Save the Humans

DROUGHT CALIFORNIA CATTLE

A few years ago, I was talking with Al Gore (yes, I’m name dropping). I asked him a very simple and pointed question: “Animal agriculture contributes about 18 percent of the gases that cause climate change. Why didn’t you mention this in your book or movie?”

His answer was disconcertingly honest. I’m paraphrasing, but he said: “For most people, the role of animal agriculture in climate change is too inconvenient of a truth.”

We like our animal products.

Well, you like your animal products. I’ve been a vegan for 28 years, so to be honest I don’t even remember what they taste like.

But collectively, as a species, we seem to like animal products. A lot.

To wit: Each year, the U.S. grows and kills about 10 billion livestock animals. Globally, we’re raising and slaughtering about 56 billion animals animal agriculture each year. If you do the math, that means we’re killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day. That doesn’t even include fish and other seafood.

But even though I’m a vegan for ethical reasons, I don’t want to write about the animal ethics of animal agriculture. I want to write about the ways in which animal agriculture is killing us and ruining our planet.

I know, that sounds like left wing hyperbole. “It’s killing our planet!” But sometimes hyperbole isn’t hyperbole. Sometimes hyperbole is just the clear-eyed truth. I’ll start with climate change.

The U.N. released a conservative report wherein they stated that animal agriculture causes about 18 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions.

To put it in perspective: animal agriculture is responsible for producing more climate change gases than every car, boat, bus, truck, motorcycle and airplane on the planet. Combined.

But we like our animals — or at least growing and eating them. So we make the trade-off: animal products for climate change.

Climate is complicated. And climate change is complicated. But the role of animal agriculture in climate change is simple.

And how about famine? There are over 7,000,000,000 people on the planet, and many of them are very, very hungry. Article after article and book after book ask the question: “How will we feed a planet of 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 billion people?” The discussions turn to fertilizer and GMOs and arable land.

But here’s a painfully simple idea: stop feeding human food to livestock.

It takes around 15 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef – which can feed a couple people for a few hours. In comparison, 13 pounds of grain fed to humans directly can feed 13 people for most of the day.

“We’re killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day.”

Globally, we don’t have a famine problem; we have a livestock problem. Feeding food to animals and then eating the animals is kind of like heating your house during the winter by burning wood outside.

Speaking of winters: a few years ago, tired of cold winters in New York, I moved to California. Last year in L.A., we had around 362 beautiful days of sunshine. It was 80 degrees on Christmas, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Which is great, apart from the fact that California and most of the West are now experiencing the worst drought in recorded history.

As Californians, we’ve been asked to take shorter showers and use less water on our lawns. Both are good ideas. But let’s put it in perspective: a long shower uses around 40 gallons of water. Whereas it takes 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to create a 1/3 lb hamburger.

More than 90 percent of the water in California goes to agriculture. Some agriculture is very water responsible. It takes about 216 gallons of water to make one pound of soybeans, for example.

But other agriculture is egregiously water intensive – including rice and cotton, but especially animal agriculture. Each pound of chicken requires about 500 gallons of water, and pork requires about 576 gallons of water.

“Personally, I’d like to make a deal with California. I’ll take much shorter showers if you stop subsidizing water use for livestock.”

Personally, I’d like to make a deal with California. I’ll take much shorter showers if you stop subsidizing water use for livestock. If I just jumped in the shower and bathed quickly, I could even get it down to five gallons of water per shower. And after 132 showers, I would’ve used as much water as is needed to create one pound of beef.

So we’ve established that having an estimated 56,000,000,000 livestock animals on the planet uses a lot of water and grain and creates a lot of methane and carbon dioxide.

But these billions of animals also make waste. The really disgusting waste, not just invisible climate warming gases.

Let’s put this in perspective: the good people of Philadelphia create roughly1,000,000 tons of urine and feces per year. And one, only one, large pig farm will produce roughly 1,600,000 tons of urine and feces per year.

“One large pig farm annually creates 600,000 tons more urine and feces than the city of Philadelphia.”

Our lakes and rivers are being fouled with algae blooms. Our groundwater is being polluted. And the main culprit is livestock.The 56 billion livestock animals on the planet are making tons and tons of feces and urine every year — three times as much as humans.

And, in addition to fouling our water supplies, it’s also fouling our homes. A University of Arizona study found more residual feces and waste in the average omnivores kitchen than in their toilet bowl. Largely due to meat into the home.

The animals spend their lives in their own feces and urine, and when they’re killed and packaged, they bring their feces and urine with them. Into your home. They also bring pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, cholesterol and saturated fat.

