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Topic-icon Misleading news report?

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4 months 2 days ago #544527 by spark

You might have heard or seen this in the news?
Food revolution: New diet may save lives and the planet
https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/380340/food-revolution-new-diet-may-save-lives-and-the-planet

It is interesting some of the claims made eg
"Agriculture is also a significant source of air pollution with ammonia from farms a major cause of fine particulate matter, which the WHO says is a threat to health worldwide."

I was really surprised at this claim - how does ammonia, a gas comprised of 3x hydrogen atoms and 1x nitrogen atom, which is readily absorbed into water (and thus rained out of the atmosphere?) cause particulate (ie soot, dust, fine particles) air pollution?
I had a dig and found that ammonia will react with combustion by-products like sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides (forms fine particles of ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate, etc) - this detail was omitted from the news report however.
http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/3281
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160516110423.htm


So, what do you think?

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4 months 1 day ago #544531 by Kilmoon

What do I think? They're idiots trying to get published by making 'shocking' claims (as in attention getting claims - it's the only way to get the media to pick up on the story). Will it ever happen - no.

Want to save the planet?
Don't have kids, and try to work out how to kill off about 6-7 billion humans without causing an environmental catastrophe from all that meat decaying at once. It'll happen one way or the other because, as we all know, the human animal does not play happily together in the sandpit.

Changing our diets by trying to appeal to our 'better' human nature will not work....nearly 8 billion people are not going to eat the same foods.

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4 months 1 day ago #544532 by RobStockley

"from all that meat decaying at once"

Sounds a bit like the extinction of the dinosaurs. If we bury it quickly then under the weight of corporate greed, it might provide for future fossil fuels...

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4 months 1 day ago #544533 by Kilmoon

LOL, it depends on whether you're a 'rip the bandaid off at once' or 'slow pull off' type of person. Me, rip it off and get the pain done and dusted.

But on a serious note, these guys are kidding themselves if they think that can get nearly 8 billion people to change their diets to one type. What they're hoping is that a bunch of Westerners change their diets based on the arguments they make, and then the billions that are starving/not getting or finding enough to eat daily can go on eating anything they get their hands on. Or, their argument is based on changing western consumer behaviour to try and change corporate behaviour, corporates go where the money is - they do nothing for ethical/moral reasons. Hence the supermarkets are laughing all the way to the bank re the 'single use bag ban' - groceries sure as hell won't drop to reflect the lower costs to them due to not having to buy in bags for customers. Though I must admit, the idea of getting ones groceries and then leaving a lot of the plastic wrapping at the checkout is tempting.

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4 months 1 day ago #544534 by Mudlerk

Not sure how what you've found proves agricultural ammonia is NOT 'a major cause of fine particulate matter' in the air. If it reacts with other airborne gases to form airborne fine particulates, then it seems to me that it can accurately be called one of the major ingredients in air pollution, surely?

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4 months 1 day ago #544543 by Arko

Same story was on BBC
But didn't mention ammonia.
*******
For some reason ,some people won't to fit 3 billion more people on the planet. Who will all won't resources (not just food) and produce waste.

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4 months 1 day ago #544544 by Anakei

I'm always puzzled when I see reports like this.
The most obvious problem in my eyes is that land that grows meat is not always suitable to grow crops. I think a lot of this research is extrapolated from american farming practices where large swathes of land are given up to corn to then feed to cattle on feed lots. The assumption being that if the grain is fed directly to humans then less will be needed. Obviously here in NZ where grass fed is the norm, that would not be true, and there would not be much land that could easily be converted to grow crops instead of sheep.
The other point is if we are going to radically increase our consumption of fruit and vegetables, the increased demand will drive increases in sprays, water use, cultivation resulting in soil loss, not to mention increases in"Round-up ready" and genetically engineered crops.An example of this is the rising demand for "nut" milks has seen the Californian almond orchards booming. Go on youtube and see the mile after of desolate monocrop, with plastic under the trees and not a blade of grass to be seen. Bees are then shipped in on huge trucks and trains to pollinate these crops and the industrialisation of bees may be a factor in the rising incidence of colony collapse in USA. This would only get worse if dairy is reduced and alternative milks are substituted,
Environmentally friendly? Beware of unintended consequences!


