We Can’t Eat Timber?

Posted on July 29, 2008

It’s rare that I would pick up the pen to write something political nowadays (I learned my lesson in 2006), but I’ve been struck by a monumental deception on behalf of the Northern Territory meat industry.

This article from ABC.net.au covers the situation, but basically, the government has imposed a moratorium on tree clearing in the Daly River region in the state’s north. The cattle industry responded in a clever but misguiding phrase: ‘we can’t eat timber’. They go on to mention the world’s food crisis and say that we should be producing food.

Here’s what’s wrong with this:

  1. Livestock production, by definition, does not produce food. It wastes food. In fact, of the nutritional input, only 5-15% is returned by the end product, the rest is wasted. 30% of the food produced in the world is wasted in this way, seven times that wasted by biofuel/ethanol production. If the pastoralists were worried about food shortages they would be cropping a mixture of cereals and plants like quinoa.  They could then let most of the land already cleared revegetate and feed hundreds of millions of people. Fact.
  2. Not only does the meat industry cause hunger but it destroys the natural environment on which we depend as a species. Australia’s natural environment, woody and wet, has been decimated by the livestock industry. They want to wind their way northwards and decimate what of Australia is left for their taking. The industry has sever effects on the local climate including increased temperature, land degradation, water overuse and pollution.
  3. Although many people sill like to eat meat, compared to grains and vegetables it hardly counts as food. After all the wastage and environmental damage, it causes cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and reduces our lifespan.

Don’t buy the propaganda. A tree clearing moratorium is a great idea and should be extended everywhere, to give humanity the best chance for a future of plenty and peace.