To that end: if we collectively stopped eating animals and animal products tomorrow, studies suggest we’d see a drop in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

“We don’t have a global health epidemic; we have a global livestock epidemic. “

We don’t have a global health epidemic; we have a global livestock epidemic. Toomuch of the western world health care budgets go to curing people of diseases caused by the consumption of animal products.

And I’m not going to toot the vegan horn too much, but vegans have significantly lower rates of obesity, diabetes and some cancers.

When I talk to people about animal agriculture and meat eating, people often say, “But meat is inexpensive.” And it is. But only because it’s so heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. In the United States, we spend billions of dollars every year in direct and indirect subsidies to the meat and dairy industries. Billions of dollars in our tax dollars, subsidizing a product that ruins our environment and decimates our health.

We subsidize the grain that’s fed to livestock. We subsidize the water that’s used in livestock production. We, the taxpayers, subsidize animal agriculture.

And what do we get? We get climate change gases. And we get trillions of pounds of animal waste that fouls our lakes and rivers and reservoirs. We get an end product that causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

And, saving the best for last, we also get zoonotic diseases.

“Zoonotic” is a fun and fancy sounding word. It sort of sounds like a very erudite part of a zoo, where the animals read books and live on boats. But zoonotic diseases are not fun or fancy. Some zoonotic diseases you might be familiar with: E.coli, Salmonella, SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola and even some old standards like smallpox and the common cold.

Zoonotic diseases come from animals, and, in many cases, from animal agriculture.

Luckily, thus far, we’ve been able to treat most zoonotic diseases with antibiotics. But here’s the rub: animals on factory farms are so sick, and in such bad shape, that antibiotics are all that’s keeping them from dying before they’re slaughtered. The animals are fed obscene amounts of antibiotics while they’re alive, and these antibiotics are then found in their milk and their eggs and their meat.

When you’re eating an animal, you’re eating the fat and the muscle but you’re also eating all of the antibiotics the animal has been fed during its life.

The double whammy of zoonotic diseases coming from animal agriculture: animals are the source of the zoonotic diseases but they’re also the source of antibiotic resistance. So the zoonotic diseases can kill us, especially as animal agriculture has created superbugs who don’t respond to conventional antibiotics.

That’s the fun world of animal agriculture.

A simple re-cap:

Animal agriculture:
Uses tons of grain that could be fed directly to people
Uses tons of fresh water that could be used to grow healthy food
Creates tons of urine and feces that ruin our lakes, rivers and drinking water
Creates about 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions
Contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer
Causes epidemic zoonotic diseases
Contributes to the creation of antibiotic resistant “super bugs”
And is heavily subsidized by our tax dollars.

As a species, we are faced with complicated and seemingly intractable problems. And then we’re faced with animal agriculture.

So rather than focus on the hard, intractable problems (like curing baldness) let’s simply focus on something easy with phenomenal benefit: ending animal agriculture.

All we have to do is stop subsidizing it and stop buying animal products. Simple. And climate change gases are reduced by about 18 percent.

Famine could end. Fresh water could become clean and more abundant. Deaths from cancer and heart disease and diabetes and obesity could be reduced. And zoonotic diseases could be largely reduced.

It really is that simple.

We’ve done hard things in the past. We’ve ended slavery. We’ve given everyone the right to vote. We’ve passed legislation prohibiting children from working in factories. We’re even moving towards a time when cigarette smoking will be seen as a foul, distant memory.

We can do this. We have to. Our reliance on animal agriculture is literally killing us and ruining our climate and our planet.

I’ll end by quoting Albert Einstein:

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” -Albert Einstein

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/moby/moby-meat_b_5889850.html?1412009893

NIU professor advocates veganism based on philosophy

Mylan Engel, a philosophy professor from Northern Illinois University, spoke to the EIU Philosphy Club in the Lecture Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center on Thursday. Engel’s talk, “Fishy Reasoning and the Ethics of Eating,” centered around the effects of raising animals for human consumption.

What Mylan Engel remembers most about his grandfather’s hog farm is when he was about 8 years old and he first saw piglets being castrated.

“It was horrifying,” Engel said. “My cousins were castrating those pigs like they were peeling carrots.”

Engel, a philosophy professor at Northern Illinois University, presented his reasons for following a vegan diet based on ethical principles and health reasons Thursday in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall.

Engel explained his advocacy for veganism by outlining HASK practices, or practices that knowingly harm, inflict suffering on or kill conscious sentient animals “for no good reason.”

