The threat of enviromental damage

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Is the real cause for our damage here on earth due to our destruction on animals? Fossil fuels? Pollution? Not recycling when we should? Or is there another underlying theme that we are ignoring? Or maybe not giving it much attention. Not preaching against veganism or anything like that but is that what the real issue here is? What about overpopulation of the human species? We have 7 billion people here and it’s growing. The reason why we cut down forests for land is for the sake of feeding all of us so we can all be fed. The reason why we dig up more oil is because “more people” are driving. If we didn’t have so many people maybe we wouldn’t have to torture animals for the sake of efficiency. If the studies about factory farming are true and that is what is causing most of our issues, veganism is great for supporting all the people we have for the planet so we don’t destroy it and also, have more land for better use or have it for wildlife so they have more habitats to live on. Maybe we should stop having so many babies. Or just start having one child and no more than that. Thoughts?
 

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We don't have an overpopulation problem. We could feed and house our current population with a tiny fraction of the land area we currently use if we changed our lifestyles and re-organized our societies efficiently enough. But a perpetually growing population on this planet is obviously not sustainable.

I don't think humanity can be controlled through top-down decision making to make the necessary changes. Our only hope is to get people to make real sacrifices in their own lifestyles, on a voluntary basis, for the greater good. We're hard wired to socially reward displays of power and resources...will conspicuous over-consumption ever go out of style?
 
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We don't have an overpopulation problem. We could feed and house our current population with a tiny fraction of the land area we currently use if we changed our lifestyles and re-organized our societies efficiently enough. But a perpetually growing population on this planet is obviously not sustainable.

I don't think humanity can be controlled through top-down decision making to make the necessary changes. Our only hope is to get people to make real sacrifices in their own lifestyles, on a voluntary basis, for the greater good. We're hard wired to socially reward displays of power and resources...will conspicuous over-consumption ever go out of style?
I defiantly feel that is the most realistic approach in achieving in reversing our problems here on earth. But I defiantly think if people kept doing what there doing(they shouldn’t) but with less people, the amount of enviromental issues we would have would decrease significantly.
 

Paul Bradford

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Many a true word spoken in jest, but this image fairly represents what I think the OP is questioning.


For those that aren't aware the study that exagerated the effect of animal farming compared to other industrial processes was admitted to be substantially flawed by its author, unfortunately the original script is still often quoted.

FB_IMG_1552819640029.jpg
 

Forest Nymph

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I defiantly feel that is the most realistic approach in achieving in reversing our problems here on earth. But I defiantly think if people kept doing what there doing(they shouldn’t) but with less people, the amount of enviromental issues we would have would decrease significantly.

Actually no the nation with the largest carbon footprint per capita is the United States. While India and China are more populated, their footprint per capita is about a quarter of ours or less. Chinese and Indians eat less meat, they walk or bike, they buy less junk on average, etc.

Even if we eradicated the population of Asia what the US and Western Europe does to the earth is so staggeringly unsustainable that it would take between four and five earths for everyone to live like us. The global temperatures started warming in the industrial revolution when the population was about 1/5 of what it is now. The world population has doubled in my lifetime but global warming was confirmed when I was a baby, or slightly before my birth.

My major is Environmental Science. If you would like more information please ask, I'll make an effort to post more academic posts supported by studies or articles.

I'm actually randomly considering teaching English in China for the experience and to pay off student loans. I'm intrigued that they are more advanced in renewable energy and electric cars than my own country.
 

Forest Nymph

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Many a true word spoken in jest, but this image fairly represents what I think the OP is questioning.


For those that aren't aware the study that exagerated the effect of animal farming compared to other industrial processes was admitted to be substantially flawed by its author, unfortunately the original script is still often quoted.

View attachment 925

Do you have statistics on this because I'm fairly certain you don't.
 

Jamie in Chile

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how cattle eating vegetative matter are anything other than carbon neutral?

Most of the beef people eat is from cows fed corn and soy using an industrial system. Because you have to feed maybe 20 kilos of corn/soy to a cow to produce 1 kilos of beef, the emissions from the industrial processes of growing and shipping all that food are already say 20x higher than plant foods before you even considered what happens in the farm gate. Rainforests are cut down in Brazil to provide space to cows, and other ecosystems and habitats are destroyed elsewhere.

Most cows are not grass fed their whole lives. Defending cows using grass fed cows is a weak argument unless you yourself carefully investigate the supply chain of all the meat you eat (and only eat the grass fed beef), which you don't, virtually no-one does, because it's impractical.

In any case, grass-fed cows are destructive to ecosystems, and use too much land. A move to more grass fed cows would use up a lot of land. But let's be clear: grass fed cows are a distraction. If you want to argue this further, we should focus the argument on the cows that are in the industrial system, which accounts for most of the meat.

If you are able to confirm to me that you ONLY eat grass fed meat, and explain how you do that, then perhaps we can debate it. Otherwise it wouldn't make sense to do so.
 
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Jamie in Chile

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Is the real cause for our damage here on earth due to our destruction on animals? Fossil fuels? Pollution? Not recycling when we should?

Fossil fuels and animal agriculture I would put on a par when it comes to overall destruction.

Pollution kills more people currently, so in that sense it's actually currently more serious than climate change. On the other hand pollution deaths will likely decline over the coming issues, while climate change deaths will increase.

Also, pollution is not an existential threat. Climate change may be an existential threat with a non-zero risk of causing civilization breakdown that could lead to most people on the earth dying (I'd say that there is a 10% chance of climate change causing a billion or more deaths, and a 1% chance of it causing a total civilization destruction at this point). Whereas pollution is not an existential threat to the whole of civilization. Therefore, overall climate change is worse. And animal agriculture causes between 10% and 30% of climate change.

