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What we do now in the next 2-3 years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” (2007) - Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of IPCC “We are really running out of time. in fact, this next year or two years are the critical time period.” (2008)
- Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies
“We are so close to the red line, we may wake up tomorrow and discover there is nothing left to save.”
- Maneka Gandhi, former Indian Environment Minister
“We have a full-scale planetary emergency.”
- Al Gore, former US Vice President
The Union of Concerned Scientists, some 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences issued this warning as far back as 1992:
We the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated. The scientists issuing this warning hope that our message will reach and affect people everywhere. We need the help of many.
We call on all to join us in this task.
Source: “1992 World Scientists' Warning to Humanity”. www.ucsusa.org .Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved on 17-01-2009. http://tinyurl.com/5qndft
Unprecedented ice melts in the Arctic and Antarctic Melting of many of the world’s glaciers Submergence of 18 islands already around the world 25 million environmental refugees in 2007 alone Decimation of rainforests at 13.5 million hectares per annum Species loss 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the expected natural extinction rate Ocean acidification and water pollution causing oceanic dead zones and affecting marine life and ecosystem 80% of global fish stocks fully or over-exploited Water scarcity and food insecurity Atmospheric CO2 levels at 385 ppm steadily reaching 450 ppm ‘catastrophic’ level Exponential increase of Methane vs Carbon Dioxide Frequency and intensity of ‘natural’ disasters all over the world, including, droughts, floods and wildfires
Many sectors contribute to Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), however ONE SECTOR is the single largest source of two of the most significant GHGs: methane and nitrous oxide This sector is also our single largest user of land and water; a major cause of deforestation, wide-scale land degradation and species loss; and a major polluter of our rivers, oceans and drinking supplies: it is ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
“Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.”
- UN Food & Agriculture Organization, 2006
One of The Biggest Contributors to GHG Emissions
Livestock industry accounts for 80% of all GHG emissions from agriculture. Livestock accounts for 18% of global GHG emissions from human activities (more than the entire transport sector globally).
37% of global methane emissions
• 23x more potent than CO2 over 100 years
The single largest source of methane & nitrous oxide
• 100x more potent than CO2 over 5 years
65% of global nitrous oxide emissions
• 297x more potent than CO2
64% of the world’s ammonia
• Contributing to acid rain • Affecting biodiversity
9% of total CO2 emissions
Source: “Livestock’s Long Shadow Rome 2006 ” (PDF). Ch. 3, P. 82, 112, 114. Ch. 7, P.272. Retrieved on 17-01-2009. http://tinyurl.com/96csxh Methane controls before risky geoengineering, please - NewScientist http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227146.000-methane-controls-before-risky-geoengineering-please.html
The Single Largest Anthropogenic User of Land
Livestock sector is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land. Feed crop production uses 471 hectares of land (33% of total arable land). Livestock sector is a major cause of wide scale land degradation with 70% of all grazing land in dry areas considered to be degraded because of overgrazing, compaction and erosion.
Source: “Livestock’s Long Shadow Rome 2006” (PDF). Ch. 7, P. 270, 272. Retrieved on 17-01-2009. http://tinyurl.com/96csxh
The Largest Sectoral Source of Water Pollutants
Livestock industry is the largest sectoral source of water pollutants. Animal wastes contribute to large oceanic “dead zones,” which extended to nearly 7,903 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico during Summer 2007. More than 2 billion tons of animal manure was produced in the late 1990s allowing 100 million tons of nitrogen to find its way into our water systems. Once pollutants, including nitrogen, phosphorus, antibiotics and pesticides, reach the waterways they cause a great deal of damage to aquatic and human life.
Source: “Livestock’s Long Shadow Rome 2006” (PDF). Retrieved on 17-01-2009. http://tinyurl.com/96csxh “NOAA and Louisiana Scientists Predict Largest Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” on Record This Summer”. www.noaanews.noaa.gov. Ben Sherman. Retrieved on 17-01-2009. http://tinyurl.com/5atfov
A Major Cause of Deforestation
70% of the Amazon deforestation is due to clearing land for pasture and a large part of the remainder is used for livestock feed crops. By year 2010 cattle are projected to be grazing on some 24 million hectares of neo-tropical land that was forest in 2000. “If we lose the forests, we lose the fight against climate change.” - Declaration signed by 300 climate experts at the 2007 United Nation’s Climate Change conference in Bali.