He said in situations where no other resources are available, killing animals for food is acceptable, but in most situations, plant-based diets are viable options.

However, Engel did not always follow these guidelines; he himself was a hunter until the age of 20.

While in graduate school in 1984, Engel participated in competitive long distance running with a friend who was vegetarian.

He said he became convinced he could meet all his nutritional needs with a vegetarian diet when he realized his friend was the fittest person he had ever met.

“This guy could run circles around me, so I switched to a vegetarian diet,” Engel said.

Engel did not become vegan until 1996 when he attended the World Congress for Animals in Washington, D.C. and met animal rights leaders.

“Listening to them talk and seeing how healthy and vibrant all these vegans were around me, I realized that the only way I could be consistent with my own values was to give it all up,” Engel said.

Engel defended his premises by citing data that suggested humans’ nutritional needs could be met with a plant-based diet.

According to his presentation, the American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada share the position that vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and can prevent and treat certain diseases, and well-planned vegan and vegetarian diets are appropriate for all ages.

One audience member asked about individual sustainable farming, citing that there were simple, efficient ways to kill animals that are quick and relatively painless.

Engel responded that killing animals when other options are available is still wrong because it is depriving the animal of half or more of its life.

“If in the middle of the night tonight when you’re sound asleep, I slit your throat and kill you painlessly, would I have harmed you?” Engel asked.

Engel also pointed out that vegan diets offer plenty of variety, contrary to what some might think.

“But this privilege of having a wide variety of choices, it’s ethically constrained,” Engel said. “The privilege stops once there’s a victim.”

Another audience member asked why eating eggs or milk was ethically wrong if those products were not sentient beings.

Engel said 900 million male chicks are grinded alive each year because they are considered byproducts of egg production, and similarly, bull calves are sold for veal and calves in general are taken from their mothers, causing them to grieve.

“We’re led to believe by the dairy council that milk, it’s a natural, it does a body good,” Engel said. “But human beings are the only mammalian species that drinks milk past the age of weaning.”

Another point of his lecture was that eating fish is unethical as well because studies indicate their intelligence and ability to feel pain, whether they are crushed by the weight of other fish in giant nets, suffocated on the surface, destroyed by the rapid changes in pressure, or kept in bad conditions on fish farms.

“Fish typically experience extremely painful deaths at our hands,” he said. “Treating fish in these ways harms them, causes them to suffer and kills them.”

Source: http://www.dailyeasternnews.com/2014/10/02/niu-professor-advocates-veganism-based-on-philosophy/

SANE AND SELFISH REASONS TO NOT EAT PIECES OF ANIMALS

1. IT IS ENERGY WISE

Meat production requires 10 to 20 times more energy per edible tonne than grain production and has as high as a 54:1 protein inefficiency ratio (units of plant protein required to produce a single unit of meat protein) [6]. Each cow raised requires (directly and indirectly) 90 to 180 litres of water a day and passes 40kg of manure per kg of edible animal tissue. A study by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 1kg (2.2 pounds) of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometers, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days [4].

Protein rich beans require only fertilization, water and land, with very little maintenance.

Once grown, there’s a long list of energy expensive processes required to turn animals into legally consumable food; from transporting them to the abottoir, slaughtering them, cutting them into pieces, sanitizing and packaging the pieces (usually in plastic) and then delivering the result to shops where they are refrigerated until sale. Refrigeration alone is extremely energy expensive. Suffice to say very few people would be able to eat animals today were it not for this sprawling, around-the-clock, energy infrastructure.

The process required to turn beans, grains and nuts into pantry-apt food is minimal and has an extremely long shelf life, no need for energy expensive refrigeration.

2. GOT KIDS? IT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTMENT IN THEIR FUTURE

‘Livestock production’ uses more than 30% of the earth’s entire arable land surface, with beef ranches driving 60-70% of Amazon deforestation today[5a][5b]. Conservative forecasts assume that over half of all arable land on earth will be dedicated to the production of cow parts, cow milk, chicken and pig parts by 2050.

Soya has 4 times more calories than red meat so the amount of soy that could be grown using the same amount of land would feed far more people than if used to raise cows. More so, a diet based around animal tissue requires 7 times more land on average than a plant-based diet yet (somewhat ironically) much of the meat eaten world-wide is raised on soya grain. 94% of all soy grown in America, for instance, is fed to livestock rather than people directly. Only 2% of all soy grown in the U.S. is eaten by people with soy based fuels consuming the remaining 4%) [14]. This makes American meat eaters the primary drivers of soy bean monocrops in that country. The trick here is to eat the bean before it gets to the cow. The more cows, pigs and chicken eaten, the more competition there is for wooded land. The more demand for animal parts, the more monocrops there are, significantly threatening the biodiversity upon which we all depend.