Urban mini farmer and guerilla gardener

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4 months 1 day ago #544547 by Stikkibeek

Kilmoon wrote: Though I must admit, the idea of getting ones groceries and then leaving a lot of the plastic wrapping at the checkout is tempting.

Slightly off topic, but I had an incident in the supermarket last week. Purchased one of those roast chickens in a heat plastic bag for a quick lunch, and was shocked when the checkout staff wanted to know if I wanted her to take it out of the plastic. Like What!! it was only in that zip-lock bag. No other wrapping. The thought of her handling a cooked chicken with her very grubby hands made me almost abandon the chicken for lunch idea!


Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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4 months 1 day ago #544549 by spark

Kilmoon, I find it interesting that they did not use the C-word or the F-word in that news article - I'm talking about Contraception and Family Planning. Decreasing the birth rate so that it is less than the death rate is probably the "nicest" way to "...kill off about 6-7 billion humans..." (it sure beats war, famine and disease). Right here in NZ, our birth rate is 1.87 births/woman (2016 census) - below replacement level.

Arko, Is this because of vested interests? more people means more customers, and more demand for what ever it is that you may be in the business of doing or selling, especially if it's a scarce resource that you already own or control (just ignore the issue of the decreasing natural resources per capita).


The article did mention using taxes to "encourage" populations to change their diets, and it seems that people are doing research on this idea;
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30399152
(dunno how that would work with homekill though - call it tax evasion and make it illegal?)


Plastic shopping bags at supermarket checkouts - to me this seems like "greenwashing", considering that the bulk of the plastic in your trolley is already applied to the food before you even pick it off the shelf, and the oil used to produce this plastic will likely be dwarfed by the oil used to make the fuel used to run the shopper's vehicle for said shopping trip...


Mudlerk, maybe I'm splitting hairs, but the article did NOT say that ammonia "...reacts with other airborne gases to form airborne fine particulates...", which makes it a "...major ingredients in air pollution,". The article said "Agriculture is also a significant source of air pollution with ammonia from farms a major cause of fine particulate matter, which the WHO says is a threat to health worldwide.". I think that the article would have been better if it said something like "Agriculture is also a significant source of ammonia emissions, which react with combustion byproducts to form fine particulate matter, which the WHO says is a threat to health worldwide". Dunno about you, but I'd rather reduce the emissions of sulphur oxides, etc than cut back on animal products.


Anakei, I understand that the "agriculture" systems in places like the United States are the way they are because of subsidies and regulations (or lack there of) that encourage perverse outcomes. For instance, I believe that in the USA, generally speaking, "finishing" cattle on grass is less profitable than finishing them on grain in a CAFO, because of the subsidies that the grain business receives from the US government. On the subject of "alternative milk" (nut, soy, etc), have you read about "lab grown meat"? - of course like "alternative milk" this method of food manufacturing also seems to be dependant on monocrop production and industrial scale processing...

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4 months 18 hours ago #544551 by Mudlerk

It's not your splitting hairs that bothers me, it's the "misleading" charge. It was I, not the article, who offered the fact that ammonia in the atmosphere reacts with other gases such as sulphuric oxides to form airborne fine particulates. I suspect, though, that even if the article had explained the mechanism by which this happens, it still would have been pooh-poohed by people who don't want to accept that ammonia plays a major part in air pollution. So let's try to cut back on ALL the contributors!

Last Edit: 4 months 18 hours ago by Mudlerk.

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4 months 15 hours ago #544553 by Anakei

Interesting comments Spark

spark wrote: Kilmoon, I find it interesting that they did not use the C-word or the F-word in that news article - I'm talking about Contraception and Family Planning. Decreasing the birth rate so that it is less than the death rate is probably the "nicest" way to "...kill off about 6-7 billion humans..." (it sure beats war, famine and disease). Right here in NZ, our birth rate is 1.87 births/woman (2016 census) - below replacement level.

