Fr. Franz Gassner - Photo by Oswald Vas

FUEL FOR TYPHOONS AND HURRICANES – Fr. Franz Gassner, SVD, on Food Waste

Pedro Daniel Oliveira

University of Saint Joseph (USJ) Assistant Professor Fr Franz Gassner, SVD, told O CLARIM that Macau should adopt solutions, as soon as possible, to prevent excess food waste, as the problem, which is hardly discussed in the territory, is causing serious consequences for the environment: there’s a connection with typhoons and hurricanes.

“We are witnessing globally an alarming increase of extreme weather events in Macau, South China, in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean,” Fr Gassner told us.

“The rise of global temperature causes the sea to heat up more, so that more energy is packed into winds, creating huge typhoons and the most powerful hurricanes recorded in history. Their landfall smashes houses, trees, grounds electricity poles, and causes unprecedented storm surges with huge waves,” he added.

He said that “Macau has to become much more resilient against such extreme weather events, which have been predicted since many years back, by a better planning and improvement of infrastructures, as those natural adversities will increase in future.”

Fr Gassner also said that one third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted, so that food waste taken as a “country” makes the 3rd largest carbon dioxide emitter after the United States and China. “When food goes to trash bins instead into bellies of the hungry, it is in addition a very serious and grave injustice,” he stated.

“Organic and food waste is the biggest portion of waste in Macau — more than 40 % — as master’s degree students of Environmental Science of USJ have found out,” he mentioned, adding that “Macau’s waste incinerator is also affected negatively due to the high moisture content in the waste stream due to the food waste, which creates less energy and more flue ash.”

In sum, avoiding food loss and waste reduces the stress on natural resources and climate, thus helping to reduce global warming and to calm storms. At the same time it’s morally demanded and socially just, Fr Gassner said.

Moreover, he stressed, “moderation of our life style, lessening of our ecological footprint, and preventing food waste does not normally cross our mind when facing a typhoon, but it should definitely do, as there is a deep relationship of our climate with our trees, with emissions and footprint, and especially with our food system.”

Fr Gassner claimed that Macau needs to adopt solutions following the Food Recovery Hierarchy, based on the practical application of “listening to the language of nature.”

The most preferred option is reduction at source and prevention of food waste, for example by ordering food in a restaurant in a reasonable way. Another way is to feed hungry people with surplus food by donating to food banks, soup kitchens and so on, which is something that “has to be made legally possible also in Macau.”

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