Based on several years’ observation, I’ve come to believe that when an elected or appointed official says “frankly” in a sentence, all the rest of it is either false, or so suffused with spin as to be as good as false.
This rule is, unfortunately, bipartisan. Try it for yourself as you read or hear the news, you’ll see…
This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on the contrary, it presents an existential threat. It is simply that I have come to realise that two other issues have such huge and immediate impacts that they push even this great predicament into third place.
One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming.
And perhaps not only non-human life. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left. And this is before the Global Land Outlook report, published in September, found that productivity is already declining on 20% of the world’s cropland.
The impact on wildlife of changes in farming practice (and the expansion of the farmed area) is so rapid and severe that it is hard to get your head round the scale of what is happening.
It all sounds dreadful. Of course historically technical change and market forces overwhelmed Malthusian effects, so it’s possible that late capitalism still has rabbits in the hat….