A response to a hand-waving post on the GP members website saying how 51% (figure open to debate if anyone cares) of anthropogenic carbon emissions are caused by animal agriculture and so we should focus on policies to promote less meat eating. Typical tree seeing wood missed stuff...

Duh. 100% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions are due to human activity.

It really doesn't matter if 51% is this or 42% is that. In the short term the important question is finding the easiest ones to cut with least negative effects (however you choose to define that) in terms of the biosphere and society.

Given that we know it is possible to run a civilization without fossil fuels, and that fossil fuels are becoming more expensive and harder to get - possibly hitting a (peak oil) limit well within our lifetime so we will probably have to run a post fossil fuel society it is probably a good idea to major on reductions in that 49% (or 75% depending whose figures you take).

Of course reductions in all areas including food production are necessary. Take the low hanging fruit first - is it easier to persuade (or make) the man on the street to give up his car and get back on the Clapham Omnibus or to give up eating meat?

In reality the point is it is not either cars or meat but both.

The CAT report (referenced in someone else's reply) makes the point that it would not be possible to run our current civilization without fossil fuels. That much is also obvious. However that doesn't mean that it is not possible to run a satisfying civilization without fossil fuels - it has been done in the past.

That doesn't amount to a call for the return to some past golden or dark age. We have gained a lot of useful knowledge since the start of our flirtation with fossil fuels and unsustainable growth and the task for the future (and thus for GP policy) is to find ways of preserving and using this knowledge to build a viable post fossil fuel society.

A lot of our current policy is based on an implicit assumption that the future sustainable society must be based on our existing way of doing things, and a lot of our debate is between should we pursue this or that (meat or cars, home education or state schools, rights or responsibilities, technofix or back to nature etc etc) into the future.

I would say that a future post-carbon society will look very different to either our current civilization or anything that has gone before or to the fine ideals outlined in such confusing detail in PSS.

Our task is twofold - working out what is worth preserving (see the 1970s appropriate technology movement) and disconnecting ourselves from the destructive civilization we are part of in order to increase our chances of survival.

An open question is whether actions which hasten the reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are acceptable - and I'm not talking about actions like trying to get laws passed to force or encourage people to eat less meat or drive fewer miles - we don't have time for that and I suspect neither will feature large as activities in a post-carbon society anyway.