Agriculture has negative secondary effects. The Earth is increasingly saturated in animal waste, far more than it can readily process. Animal waste from agriculture accounts for 50-85% of all ammonia found on land and in water, contributing significantly to acid rain and air pollution worldwide [15].

According to The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization, livestock production is at the heart of almost every environmental stress confronting the planet: rain forest destruction, growing deserts, loss of fresh water, air and water pollution, acid rain, floods and soil erosion. [5]

3. THE FISHING INDUSTRY IS DESTROYING OCEAN LIFE

Hard to believe, given that we were all told the ocean is apparently abundant and endless, but it’s true: 40% of the worlds oceans are considered by experts to be detrimentally affected by fishing. According to an FAO estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either exploited to unsustainable limits or depleted.[7]

Species such as the Blue Fin Tuna are now endangered alongside 69 other species of fish in abundance just decades ago [8]. It is safe to say many of the fish species eaten by children today will be facing extinction by the time those children become adults.

The global harvest for fish has more than quadrupled since 1950, from 22 million tonnes to 100 million tonnes over the same period. The environmental cost is already unimaginable, along with a real threat for consumers’ health from the unnatural conditions of inland fish farms. A detailed account of both kinds of production can be found here and here.

If you like the ocean it’s a good idea to stop funding the industries that harm it. It appears too late to hope that regulation and reform will drive a shift to less destructive methods, let alone waiting hundreds of years for coral reefs and underwater ecosystems to heal. You can help slow the decay by not eating fish. If this seems unimaginable then learn to catch fish, one at a time, with a hook and rod. This has a significantly lower environmental impact than any other modern means of catching fish.

4. QUITTING ANIMAL TISSUE IS GOOD FOR YOU AND OTHER PEOPLE

Meat eaters generally consume more than twice as much protein as they need, increasing likelihood of kidney failure, cholesterol, heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, stress. [9]

Legumes, especially soybeans, contain the largest percentage of protein among the vegetable foods and are in the same range as many meats. If legumes are a central part of a person’s diet, there will be plenty of enough protein in the diet with no need for animal-tissue. For example, one cup of cooked soybeans contains approximately 20 grams of protein; that is equivalent to three hot dogs, a quarter-pound hamburger, three 8-ounce cups of milk, three ounces of cheese.

On the other hand, industrially produced meat and fish is famously full of nasty things, from bleaching agents to antibiotics, responsible for allergies, resistance to medicines, fatigue, dehydration and a long list of cancers. Seehere and here.

‘Food animals’ consume 80% of all antibiotics produced in America [10a][10b][10c] and at least 45% in the European Union in order to combat the illnesses they get when fed grains (cows and pigs didn’t evolve to eat corn and beans) and those from intensive farming.

Antiobiotics fed to animals are almost always in the same medical group as that of those fed to humans, and so when bacteria develops a resistance to antiobiotics on a farm it cannot be fought when encountered in people. This is the history of most epidemcis (like E-Coli) threatening modern human life.

Many scientists consider antibiotic-resistant bacteria to be the greatest threat to humans on the planet today.Grass-fed, ‘organic’ animal parts are no guarantee of safety either due to it so very often coming into contact with industrially produced animal parts.[10b]

Antiobiotics from animal parts also end up in the bodies of those that consume them, alongside doses of hormones known to have significantly detrimental impact on people, especially children [11][12]. The hormone Oestradiol 17ß, used widely by major exporters of cow pieces, is considered a complete carcinogen. It exerts both tumour initiating and tumour promoting effects.

The eating of meat affects other people, contributing significantly to food shortages worldwide. In the U.S., animals are fed more than 80 percent of the corn and 95 percent of the oats grown. The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food once estimated (Gold and Porrit) to be equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people, more than the entire human population on Earth. Instead, a vast proportion of the world’s forests have been felled to grow the grains fed to cattle. A report from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change considers agriculture to be the single most prevalent cause of deforestation throughout human history [13], depleting world oxygen supply, threatening and/or extinguishing animal and insect life, tipping surrounding ecosystems and devastating indigenous communities and their cultures.

Consider also the impact on supplies of freshwater. To produce 1kg of feedlot beef requires 7kg of feed grain, which takes around 7000 litres of water throughput to grow. The demand for water to grow food to feed cows is resulting in vast areas of arid, dying land throughout the world as water is pumped out to feedlot farms elsewhere. Data adapted from here.

