University takes serious action against climate change by banning beef - and some people are really missing the point

Conrad Duncan@theconradduncan
Tuesday 13 August 2019 07:45
news

Goldsmiths University has agreed to a "Green New Deal" proposal by students and staff to push the institution towards becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

The most eye-catching demand in the proposal is a first-of-its-kind ban on the sale of beef on campus (by September) which has enraged people who aren’t actually affected by the plan.

But before we get to the beef ban, here are the other proposed changes - listed by anthropologist Jason Hickel in a post last night.

Joe Leam, Goldsmiths' student union president, went on Radio 5 Live on Tuesday to explain why they believe such a bold proposal is necessary.

It's a pretty meaningful and substantial proposal to reduce carbon emissions from the university - although, obviously, Leam was asked to explain the ban on beef in particular.

On that issue, he said:

The beef is obviously the sexy headline that the press have picked up on but even if you look at the statistics there, it’s not so much tokenistic as you would think.

Eating beef once a week, according to a BBC article I read, is equivalent to heating the UK average home for 95 days or driving 1,542 miles.

But because people don’t seem to understand how to talk about climate change seriously, the beef was pretty much the only thing people wanted to pick up on.

Here's a selection of some of the angry responses to the plan:

Carolyn says she doesn’t know what difference the ban will make but she wants to set up a burger stall near the campus as a “f*** you” to people who care about the environment – thanks Carolyn!

Avi has pulled out the “hypocrite” argument – because if you haven’t done everything to stop climate change, you apparently shouldn’t get any credit for doing something…

"DogKick" (presumably not their birthname) has gone for the classic “universities are ruining the minds of our young” response…

Tom Shanks wants to set up a burger place near the campus as well! But unlike Carolyn, his dream is simply a money-making scheme rather than an act of spite.

And Chris seems to be a little bit confused about what’s happened here – beef is still legal, you just won’t be able to buy it on Goldsmiths' campus…

Unsurprisingly, all these arguments spectacularly miss the point.

Goldsmiths is free to make its own decisions on what it sells on campus and how it runs itself, as all universities are, and if they want to take serious action against climate change, that’s their choice.

It shouldn't be surprising that a university with a reputation for being liberal or left-wing would introduce measures that fit with one of the biggest left-wing issues at the moment - climate change.

Everyone is free to eat beef elsewhere if they want to - although judging by the wealth of research on food production and sustainability, it would be great if people ate it a little bit less.

Also, if you're the sort of person who gets angry at a ban on beef, you probably shouldn't go to Goldsmiths anyway...

More: This image of Iceland's first dead glacier is a stark reminder that we need to act now

Trending