Welcome news from Oxfam, whose new publication, Fair Miles: recharting the food miles map, explores the dilemma of whether it is ethically sound to eat fresh food shipped (air-freighted, more like) in from distant places. Many a glass of new world chardonnay has been enjoyed whist debating such issues, of course. Oxfam note:
This pocketbook delves into the realities of the produce trade between Africa and the UK, examining both sides of the equation in search of a diet that is ethically, as well as nutritionally, balanced.
This is a booklet for those who want to think through the issues for themselves, but who like the idea of an ethical / nutritional balance to what they eat, and the data provided here (although rather jumbled in my view) will help greatly, even though it inevitably remains a complex area. The strong contribution of UK consumers to developing world economies through trade is laid bare, and ought to act as a counter weight to all those siren voices whose idea of the future is to go back to a time (just when was this?) when all food was grown locally. A valuable ESD resource for teachers.
On 26 November, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families received the Children's Statement on Climate Change from children at St Luke's primary school in Newham and promised to send it to UK delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The Statement is available to download as a PDF and is certainly worth a read if only to glimpse some of the thoughts of some of our children (it's hard to know anything about representativeness, of course).
Commendably, little attempt seems to have been made to eliminate muddled conceptual thinking:
If we don’t reduce global warming we’ll see more ﬂoods, droughts, food shortages, and endangered animals because the hole in the ozone layer will get even bigger.
Concern about the extinction of polar bears continues (I hear this wherever I go and have to admire the animals' PR machine):
The ice caps melting and polar bears and penguins becoming extinct from it.
Meanwhile, Thomas says:
I am most worried about the severe effects of climate change, like the increase in ﬂooding in the UK and the very hot summers which we would get; this would cause crops to fail. The animals would not be able to adapt quickly enough to the rapid change ... so they would die.
I wonder whether Thomas would be just as worried were the summers to be cold and the winters dry. I suppose he would be as he'd likely be told that this, also, was evidence of climate change – as it may well be (or not) – how can he know?
I read the children's piece at the same time as the article in this week's THE: Beyond Debate? by Martin Cohen. I think that this is something which the children's teachers might usefully read – as well as some of the comment that goes alongside it on the THE's website – if only to help them see that this debate is not settled, and therefore help them to be as open and honest as possible with the young people whom they teach.