While the increasing demand for ‘organic’ meat in 1st world countries has a less negative impact on the soil itself, cows still require water and cleared land on which to graze. More so, as organic meat cannot be grown as quickly as hormone engineered meat these animals consume more land and require a larger amount of plant matter over the course of a lifetime.

The Agriculture industry is full of many clever and well researched people, all looking to profit where possible: there would be more grass fed cows if it was as or more efficient than industrial methods. Replacing industrialised meat with grass-fed alternatives would rely on vastly greater rates of deforestation than currently experienced while prohibitively raising the cost of animal parts themselves (see Author’s note, below). ‘Organic meat’ is thus not a drop-in solution at the current rates of meat consumption. It is safe to say meat is no longer an environmentally or socially responsible source of protein at today’s population levels. It was ‘sustainable’ once, but not at all now.

If you are a person that believes it’s not possible to live without eating meat you may consider exploring a more immediate relationship with your choice of diet, with the origin of what you choose to put into your body. Rather than paying someone to kill on your behalf, find a local farmer and arrange to learn to kill the animal you select for eating, preparing the parts for transportation once done; the parts you freeze will last you a very long time.

Julian, one of the authors of this document, grew up on a small farm and attests to the awakening importance of taking direct responsibility for the choice to eat meat; selecting an animal, holding it down as it struggles, and then taking its life with a blade.

This is a perspective those that wish to sell you animal parts (and the large agricultural corporations they work for) would dearly rather you do not have.

A LIST OF INTERESTING CITATIONS TO RUMINATE UPON

“People who are comfortable with eating meat should be equally comfortable with killing animals.”

The Meat License Proposal

Meat and fossil fuel:

Most of us are aware that our cars, our coal-generated electric power and even our cement factories adversely affect the environment. Until recently, however, the foods we eat were given a pass in the discussion. Yet according to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), our diets and, specifically, the meat in them cause more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and the like to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. [1]

Environmental degradation:

According to a 2006 report by the Livestock, Environment And Development Initiative, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and modern practices of raising animals for food contributes on a “massive scale” to air and water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. The initiative concluded that “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” In 2006 FAO estimated that meat industry contributes 18% of all emissions of greenhouse gasses. This figure was revised in 2009 by two World Bank scientists and estimated at 51% minimum.[3]

Meat production and food shortage:

Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States. [4]

94% of all Soy grown in the United States is fed to livestock rather than people directly. [14] 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report summary:[5]

  • 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock (more than from transportation).

 

  • 60-70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon now hosts cattle.

 

  • Two-thirds (64 percent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems, come from cattle.

 

  • The livestock sector accounts for over 8 percent of global human water use, while 64 percent of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025.

 

  • The world’s largest source of water pollution is believed to be the livestock sector.

 

  • In the United States, livestock are responsible for a third of the loads of nitrogen and phosphorus into freshwater resources.

 

  • Livestock account for about 20 percent of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the 30 percent of the earth’s land surface that they now pre-empt was once habitat for wildlife, in an era of unprecedented threats to biodiversity.

 

  • These problems will only get worse as meat production is expected to double by 2050.

REFERENCES

1. How meat contributes to Global Warming. Scientific American, 2009

2. Williams, Erin E. and DeMello, Margo. Why Animals Matter. Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 73.

3. The Environmental impact of Meat Production, Wikipedia page

4. New York Times analysis.

5. Livestock’s Long Shadow, UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, 2006.
5a.Deforestation in the Amazon

6. U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestockNews.cornell.edu. 1997-08-07. Retrieved 2010-05-01.

7. Overfishing: a threat to marine biodiversity

8. Guardian report on Compass ban of fish in restaurants

9. Meat and Health, UN Food and Agricultural Organisation.

10a. Farm Animals Get 80 Percent of Antibiotics Sold in U.S.
10b. Politics of the Plate: Drug Bust, Barry Estabrook, 2009
10c. Whether you buy grass-fed or ‘natural’ meat safety isn’t guaranteed

11. Meat hygiene 10th edition, Von J. F. Gracey, D. S. Collins, Robert J. Huey, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1999.

12. Barnard ND, Nicholson A, Howard JL. The medical costs attributable to meat consumption. Prev Med. 1995;24:646-655.

13. UNFCCC (2007). “Investment and financial flows to address climate change”. unfccc.int. UNFCCC. p. 81.

14. GMO Inside Blog

15. Ammonia Emissions and Animal Agriculture, Virginia Tech.

N/A. A favourite meat-free recipes blog. Here’s another and another.

