Christmas causes global warming or something

The downside to Christmas is eating all that dry left over turkey for months on end. Well, okay, maybe not months but the turkey never seems to end. The stollen runs out quickly. The thing is a lot of food probably gets wasted. So the ABC has this story:

New figures show Australians are wasting a record $8 billion worth of food every year.

Lobby group Do Something used information from state governments and local councils to work out how much food was being wasted.

It found 40 per cent of all household rubbish was food.

It is hard to know if $8 billion is a lot of money in the context of the total food bill – but it remains a substantial chunk of money that could be sent on all sorts of other things. Forty per cent is a big number – I doubt it would be that high in my household. Ruthless purchasing behaviour combined with home delivery of fruit and vegetables (and a compost bin) has reduced the amount of stuff we throw away.

Anyway at this time of year there is likely to be more waste than usual and who doesn’t hate waste? But then the ABC story goes weird.

The group’s founder, Jon Dee, says that is more than just a waste of money – it is bad for the environment, adding to the large amount of rubbish at tips.

“When that rots along with other organics, it gives off a greenhouse gas called methane, which is 25 times more potent than the fumes that come out of your car exhaust,” he said.

“And what you’re also throwing away is all the water, energy and resources that it took to get that food all the way from the paddock to your plate.”

More than a waste of money? More? Should we be worried about methane? As it turns out, no not really. According to the leaked IPCC report methane concentrations are not growing as rapidly as previously forecast.

The other thing is that the resource cost of food has been paid for in the final consumer price.* So the resource cost has been paid for and the environmental damage not as great as previously indicated.

So all of a sudden this becomes something of a non-story: people pay for their own waste.

* With one exception – I hate seeing meat go to waste. That animal was killed and while I’m not an animal rights type I’m uncomfortable to see meat being wasted for that reason.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Christmas causes global warming or something

  1. Bruce

    Over 40% of the US corn crop is burnt in cars, via the insane ethanol mandates.

    Perhaps Do Nothing Do Something would want to address this obscene policy, which has caused many deaths in the Third World through high food price caused malnutrition?

  2. Oh I don’t even NEED to read all this to help out. It’s a load of crap. I was working in a packaging material factory once (where they printed things like kitkat wrappers) and each time they change jobs they (what looked to me like) an enormous amount of waste while they got their colour density and register right. “Oh my God!” I thought.
    But I soon realised: “that’s what modern looks like. That is an intrinsic PART of plenty and prosperity; of our ability to feed millions more people more safely, more cheaply, and with variety greater than could have been conceived by Kings centuries ago.
    And as Hayek has taught us, it is mathematically impossible for anyone but the risk owner to care more or do more to reduce that waste. And so therefore, if they are happy with it, it’s probably OK.

  3. Sinclair Davidson

    Bruce – I’d like to do something too. Eliminating Australia’s quarantine laws would encourage greater trade between those countries and Australia leading to greater trade, wealth and consequently less malnutrition. But I suspect that isn’t what they would have in mind.

  4. johno

    Forty per cent is a big number

    Of course it is a big number. It will also be BS.

    This is a left wing advocacy group’s campaign being run by the ABC. All such numbers should automatically be assumed to be BS. They should be regarded as complete and utter garbage with zero credibility until conclusively shown to be otherwise.

  5. steve of glasshouse

    Starting today, yummy banana skins, spud peelings and assorted vege
    Scraps are back on the menu .

  6. Ellen of Tasmania

    I hate seeing meat go to waste.

    You need a dog.

  7. entropy

    Looking at that chart, I could point out htat teh IPCC got the starting point right each time :)

    Also, I wonder what is underlying their assumptions to consistently get it wrong each revision? An over estimation of tundra melt and subsequent methane release?

  8. gnome

    They’re too late. The ABC campaign for the rest of this year will the struggle against volunteer feral animal controllers in NSW national parks.

    By the time that has blown over, so will have, any concern about wasted food. It’s a Xmas/Saturnalia thing.

    I’d like to say no-one will care any more, but that would be an exaggeration- no-one ever did care.

  9. Jim Rose

    sinclair, Does a reduction in the amount of wasted meat reduce the demand for beef? If so, few cows and lambs will be required. Who will breed and feed them?