Not recycling is a serious issue, but it doesn't directly kill many people, and it's not an existential threat. Therefore, I wouldn't rank it as highly as the other issues. (Although all the birds and fish dying with stomachs full of plastic may not agree with this.)

One very big issues that you didn't mention is soil degradation and how, following current trends, we may not be able to grow enough food from decades from now.

In my view soil quality deserves to sit alongside climate change, artificial intelligence, and nuclear war as one of the four biggest threats to humanity. (I must admit this list is probably a bit subjective and personal, ask me in 10 years and I'll probably have deleted one of the four from the list and added another, whether because things changed or I changed my mind.)

Overpopulation is also an issue as well.

Both the number of people on Earth and how they live have to be looked at, it isn't one or another.
 
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Paul Bradford

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Most of the beef people eat is from cows fed corn and soy using an industrial system. Because you have to feed maybe 20 kilos of corn/soy to a cow to produce 1 kilos of beef, the emissions from the industrial processes of growing and shipping all that food are already say 20x higher than plant foods before you even considered what happens in the farm gate. Rainforests are cut down in Brazil to provide space to cows, and other ecosystems and habitats are destroyed elsewhere.

Most cows are not grass fed their whole lives. Defending cows using grass fed cows is a weak argument unless you yourself carefully investigate the supply chain of all the meat you eat (and only eat the grass fed beef), which you don't, virtually no-one does, because it's impractical.

In any case, grass-fed cows are destructive to ecosystems, and use too much land. A move to more grass fed cows would use up a lot of land. But let's be clear: grass fed cows are a distraction. If you want to argue this further, we should focus the argument on the cows that are in the industrial system, which accounts for most of the meat.

If you are able to confirm to me that you ONLY eat grass fed meat, and explain how you do that, then perhaps we can debate it. Otherwise it wouldn't make sense to do so.


Jamie, if you have to feed 20kg of corn to get 1 kg of beef you had better stop immediately. 6.5 kg is the actual benchmark for corn fed beef, and if you dont believe me just ponder the fact that a prepared corn meal for cattle would cost around 20p per kg which equates to £1.30 to produce 1 kg of beef (live weight), current value of liveweight beef is around £1.90 / kg. Even a simple farmer can see that if 20 kg of corn were required ( £4.00) then every kg of beef produced would be losing £2.10.
Furthermore, the majority of the corn fed will be locally grown, i.e. in the same country or region that the cattle are reared, simply because the cost of transport is a significant factor. The soya ( or other protein source) that is added to the mix to provide a feed of the optimum nutrition value will usually be made up of the by products from the soya after it has been used for its primary purpose. Very little soy is grown exclusively for livestock feed, the economics of doing so just dont add up.

The rainforests that were cut down in Brazil were the resullt of financial incentives that were made available in the past, I dont think those incentives are available any longer, but if you can prove that this is still continuing then please provide the evidence, I would join you in condemming the action.
Palm oil production, something which was massively increased when animal fat was thought to be harmful to human health, has unfortunately resulted in the massive destruction of rainforests in other parts of the world, resulting in the near extinction of species such as the orangutan. Fortunately now that animal fat has been found to be not harmful the increasing destruction of those rain forests for a product that is used exclusively for human benefit has been curtailed.

And so, in a country like the UK, where the climate doesnt allow the production of protein crops suitable for human consumption, the beef industry is environmently friendly in that it produces a nutrient rich, sustainable food source using locally grown crops.

All the beef I eat is 80% grass fed, guaranteed. And all the food it has consumed has travelled less than a mile. The carbon that they expell will be reabsorbed by the crop that they eat.

If you have any other questions about beef production, feel free to ask.. If you feel the need to comment on beef production, then look for independent data so that your claims dont appear so outlandish.
 

Jamie in Chile

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My 20 may be high. It's a rough number from memory according to various sources. 6.5 is very much at the very low end of all the estimates I've ever seen from a variety of sources. In some cases you need to factor in meat subsidies that give it an unrealistic low cost. But I don't want to argue about 6.5 vs 20, in either case it's clearly going to be far more efficient in terms of carbon emissions, water, land use, pollution to eat plant food.

What you say about the food chain being local is not true in the US according to sources I've seen, including Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemna, who travelling round the country looking at in depth. There are whole areas of the US dedicated to corn and it then gets shipped around the nation.

Fair point on palm oil, we need to sort that out. But, unlike meat, it gets into everything making it harder to avoid.
 

Kasimir Maras

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What about people I not telling me veganism unsustainable. Look I'm just sure what to say regarding that. EdpEspecia to being told that land wise we just don't have aviblavai land for evrbodeve to be vegan, even if the production of meat ceased.

Is there any truth to this?

I mean there is more than a few articles online who support the case that "that veganism isn't sustainable in the long-term" ....... using the globalism argument gets used too, you know that "the shipping to and from all around the world, that not enough foods available in certain parts of the world, which is true but I'm not entirely sure that mean that "veganism is unsustainable" .... there is some truth to this but in the long-term I don't think it will be too much of a problem.

The other one is that all the soybeans that are used to feed livestock, cannot be directly used for food. I'm not sure that is entirely true and it's just a case of if the world went vegan overnight, that is definitely not sustained but it was a gradual movement over 50 years - anyway problems (will be worked out) and there will be problems to deal with. As I said nothing perfect, including veganism.