Paying more for Fairtrade cocoa is key to ending child labour

30th September 2010 The Times

To eat chocolate is to enter a moral maze. It has been associated with indulgence and sex and more recently, justice

To eat chocolate is to enter a moral maze. It has always been associated with indulgence and sex — if you believe the advertising — and the newest selling point is justice: “fairly traded” chocolate that promises a decent livelihood for the cocoa farmers. In the past year this has become mainstream: Cadbury (with Dairy Milk) and Nestlé (with KitKat) have gone into Fairtrade, and some Mars products carry the less-exacting Rainforest Alliance label. You can have chocolate both sinful and worthy simultaneously: “Indulge your sweet tooth with this decadent collection of Fairtrade Belgian chocolates . . .” runs an ad on the Oxfam shop website.

Can you taste that goodness? At a party I handed round two plates of chocolate squares. They looked identical but I said one had Fairtrade chocolate on it, the other was conventional: I wanted to know which tasted better. My subjects voted in favour of the Fairtrade chocolate, and with a political bias: the more liberal-minded, the more they preferred the Fairtrade. I’d conned them, of course: the two chocolates were the same, which made everyone cross.

Read the rest via Times Online

All this cheap meat will cost us the Earth

25th February, 2010

The headline read “Why I lost my appetite for meat”, the article was by a favourite novelist, but my wife wouldn’t pick up the magazine. “If I read it, I know I’ll have to become a vegetarian again and I just can’t bear to,” she said. I was braver — nothing this side of Armageddon is going to make me give up meat — and I did read it. The excerpts from Jonathan Safran Foer’s new non-fiction book Eating Animals left me feeling uncomfortable — so much so that I had to read the whole thing.

Read on here at Times Online

Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet

25 October 2009 The Observer

It’s not the growing number of people in poverty who are causing climate change, it’s the rich

The worst thing that you or I can do for the planet is to have children. If they behave as the average person in the rich world does now, they will emit some 11 tonnes of CO² every year of their lives. In their turn, they are likely to have more carbon-emitting children who will make an even bigger mess. If Britain is to meet the government’s target of an 80% reduction in our emissions by 2050, we need to start reversing our rising rate of population growth immediately.

And if that makes sense, why not start cutting population everywhere? Are condoms not the greenest technology of all?