    My favourite website was formally known as PETA – People Eating Tasty Animals.

    It is now linked as http://www.tastyanimals.us/ a resource for those who enjoy eating meat, wearing fur and leather, hunting, and the fruits of scientific research.

    Another site worth googling is PWEETA (People Who Enjoy Eating Tasty Animals)

  10. Jim Rose

    Plants are living organisms. Bringing an end to a living organism is taking its life. Remember that next time you munch a brocolli! a life is a life is a life.

    Vegetarians are mass killers of organisms that are either not cute or are not clever!

  11. Myrddin Seren

    I suspect “Do Something” is short for – ‘Get the government to impose something we like to see controlled’.

    This guy has a website – well, ‘Elmer Gantry’ is possibly going too far in describing it, but it has a televangelist feel to it.

  12. jumpnmcar

    Sinc,

    Eliminating Australia’s quarantine laws would encourage greater trade between those countries and Australia leading to greater trade.

    Horseshit, that would only make our Ag produce disappear.
    Removing one of the innovative and most productive farming countries is counterproductive.
    We can invest more into R&D because people of the world pay more for disease free food.
    Many diseases and pests lower production and cost squillions to keep under control.

  13. blogstrop

    Of course it is a big number. It will also be BS.
    This is a left wing advocacy group’s campaign being run by the ABC.

    Agree, johnno. They’ll try on any dodgy numbers to build another leftoid case.

  14. JLC

    The comment about wasted water is odd. The water is not destroyed when it is drunk by livestock. Most of it is urinated or sweated out again so it is going back into the environment.

    John Dee is a grinch. He can bugger off. I’m going to enjoy Christmas with a clear conscience.

  15. face ache

    We’re meat. Some waste should be encouraged

  16. DaveF

    ABC NewsRadio is running a piece on Do Something’s attention getter. They are speaking to some urban dumpster diver bragging about the quality of booty he scores from the skips.

    I call bs. My local supermarket locks theirs. So does Bakers Delight.

    My Woolies flogs their less than perfect fruit and veg virtually every day. You fill the bag yourself and it’s 3 bucks. Also the close to use by date stuff has it’s own special section where it’s discounted.

    Anyway I call bullshit on dumpster diving.

  17. Sleetmute

    As Sinc says, there’s no market failure here. We pay the cost of everything we waste (including the cost of garbage collection – I pay more rates for a larger bin). Frankly, I’m not surprised a lot of food gets wasted. The whole reason for supermarkets is economies of scale and scope in shopping. I could go out before every meal and buy the precise ingredients I need for that meal, but then I would spend half my life in the shops. It’s more efficient for me to over-purchase or speculatively purchase and throw stale/rotten excess away than to make extra trips or go without those items.

  18. Tel

    It’s pretty simple. If a farmer owns the land, and the farmer is thus out of pocket for any capital depreciation of that land, then the farmer has an incentive to keep the land productive and fertile.

    In the case of mining companies who lease the land, the incentive is kind of different, but I believe the actual owner of the land has a claim to force the mining companies not to make too much of a mess (give or take a bit of argument). Personally if the mining companies had to buy the land and then sell it again after they were finished, that could work too.

  19. Tel

    By the way, it annoys me that the supermarket will not sell a small bunch of fresh parsley but will sell a great sheaf of parsley (which only lasts two days in the fridge, after which it is useless).

    I can’t eat what they sell, so I gave up and started growing my own thyme, rosemary, parsley and chilli. Those are the easiest things in the world to grow.

    I do understand that if they sold a small bunch of parsley it would probably cost almost the same, so they justify the handling costs by selling bigger bunches. Still annoys me.

  20. kae

    Sleetmute

    Then there’s the way that so much fresh food you buy in a supermarket is ruined within days.

    I have access to fresh fruit and vegetables where I live at farm gate stalls (mostly cheaper than the supermarket sell for). The fruit and veg lasts much longer than that bought at the local supermarkets because it’s fresher.

  21. Milton von Smith

    This ignores option value. Ex-ante, it’s better to have too much food in the house rather than starving. Ex-post it could turn out to be wasteful, but ex-ante it is likely to be efficient.

  22. Gab

    According to the leaked IPCC report methane concentrations are not growing as rapidly as previously forecast.

