rancher? They are just doing their job. If they change to farming something else, it will be very costly and may end up costing them their very livelihood. Plus there is a serious market for beef in the United States, and giving up that to grow something else could be a bad move business wise. Besides the climate isn’t affected that badly in America.
Most of the population that suffers from climate change, live in the poorest areas of the world. Our excessive need to have beef in our diet, and available in every fast food outlet, produces the market for beef. Yet the change in the climate caused by western agriculture and industry affects the already water-starved areas of the world.
Climate change is not proportional, and this is why justice must be served. Although many of us living in the western world cannot see the damage wrought by climate change, it is happening none-the-less, causing devastation to those already struggling to survive in the lower socio-economic bands of society.
This is a new series on my blog, one that was ignited back in 2013 when I was still a young idealistic fool. Now I am an older fool, but one who is idealistic still none-the-less. I am not willing to give up on climate justice, and neither should you.
That is why I have individual sustainability goals. That’s why I don’t eat beef, and only eat meat 3 days out of the week. It’s why I gave up fast fashion, and use a deodorant that is all natural. You can learn more about me in the sustainability section of my blog than anywhere else so you will be getting more of it in the coming months.
I hope you stay with me, and even if you don’t agree, you listen.
Principles of Climate Justice – Mary Robinson Foundation
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