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Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

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  • Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - 03:49am

    #1

    Ruhh

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    Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

In light of the many challenges we face as outlined in the Crash Course, particularily in the case of environment, I’d like to attempt opening the floor to discussing possible solutions to lessen our impact on the planet’s ressources.

I’d like to offer this short article written by my girlfriend, Corrie Rabbe, intended as a leaflet for Ottawa’s National Capital Vegetarian Association on the subject of diet and the environment.

__________________________________________________________________________________ 

So
you’re an environmentalist: Why
are you still eating meat?

In recent years,
awareness about global climate change and other environmental issues
has increased considerably. Environmental activists who were once
ridiculed are now accepted and even praised. Unfortunately, those who
do not receive a lot of attention are vegetarians and vegans.

According to Geophysicists
Eshel and Martin from the University of Chicago "where the
environment is concerned, eating meat is like driving a huge
SUV…Eating a vegetarian diet is like driving a mid-sized car. And
eating a vegan diet (no dairy, no eggs) is like riding a bicycle or
walking." Shifting away from SUV-style diets to much more
energy-efficient alternatives, is key to fighting the warming
trend.1

A
few other ‘meaty’ facts regarding meat and the environment:

  • In
    2006 a UN report summarized the devastation caused by the meat
    industry as "one of the top two or three most significant
    contributors to the most serious environmental problems"

    Overall, animal agriculture creates 18% of all human-caused
    greenhouse gas emissions, and is the leading cause of methane
    emissions.2 In
    comparison the world’s transportation industry produces 14% of the
    worlds CO2.

  • An enormous amount
    of the worlds already limited fresh water resources is consumed by
    the farm animal production. A vegetarian diet requires only 300
    gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more
    than 4,000 gallons of water per day.3,4

  • Vast tracts of land
    are needed to grow crops to feed the billions of animals we raise
    for food each year. Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient
    because while animals eat large quantities of grain, they only
    produce small amounts of meat, dairy products, or eggs in return.

Of course we need start developing
alternative sources of power, better transportation systems, and
stricter regulations against polluters. But as we’re struggling and
waiting for these and other structural changes, we need to make
personal changes.

If you already are vegetarian/vegan,
power to you! If your not a veg*an, maybe its time to consider it, or
at least try it for a few days a week. Taking the meat-free plunge
has never been easier or more essential than it is today. For more
information, please see our website at http://www.ncva.ca.

Resources:

  1. Eshel, G. and P. A. Martin, 2006:
    ‘Diet, energy and global warming,’ Earth Interactions, 10, 1-17.
    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~gidon/papers/nutri/nutriEI.pdf
  2. H. Steinfeld et al., "Livestock’s
    Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Livestock," United
    Nations Environment and Development (2006).http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm
  3. Robbins, John. Diet for a New
    America
    , 1998, p. 367.
  4. Frances Moore Lappé, Diet
    for a Small Planet
    , Ballantine Books: New York,1982.
  5. Robbins, John. The Food Revolution, 2001, p. 236.
  6. Mark Gold and Jonathon Porritt, "The
    Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat," 2004, p. 22.
    http://www.wellfedworld.org/PDF/CIWF%20Eat%20Less%20Meat.pdf

__________________________________________________________________________________ 

Food for thought to give thought to your food.

Just another aspect of how to buy into the True Cost Economy which I stand by.

  • Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - 10:54am

    #2
    barrt

    barrt

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

[quote=Ruhh]

So you’re an environmentalist: Why are you still eating meat?

[/quote]

Its hard to get out of that one for sure without wriggling around a great deal! unless of course you keep chicken and dairy as part of a permaculture design, in which case it is the way forward, one of the only ways forward.

Only the giant agribusiness is the problem, not our old old friends the chicken and the pigs.

But great post Ruhh, clearly you and your girlfriend have taken the red pill and are not part of the Meatrix;

http://www.themeatrix1.com/

http://www.themeatrix2.com/

http://www.moremeatrix.com/

If we all went vegan tommorrow, wouldnt chickens pigs goats and cows all become endangered species? isnt it much better (from a permaculture viewpoint) to shut down the giant agribusiness and keep a few chickens and pigs in the backyard? i hear there’s loads of suburban land coming down in price

Live long and prosper friends

 barrt

  • Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - 07:34pm

    #3

    Ruhh

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

[quote=barrt]Only the giant agribusiness is the problem, not our old old friends the chicken and the pigs.

If we all went vegan tommorrow, wouldnt chickens pigs goats and cows all become endangered species? isnt it much better (from a permaculture viewpoint) to shut down the giant agribusiness and keep a few chickens and pigs in the backyard? i hear there’s loads of suburban land coming down in price[/quote]

I fully agree that giant agribusiness is the problem and wholeheartedly support permaculture. It’s also really hard to grow vegetables in the Canadian snow and ice that surrounds me for the most of the year. As an aboriginal I also have a stong cultural connection with hunting and fishing but I don’t think that’s a sustainable venture for a world with a population as large as we have now. I still believe in raising and hunting meat but only in a radically different way that we’ve adopted lately.

Unfortunately for most the only food we can find in our grocery stores and served at restaurants has gone to the cheaper, more environmentally (and health) damaging not to mention tasteless, prepackaged crap that giant agribusiness has been feeding our cites for the past few decades.

As for letting certain species of commercial livestock going extinct I think they only exist as perversions of man and would be better off doing so and letting nature take it’s course.

cheers and a safe and happy new year to you and yours

r.

  • Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - 10:26pm

    #4

    Damnthematrix

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

from "The restaurant at the end of the universe" page 176 :
He rose to his feet.
"If," he said tersely, "we could for a moment move on to the subject of fiscal policy …"
"Fiscal policy!" whooped Ford Prefect, "Fiscal policy!"
The Management Consultant gave him a look that only a lungfish could have copied.
"Fiscal policy …" he repeated, "that is what I said."
"How can you have money," demanded Ford, "if none of you actually produces anything?  It doesn’t grow on trees you know."
"If you would allow me to continue …"
Ford nodded dejectedly.
"Thank you.  Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich."
Ford stared in
disbelief at the crowd who were murmuring appreciatively at this and
greedily fingering the wads of leaves with which their track suits were
stuffed.
"But we have also"
continued the Management Consultant, "run into a small inflation
problem on account of the high level of leaf availability, which means
that, I gather, the current going rate has something like three
deciduous forests buying one ship’s peanut."
Murmurs of alarm came from the crowd. 
The Management Consultant waved them down.
"So in order to
obviate this problem," he continued, "and effectively revalue the leaf,
we are about to embark on a massive defoliation campaign, and … er,
burn down all the forests.  I think you’ll all agree that’s a sensible
move under the circumstances."
The crowd seemed a
little uncertain about this for a second or two until someone pointed
out how much this would increase the value of the leaves in their
pockets, whereupon they let out whoops of delight and gave the
Management Consultant a standing ovation. 
The accountants among them looked forward to a profitable Autumn.
"You’re all mad," explained Ford Prefect.
  • Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - 10:31pm

    #5

    Damnthematrix

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

The problem with eating meat is not in the eating, it’s in the extractive methods employed by industial meat farming….

It is entirely possible to raise animals, chickens, ducks and goats (and there are others) humanely and sustainably. 

 http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/content/2006/s1989970.htm

  • Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - 11:20pm

    #6
    Liam

    Liam

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

damnthematrix,

I’ve been thinking about that passage from the beggining of my exploration of this site, I’ve just been too lazy to go and find it. Thanks for posting, humour makes everything so much better.

 

In relation to this thread, I eat lots of meat. Fortunately, most of is is either locally, organically, and sustainably raised, or wild. I do eat out and have no qualms about it, perhaps I should, but I estimate that I consume about 30 pounds of commercial meat a year. This seems pretty small to me, but I could probably cut it down. Meat is somewhat necessary nutrition for us humans though. I know many vegetarians and a vegan, and they either suffer symtoms that I assume are of malnutrition: easy bruising, low immune system, low cold tolerance, or they take supplements. Essentially, the healthiest diet for a person is influenced by genetics, so i think that phasing meat out of people’s diets should be taken on a case-by-case basis. Good luck trying to tell someone of eskimo or masai ancestry that they should stay away from meat.

I entirely agree that commercial food is not good. 

  • Mon, Jan 05, 2009 - 03:41am

    #7

    Ruhh

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

[quote=Liam]

Meat is somewhat necessary nutrition for us humans though. I know many vegetarians and a vegan, and they either suffer symtoms that I assume are of malnutrition: easy bruising, low immune system, low cold tolerance, or they take supplements.

[/quote]

I’ve met many meateaters that suffer from these same symptoms as well as increased rates of heart disease, colon cancer, high blood pressure and more. Malnutrition comes with poor diet weither you eat meat or not.

  • Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - 02:19pm

    #8
    barrt

    barrt

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    Hitchhikers Guide

that was a great post Dtm, the Hitchikers Guide has quite a few paralells with us at the moment, that one was perfect

Not sure about the Guineapigs one though, sounds like they might be difficult to feed. Surely pigs and goats are the easist to feed and therefore raise? am i right in thinking that?

how about brining back the Dodo?
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126905.000-ten-extinct-beasts-that-could-walk-earth-again.html?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=mg20126905.000

and while were on food, I’ve just given up wheat, 5 days and counting and its not easy at all, but my Party 7 (large beer barrel) has gone down to a more managable One Pack already, 6 pack now in sight (haha) seriously though i feel much better already, much less bloating and easier movements. Apparantly a huge % of us might have wheat intolerances but be unaware

  • Fri, Jan 30, 2009 - 03:23am

    #9

    Ruhh

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

[quote=Damnthematrix]

The problem with eating meat is not in the eating, it’s in the extractive methods employed by industial meat farming….

It is entirely possible to raise animals, chickens, ducks and goats (and there are others) humanely and sustainably. 

http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/content/2006/s1989970.htm

[/quote]

Fully agreed and that is why I’ll never be 100% veg*an. My point again is that most people buy their meat at the supermarket which comes from factory farms. Also, the argument on sustainability/ethics/plausibility of the larger scale we would need to feed our current and future overpopulation is as far and wide as the arguments on peak oil and climate change.

But really I’d like to get more into permaculture etc and plan on learning more in my spare time through WWOOFing. I think it would also be a good idea of going back to some of the old ways of using animals vs. mpg equipment. I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that using conventional farm equipment has poor (maybe even negative) ERoEI. I’m sure you already know more about that than I do but an interesting topic nonetheless.

Cheers
Ron

PS: I dunno about Guinea Pigs though. I’m not sure if my neigbours would appreciate me keeping 365 of them in my spare room to keep up with my diet alone. The folks in that photo are great poster childs for the health benefits tooTongue out

Where do you get your protein?

  • Fri, Jan 30, 2009 - 03:37am

    #10

    Aaron M

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    Re: Environmental Ethics in Challenging Times

So… how does this have anything at all to do with Environmental ethics?
Personally, I have a lifestyle that requires that I eat meat. That means I don’t sit on my hindquarters all day. Vegetables don’t cut it. Neither do legumes or tubers mixed in.

Further – why should you be working towards a vegan tomorrow?

I am totally at a loss as to why any of this is relavant to the CM website, and I actually thought it’d be an interesting thread, so I’m disappointed as well.

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