    Does this mean this government will give up on its jihad against camels and cows then?

  23. Tel,

    Try bunging them with their roots in a small pitcher of water in the fridge, they will last a lot longer. It works well for my asparagus.

    BTW you have just ‘quoted’ Mises and Hayek in three paragraphs. If you don’t like the alternatives, grow your own. If you have something better to do then do it. No need for Nanny Roxon to invite herself around to force your kids to gnaw on the turkey bones.

  24. John Mc

    I have access to fresh fruit and vegetables where I live at farm gate stalls (mostly cheaper than the supermarket sell for).

    Kae, I do all my fruit and vegetable shopping at the roadside stalls while I’m driving through the valley. If I need something that isn’t available at the stalls I stop at the Big Orange.

  25. Every molecule of Methane emitted by a vegetarians posterior prevented a molecule of Methane being emitted in the rotting vegetation in a farmers field.

    Gab,
    The models must have assumed we’d be all vegetarians by now. Nanny will be around to fix that soon.

  26. Alfonso

    How did we end up with bloody C grade Sri Lanka for the Boxing day Test ?
    Another ACB triumph.

  27. Tel

    If you don’t like the alternatives, grow your own. If you have something better to do then do it.

    Thanks, I did. I’m a professional computer programmer and network engineer who spends time growing vegetables because division of labour isn’t working for me as well as the advertisement said.

  28. Tel

    This ignores option value. Ex-ante, it’s better to have too much food in the house rather than starving. Ex-post it could turn out to be wasteful, but ex-ante it is likely to be efficient.

    Since a lot of households are entertaining guests, there’s a social penalty for being seen to be short of food. We could perhaps argue about face saving and social conventions.

  29. John Mc

    I’m a professional computer programmer and network engineer who spends time growing vegetables because division of labour isn’t working for me as well as the advertisement said.

    That’s funny. Maybe you should try standup comedy?! Probably have to target geek conventions though, with those lines!

  30. jumpnmcar

    Sorry folks, very off topic but i gotta answer Alfonso
    2 more tests AUS ( RANKED 3 ) v SL (6)
    5 ODI, AUST (4) V SL (5)
    2 T20 AUS (7) SL ( No 1 )

    Channel 9 would have more say than ABC.
    And channel 9 have no say in it at all.

  31. jumpnmcar

    If SL is C class Aust is only C+.
    That’s my point.
    ————————-
    On waste, the biggest waste is the middle man.
    Internet sales will soon render most redundant.
    Win for producer ( supplier )–transporter unaffected — win for consumer ( demander )
    Soo much waste of money having more stages in a transaction than is required.

  32. Cold-Hands

    ACB is the Australian Cricket Board…

  33. entropy


    Sinc,

    Eliminating Australia’s quarantine laws would encourage greater trade between those countries and Australia leading to greater trade.

    Horseshit, that would only make our Ag produce disappear.
    Removing one of the innovative and most productive farming countries is counterproductive.
    We can invest more into R&D because people of the world pay more for disease free food.
    Many diseases and pests lower production and cost squillions to keep under control.

    Jump, seeing as it is Christmas, I thought about avoiding getting into too much of an argument with you regarding the above steaming pile of perceived wisdom which is on fact, untrue. But I just can’t help myself:

    1. relaxing bullshit quarantine regulations that are really about economic protectionism rather than actual risk would not make our produce disappear;
    2. it would not remove production from “the innovative and most productive farming countries” because if that were true the country with the innovation and productivity would not need the ‘protection’;
    3. in case you haven’t noticed, our current investment in ag R&D is a joke, and our ag productivity growth has disappeared especially compared with our competitors;
    4. If the quarantine rules are are bullshit way of avoiding compensation (which in the case of horticulture in particular is often the case), with imports we would still have disease free food, its just we would no longer pay more for crap produce compared with the overseas, better quality, but supposedly disease ridden food;
    As for the last statement, yes, the cost of controlling diseases and pests can lower production and returns, but again, is it really the quarantine that prevents the entry of these diseases? And why is that these apparently disease ridden countries have higher production, better quality and lower cost than our supposedly disease free producers?

  34. boy on a bike

    I did a survey on food waste earlier this year. It was so heavily slanted, I’m amazed they ended up with a figure as low as 40%.

