Sources

Pack For A Week, Study The Favorites: A Brazilian Cardinal's Last Thoughts Before Conclave

Press blackout be damned, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis spoke with Folha de S. Paolo about papal candidates, including fellow Brazilian Scherer. Assis expects a short conclave, but is packed for a long one.

Brazilian Cardinals Odilo Scherer (left) and Raymundo Damasceno Assis (right)
Brazilian Cardinals Odilo Scherer (left) and Raymundo Damasceno Assis (right)
Fabiano Maisonnave

VATICAN CITY- Even after last week’s media blackout imposed by the Vatican, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis chose to give an interview to Folha de S.Paolo before entering Tuesday's conclave.

Damasceno Assis confirmed that the frontrunner papabili as touted in the press -- including his compatriot, Cardinal Odilo Scherer -- do indeed enjoy strong support among the other cardinals. He predicted that the conclave will be over rather quickly, as the preparation meetings have gone very smoothly.

Relaxed and in a good mood during a sit-down on Sunday, Cardinal Damasceno Assis, 76, the archbishop of Aparecida, was the only one of the five Brazilian cardinals to give an extensive interview since the meetings began last week. He says that he is comfortable not being among those likely to become pope: “I think Cardinal Scherer might be under a lot of pressure.”

“It’s hard to say who will really get all of the votes necessary, but of those mentioned in the press, we have to admit that there is a possibility that one of these cardinals could be chosen,” he added.

The President of the Brazilian Bishops Conference, Damasceno Assis reiterated that the choice has not yet been made -- the game is still wide open: “There may be surprises. If the future pope had already been chosen, we would not need to hold a conclave.”

He said that he will reside in room 418 in the Casa Santa Marta, the residence inside the Vatican where all 115 cardinals will stay from Tuesday morning onwards. He predicted that the election of the new pope would be fast, as meetings have already clearly established the new pope’s necessary characteristics.

Even so, the cardinal brought seven days worth of clothes with him -- just in case.

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Feed The Future

COP26 Should Mark A Turning Point In Solving The Climate Crisis

Slow Food calls for an action plan to significantly reduce and improve the production and consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs by 2050.

A new dawn?




If, as the saying goes, we are what we eat, the same also goes for the animals that end up on our plate. How we feed our own food can have knock-on effects, not just for our own health but also for the planet. We are now aware of the meat and dairy industry's significant carbon footprint, responsible for more than a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Large-scale cattle productions that favor pure profit over more sustainable practices also add to environmental woes through biodiversity loss, deforestation and pesticide use — with some of the world's richest countries contributing disproportionately: The five biggest meat and milk producers emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as the oil giant Exxon.

The good news is that we could meet — if we would — some of these challenges with an array of innovative solutions, as the fields of farming, breeding and nutrition look at ways to shift from centralized intensive agro industry toward a more localized, smaller-scale and more organic approach to production.

Cows fed corn and grain-based diets may grow larger and are ready to be processed at a younger age — but this requires significant energy, as well as land and water resources; in contrast, grass and hay-fed cows support a regenerative farming model in which grazing can contribute to restoring the health of soil through increased microbial diversity. Compared to highly processed GM crops, natural-grass diets with minimal cereals also lead to more nutrient-rich livestock, producing better quality meat, milk and cheese. Farmers have started focusing on breeding native animal species that are best adapted to local environmental contexts.

This new approach to agricultural practices is closely linked to the concept of agroecology, where farming works in tandem with the environment instead of exploiting it. If mowed a few times a year, for instance, natural meadows produce hay that is rich in grasses, legumes and flowers of the sunflower family, like daisies, dandelions, thistles and cornflowers. These biomes become reservoirs of biodiversity for our countryside, hosting countless species of vegetables, insects and birds, many of which are at risk of extinction. Until recently, these were common habitats in meadows that were not plugged or tilled and only required light fertilization. Today, however, they are becoming increasingly threatened: in the plains, where the terrain is used for monocultures like corn; or in hills and mountains, where fields are facing gradual abandonment.

It is worth noting that extensive agriculture, which requires smaller amounts of capital and labor in relation to the size of farmed land, can actually help curb climate change effects through carbon dioxide absorption. Researchers at the University of California, Davis determined that in their state, grasslands and rangelands have actually acted as more resilient carbon sinks than forests in recent years. Through a system of carbon uptake, these lands provide a form of natural compensation, going as far as canceling the farms' impact on the planet, rendering them carbon "creditors."

In the meantime, grasslands and pastures allow animals to live in accordance with their natural behavioral needs, spending most of the year outside being raised by bonafide farmers who care about animal welfare. A recent study by Nature found that allowing cows to graze out of doors has both psychological and physical health benefits, as they seem to enjoy the open space and ability to lie on the soft ground.

Some might worry about the economic losses that come with this slower and smaller business model, but there are also opportunities for creativity in diversifying activities, like agro-tourism and direct sales that can actually increase a farm's profit margin. This form of sustainable production goes hand-in-hand with the Slow Meat campaign, which encourages people to reduce their meat consumption while buying better quality, sustainable meat.

Others may assume that the only environmentally-conscious diet is entirely plant-based. That is indeed a valuable and viable option, but there are also thoughtful ways to consume meat in moderation — and more sustainably. It also should be noted that many fruits and vegetables have surprisingly large carbon footprints: The industrial-scale cultivation of avocados, for example, requires massive amounts of water and causes great hardship to farming communities in Latin America.

But forging a broad shift toward more "biodiversity-friendly" pastoralism requires action by both those producing and eating meat, and those with the legislative power to enact industry-wide change. It is urgent that policies be put into place to support a return to long-established agricultural practices that can sustainably feed future generations. Although no country in the world today has a defined strategy to decrease consumption while transforming production, governments are bound to play a key role in the green transition, present and future.

In Europe, Slow Food recommends that the Fit for 55 package include reducing emissions from agriculture activities by 65% (based on 2005 levels) by 2050. Agriculture-related land use emissions should also reach net-zero by 2040 and become a sink of -150 Mt CO2eq by 2050. But these targets can only be met if the EU farming sector adopts agroecological practices at a regional scale, and if consumers shift to more sustainable diets. If we are indeed what we eat, we should also care deeply about how the choices we make impact the planet that feeds us.

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