I have a modest proposal. Lately, there have been some commendable if flawed solutions put forward to deal with the climate crisis. Last month, at a talk entitled, ‘Food of the Future: Worms, Grasshoppers, or Human Flesh,’ Professor Magnus Soderlund said we must break down taboos and ‘awaken the idea’ of eating human flesh because food will be scarce in our climate-ravaged future. Prof. Soderlund, an expert in marketing and economics, said people could be ‘tricked’ into ‘making the right decision’ and their resistance overcome progressively, as it were, by persuading them to eat insects and pets and just tasting people.
‘Are we humans too selfish to live sustainably?’ he asked. It seems not. He reported that of his audience at a ‘Gastro Summit,’ in Stockholm, eight per cent were open to eating people and although he felt hesitant, he was open to at least tasting human flesh because he didn’t want to appear ‘overly conservative.’
A young woman in New York who has also come up with a good idea has been unfairly maligned because she associates with people who say hurtful things like, ‘feed Jane Fonda to the whales.’ But killing off her courageous proposal, just because of the company she keeps, would really be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or cutting off your nose to spite your face. As she told Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the climate crisis is so acute that even AOC’s Green Deal to get rid of fossil fuels and Soderlund eating the dead will not deal with the emergency fast enough. ‘Your next campaign slogan has to be this, we got to start eating babies,’ she said. She told the assembled gathering the harsh truth, that they are pollutants and that even if we bomb Russia, there would still be too many people. Pointing to her t-shirt which said, ‘Save the planet, eat the children,’ she made the obvious point that just stopping having babies is not enough. ‘We need to eat the babies,’ she pleaded. ‘This is very serious. Please give it respect.’
AOC did give it, and the young lady, respect, not ruling out the proposal and agreeing that, ‘one of the things that’s very important to us is that we need to treat the climate crisis with the urgency that it does present. Luckily,’ she added, ‘we have more than a few months’ but ‘we do need to hit net zero in a couple years.’ She wrapped up with admirable inclusiveness saying, ‘We all need to understand that there are a lot of solutions that we have’ and ‘we are never beyond hope.’ It is this sort of openness to new ideas that has made AOC a giant among Lilliputians and a hero for our times.
Disappointingly, Titania McGrath, someone I have always admired as the Queen of the Woke Fairies, entirely missed the point saying that she was happy to eat babies to avert climate change ‘as soon as someone come up with a vegan soy-baby alternative.’ Seriously, I am starting to wonder if she is for real.
Feminists have been pointing out for some time that patriarchal oppression causes catastrophic climate change. In 2015, Gloria Steinem identified ‘the Pope, and all of the other patriarchal religions that dictate to women,’ as the cause of global warming, explaining in 2017, that, ‘if we had not been systematically forcing women to have children they don’t want or can’t care for over the 500 years of patriarchy, we wouldn’t have the climate problems that we have.’
The Swedes, always in the vanguard of progress, claim that the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to give birth to fewer children. They calculate that each child that isn’t born equates to a reduction of 58 tonnes of CO2 for each year of a parent’s life. That’s a big saving compared with not going on a return transatlantic flight each year —Greta Thunberg — which saves a piddly 1.6 tonnes, even when you don’t fly two crew members over and two back to sail you to America. Washing your clothes in cold water for a year saves a mere 0.25 of a tonne and upgrading your light bulbs saves a pathetic 0.10 tonnes per annum — thanks for nothing, Mr Turnbull, who claimed that banning incandescent light bulbs was ‘big bickies.’
The researchers were disappointed that governments were not encouraging people to have fewer children but as Chris Goodall, an author who writes about low carbon living has pointed out, ‘cutting the number of people on the planet will take hundreds of years. Emissions reduction needs to start now.’
That’s why the combined ideas of Soderlund and AOC’s courageous constituent have merit. Eating babies is a tender subject but if we have learnt nothing else from recent abortion debates it is that while women have the right to choose the fate of their unborn babes, once aborted they can be disposed of as ‘choice’ cuts. Once we get over our ‘conservative’ squeamishness, why draw a distinction between selling them for spare parts or for spareribs? As Jonathan Swift wrote in his own Modest Proposal, ‘A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends.’ A child aborted in the eighth month will provide only a little less nourishment.
Yet this does not address the fact that there are already too many people and that bombing them would kill animals too, which is really unfair. William Makepeace Thackeray also suggested in his prophetic poem, ‘Little Billee,’ about three sailors who run out of food and decide, ‘we’ve nothing left, us must eat we,’ that there is something morally repugnant about eating the unwilling. Billy tries to delay the awful moment by reciting his catechism and ‘had scarcely come to the Twelfth Commandment,’ when he is saved by the serendipitous appearance of the British navy.
We have seen the compassion of Extinction Rebellion activists, who are ‘really sorry’ that injured people might die trying to get to hospitals during their fortnight of climate protests in London. This shows the sort of gimlet-eyed determination required to see through difficult decisions. The Extinction Rebellion seems to be on the road to premature extinction in Australia, with fewer demonstrators turning up than expected but my modest proposal would help it rapidly achieve its goal. All that is needed is for a large group of morally superior people — say the 10 per cent of the population who vote Green — to demonstrate real action on climate change by volunteering to permanently reduce their carbon footprint and provide a sustainable last supper at the same time. They could be cured in lime juice to minimise emissions and their remains composted in an organic memorial garden. It is said that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny but that is unlikely to be a problem with climate activists.
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