Source: “Livestock’s Long Shadow Rome 2006” (PDF). Ch. 5.3.1 , P. 188. Retrieved on 17-01-2009. http://tinyurl.com/96csxh
Effects of Deforestation
Deforestation causes 18-25% of global carbon emissions. Deforestation affects rainfall and freshwater, soil productivity, clean air, forestry, and biodiversity resources. Habitat destruction through deforestation is a major cause for loss of biodiversity. Heavily deforested areas can see a 300 fold increase in the risk of malaria infection compared to areas of intact forest. Tropical forests are critical to the survival of over a billion of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Deforestation and overgrazing are two causes of desertification. By 2020 about 135 million people risk being driven from their lands because of continuing desertification.
Source: Global Canopy Programme: Forests Now Declaration http://www.globalcanopy.org/main.php?m=117&sm=158&t=1 State of the World's Forests 2007, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 2007, Part 2, Selected Issues in the Forest sector UNDP – Human Development Report 2007/2008 Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity In A Divided World
Loss of Biodiversity
“We are in an era of unprecedented threats to biodiversity. Fifteen out of 24 important ecosystem services are assessed to be in decline.” “The sheer quantity of animals being raised for human consumption is a threat to the Earth’s biodiversity.”
- UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006
Livestock take up 30% of the earth’s land surface which was once habitat for wildlife. Tropical forests hold half of the world’s species which are becoming extinct at an alarming rate due to deforestation for meat production. Species loss today is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the expected natural extinction rate.
Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2007 http://tinyurl.com/6bowo7 International Union for Conservation of Nature 2007 http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/species_extinction_05_2007.pdf
Over 1 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water. More than 2 billion people do not have proper sanitation. By 2025 there will be 1.8 billion people living with absolute water scarcity and 2/3 of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions. On a global basis, the amount of fresh water available per person is falling rapidly.
“Meat production, particularly the production of feed, consumes large amounts of critically important water resources.”
- UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006
Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006 http://tinyurl.com/6bowo7 United Nations Environment Programme (2002): Global Environmental Outlook Saving Water: from Field to Fork, SIWI, IWMI, Chalmers & SEI, May 2008 http://tinyurl.com/58padp
Water Usage - Does Our Choice of Food Matter?
Livestock sector is among the most damaging sectors to the Earth’s scarce water resources. Producing 1 kilo of beef requires 13,000-100,000 litres of water. Producing 1 kilo of wheat requires 500-2000 litres of water. Water-intensive food items like meat and dairy products are placing increased stress on food production systems. A diet containing less meat and dairy products is not only healthier than our current eating habits, but is better for the environment.
Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006 Pimentel D and Pimentel M 2003 “Sustainability of Meat-Based and Plant-Based Diets and the Environment”, Am. J, Clin. Nutr. 2003; 78(suppl): 660S-3S. http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/78/3/660S SIWI, IWMI, May 2008 ‘Saving water from field to Fork’ http://www.siwi.org/documents/Resources/Policy_Briefs/PB_From_Filed_to_Fork_2008.pdf Food Matters, Cabinet Office, July 2008, p.15
Energy Usage - Does Our Choice of Food Matter?
One calorie of animal protein requires more than 10 times as much fossil fuel input as does one calorie of plant protein. Producing 1 kg of beef leads to the emission of GHGs with a global warming potential of 36.4 kg of CO2 1 kg of beef produces the same amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250km, and burns enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for 20 days. Grain fed to animals reared for human consumption loses 90% of the energy from the original grain.
Source: Pimentel D and Pimentel M 2003 “Sustainability of Meat-Based and Plant-Based Diets and the Environment”, http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/78/3/660S Animal Science Journal, Evaluating environmental impacts of the Japanese beef cow-calf system by the life cycle assessment method, 2007. Dr. David Archer, Professor of Geophysical Sciences at University of Chicago
Our Choice: Food or Feed
Global Grain Crop Production: 2109 Million tons (2007/08)
36% to feed animals 47% to feed people 5% for grain-derived bio-fuels 12% for other
Source: Crop Prospects and Food Situation, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai465e/ai465e04.htm (calculated from data therein)
Every 6 seconds, a child dies from hunger. More than 1.02 billion people in the world go hungry every day. Hunger and poverty claim 25,000 lives every day. 760 million tons of grain are fed to animals every year.
Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006. http://tinyurl.com/96csxh
World Food Programme http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats
Overcoming World Hunger
1 hectare of land produces: • Beef to support 1 person • Lamb to support 2 people • Rice to support 19 people • Potatoes to support 22 people With 1.02 billion people hungry in the world (more than the populations of USA, Canada, and the European Union), diverting the critically needed grain from cattle to humans would ensure that the world’s hungry get their share of food.
The 760 million tons of grain feeding animals now could cover the global food deficit 14 times over.
Source: Diet, Nutrition and Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO/FAO 2003, (3.4, P 21) UN FAO & The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006 George Monbiot, ‘The Real Crisis is World Hunger, if you Care, Eat Less Meat’, Guardian 15 April 2008
Meat Consumption is Expected to Double by 2050
Raising animals for food is a major cause of deforestation, land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity and global warming and yet the global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector.
Dairy output is expected to more than double by 2050. EU’s subsidies to the livestock industry was 3,500,704,000 Euros in 2007, ensuring the industry’s continuing growth.
Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006. http://tinyurl.com/96csxh The livestock industry and climate – EU makes bad worse, Jens Holm & Toivo Jokkala, Parliamentary Group (p. 17-18)
Following the unprecedented ice melt in Summer 2007,
the thickness of ice fell by nearly half a metre (19%) in large parts of the Arctic in comparison to the previous five winters. The Arctic ocean is predicted to be ice free by the end of summer 2012, causing catastrophic climate change with increased severity and frequency. The most devastating effect of rising temperatures is the release of 400 billion tonnes of methane gas from the melting permafrost and the ocean seabed. This ticking timebomb once triggered will result in runaway global warming and there will be nothing humans can do to stop it.
Source: Natural Environment Research Council, http://tinyurl.com/5jrpp2 Jay Zwally, NASA Scientist http://www.energybulletin.net/node/3647 Katey Walter, Nature 443; 71-75, 7th Sept. 2006
Methane Burps, Ticking time Bomb, Energy Bulletin, 15 December 2004
At least 18 islands have been submerged around the world already. Another 40 islands are at risk from rising sea levels, including the Maldives (369,000 residents) whose president wants to relocate the whole island, the Solomon Islands (566,000 residents) and Dubai (1.2 million residents). The IPCC estimates sea level rise of .4 to 1.4 metres due to thermal expansion alone. However, the water released from melting ice bodies increases this substantially. Environmental deterioration currently displaces 10 million people every year. 50 million environmental refugees are expected by 2010. UNHCR statistics show 25 million people became environmental refugees in 2007.
Sea level rise will cause displacement of coastal populations. “About half the world lives within 50 miles of a coastline.”
James Hansen, Director of NASA GISS
Source: http://tinyurl.com/cvt26c, http://tinyurl.com/al5scg, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2005/oct/12/naturaldisasters.climatechange1
The fastest way to slow global warming and curb climate change?
Cut down on short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane
(the single largest source of which is livestock)
Methane is 100 times more potent than CO2 over 5 years but cycles out of the atmosphere within 10 – 20 years. Even if the entire world switched to a zero carbon economy and lifestyle tomorrow, it would take 100 – 1000 years for CO2 to dissipate out of the atmosphere. Cutting down on short-lived GHG will quickly translate into cooling of the Earth which will give us time to deal with CO2 emissions.
Source: IPCC Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report 2007 http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_fourth_assessment_report_synthesis_report.htm, chapter 2 http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html Methane controls before risky geoengineering, please - NewScientist http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227146.000-methane-controls-before-risky-geoengineering-please.html
Buys us Time in Fight against Global Warming
“…many of us are saying if you want to make an impact soon, slow down the melting of the glaciers, slow down the rise of the sea level, and so on, give us more time to deal with things, give us, society, more time, shouldn’t you work more on methane?”
- Kirk R. Smith, MPH, PhD Professor of Global Environmental Health, University of California, Berkeley
“The mitigation of non-carbon dioxide (non-CO2) greenhouse gas emissions can be a relatively inexpensive supplement to CO2-only mitigation strategies.” “Methane mitigation has the largest potential across all the non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases.” - US Environmental Protection Agency “Control of methane emissions turns out to be a more powerful lever to control global warming than would be anticipated.”
