The September 21 March and Actions in New York USA on the Environment
Let’s talk about meat. It’s a subject I hesitate to bring up, but it’s unavoidable anymore. Environmentalism isn’t just about cars, coal or communities. Meat is a very large contributor to global warming. Many people are addicted to it, just as they crave sugar, fat and salt. You tell them to eat less bacon and their eyes bug out, and they stuff their faces with more. You will have to pry the bacon from my cold dead hands!
Even the fundie Christians ascertain that the U.S. is a “Christian” nation because we eat pork – while Muslims and Jews ostensibly do not. See? Pork is what makes America Christian! A jokey survey of Tweets showed that kale is mentioned in more Democratic states while bacon is mentioned in more Republican states on Twitter. So bacon is a Republican food evidently.
There are many ‘productionist’ leftists who think that meat is an irrelevant, personal issue. The same people think that any measures ordinary people take to slow global warming are irrelevant. I would argue that they are not. Essentially the governments and capitalist corporations of the world aren’t going to deal with this issue adequately. As each person realizes that some other method is needed on a personal level, that can translate into public activism. In other words, if I can eat less meat, or stop eating it, why can’t the society?
The productionist leftist’s logic is similar to someone who fights racism while being an open bigot or someone who supports women’s rights while being an open male chauvinist. It is nonsense. According to the ‘International Vegetarian Union’ vegetarianism was outlawed in the Soviet Union in 1929. Abortion and homosexuality later followed in the 1930s. So there is a history to this.
The march and actions on Sunday show again that it is people’s movements that will slow climate change, not the capitalist parties. In the U.S., 20 million people were in the streets in 1970 when the first Earth Day occurred. This led to the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the creation of the EPA. Where did those people go?
To some facts, especially about cows and red meat:
· Demand for meat is expected to grow by 60 percent in the next 40 years.
· Cattle and other livestock now use over 30 percent of the entire land surface of the planet, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. About a third of all crops grown are used to feed that livestock.
· The rainforests of the world are being bulldozed to create pastures for these animals, destroying the lungs of the earth. Cattle are the source of almost 10 percent of the CO2 choking our atmosphere and contributing to catastrophic global climate change.
· Cattle manure contributes 65 percent of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere (which is 296 times more heat-trapping than CO2), and cow burps and farts are the source of 37 percent of the methane (23 times the power of CO2).
· Twenty percent of the world’s pastures are already degraded from overgrazing, and the planet’s water supplies, already seriously stressed, are being severely damaged from runoff from animal waste and the pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other products used to grow feed crops for factory-farmed animals.
· Much of the fossil fuels used in agriculture involve animal ‘husbandry.’
Actually they are trying to develop fake meat in the labs because this cannot go on much longer. Locavores, gourmands, gluttons and hipsters insist eating ‘grass fed’ whatever, from local signature farms, will someone change this situation. It does not. It might treat the animals better (until they are slaughtered, that is) and be more healthy for the consumer, but the effect on communities and the environment is almost the same.
The corporate-controlled FDA is tentatively – after nearly 40 years of tip-toeing around the problem – asking animal breeders to use less or no antibiotics in animal feed. For instance, it is regularly applied to chicken feed in all 5 top U.S. chicken factory-farm corporations. The odds of them complying are nil. Voluntary guidelines? Really? How are they going to breed sick and crowded chickens anymore? While this may prevent a pandemic by getting rid of such widespread use of antibiotics, it does not change the climate portrait.
Meat kills 4 ways - you, the animal, the community and the environment. 1. The higher your ingestion of meat and animal products like cheese, the higher your risk for heart attacks and strokes. It also leads to other problems, like cancer and even constipation. 2. Animals feel pain, experience fear and have emotions. Killing them is similar to killing any mammal, even a human. 3. It is far more inefficient to grow crops for animals than to grow crops directly for humans. Dedicating land to animals essentially leads to starvation – no different that setting aside good crop land for bio-fuels. It is not just the capitalist commodification of an essential like food that is responsible. 4. And lastly, meat is the SUV of foods, using land, water, oil and artificial fertilizer in immense amounts. Even the UN has pointed out that meat is one of the prime producers of carbon into the atmosphere. This is no secret anymore.
Meat consumption in the U.S. has been going down for years, so something is happening. In 2012 5% of the population were strict vegetarians in the U.S., 2% followed a vegan diet, and 33% of the population followed a lower-meat / pescatarian diet. Young single liberal females with lower educations were the highest group in these categories. In Sweden, Italy, Germany & Switzerland, the vegetarian number is around 9-10% of the population. According to Wiki, eating meat is still prestigious in China, yet 5% of the population is still vegetarian. It is 31% in India, 13% in Taiwan and around 8% in Israel. Most of these statistics seem to be dated, so the numbers now are probably higher.
Ultimately the Big Meat industry will have to be seized without compensation, put under workers control, and partially phased out, just like coal plants.
(See review of “Salt, Sugar, Fat,” below. Use blog search box, upper left.)
The 'Pescatarian Bolshevik'
September 20, 2014