This page was written by Marta Peirano and Julian Oliver.

UPDATED: 16.02.2014

Source: http://julianoliver.com/sane/

Ironically, Climate Change Marchers Line Up to Buy Meat, Fish & Dairy at Parade

News & Opinion

Wearing t-shirts with slogans like “Climate Justice Starts Here,” hundreds, if not thousands, of Climate March participants in NYC lined up at food trucks at the street fair after the parade to buy meat, fish and dairy products, demonstrating either a lack of awareness or disregard for what the United Nations says is, by far, the number one contributor of climate change and the planet’s biggest polluter, animal agriculture.

How can the nation’s leading enviromental groups expect the general public to make eco-friendly choices if their own members engage in the most environmentally destructive activity — and if they themselves don’t promote a plant-based diet? Can we really expect world leaders at this week’s United Nations’ Climate Summit to take drastic measures to reverse climate change if “environmentalists” can’t take the most basic one?

At Climate Change marches around the world, plant-based/vegan participants displayed compelling posters and distributed information about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and their efforts will assuredly effect some change. However, as evidenced in the groundbreaking documentary film Cowspiracy, animal agriculture must be eliminated altogether in order to reverse climate change and save the planet.

Meatonomics: The Bizarre Economics of the Meat & Dairy Industries

The meat industry in the United States is big business: The vast majority of Americans eat meat, and we eat a lot of it–roughly 200 pounds per person every single year (in animals, that’s about 30 chickens, 1 turkey, one-third of a pig, one-tenth of a cow, and dozens of fin fish).

And although per capita consumption has fallen in recent years, we’re still eating far more than our parents and grandparents–including six times as many chickens per capita as were consumed in the 1930’s.

Now, for the first time, we know how much our national meat habit is costing us: Roughly 414 billion dollars annually in external health, environmental, and animal welfare costs, according to a superbly researched new book, Meatonomics, by California attorney David Robinson Simon.

2013-09-03-animalfoodproduction.jpg
Courtesy Meatonomics.com.

If those costs were incorporated into the price, according to Simon’s analysis, animal products would cost almost three times as much as they do today. With the true costs included, consumption levels would plummet.

Simon stresses that his figures are conservative: Because his estimates are limited to those supported by published research, he necessarily omitted some costs that have gone unmeasured in the scientific and economic literature. For example, Simon’s numbers on health care assign only a fraction of the heart disease tally to meat, even though we know that a low fat vegan diet will reverse the disease for almost everyone who has it.

His numbers on the environment look at lost property values due factory farms destroying local environments and carbon offsets, but of course, the external effects of warming are far greater than the value of the offsets, and property values can’t capture the fact that these industrial farms destroy communities and ruin lives.

Finally, his quantification of the cruelty meted out by these industries discusses just five meat industry abuses–such as cramming pigs and chickens into tiny crates where they never spread their limbs or go outside–and relies on consumer willingness to pay to get rid of them. It’s an impressive analysis, based on work published by Oxford University Press and carried out by agricultural economists from Oklahoma State University, but of course these are the sorts of things that defy valuation.

The fact that $414 billion is conservative is in no way a problem with the book, of course–the real figures are incalculable, and conservative figures are more than adequate to accomplish Simon’s task of explaining that the USDA’s promotion of meat, and the lack of inclusion of external costs, mean that Americans consume vastly more of the stuff than we would if we were paying the true costs.

Simon’s solution comes in three parts: An excise tax on all products that contain animal ingredients, a tax credit for every American (basically giving back most of the tax revenues), and a reformulation of the USDA’s mission away from promoting the consumption of animal products to instead promote the public health.

The tax and subsidies are proposals that should be supported by all sides of the political spectrum: Progressives should love them for their positive impact on human health, the environment, and animals. Conservatives should love the consumption focus, as well as the tax relief and reward of responsible behavior.

Though enacting Simon’s proposals will require a steep climb, Simon makes his case persuasively: The meat industry is harming our health, destroying our environment, and abusing billions of animals annually. As he notes in discussing prospects for his plans: “Change does happen, often in swift and surprising ways.”

