I was outside the butchers, waiting my turn to buy an organic, free range chicken, when a passing acquaintance looked at me with scorn, “You eat meat yet consider yourself environmentally concerned!”
Not feeling up to confrontation, I took a deep breath and relaxed as it slowly seeped out, then said, “Being a vegan, you consider you’re doing right?” “Of course, whilst you write these faux environmental blogs.”
I reeled, but felt I needed to stand up for myself, after all, this was Glastonbury where we’d gone for the afternoon. “Increased demand for vegan pulses, soya beans and other products has destroyed virgin habitats worldwide and it is brought here from far, far away. In our home, we eat local… fish twice a week, chicken once a month, red meat just once every three months.”
“Who! That’s loads more CO2 emissions than me.” By now annoyance was brewing. I spurted, “I’m not competing. Anyway, when did you stop eating meat?” “Last year.”
“Before that, what consumption?” I heard myself being abrupt.
“Meat four times a week.”
“What I told you has been my consumption for decades, so, in total, you’ve consumed far more CO2 than me.”
She looked confused yet still in fighting mode. “Your big house must consume tons.”
“We live in the small servants’ end, it’s cheap to heat with its 60cm thick stone walls.”
“And you’ve two fossil-fuel guzzling vehicles!” Her voice was ramping up again as she bit in to my environmental record.
“Our metal beasts are fifteen and twenty six years old so have lasted longer than most electric cars will and will hopefully last another ten or more years. Their combined original construction consumed about half the CO2 of an electric car’s. They don’t contain environmentally damaging rare metals and nasty hybrid light weight materials, their construction didn’t leach out horrible chemicles.”
This set her back but she was scrabbling for more fuel, “Well, you’ve travelled abroad.”
“Unlike you flying to France often, I’ve not flown for two decades. And, unlike you, we’ve not had children.”
“Attacking me for being a mother won’t get you off the hook!” Her legs had spread assertively wide.
“I was just comparing. When adults, if attentive, your three children will consume between 4-7 tonnes CO2 per year. Each will likely have kids, multiplying your footprint enormously for decades, even centuries, whereas my 4 tonnes of CO2 stops when I die. And I’m going to be buried rather than have a CO2 greedy cremation.”
Crestfallen, she muttered, “Wow. I’d never thought of all of that. Multiply this with eight billion of us and the future doesn’t look good. Over-population is the elephant in the room nobody’s talking about.”
“Exactly. We’ve less than twenty years before unbearable environmental catastrophes become the unstoppable norm, but we blindly walk forwards as if nothing is going awry.”
She said, “That’s because we’re conditioned to deal with momentary problems, it’s hard for our minds to project into comprehending future problems.’ “We have the ability, humanity has coped with countless existential issues and this has drastically expanded our population.”
She slapped my shoulder, “We need to tell everyone all of this!”
"OK, I'll blood it, you spin it to your contacts, that might help the ball roll a bit faster."