Fight global warming by reducing CO2 emissions from your spaghetti bolognaise! This is the recommendation of two academics associated with Melbourne’s RMIT University whohave found that the farm-to-fork “Global Warming Potential” (GWP) of pasta with meat sauce can be significantly reduced by eliminating beef and substituting kangaroo. They recommend that for an even greater impact on global heat, rising seas, coral bleaching, tempests, bushfires and ocean acidification, you should dispense with the kangaroo too, and make your spagbol topping with lentils and kidney beans.
The Journal of Cleaner Production study, reprised at The Conversation, is by RMIT Principal Research Fellow Karli Verghese and Stephen Clune, senior lecturer in sustainable design, Lancaster University and formerly an RMIT Research Fellow. The authors say, “We hope that chefs, caterers and everyday foodies will use this information to cook meals without cooking the planet.”
A Conversation commenter, William Hollingsworth, self-identifying as “a Marxist monarchist”, suggests another planet-saving refinement to our favorite family fare. “Reduce the footprint for spaghetti bolognaise even further by cooking it in one pot, not by boiling the spaghetti separately which doubles the amount of energy needed for cooking and adds another pot to be washed up. Tastes just the same,” he says.
The true hero of RMIT’s spaghetti bolognaise-led crusade against global warming is not Skippy the Kangaroo but Oscar the Onion. The carbon footprint of onions, say the researchers, is so low it would take 50 medium onions (5.8kg) to generate 1kg of greenhouse gases. By contrast, a mere 44gm of premium beef spagbol topping generates a similar 1kg carbon footprint.
The authors, who are clearly not silly, stop short of recommending 50 medium onions for dinner. “Due to different culinary and dietary requirements,” they explain, “it is hard to argue that you can replace beef with onions.” (Insert flatulence jokes here.) A commenter, possibly a Scot[i], remarks that he would much rather eat 2.6kg of oats than 5.8kg of onions for the same greenhouse emissions.
From the paper, we discover that the five cloves of garlic in a spagbol recipe generate a mere 10 grams of harmful emissions, and the grated zucchini only 20 grams. There seems no need for either the Turnbull federal or Andrews state government to include garlic and zucchini emissions in their CO2 reduction targets. Nor do garlic and zucchini emissions bulk large in the global annual emissions tally of 42 billion tonnes.
The authors see their rankings of 168 kitchen foods’ footprints and the GWP of 1718 food stuffs’ values as relevant to the concerns of Gaia-loving householders and catering companies. If you’re fretting about your food emission “hot spots” from buffalo milk, eel, brassica, pollock, pepo, swedes, carp, hesperidium, true berries and pinto beans, just use their ready reckoner for planet-saving purposes.
But the researchers lament that the emissions intensity of peanuts, goat, turkey, duck, quinoa, ostrich, emu, and rabbit are not yet calculated – a task crying out for hefty research grants if ever there was one. Even the carbon footprint – rather, macropod print – of kangaroos needs re-calculation. “Such information is critical if attempts are made to inform dietary choice for environmental purposes,” the authors say. Perhaps “critical” is over-stating things a bit; I’d rank cancer cures, rice yields and dark matter higher in the “critical” research category.
The academics model climate-friendly Australian weekly shopping lists and find lentil-heavy supermarket baskets can cut family emissions by between 30% and 50%. But their model didn’t cover things like travel to the shop, food storage at home, and the consequent environmental overhead of excretion.
The pair are part of the global academic horde feeding off the myth of catastrophic human-caused warming. The mortar-board mob must number in the scores or even hundreds of thousands, supported by untold billions in taxpayer funding. The spaghetti bolognaise paper alone cites nearly 100 supporting studies.
But not one such academic has noticed that no significant global warming has occurred for the past 20 years, contrary to all the computer models on which their scare depends. If the scare were ever to be scotched, research funding for spaghetti bolognaise and similar climate studies would dry up, and then what would these academics do?
Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.
[i] Dr Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defines oats as ‘a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.’