Even ve­g­ans are re­spon­si­ble for the end of the world

The Sunday Telegraph - - Features -

Amid the daily hurly-burly of busy lives, there was a brief pause last week for se­vere ex­is­ten­tial anx­i­ety when the UN’s cli­mate change re­port made head­lines. The re­port said we have only 12 years in which to dras­ti­cally over­haul our way of life be­fore we’re all doomed by a half-de­gree in­crease in tem­per­a­ture that will vastly in­crease the risk of floods, drought and ex­treme heat.

On the re­port’s heels came an­other one by re­searchers at Ox­ford, pub­lished in Na­ture. This one echoed the UN in its fran­tic and puni­tive pro­scrip­tion: we must cut meat con­sump­tion by 90per cent and mas­sively step up our con­sump­tion of pulses, beans and tofu – be­come, in other words, di­etary Jeremy Cor­byns. (Cor­byn’s first wife Jane Chap­man once re­vealed that he pre­ferred tins of cold baked beans at home to din­ner out.)

I have no prob­lem with peo­ple who de­cide they share Cor­byn’s taste in food, or who like tofu and pulses. I like those things, too. But where I see only trou­ble is in mas­sive global bod­ies and then, pre­sum­ably, gov­ern­ments and law­mak­ers try­ing to cope with an ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis by telling peo­ple what they can’t do. It ain’t gonna work – we want what we want, so let us have it.

Clearly, it’s the (ea­gerly taken) job of the world’s clever­est en­trepreneurs and sci­en­tists to come up with pos­i­tive ways to stymie the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of global warm­ing, and they are be­gin­ning to do so al­ready, with clever ideas about car­bon diox­ide de­flec­tion and space um­brel­las.

And any­way, the “eth­i­cal”, an­i­mal­shun­ning cam­paign­ers of the world may them­selves be, to use a metaphor in bad taste, on thin ice. Last week, the prom­i­nent ve­gan and “eth­i­cal” fash­ion de­signer Stella McCart­ney was told off by BBC tai­lor­ing celebrity Pa­trick Grant for her cham­pi­oning of faux leather. He said the fab­ric, made from polyurethane, which is non­biodegrad­able, was ac­tu­ally adding to our en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems, and was pol­lut­ing the oceans and killing off fish.

Not so vir­tu­ous af­ter all.

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