Meatonomics deserves a prime spot in the library of everyone who cares about the politics of food.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-friedrich/meatonomics-the-bizarre-e_b_3853414.html

Fish have feelings too

Expert claims creatures experience pain in the same way humans do – and should be treated better

  • A scientist claims that fish have the same intelligence as other vertebrates
  • Fish have good memories, build complicated structures and show behaviour seen in primates – as well as feeling pain like us, he said
  • Expert claims fish welfare and fishing techniques should be reconsidered 
  • It is the latest claims in a debate surrounding how fish respond to stimulus 

By SARAH GRIFFITHS

Fishing may not seem like such a relaxing sport anymore, as scientists claim to have found that fish feel pain, just like humans.

One researcher believes fish have the same intelligence as other animals and consequently, people should care more for their welfare.

Flying in the face of what is considered popular opinion, he added fish have good memories and exhibit behaviour seen in primates, such as building complicated structures like specially-shaped sandcastles, as well as using tools.

 
Fishing (pictured) may not seem like such a relaxing sport anymore, as scientists have found that fish feel pain just like humans. Researchers claim that fish also have the same intelligence as other vertebrates and consequently, people should care more for their welfare

Fishing (pictured) may not seem like such a relaxing sport anymore, as scientists have found that fish feel pain just like humans. Researchers claim that fish also have the same intelligence as other vertebrates and consequently, people should care more for their welfare

 

DEBATE: CAN FISH FEEL PAIN?

In 2003, scientists from Edinburgh claimed to have found the first conclusive evidence of pain perception in fish.

They discovered 58 receptors in the heads of rainbow trout responded to electric and chemical shocks.

When the scientists injected bee venom into the lips of some fish, they found they demonstrated a rocking motion – similar to that seen in mammals.

‘The trout injected with the acid that were also observed to rub their lips onto the gravel in their tank…these do not appear to be reflex responses,’ said Dr Lynne Sneddon.

She added the study ‘fulfils the criteria for animal pain.

But plenty of scientists disagree and argue that just because fish respond to a stimulus, they do not necessarily compute it as pain.

Some argue that fish simply do not have the neuro-physiological capacity to be aware of pain, and that their reactions are measured according to human criteria.

Last year, scientists from Wisconsin said fish do not have a brain system or enough sensory nerve receptors to experience suffering.

While fish may struggle to get free, the scientists say this does not mean they are in pain. 

Instead, they show ‘little effect’ from injuries and toxins that would leave humans in agony. 

Associate Professor Culum Brown of Macquarie University in Australia, said fish have very good memories, live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and can learn from one another.

They develop cultural traditions and can even recognise themselves and others.

They also show signs of Machiavellian intelligence, such as cooperation and reconciliation, according to the study, which focuses on bony fish and is published in Springer’s journal Animal Cognition.

Professor Brown said the primary senses of the fish are ‘just as good’ and in some cases better than that of humans.

The level of mental complexity that fish display is on a par with most other vertebrates, while there is mounting evidence that they can feel pain in a manner similar to humans. 

While the brains of fish differ from other vertebrates, fish have many comparable structures that perform similar functions. 

Professor Brown believes that if some comparable animals are sentient, fish must be considered to be so, too, and therefore their welfare needs should be reconsidered.

‘Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate,’ he said.

 

The level of mental complexity that fish display is on a par with most other vertebrates, while there is mounting evidence that they can feel pain in a manner similar to humans. Fishing hooks are pictured

The level of mental complexity that fish display is on a par with most other vertebrates, while there is mounting evidence that they can feel pain in a manner similar to humans. Fishing hooks are pictured

 
An expert said that fish (pictured) have very good memories, live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and can learn from one another. They develop cultural traditions and can even recognise themselves and others

An expert said that fish (pictured) have very good memories, live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and can learn from one another. They develop cultural traditions and can even recognise themselves and others

‘We should therefore include fish in our ‘moral circle’ and afford them the protection they deserve.’

While the implications of the research could have a big impact on the fishing industry, fish are also used in a similar way to mice in scientific research, so lab conditions would have to be reviewed too.

Professor Brown thinks there is little public concern about the creatures’ wellbeing as many people only think of the animals as pets or food, and do not give them credit for being conscious and intelligent.

A recent study has found that crayfish feel stress in the same way that humans do and can be similarly calmed down using drugs.

This is the first time that clear signs of anxiety – normally associated with more complex forms of life – has been observed in a spineless species.

Another study has shown that crayfish (pictured) feel stress in the same way humans do, and can be similarly calmed down using drugs

Another study has shown that crayfish (pictured) feel stress in the same way humans do, and can be similarly calmed down using drugs

In a study released last week, researchers explained that anxiety is different from fear, which is an emotion that even the simplest animals show.

They built a specially-constructed maze to put the lobster-like creatures under pressure and found that their levels of brain chemical serotonin rose.

