Virginia Bell, Catholic Action for Animals
The world is burning and so are countless innocent lives, literally. The predicted environmental catastrophes are happening now. For instance, the wildfires in Greece and France and the flooding in Germany and Turkey. Yet the vast majority on the planet is carrying on with the lifestyles that are causing environmental breakdown and tremendous suffering. What’s going to make us change?
Scientists agree that human activities are the cause of the environmental crisis that we are facing. Unfortunately, I feel that one of the main causes of climate change and environmental destruction is underestimated by almost everyone, that is animal agriculture (AA).
We need to properly acknowledge the part that animal agriculture plays in the environmental crisis.
One recent Report* from an organisation called Climate Healers details the real impact of AA on the environment, and calculates a much higher greenhouse gas count resulting from it. It takes into account the cumulative effect of the clearing of land for AA over the centuries, and the lost opportunities to control and cool the planet which land that has been destroyed for AA is no longer able to do.
Ignoring calculations such as these means that the IPCC and others are underestimating the impact of AA.
Another miscalculation relates to methane. Animal agriculture produces carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and black carbon. Methane is up to 80 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, and nitrous oxide is up to 300 times more potent, plus nitrous oxide degrades the ozone layer. BUT they have a much shorter lifespan than CO2, so reducing them would bring a fast significant impact on global warming. Because methane degrades into the less harmful CO2 after about 10-12 years, the IPCC has badly underestimated the impact of methane by using a timeframe of 100 years in its calculations, thereby seriously diluting the global warming damage that methane does each year compared to CO2.
It doesn’t help that the IPCC takes data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, which has formed an official partnership with the meat and dairy industry called the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership.
However, greenhouse gas emissions are only one of the negative impacts of animal agriculture. AA is also a main cause of deforestation, desertification, habitat destruction, wildlife extinction, and ocean dead zones… all of which act upon each other and on the climate in a vicious circle, and contribute to the problem of global warming.
These should all be taken into account when calculating greenhouse gas emissions.
Released on 9-8-21, the IPCC’s 6th and latest Report does thankfully show that scientists view reducing methane emissions as the path of action, but they focus on reducing methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry as the cheapest and easiest way to hold down global temperatures in the near term, and ignore AA. This they say is because leaks from energy infrastructure are the easiest and cheapest sources of methane to identify and fix. Also they say most measures to curb methane from oil, gas and coal operations can be implemented at no cost or at a savings.
Why do they ignore animal agriculture? Because, they say, it is more challenging to get farmers to change their practices, and to get consumers to give up eating meat, a reflection that the UN’s partners in the meat and dairy trade would no doubt find comforting.
The Report had to be agreed by the member nations. I’m not suggesting that participants were thinking about their steak lunches, but some dilution of findings and recommendations must occur to get the Report accepted by all.
I strongly feel that the scientific community, government institutions, businesses and news media must change their priorities, because concentrating on eliminating fossil fuel usage first and ignoring animal agriculture will accelerate global warming. I personally am mainly addressing the Catholic Church and her institutions and organisations, in the hope that she will lead the world in the right direction. I have been campaigning for the Church to raise the status of the environment and of animals for decades, and getting absolutely nowhere until the Laudato Si Encyclical arrived. But animal agriculture and animal suffering are still low on her agenda. The Catholic Church and Catholic initiatives like Cafod and to a certain extent Laudato Si Movement (previously Global Catholic Climate Movement) tend to ignore animal agriculture. Regarding divestment, they concentrate on calling for divestment from fossil fuels, but divestment from animal agriculture is essential, at least as important as divestment from fossil fuels. In fact, listening to the Encyclical Laudato Si’s message about an integrated approach, we should be calling for divestment from all unethical investments; those which are environmentally damaging, cruel (exploiting animals), harmful (tobacco, alcohol), enslaving of humans, financing the arms trade and so on.
We don’t have to wait for Governments to act. As individuals we can choose to give up or eat less meat, dairy and fish – every meal counts. It is now easier to find non-meat options because supermarkets have recently increased their range of plant-based options, and have even started placing them next to the meat to make the choice easier for the consumer in the moment of choice. When we go to the supermarket, we can either choose to increase climate change, or choose to be part of the solution.
We are reaching tipping points where the effects of climate change become irreversible.
To heal the planet, we have to end animal agriculture: meat, dairy and fish farming and trawling. We have to transition to organic, arable farming, incorporating permaculture and wherever possible forest gardening. We can make a significant decrease in global warming if we immediately start the process of reducing methane by transitioning away from AA, with the knock-on effect of reducing land, water and air pollution, habitat destruction, deforestation, desertification, loss of biodiversity and ocean death. That’s the good news in a miserably sad state of affairs.
*Link to Climate Healers’ Report: https://3209a1b2-3bad-4874-bf51-8fc2702ffa6c.filesusr.com/ugd/8654c5_5bdb63b57c6b4abaa7f7b9041f7b8487.pdf
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Virginia Bell, Catholic Action for Animals
Thank you for visiting our animal defence section. Before leaving, please take a moment to reflect on these mind-numbing institutionalized cruelties.
The wheels of business and human food compulsions—often exacerbated by reactionary creeds— are implacable and totally lacking in compassion. This is a downed cow, badly hurt, but still being dragged to slaughter. Click on this image to fully appreciate this horror repeated millions of times every day around the world. With plentiful non-animal meat substitutes that fool the palate, there is no longer reason for this senseless suffering. And meat consumption is a serious ecoanimal crime. The tyranny of the palate must be broken. Please consider changing your habits and those around you in this regard.
^3000US citizens have no real political representation.
We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.
I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.
What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.
And its multitude of minions and lackeys.