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.

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