    Let’s say I order $100 worth of Thai take away tonight for the family, and Junior eats all the prawns out of his prawn salad, but leaves the bits of shredded carrot and lettuce in the bottom. He’s eaten all the expensive bits of the meal, but we’ll throw out the almost worthless stuff as there is no point in putting it in the fridge. (I however leave nothing behind. I am a human vacuum cleaner).

    If 15% of the meal by volume ends up in the bin via that process, the survey would count that as 15% by value – and put a value of $15 on it.

    It’s lunacy to do those sorts of sums with takeaway food. If we bought the raw ingredients that end up getting tossed from the supermarket, they’d total about 20 cents.

    That’s how they end up with a figure of $8 billion, which is over inflated by about eleventy trillion times. And that’s no exaggeration.

  35. Alfonso

    Sri Lanka are rubbish.
    Zero chance of even drawing the Test series.

    The 20/20, ODI are minor and irrelevancies to the iconic Boxing Day Test or any other Test. You want to bring SL here, stick to ODI and 20/20 only.

    This seems like a way to pass good broadcast/ perhaps gate money to the 3rd world, screw the Australia cricket consumer.

    Let’s hope the gates and the tv are ratings failures….to provide some therapy for the ACB’s arrogance.
    Would they be “rotating ” Starc v the Poms…..nah, that manoeuvre is trying to make it less embarrassing.

  36. Alfonso

    “Eliminating Australia’s quarantine laws”

    Would destroy the Aust wild trout fishery as whirling disease finds genetically unprepared trout like influenza found North American indians. Sinc may one day understand that a quality life isn’t 100% about money and its uses.

  37. entropy

    So if the trout quarantine one is justified (and I am not saying it is) does that mean all the different types of quarantine are justified?

    How about the importation of those fireblight stricken NZ apples? despite this apparently devastating disease, NZ fruit looks and tastes better, and yields double that of their Australian cousins at a lower price. Why is it so?

  38. kae

    John Mc

    Stop at the Meaning To Stop Shop, at the forest hill – fernvale road intersection of the Warrego, go toward forest hill, past the gatton college road turn off and there’s a stall there open tuesday to saturday inclusive. All fresh, all local.

    There’s a bloke on the Esk road, too, just before the creek crossing. He’s pretty good with local stuff, too.

  39. Alfonso

    Fireblight will eventually arrive, it will be coped with in the same manner NZ copes with it, after the initial raze the orchard, run around in ever decreasing panicky circles response.
    Wild trout diseases are permanent and not in any way manageable.

    Trout are my love, but you better lift your eyes and consider the open borders possibilities for foot and mouth and rabies …..both certainties and once in feral pig and wild dog populations absolutely permanent.

    “encourage greater trade between those countries and Australia leading to greater trade.”……sounds like the la la land flip side of the doctrinaire totalitarian greenie.

  40. Jarrah

    “encourage greater trade between those countries and Australia leading to greater trade.”……sounds like the la la land flip side of the doctrinaire totalitarian greenie.

    Sinclair never gets any support for his views on this, even here at Australia’s leading centre-right and libertarian blog. Maybe one day he’ll get the hint.

  41. Bruce

    Jarrah – I mostly agree with Sinc, trade is just the best, but I couldn’t say so because he completely misunderstood what I said.

    Do you like corn ethanol in cars? Save the world from CAGW and all that? ‘Do Something’ are complete hypocrites.

  42. Poor Old Rafe

    It found 40 per cent of all household rubbish was food.

    That is highly unlikely, each week we produce a large wheelie bin of paper, tins and glass (sort of re-cyclable) stuff and a much smaller bin of other rubbish of which more than half is food scraps but that includes banana peels, apple cores, tea bags and bones.

    The dollar value of the food going out is SFA. Apart a from tins that sometimes turn up in the back of the cupboard, a year or three past the use by date.

  43. blogstrop

    It’s just the ABC. They were at it again on tonight’s news. That and a piece on flatulence absorbing undies. That’s what our so-called national broadcaster has come to.
    It’s all about Me-me-methane now.

  44. cohenite

    I see some prick from Austria, an academic, has called for all ‘deniers’ to be executed

    Merry xmas all you condemned bastards, except for the AGW supporting trolls, who can all get stuffed.