Injecting crayfish with the neurotransmitter was enough to make them anxious, but they could be calmed down with another drug called Chlordiazepoxide (CDZ) which is also used to treat humans.

Dr Daniel Cattaert, from the University of Bordeaux said: ‘[Our results] emphasise the ability of an invertebrate to exhibit a state that is similar to a mammalian emotion.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2662297/Fish-feelings-Expert-claims-creatures-experience-pain-way-humans-better-treated.html

 

 

 

 

 

80 billion garments are produced worldwide,…..

…..the equivalent of over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet.

greenpeace_np_cycle

How toxic are your threads? If you’re a fan of cheap, disposable fashion, the answer isn’t one you’re going to like. A new investigation commissioned by Greenpeace found residues of hormone-disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals in clothing made by 20 leading high-street brands, includingArmaniBenettonCalvin KleinDieselEspritGapLevi StraussVictoria’s Secret, and Zara. As the world’s largest apparel retailer, Zara was among the worst offenders. “Zara alone churns out 850 million clothing items a year,” says Li Yifang, a toxics campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “You can imagine the size of the toxic footprint it has left on this planet, particularly in developing countries like China where many of its products are made.”

 

TOXIC THREADS

In April, Greenpeace purchased 141 items of clothing, including jeans, trousers, T-shirts, dresses, and underwear made from both natural and synthetic materials, from authorized retailers in 29 countries and regions. Tests at Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and at independent accredited labs worldwide found that all the brands had at least several items containing hazardous chemicals, including some classified as “toxic” or “very toxic” to aquatic life.

All the brands tested by Greenpeace had at least several items containing hazardous chemicals.

 

Roughly two-thirds of the samples contained nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), a textile surfactant that degrades to the more environmentally persistent nonylphenol (NP) when released into the environment. NP is a hormone-disruptor known to accumulate in fish and other aquatic organisms. Named a “priority hazardous substance” under the EU Water Framework Directive, NP has also recently been detected in human tissue.

But the chemical traces weren’t just the result of the manufacturing process. In the case of of clothes with high levels of phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride more pliable, they were incorporated deliberately within the plastisol print on the fabric.

Two items, both from Zara, contained cancer-causing amines from the use of AZO dyes.

 

All 31 of the samples of plastisol-printed fabric tested positive for phthalates, which the United States has banned from many garments and children’s products because of their links to reproductive abnormalities (including reduced sperm counts and testicular atrophy) and certain types of cancer. Two items, both from Zara, contained cancer-causing amines from the use of AZO dyes.

“The testing results reveal how much toxic chemicals these brands are dumping in China and other developing nations where products are made and regulations are loose,” Li says. “As the world’s biggest fashion retailers, the likes of Zara have no choice but to change their practices, not only for its consumers but also for the communities affected by its irresponsible suppliers.”

 

CHANGE OF PACE

Around 80 billion garments are produced worldwide, the equivalent of just over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet, according to Greenpeace. The growing volumes of clothing being made, sold, and disposed of magnifies the human and environmental costs of our clothes at every stage of their life cycle, which means that even minute quantities of toxins can cumulatively amount to the widespread dispersal of damaging chemicals across the globe, the group says.

80 billion garments are produced worldwide, the equivalent of over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet.

 

“The worst part is, as fashion gets faster and more globalized, more and more consumers worldwide are becoming fashion’s victims while contributing to the industry’s pollution,” Li adds. “But it doesn’t have to be so. We’ve already witnessed commitments from sportswear giants such as AdidasNike, and the Chinese brand Li-Ning, to eliminating the use of all hazardous chemicals in the entirety of their supply chains.”

The three brands are among a group of manufacturers and retailers, which Greenpeace refers to as “engaged,” that have agreed to phase out all toxic chemicals by 2020. Others that have pledged to do the same are C&AH&MPuma and, most recently, Marks & Spencer.

Detox “greenwashers,” defined as brands that have declared a zero-discharge intention but have not made credible individual commitments or action plans in their own right, include G-Star Raw and Levi’s, while “detox laggards,” or brands with chemical-management policies and programs that have yet to make a credible commitment to zero discharge, count Zara, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfier,Mango, and Gap among their numbers. The group also referred to Esprit,
Metersbonwe, and Victoria’s Secret as “discharge villains” for their lackluster or nonexistent policies and programs for chemicals management.

Text and Image Source: http://www.ecouterre.com/greenpeace-exposes-toxic-chemicals-in-zara-other-fast-fashion-brands/