- Drew Shindell, PhD Atmospheric Physicist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Source: Interview with Supreme Master TV US Environmental Protection Agency, Global Mitigation of Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases, June 2006 NASA GISS Report: Methane’s Impact on Climate Change May Be Twice Previous Estimates
The single most effective action individuals can take for their health and for the survival of the planet?
Reduce or eliminate meat & dairy consumption
“...the balance of environmental analysis suggests that a healthy, low-impact diet would contain less meat and fewer dairy products than we typically eat today.”
“Eat mostly foods of plant origin.”
Source: Cabinet Office, “Food Matters: Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century”, July 2008 http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/strategy/work_areas/food_policy.aspx World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. 2007. www.dietandcancerreport.org
A Quicker & Easier Solution
Turnover rate of farm animals is 1-2 years, while turnover rate of cars and power plants, etc... can be decades. Methane can disappear from the atmosphere in 9-15 years, while CO2 can stay in the atmosphere for more than a century. Introduction of new techniques and further research takes many years. Cut in CO2 involves fighting powerful & wealthy business interests, while vegetarian foods are readily available.
Source: A New Global Warming Strategy, Noam Mohr, Earth Save International, August 2005 http://tinyurl.com/2usvxl
If everybody in the UK ate no meat for 1 day a week, it would be equivalent to replacing one billion light bulbs with low-energy ones. If everybody in the UK ate no meat for 2 days a week, it would save an equivalent of almost 73 million return flights from London to Ibiza. If everybody in the UK ate no meat for 6 days a week, it would create greater carbon savings than removing all the cars off UK roads (29 million cars).
Source: Pieter van Beukering, Kim van der Leeuw, Desirée Immerzeel and Harry Aiking (2008) Meat the Truth. The contribution of meat consumption in the UK to climate change. Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. http://tinyurl.com/5q3vwx HM Government (2006) Climate Change, the UK programme 2006
Prevents high blood pressure Lowers cholesterol levels Reduces Type 2 diabetes Prevents stroke conditions Reverses atherosclerosis Reduces heart disease risk - 50% Reduces heart surgery risk - 80% Prevents many forms of cancer Strengthens immune system Increases life expectancy up to 15 years
Source: Source: American Dietetic Association position paper on vegetarian diets http://tinyurl.com/djodu Jenkins DJA et al., 2003. Type 2 diabetes and the vegetarian diet, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 78, No. 3, 610S-616S, Sep 03 http://tinyurl.com/9sohlt Ornish D, Scherwitz L, Billings J, et al. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease, Five-year follow-up of the Lifestyle Heart Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1998; 280: 2001-2007 http://tinyurl.com/6djlgg
94% Savings in GHG Emissions
Foodwatch of Germany compared the GHG of meat versus non-meat consumption over a one year period and translated that into car mileage.
A vegetarian diet reduces emissions by nearly a half. An animal-free vegan diet produced less than 1/7th the GHG emissions of a meat eater – 86% savings in GHG emissions. An organic vegan diet produces 94% savings in GHG emissions.
Source: Spiegel Online International, 27 August 2008 http://tinyurl.com/557yxs
Vegan Diets Are The Most Water Efficient
Entire Vegan Meal: tofu, whole grain rice, 2 vegetables Chicken – 227g, Beef – 227g
Source: Water Inputs in California Food Production, Water Education Foundation, September, 1991 (chart E3 p28) http://tinyurl.com/6kd6kx
Being Vegan Makes Economic Sense
A global transition to complete plant-based foods could wipe 80% or $32 trillion off the cost of mitigating climate change. - NEAA and New Scientist 2009
Vegan or Local Food?
“shifting less than one day per week’s consumption of red meat and/or dairy to other protein sources or a vegetable based diet could have the same climate impact as buying all household food from local providers.”
- Carnegie Mellon University research
Source of Food Emissions:
Transportation (Food Miles): 11% Agricultural & industrial processes: 83%
Source: Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States, Carnegie Mellon University, 2008 http://tinyurl.com/3w377g New Scientist 2009 - Eating less meat could cut climate costs - 10 Feb 2009, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency - Feb 2009 http://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/2009/Climate-benefits-of-changing-diet.html
What Leading Scientists and Politicians are saying...
“Please eat less meat; meat is a very carbon intensive commodity.”
- Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
“The single action that a person can take to reduce carbon emissions is vegetarianism.”
- Dr. James Hansen, Top World Climatologist, NASA
“I would advocate getting off of the meat diet, that it really is not sustainable.”
- Dr. Jonathan Patz, Professor of Env. Studies & Populations Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin – Madison
“We have to reduce the meat consumption and one way of doing it is of course that a larger amount of what we eat is vegetarian and everything else other than meat.” - Erik Solheim,
Minister of The Environment & International Development, Norway
What Leading Scientists and Politicians are saying...
“We must transform ourselves from being passive consumers to active consumers. We need to lobby government for change, eat less meat and fewer dairy products, and garden more.”
- Professor Tim Lang UK Government Advisor on Food Security & Obesity
“We should abolish meat subsidies, let meat bear its own environmental costs and work to make modern vegetarian food cheaper.”
- Jens Holm, MEP, Sweden
“Unless we change our food choices nothing else matters because it is meat that is destroying most of our forests, it is meat that pollutes the waters, it is meat that is creating disease which leads to all our money being diverted to hospitals, so it’s the first choice for anybody who wants to save the Earth.”
- Maneka Gandhi, Parliamentarian & former Environment Minister, India
And what they said in the past...
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
- Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist
“While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this Earth?”
- George Bernard Shaw, Playwright
“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all human evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”
- Thomas Edison, Inventor
And what they said in the past...
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi, Spiritual Leader
“In their behaviour towards creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” - Isaac Bashevis Singer, Author, Nobel Prize 1978 “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”
- Theodor Adorno, Philosopher
“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.” - Leo Tolstoy, Novelist
It’s time for the truth about meat to be brought to light. Animal agriculture and the consumption of animal products are destroying our planet and are the root cause of the most pressing challenges of our time. We can no longer hide from the fact that meat is the single greatest contributor to the most prevalent and deadly global health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. We must recognize that meat is causing global food shortage as we feed over one third of all grain products to animals (over 7 times the amount used for bio-fuels), and as farmers in developing nations grow feed crop for animals rather than food crops for their fellow citizens. And we must address the reality that meat and dairy are the leading causes of global warming, pushing our Earth beyond the tipping point, heading to where it can no longer maintain life as we know it. The facts and figures presented here are compiled from the latest research by leading climate scientists, governmental bodies, the United Nations, many independent organizations, and health professionals. They show clearly how by stopping the devastation of meat production and consumption and embracing a plant-based diet, we will be able to live in optimal health, preserve our planet and have enough food and clean water for all.
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, has pointed out that a bigger part of higher food price increases comes from feeding grain to animals being raised for meat. Secretary de Boer stated, “The best solution would be for us to all become vegetarians.”
The Bio-Da Versity Code by Earth Scope: A Community of Scientists Conducting Multidisciplinary research across the Earth Sciences http://www.daversitycode.com/earthscope/ Earthlings: Documentary video on the correlation between nature, animals, and human economic interests http://veg-tv.info/Earthlings A Delicate Balance: Documentary with the latest discoveries of some of the most prominent experts on nutrition in the world, unravelling the mysteries behind the disease epidemic which has struck affluent countries with a vengeance. http://adelicatebalance.com.au/
Nutrition Ecology International Centre: An interdisciplinary scientific committee established with the purpose of investigating the impact of all stages and methods of food production and consumption, with regard to health, environment, society and economy http://www.nutritionecology.org/ European Parliament: European United Left/Nordic Green Left: The Livestock Industry and Climate Change – EU Makes Bad Worse http://ec.europa.eu/budget/reform/library/focus/meat_climate_report_en.pdf Global Canopy Program: An Alliance of 29 scientific institutions in 19 countries, which lead the world in forest canopy research, education, and conservation http://www.globalcanopy.org/ Food vs. Feed http://un.evana.org/
To assimilate, document and present scientific data relating to the significant detrimental effects of livestock production and consumption; including deforestation, disease, drought, global hunger and climate change. To provide materials and guidance for individuals to encourage the media to engage these topics and to encourage governments and other institutions to introduce beneficial legislation and policies resulting in decreased consumption of animal products; subsequently mitigating climate change and associated human, planetary and economic costs, safeguarding water supplies, preserving forests, minimizing environmental degradation, improving health and alleviating global food shortages.
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