Monday, August 12, 2019

Local "Heroes"

Socialism is not a religion but a method of understanding and changing the world. We are sure that there will be many adaptations to suit particular conditions and specific situations, taking into account the history, the geography and local traditions and customs.

According to Professor David Reay, a climate scientist from the University of Edinburgh, we’re always told “buying local” is best for the environment yet food miles are a poor indicator of a product’s total carbon footprint, and could even be misleading. The green message “buy local” needs to go with “in season”.  

I went in thinking really distant food stuff like bananas coming from the Dominican Republic or tea from Assam in India would have really high carbon footprints because of the food miles,” said Professor Reay. “Actually when you look at the life cycle, food miles are not a major part. It was how they were produced and how people used them when they got to the UK that matters. So that was a real eye-opener.”

Professor Reay said: “If you just assume everything closer to you is better, so if you’re thinking these blueberries or cucumber from Holland in January will be low carbon, they won’t be. It’s going to be intensive production with a high carbon footprint. This will massively outweigh the food miles of bringing them from a country where the climate is right at that time of year.

Buying a tomato grown in the UK has three times the footprint of a banana grown in Spain. Bananas imported from the Dominican Republic, apples from New Zealand and oranges from Brazil are among the most carbon-friendly foods UK consumers can buy. Most oranges consumed in the UK come from Brazil and are shipped across the Atlantic, but still have low carbon footprints. This is because 60 per cent of an orange’s life-cycle footprint has been embedded in their flesh before it has left the farm gate, according to Professor Reay’s new book, Carbon-Smart Food. Most of this comes from fertilisers, pesticides and the fuel used by machinery during harvesting. They are then processed and sorted. If the orange is used to make juice, 22 per cent of the total footprint is down to transport and distribution. Lettuces grown in the UK during winter are cultivated in poly tunnels which require lots of energy to keep them warm. In terms of carbon emissions, it is more environmentally friendly to buy them from Spain during the winter and in the UK during the summer. Professor Reay says consumers should avoid eating out-of-season soft fruit such as raspberries and blueberries.

If you want to go into the high carbon footprint foods then once it’s been air freighted you’re in real trouble. That’s when the food miles absolutely soar in terms of emissions. We should have a blanket ban on air freight,” said Professor Reay.

Many environmentalists activists lead the call decentralisation and localism. While it is important to pay attention to question of large-scale concentration of industry, doing so does not solve all of our problems. A vision for a socialist society which functions in a complementary way and in harmony with nature is our goal.There is no squaring the circle of the capitalist system and a viable sustainable planet. There is no way for capitalism, resource use for profit. Some environmentalists activists lead the call decentralisation and localism. While it is important to pay attention to the question of large-scale concentration of industry, doing so does not solve all of our problems. Certain industries require centralisation for efficiency, and economy of scale actually may reduce environmental impact in many of these cases.

Socialism remains on the agenda for as long as capitalism exists. There are no inevitabilities in socialism and no guarantees of victory either; only alternatives for people to choose to aspire to achieve. 

Capitalism remains, but this, by itself, cannot be seen as an argument for the desirability, or a sign of the progressiveness of the capitalist order, much less as any sort of 'triumph' of capitalism. The system is in the grip of crises which they cannot resolve. Our purpose is not to manage capitalism in order to make it nicer or more ethical. Our goal is to move beyond the capitalism system of economics. The principal task of socialists is to try to restore the credibility of socialism in the consciousness of millions of men and women. We can formulate these in near biblical terms: eliminate hunger, clothe the naked, give a dignified life to everyone, save the lives of those who die for lack of proper medical attention, the elimination of illiteracy, generalise free access and universalise democratic freedoms, human rights, and eliminate repressive violence in all its forms. 

None of this is dogmatic or utopian. Although people are not ready to fight for socialist revolution, it can raise pertinent questions. What type of food production is possible? With what agrarian techniques? In which places? Which materials can be produced? In which localities on the largest scale?

The struggle for socialism is not the dogmatic and sectarian imposition of some pre-established objective on the real movement. The building of socialism is a huge laboratory of new experiences which are still undefined. We must learn from practice. We must take into account the fact that the stakes in the world today are dramatic: it is literally a question of the physical survival of humanity. 

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