Thursday 28 January 2010

Moonbat monitoring

My favourite moonbat, Mark Mann, copped an utter pasting this week from a cabal of angry westies. Poor bugger. It must be a shock to the system to emerge from the company of your hip friends in a Leichhardt cafe, were you have been discussing the evils of capitalism, to suddenly be brought face to face with the harsh reality of life in the suburbs. Or life out west. Or death out west, as I prefer to think of it.

But isn't that the beauty of the interweb - connecting the east and west (and is eastern and western suburbs)?

Mark provided a link to a fascinating report (if you are into these sorts of things) on how much food we waste each year. Being an inquisitive type, I took a look.

Before I dip into the report, just remember that it was published by The Australia Institute. Here is their philosophy:

Our Philosophy

With new dilemmas confronting our society and our planet, a better balance is urgently needed. Unprecedented levels of consumption co-exist with extreme poverty. Technology has connected humanity as never before, yet civic engagement is declining. Environmental neglect continues despite heightened ecological awareness. If genuine progress is to be achieved, conscience, equity and concern for the future must be the guiding principles of our democracy. Socially just, environmentally responsible and economically viable solutions are possible, but only if insightful questions are combined with excellent research.

Hmm, only rates about 7.6 on the moonbat scale. "conscience, equity and concern for the future must be the guiding principles of our democracy" - bleah, I want to vomit. How about liberty, prosperity and freedom as our guiding principles?

Let's get started:

Australian households are throwing out more than $5 billion worth of food each year..
Shocked? Well, let's wait a minute, get past the headline, and ask how that number was calculated.

reducing food waste has the capacity to deliver significant environmental benefits at no cost to government. Food retailers represent a major barrier to implementing effective food waste policies, since their profits are contingent on the amount of food sold rather than the amount of food consumed. To overcome this, better public understanding of the problems associated with food waste needs to be a priority for governments at all levels. Without considerable policy change in this area, household waste is likely to grow as incomes rise and the number of occupants in each household shrinks.
What an illiberal bucket of poo. Read that again, and see if you can detect the call for even more government regulation in our lives. It implies that eeeeevil supermarkets, who make profits (!), have to be regulated. And stupid consumers need to be told what to do.

Agriculture contributed 14.8 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2007. Additional to the direct emissions from agriculture are the emissions associated with transporting food to the shop shelf and then to the consumer’s home. Further emissions are generated from the decomposition of organic waste. Food waste is an unnecessary and easily avoidable contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and reducing such waste would, in a literal sense, deliver ‘least cost abatement’.
To me, this is why they published this study. As with so many things these days, it's all about global warming. We must be taxed and regulated and told what to do, all in the name of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. And in case you think I am exaggerating, here is a note from page 5:

The categories used in the survey were selected to permit the future calculation of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste.

In a note at the bottom of page 2, I found this:

It is worth noting here that agriculture and transport fuels are insulated from the government’s Climate Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). Furthermore, the single approach of ‘price-based mechanisms’ in the CPRS appears misguided when people already act irrationally in throwing away $5.2 billion worth of food.
Is it "irrational" for me to throw away rotten food? Should I drink milk that has gone off, and eat chicken that is past it's used by date?

The average Australian household throws out an estimated $616 worth of food a year, which equates to $239 per person
For our household, that would equate to $1195 per year. I take the bins out each week, and I know what goes into our kitchen bin. I also do the shopping a lot of the time, so I know what food costs and what we are throwing out. I ran a few numbers through my head, and there is no way we are throwing out even 10% of that - unless we get an attack of moths in the flour etc. Even then, tossing out half a bag of weevil infested flour costs less than $2. I just can't see where numbers like that come from. We have 4 hungry males in the house - we chuck out almost nothing! The poor old worms in the worm farm are starving!

While it is possible to reduce food waste and, in turn, reduce the impact of food production on the environment, our results suggest that food wastage will continue to be a problem unless government takes steps to address it. In fact, without significant policy changes, it is likely to increase. The results presented in this paper reveal a strong link between household income and levels of food waste. Given expectations of continued increases in household income, it is likely that food waste will also increase
So getting richer is a problem, is it? So what is the solution - make us poorer?

Then we get into the survey. This is a ripper:

Q25. How many people in your household are vegetarian?

I surmise that because the authors found no link between being a vegetarian and being less wasteful, they said nothing in the report about meat eaters vs vegos. It would make me laugh if they found that vegetableheads in fact throw out more food than us carnivores - but I guess we will never know.

Most of the questions are like this:

Q17. Please estimate the original cost of rice, pasta or bread that was thrown away in the
past week.
  • Less than $1
  • $1-$5
  • $5-$10
  • $10-$20
  • $20-$50
  • More than $50
  • Not sure
Which is fine, except that everything is based on estimates, and the ranges are quite large. Think about the cost of rice, pasta and bread for a minute. We go through 5 or 6 loaves of bread per week, and all we toss out are the crusts. We're buying around $20 worth of bread per week, and tossing out maybe 30 cents worth - assuming crusts have value to someone.

A 1kg bag of rice is about $4. We feed the worms a few spoon fulls each week that the kids haven't eaten - maybe 20 cents worth. Same with pasta. Oops, not the same with pasta. We never throw out pasta.

The problem with the survey is this - it fails to ask you what you spend per week on these products, so it's very easy to over estimate how much you waste in dollar terms. It's a beat up.

The only way I can see them getting to the values they have reported is via this question:

Q18. Please estimate the original cost of any restaurant or takeaway food that was bought in the past week and not eaten, and then discarded.
We know takeaway is more expensive than making it yourself. If I throw out a container of Pad Thai, I am tossing out the equivalent of 4 or 5 loaves of bread, or 3kg of rice in value terms. When we get Thai, it usually costs us up to $80 to feed the family. If we throw out half a container of Red Curry Beef, that's the same as tossing out six or seven dollars. But it is a very small amount of waste. And in terms of a meal that might consists of 10 containers of food, hoiking half a container (5% of the meal) is not the end of the world.

In summary, I think this report is full of overinflated figures that have been created via a dodgy calculation and surveying methodology. On top of that, the findings are beaten up, confusing the value of products with the volume of space they take up in landfill. And it's all done in the name of foisting more regulation and tax on all of us.

A pox on this survey.


Stavros the pigeon herder said...

Mate, I rekon the rats, cockroaches and ants at teh dump will have cleaned out whatever my dogs dont eat. The birds do a grate jo9b at gobbling up what we leave at the park, and the bums help out in the alleys behind the restrants. Personally tho i don't blame the garbos. I'd wouldn't want to pick up other peopls crap any more than i had to. Maybe this dick should do a analisis of what rats farts contribute to the environment based on what food we throw them (such as your red curry beef). There are a lot of rats out there.

Iain Hall said...

Great post
I do the buying and cooking here and I agree that the waste estemates in the survey are stupid and made to fit an agenda.