The end of 2015 saw the much hyped COP21, the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris that featured political leaders from across the world coming together in an attempt to save our planet. While a deal was indeed reached, it has since been described as anything from promising to subterfuge, dependant upon whom you ask.
One aspect of the fight against climate change that the conference seems to have completely avoided is the major role played by the animal agriculture industry in devastating the environment. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, a documentary released in 2015, sought to delve into this very serious issue (a newer version ai??i?? executive-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio ai??i?? is available on Netflix) and caused much shock and controversy.
However, the discovery of this particular problem is hardly new. In 2006, a United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report nexium side effects long term use, nexium side effects long term use, nexium side effects long term use, nexium side effects long term use, nexium side effects long term use, nexium side effects long term use. entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Opinions, concluded the livestock industry to be among the top two or three most significant contributors to several of the most serious environmental problems we face today.
All the way back in 2006, the report made clear that when dealing with issues ranging from loss of biodiversity to land degradation to climate change, this industry should be a major policy focus.
Dr. Henning Steinfeld, the head of the livestock sector analysis and policy branch of the FAO – who has worked on agricultural and livestock policy for over 15 years ai??i?? labelled the meat industry “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems” and called for “urgent action” in order to “remedy the situation.”
A decade has since passed, but when world leaders gathered in Paris last month, debate surrounding the animal agriculture industry was restricted to the peripheries. Reasons for this range from the immense power wielded by animal agriculture lobbies to the lack of emphasis from most mainstream environmental groups (both issues explored in Cowspiracy).
Muzhgan Wahaj, a law student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, described the attention paid to this issue by major environmental groups, to Yo!Mag, as ai???much less pervasive and vocal than the attention paid to the oil and gas industries.ai???
Wahaj served on the editorial board of the Ontario Council for International Cooperationai??i??s iAM Magazine and on its most recent volume focused on Global Health. She went on to describe the ai???oil and gas industryai??? as a much more ai???viable target than agriculture.ai???
Greenpeace UK could not be reached for comment.
As Wahaj put it, ai???humans have a habit of pursuing the most cost-effective means to an end in business, which often tends to be the least sustainable route in an environmental sense.ai??? While we are recognising the roles of several industries, the part played by animal agriculture has fallen under the radar and remains largely unaddressed.
Concrete Steps: Avoid beefAi??
Raising livestock is responsible for more emissions than the entire transportation sector (including all the cars, ships, trains and planes in the world). Moreover, the particular greenhouse gasses released, in the case of cows, methane, have been shown to be far more dangerous to the environment than the CO2 emissions that are most often paid attention to.
But is vegetarianism or even, veganism, the only solution? While it may indeed be the best solution, to actually put a complete and utter stop to over 14.5% of all global CO2 emissions all in one fell swoop – it is a highly impractical solution from a political, legal or economic point of view.
Nevertheless, dietary changes are the only solution to this problem. The most practical solution is for people, through education, to find out the varying impacts of different foods on the environment and to replace the most harmful with those that are less so.
A 2014 study published in the National Academy of Sciences’s Journal, PNAS, revealed that while “the environmental costs per consumed calorie of dairy, poultry, pork and eggs are mutually comparable” they were “strikingly lower than the impacts of beef.” Beef was found to require 28 times more land and 11 times more water to produce than pork or chicken.
Cuisines are often integral not only to the identities of individuals but those of whole cultures. Imagine France without its tartare, England its Wellington, Bavaria its goulash or Italy its arancini.
While criticism of beef has proven controversial in many parts of the world, the only way to address this very serious issue is by taking concrete steps ai??i?? as contentious as they may be. The United Nations Environment Program dubbed beef a ‘climate harmful meat’ – the least we can do is to begin to slowly, if not entirely, remove such harmful foods from our daily diets.
ai???Coal power station is easier to target than dinnerai??? where to buy proponal. Ai??
Mike Allwright is a postgraduate research student in Second Generation Biofuels at the University of Southampton. As Coordinator of Invest Positive UoS, he leads a movement lobbying his university towards fossil fuel divestment. Last month, on the eve of the conference in Paris, he successfully steered the Southampton University Student Union to pass a motion in favour of divestment.
What do you believe to be the biggest threat to our environment?
Manmade climate change is the biggest threat to the global environment; but Iai??i??d give deforestation a strong second place finish.
When, through the stages of your environmental activism, did you find out about the issue of animal agriculture and when did you find out how big a threat it is (as per the 2006 FAO report)?
Tricky one! I think I became aware of the damage that can be caused through animal agriculture as a teenager with controversy surrounding cattle ranching on former rainforest. Itai??i??s hard to put a date on when I realised the extent of emissions from animal agriculture but I think probably at 6th form college. Itai??i??s pretty scary.
Do you believe that enough attention is paid to the contributions to climate change from animal agriculture by major environmental groups? Why do you think this is? buy Kamagra Flavored online, acquire Zoloft.
I think there is a trend towards focussing on emissions from energy and industry. Much easier to build support against a dirty great coal power station than something most ordinary people call dinner! Some animal rightsai??i?? groups can be pretty extreme; I think perhaps climate campaigners arenai??i??t always keen to ally too closely with that kind of behaviour.
Do you think further steps should be taken to address this issue, and if so what are they ai??i?? and by whom should they be taken?
Yes. Environmental groups and governments should be talking more about the impact of animal agriculture on the global climate and local ecosystems. Reducing the emissions from agriculture should be a research priority and we should be factoring these emissions into future climate deals.
Do you think vegetarianism, or at perhaps giving up on eating the animals that are most harmful (the cow, et al), is a viable solution? If so, should this be up to personal choice?
Both are valuable. Personally Iai??i??m not vegetarian but in the last year or so Iai??i??ve reduced my meat consumption so I have a few meat-free days every week. I also aim to eat more white meat rather than beef. I definitely think it has to be voluntary though education can help. Iai??i??m uncomfortable with the idea of the government legally directing peopleai??i??s diets and frankly I think that any attempt to do so would be counterproductive for environmental protection overall.Ai?? infatrim obat apa.
Are youth in Europe taking any actions on this issue? Have their outlooks changed from those of past generations?
I think thereai??i??s a trend towards vegetarianism and low meat diets among more young people. That said my social circle may not be reflective of the population more generally; confirmation bias and all that.
Header image: Newborn Friesian cow byAi??UberprutserAi??(Wikimedia)