  45. hammygar

    has called for all ‘deniers’ to be executed

    I think that’s probably going a bit far. I’m against the death penality, but these denialists are certainly among the worst of criminals, causing the deaths of millions if not billions of future people. There must be a sound method of severe punishment. Unfortunalely a life sentence behind bars would stretch most countries gaol systems too far.

  46. boy on a bike

    And a merry Christmas to you too, Hammy – and all the other poor bastards suffering in whatever totalitarian sh*thole it is that you hail from.

  47. cohenite

    What about hard labour hammy? Don’t you think they deserve that too?

  48. hammygar

    What about hard labour hammy? Don’t you think they deserve that too?

    Yes that’s one solution. A resurrection of the old concept of slavery, but only after a fair and open trial. The “owners” could have their services free, but the criminals would have to be subject to stringent supervision from the equivalent of corrective services officers.

  49. Steve of Glasshouse

    Hammy penned 9.03 pm
    ” think that’s probably going a bit far. I’m against the death penality, but these denialists are certainly among the worst of criminals, causing the deaths of millions if not billions of future people. There must be a sound method of severe punishment. Unfortunalely a life sentence behind bars would stretch most countries gaol systems too far.”

    Care to run that through Turnitin..
    As for severe punishment, 30 minutes with you in a room would be sufficient methinks

  50. cohenite

    Slavery, excellent; and not just any work such as the usual picking up of the bloody refuse on the side of the road; I’m think installing solar panels and wind farms and the like; something useful.

    And reeducation; 4 or 5 hours per week compulsory viewing of the inspiring lectures by the likes of Flannery and Hamilton

    Their spirits must be broken as well as their flesh.

  51. DaveF

    Hammy I gave a shout out to you in the Open Thread. It was to do with you and your fellow travellers earning the Big Internet Bucks.

  52. face ache

    The cats out of the bag Hammy. I now know you love being the devils advocate and your tongue is firmly in your cheek. No one could be that stupid.

  53. blind freddy

    Hammy AKA Lenin
    You sound like the author of Mein Kampt —come to think about it , he was an Austrian—must be something in all that edlewiess!

  54. DaveF

    I think he is. He self identifies as a socialist.

  55. klem

    We waste very little edible food in our household, we simply give it to the dog. He converts it to fertilizer.

  56. Tom

    The cats out of the bag Hammy. I now know you love being the devils advocate and your tongue is firmly in your cheek. No one could be that stupid.

    It’s crossed my mind too, Face. The hamster is a masterful satire of the left. But imagine he IS actually thick as two short planks. Frightening.

  57. Helen Armstrong

    comment about wasted water is odd

    It is because they count the water for its highest use which they say is not watering cows, but crops or the environment – of course they don’t consider as to how the water might be transported to better faming country to actually grow the crops – they just have the mantra that cows is bad.

    Also they count cow water as including all the water used to grow the crops if the cow is in a feedlot, which in Oz is mainly short feed for finishing, but the counters ignore the time spent growing that is not in the feedlot, i.e. in the paddock.

    Like all lefty counting it is exaggerated for max effect.

    Merry Christmas all you mob.

  58. Helen Armstrong

    farming not faming

  59. duncanm

    Whenever I see these bullshit 10-20yr graphs, I like to look at history.

    Wiki has a 400,000 yr Vostok record up. Nothing to worry about in CH4 – looks like we’re synced with the solar cycle as usual.

  60. duncanm

    Oh.. as with all IPCC idiocy, they took This line to 1990 and did a linear fit.

    One of the most expensive purchases of ruler, pencil and graph paper in history.

  61. Leigh Lowe

    “And what you’re also throwing away is all the water, energy and resources that it took to get that food all the way from the paddock to your plate.”

    Ahh …. here’s how we get to the $8 billion number.
    Not only do they count up the amount actually thrown away, but they count the cost of bringing pork with crackling to the table when we should all be eating tofu.

  62. Tekweni

    i once spent a bit of time adding up all the savings that we could make once the state engineered all aspects of our lives. It was a awhile ago and obesity and food wastage was not included and I probably missed a few. It was amazing. If we followed all the rules or proposed rules we could live on less than half our incomes and save the world. We could also all be robots.

Comments are closed.