A collection of pieces, information and thoughts on the most recent attention to the health of our Earth…

On Reducing/Eliminating Products from Cows

For those that have struggled with eliminating animal products from their lives for ethical reasons, the Amazon is a striking environmental and human rights reason.

“So, what is causing all these fires? In recent decades, human activity has lead to significant deforestation in the Amazon. Over the past 50 years, 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down and destroyed by humans, 80 percent of which is for cattle ranching (to produce beef and dairy), according to the WWF. Most of the rest of the deforestation in the Amazon is due to illegal logging, harvesting palm oil, and growing soy to feed livestock (about 67 percent of the world’s soy is grown to feed livestock). ”
“A few things you can do to reduce your personal contribution to the Amazon’s deforestation are: eliminate beef and dairy from your diet; donate to organizations fighting to protect the Amazon, such as Amazon Watch; avoid buying food, furniture, or paper that came from the Amazon; stop purchasing food and other products made with palm oil, another significant cause of rainforest deforestation; and on Friday, Aug. 23, join the Extinction Rebellion and protest outside your nearest Brazilian Embassy.”
Full GreenMatters Article here

More Broadly

Shifting demand is an important step that we can all contribute to working on. But we must simultaneously think more broadly.  There are larger systems at play here that we must consider.  One piece of this is addressed in a book I came across – designed as a first year or non-majors biology course undergraduate textbook back in 2003, “Biology Today: An Issues Approach,” by Eli Minkoff and Pamela Baker, dives into some additional perspectives on the dynamics at play.  I have not had the chance to read the entire text and am not an expert on this topic, (in addition, I have not had the time to collect all the information I’d like, sit with it, and thoughtfully write today), so I’m just hoping to offer pieces of information that can be included in larger discussions. It is *very* important to note that the excerpt included below ignores the perspective and rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“All of these are basically ethical questions (See Chapter 1), or parts of a larger, all-embracing, ethical question: is it better to preserve a particular ecosystem in its ‘natural’ state, or is it better to convert the area into agricultural or similar use? Viewed one nation at a time, the forces that push toward one alternative or the other weigh heavily against many natural ecosystems. The pressure of an increasing human population, the need for land and food, the need for income, and the need for economic development are all obvious to the people living near the habitats that come under pressure. Measured against all these forces is the value of undisturbed wilderness, a value that is not always obvious or locally appreciated. Of course, things are never that simple: many Brazilians want to preserve their rainforest habitats, even if this means that economic development cannot proceed quite as fast as other Brazilians would like.
When we consider the worldwide ecosystem of the Earth as a whole, however, the balance seems to shift in the other direction, in favor of preserving the natural environment.  The advance of the Sahara, or the destruction of rainforests, threatens the planet with consequences far greater than the continuation of poverty and underdevelopment in any one country. The case for Brazil can easily be argued in these terms: The preservation of the Amazon rainforest is best for the planet as a whole, and the economic best interests of Brazil would be viewed as secondary if the good of the planet were given priority.  Perhaps this makes sense to North American environmentalists and philosophers, but it is certain to be a very unpopular attitude in Brazil! It is the Brazilians who are largely in control of their rainforest, and they are likely to resent any suggestion that they sacrifice the well-being of their nation’s economy for the ‘greater good’ of a global environment that the wealthier nations of the north have already started to destroy. A similar argument can be directed against the industrial nations of North America and Europe: a reduction of resource consumption by these nations would reduce pollution, reduce the trend toward global warming, and benefit the planet as a whole.  Large tracts of land in Australia, Argentina, and the United States are devoted to cattle ranching, an activity that produces far less food per unit area than if that same land were used for growing crops. More of the world’s hungry could be fed if lands now used for cattle ranching were instead used to raise wheat or corn, but ranchers (whose interests are often supported by their governments) are not likely to give up their way of life for that reason alone. They argue that much of the land now used for ranching is used so precisely because it is unsuitable for growing crops economically.
It is easy, on utilitarian principles (see Chapter 1), to argue that the good of the planet should take precedence over the economic well-being of any single nation or occupational class. However, on just about any principle of fairness, it is just as easy for Brazilians to argue that they should not bear the entire burden or a sacrifice that benefits the whole world.”


More as I have time to collect information, sift through it, and write….