And western countries whose native population is below replacement, like ours, are being exhorted to increase immigration levels to keep the population up. Somewhat counter-productive

Arko, Is this because of vested interests? more people means more customers, and more demand for what ever it is that you may be in the business of doing or selling, especially if it's a scarce resource that you already own or control (just ignore the issue of the decreasing natural resources per capita).

Agree. Look at the emerging economies of China and India and how Western nations are targeting them fro trade agreements so that they can continue to grow their profits. Having saturated the western world with "stuff" they are moving on to new markets.


The article did mention using taxes to "encourage" populations to change their diets, and it seems that people are doing research on this idea;
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30399152
(dunno how that would work with homekill though - call it tax evasion and make it illegal?)

The trouble with taxes is that it only hurts the people who can least afford it, and doesn't change the behaviour of people who can afford it - the Auckland fuel tax being a prime example. It won't reduce consumption, just shift it.further up the graph. The only fair way to do it is by rationing and THAT is never going to happen ( until we get to crisis point,,,,,)

Plastic shopping bags at supermarket checkouts - to me this seems like "greenwashing", considering that the bulk of the plastic in your trolley is already applied to the food before you even pick it off the shelf, and the oil used to produce this plastic will likely be dwarfed by the oil used to make the fuel used to run the shopper's vehicle for said shopping trip...

Agree. Its a feel good exercise which makes people think they are doing something,for the environment while the supermarkets rub their hands together because they have cut costs by nor supplying bags and are charging us for more expensive "compostable" rubbish bags, now we no longer have single use bags to put in the bin. Most of the bags in the oceans come from 10 rivers and eight of them are in Asia: the Yangtze; Indus; Yellow; Hai He; Ganges; Pearl; Amur; Mekong; and two in Africa – the Nile and the Niger. On the other hand you have to start somewhere and hopefully this will make developers focus on more environmentally friendly products. I look forward to the day when plastic toys are removed from the shelves.......


Mudlerk, maybe I'm splitting hairs, but the article did NOT say that ammonia "...reacts with other airborne gases to form airborne fine particulates...", which makes it a "...major ingredients in air pollution,". The article said "Agriculture is also a significant source of air pollution with ammonia from farms a major cause of fine particulate matter, which the WHO says is a threat to health worldwide.". I think that the article would have been better if it said something like "Agriculture is also a significant source of ammonia emissions, which react with combustion byproducts to form fine particulate matter, which the WHO says is a threat to health worldwide". Dunno about you, but I'd rather reduce the emissions of sulphur oxides, etc than cut back on animal products.

sounds right to me :side:


Anakei, I understand that the "agriculture" systems in places like the United States are the way they are because of subsidies and regulations (or lack there of) that encourage perverse outcomes. For instance, I believe that in the USA, generally speaking, "finishing" cattle on grass is less profitable than finishing them on grain in a CAFO, because of the subsidies that the grain business receives from the US government.
Agree and this distorts the true cost of the final product. If subsidies were removed the price of corn would go up and so would the price of meat, affecting vegetarians and meat eaters alike. I doubt this would result in more environmentally friendly systems as more profit would have to be screwed out of the same amount of land and capital to counter the loss of the subsidies.

On the subject of "alternative milk" (nut, soy, etc), have you read about "lab grown meat"? - of course like "alternative milk" this method of food manufacturing also seems to be dependant on monocrop production and industrial scale processing...

Back to unintended consequences. What are the long term health consequences of this fake food? They are either made from fungi derived from a soil bacteria Fusarium venenatum or from soy or other legumes (Roundup ready? GMO's? Who knows) The processes probably uses more carbon than the meat it supposedly replaces ( I just made that up!! but worth thinking about) The list of additives used to make it palatable looks like a mad chemists experiment
We have already seen a rise in gluten intolerance from the industrialisation of wheat and bread production, and a rise in obesity and diabetes following the promotion of low fat, high carb diet and the introduction of fast food. Who knows what allergies or other intolerances fake meat could provoke?


Urban mini farmer and guerilla gardener

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