Take the cotton out of your ears, please

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At current prices, the economic value of fur is 533 euro per kg, while the value of cotton is 1,32 euro per kilo. Said in another way, one will need to produce 403 times more cotton than fur in order to gain the same economic value.

Now, why is this relevant? It is relevant because export, job creation, investments and tax income are all closely attached to economic value, and if you want to criticise fur for being environmentally more harmful than cotton, you need to put your comparison into a socio-economic context to achieve any kind of fairness.

Cotton_fur_Fur_for_ThoughtLast week, animal rights organisations worldwide started the distribution of (yet another) online petition which is a part of their long-term plan to end human use of animals. This time the target is the Canadian ‘Fur is Green‘-campaign which has been a thorn in the side of the global animal rights movement for some years.

The animal rights community finds it offensive to claim that fur is green, and to prove their point animal rights groups in The Netherlands, Belgium and Italy commissioned a life cycle analysis study on the environmental impact of fur compared to the environmental impact of cotton. The study from consultancy agency CE Delft which, may I say in passing, was never peer reviewed, concludes that the climate change impact of fur is 12 times that of cotton. With the above calculation in mind, I might as well say that the cotton producer is forced to impact climate change 33 times more than a fur producer in order to pay an employee for a day’s work (by producing 121 kg cotton and 300 grams of fur respectively at the value of 160 euro).

But even without the very relevant perspective of economic value, the report from CE Delft has some serious holes in it. For one thing, it only looks at the production chain. This way, the animal rights groupies conveniently managed to dodge the question about the lifespan of fur and cotton. However, a life cycle analysis is just that – an analysis considering the full life cycle of a product. It is a huge environmental advantage when products have a long life span because the environmental impacts are distributed over much longer time, and a fur coat has an estimated life span of 20-30 years. Cotton products? Not so much.

Another problem with the CE Delft study concerns a simple misassumption. It is correct when CE Delft states that the biggest environmental impact of fur products is connected to the quantity of feed consumed by the fur animals. Unfortunately CE Delft has used a figure of 563 kg feed per kg of fur – this is about 75% too high. According to Knowledge Centre for Agriculture in Denmark the actual figure is more like 320 kg, and, obviously, such a major mistake changes the study’s conclusions significantly.

It is the fewest of human activities that don’t leave some kind of environmental footprint; driving a car, going on holiday or wearing a fur coat. Given that attacking the fur industry with environmental arguments really have less to do with environmental concerns and everything to do with the animal rights movement believing they have a patent on defining what is morally right and wrong for the rest of us, I doubt that economic perspectives have any play in those circles. After all, we have heard them suggest the banning of everything from ice cream to zoological gardens without ever suggesting how to replace the economic loses of their utopian future vision. For the sake of the public debate however, it would be nice to see the animal rights supporters take the cotton out of their ears and stick their noses into the real world.

2 Comments

  1. My god, these people never qive up…
    The fact of the matter is that fur is completely natural and undoubtedly the oldest material known to man. Unlike many other materials such as cotton, polyester and even leather fur is not ‘refined’, merely preserved with gentle chemicals meaning that no mechanical processing is required to make it useable reducing carbon emissions.
    Personally, I despise unnatural materials (polyester and other oil-based products in particular) and feel far more uncomfortable in a plastic coat than a fur one. Plastic takes hundreds or even thousands of years to decompose, when you throw a plastic coat away you cause far more damage to the environment and, ironically, to animals than you would a fur. Even more, plastic is difficult or even impossible to recycle whereas furs can be easily redesigned.
    Many ARA’s also argue that animals shouldn’t be killed merely for their fur and though fur is the main product of fur farming, fur farms have many environmental benefits. The animals are fed leftovers from abattoirs and fisheries that would otherwise go to waste and they actually consume more than they produce. What is left of the animal goes into making fine oils for skincare, organic fertilizers and biofuel. FURTHERMORE many of the animals that go into making clothing are not even killed for their fur but for conservation programmes and population control (coyotes, raccoons and beavers among many others) which prevents starvation and illness among the wild population.
    PETA, HSUS, ALF… they will argue against ANYTHING positive presented about fur, even if it is factual and proven. No doubt about it an animal rights organisation (PETA) has paid CE Delft handsomely to present these ‘facts’, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve made pathetically stupid, uneducated lies about the fur trade (e.g. baby seals are clubbed to death for their fur – ILLEGAL SINCE 1985, fur animals are skinned alive – THE VIDEO WAS STAGED).
    I respect an individuals decision to choose to wear fur or not, quite frankly I don’t mind if someone hates fur as long as they respect the fact that others do not have the exact same opinion as them. I strongly disagree with PETA’s cruel methods of ‘converting’ others which include but not limit to: emotional torture, verbal and physical abuse, vandalism, PORNOGRAPHY (yes, PETA has a porn site, ironically promoting the violation and degradation of women) and even STAGING ANIMAL SNUFF FILMS. In the most extreme cases people have been brutally beaten by these ‘animal lovers’. How they genuinely believe that such childish acts of publicity will change people’s perceptions of the fur trade I honestly can’t understand. ARA’s will use animal rights as an excuse to violate human rights which, ultimately, is unjustified.
    I am a proud supporter of the International Fur Trade and always will be.

  2. Pingback: Lies Activists Tell (#3): The CE Delft Report Truth About Fur - The Blog!

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