The survey demonstrates that three out of four respondents in Denmark, Germany and China, and around 60% of the British respondents would be willing to pay more for pork that is ‘improved’ in terms of better animal welfare, lower climate impact, decreased use of antibiotics use, guaranteed freedom from harmful bacteria, and animals that are not fed soy, which leads to the clearing of rainforest…
Among German consumers, climate considerations scored lowest out of the five different types of improvements prioritized by the respondents. Danish, British and Chinese respondents placed climate impact at second lowest.
Whenever the public’s “interest” in global warming appears to be waning the usual and customary thing to do is start flooding the airwaves and “Sidebars” with news stories about how it’s “recently been shown” to be “even worse than we thought” and we “might have even less time to act than previously thought.”
The irony is not lost on me. But put yourself in some pig’s trotters. Would you rather live in a field, wandering around, eating as you wish, then die with a fast chop? Or live in misery, confined, force fed, then, when you collapse, have a chain tied around your leg and be dragged into the slaughterhouse?
I think this study is being misinterpreted. The prevailing assumption seems to be that the survey respondents care more about animal welfare than climate change. I don’t think that is true. I suspect that if we could immediately halt global warming by culling the pig population by 50%, there would soon be a lot of dead pigs.
What the survey is saying IMO is that people believe that changes to the treatment of pigs are more relevant and significant to the issue of animal welfare than it is to climate change.
It’s like asking would you be more willing to impose a tariff on Chinese imports to increase the number of domestic jobs or to marginally reduce the possibility of a nuclear confrontation with China in 20 years? I suspect most would say jobs, even though no one wants a nuclear war. The choice is made not on the basis of which issue is more important. It is made based on which issue is more significantly impacted by the sacrifice asked.
Could you explain? We were talking about paying more for pork to encourage different outcomes and you wrote “Limiting short term private wantoness in favor of long term communal prudence has been the essence of civilization throughout human history.” What is the connection?
It comes down to studying how civilizations as systems of human control, spiritual imagination, economics, and aesthetics have risen, sometimes survived and evolved, and often fallen. I am a profoundly optimistic person, but am suffering a breakdown.
I am very pessimistic about the future of our consumerist civilization. Over the last two decades it has become painfully obvious to me that we, especially people living in the richest cultures dominated by consumerist life styes, are rapidly heedlessly destroying the ecology of the Earth, and that there is decreasing chance of turning back. I see this as obvious both from my own direct experience (ruined paradises my family has cherished for generations), from studying reported trends, and seeing the futility of most of my own political efforts and arguments.
The self-deceptions abetting this accelerationg destruction is cheered on by an ever more idiot culture (YOU deserve a BREAK today!), abetted by obsolete systems of morality oblivious to communal guilt (what can poor you do as a mere individual when it is the mass market, mass society and mass politics making the key choices, hmmm?) and failed religious traditions unable to address new evils.
Discussing the ethics and economics of pork production simply triggered my larger scale gloom. I expect I may be the only person on this board who has slaughtered pigs, multiple times helping corral them, one time knifing the jugular, and one time holding the big bucket catching the blood to make blood sausage. I like pigs, and I love cooking and eating pork. But it has become obvious to me that wealthy modernity’s commercial animal husbandry is a significant part of “breaking the world,” exceeded only by our insane production of CO2, destruction of forests and fisheries, and draining of aquifers. I am trying to move away from all three.
Worst of all, our antique systems of civilized governance founded on and empowered by notions of civil morality are now failing to evolve. They are ever more controlled by alliances of corporate automata and mad strongmen rather than civilly committed citizens, under the cover of superstitious pieities both theoretical and religious.
Mostly, we are moving headlong towards worse and more deeply rooted disasters.
Our innocent pork discussion simply triggered me. I apologize.