Planet Earth: Our Loving Home
 
Affordable and Effective Climate Change Mitigation: The Profound Benefits of the Organic Vegan Solution      
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Green viewers, this is Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. Currently the global economy is highly unstable. The economies of many nations are struggling enormously, with the US experiencing its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930's.

Citizens from developing and developed countries are strongly calling on their respective government leaders to urgently help them obtain jobs as well as feed, clothe and house their families. Even the world's wealthiest nations are facing financial challenges in terms of helping the growing numbers of people who need social assistance. These current fiscal realities are making it much harder for governments to make progress in addressing crucial global environmental threats such as climate change.

The health of our planet is so dire some scientists are predicting an enormous world population decline within this century or even the extinction of the human race. With the consequences of inaction so great, these environmental challenges must be addressed now in spite of budgetary constraints. Fortunately there is hope.

On today’s program, we will examine an affordable approach to mitigating the planet's most pressing ecological hazards. For approximately the past 10,000 years, known as the Holocene era, the climate has been relatively stable and Earth's natural regulatory systems have provided ideal conditions for human and animal life to flourish. But we have now entered a new period, referred to as the Anthropocene era, in which deleterious human activities are severely damaging these very same systems necessary for life to continue on Earth.

In 2009, a group of 28 globally recognized experts in environmental and earth-systems science was assembled by the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden. The group identified nine “planetary life support systems” that humans are pushing to the limit, or in some cases surpassing.

Urgent issues requiring immediate action include biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, ozone depletion in the stratosphere, freshwater scarcity, excess nitrogen production, harmful land-use changes, climate change, black carbon in the atmosphere, and chemical pollution. The continued viability of these essential life support systems has dietary choice as a common denominator. A global switch to the organic vegan diet can quickly and effectively address all of these issues.

DEFORESTATION AND OTHER HARMFUL LAND-USE CHANGES

Land in its natural state provides many ecosystem services, including the production of oxygen, regulation of the water cycle, and sequestration of carbon dioxide. Throughout history unsustainable deforestation has been a major factor in the collapse of many great civilizations, including ancient Sumeria, Babylonia, and Assyria, as well as the Roman and Mayan empires. Historically agriculture has been the largest driver of land use change with livestock raising being the modern era’s single most destructive activity.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that globally 30% of all land mass and 70% of all agricultural land is currently used for livestock production, either for grazing or to raise food for the animals. A 2010 United Nations Environment Programme report estimates that the livestock industry is responsible for nearly 70% of the environmental problems attributed to land use change.

Although most efforts to halt deforestation focus on stopping logging, the United Nation’s Global Forest Resource Assessment data shows that clearing forests to create grazing pastures and grow animal feed is responsible for 60 to 80% of all forest razing. Furthermore, deforestation itself exacerbates climate change by releasing approximately 20% of all annual human-induced CO2 emissions.

Dietary change is the most important tool we have at our disposal for reversing this trend. Far more can be grown in a much smaller space if humans consume plant instead of animal foods. In a study examining the most green and efficient means of feeding the residents of the state of New York, USA, lead author Dr. Christian Peters concludes, "A person following a low-fat vegetarian diet, for example, will need less than half (0.44) an acre per person per year to produce their food. A high-fat diet with a lot of meat, on the other hand, needs 2.11 acres."

BIODIVERSITY LOSS

A United Nations report, "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity" estimates species loss and injury to ecosystems from human activity costs the world between US$2 to US$4.5 trillion annually, or about 7.5% of the value of the global gross domestic product, which is a measure of all goods and services produced worldwide.

The situation is so severe, we have entered what is being called "the sixth great extinction event" with the current rate of biodiversity loss 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural background extinction rate. In the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s 2006 report “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” the link between large-scale species disappearance and the livestock industry was emphasized:

“Indeed, the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species.”

A paper by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency evaluated the benefits of various policy tools for reversing declining biodiversity.

Comparing eight different policy options to reduce an assumed baseline 10% global biodiversity loss between 2000 and 2050, including protecting natural areas, managing forests better, and humanity adopting a meatless diet, the animal-free diet was found to best safeguard species survival out of all the possible choices.

The two best solutions to end species extinction are the implementation of sustainable, vegan organic farming practices globally and humanity embracing the plant-based diet, both of which will free up large amounts of land to be returned to their natural, life-sustaining states and end animal agriculture’s massive consumption of resources.

WATER SCARCITY

In 2009, the World Water Forum warned that the planet is in the midst of a water "bubble" due to unsustainable use, and that the consequences would be far graver than the current global financial crisis. The Forum also warned that within the next 20 years, over 50% of the world's population will face water shortages, leading to millions of deaths and increasing conflicts over dwindling resources.

There are multiple causes for water scarcity, including the enormous water footprint of animal products, pollution of fresh water sources by livestock operations and factories and accelerating climate change, which causes more droughts. The quickest and most effective way to improve water security is changing the agriculture industry, as currently 70% of all freshwater resources are allocated to this sector globally. Turning livestock farmers into vegan organic growers would transform the situation dramatically for the better.

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that the most water efficient diet is a plant-based diet. The Twente Water Center in the Netherlands estimates it takes up to six times more water to grow a kilogram of animal protein as plant protein and that producing beef consumes 20 times more water per calorie than grain or potatoes.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

In the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency report "Climate Benefits of Changing Diet," the authors conclude that a vegan diet would reduce the overall costs of addressing the consequences of climate change by over 80%. According to their calculations, the combined effects of halting deforestation and reforesting land currently used for livestock would reduce CO2 emissions from deforestation, while growing trees would capture the CO2 already in the atmosphere and sequester it.

The US-based Rodale Institute estimates that if all of the world’s tillable land were converted to organic farmland, the soil would absorb and store approximately 40% of current CO2 emissions.

The United Nations Environment Programme has called increasing ocean acidification a real threat to the future viability of marine ecosystems. The combination of lowering CO2 emissions through conversion to vegan organic farming, decreasing deforestation and capturing carbon already in the atmosphere would help protect our seas by lessening acidification, which is caused by excessive amounts of CO2 being sequestered in them.

EXCESS NITROGEN & STRATOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION

Industrial agriculture uses tremendous amounts of nitrogen-based fertilizers and livestock operations generate huge quantities of animal manure which is full of nitrogen. This excess nitrogen pollutes drinking water supplies, destroys biodiversity and produces dead zones in oceans.

The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has concluded that nitrous oxide is the main cause of the growth in the ozone hole over Antarctica. The primary sources of nitrous oxide are nitrogen-based fertilizers and animal manure. Again global adoption of the plant-based diet would mean the end of the volumes of manure produced annually and the planet’s embracing of vegan organic farming would spell the end of industrial fertilizer usage.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND BLACK CARBON

There is a growing recognition in the climate science community that halting climate change by focusing exclusively on lowering carbon dioxide emission levels will not be enough to keep global warming at or below 2 degrees Celsius, a goal originally agreed upon at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Geophysical sciences professor David Archer of University of Chicago, USA points out that relying on CO2 reductions alone to stop climate change is insufficient because CO2 from fossil fuels and other sources can continue to remain in the atmosphere, heating the planet for thousands of years.

A 2011 report issued by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization concludes that the combined effect of reducing levels of methane, ground level ozone and black carbon is about equal to the warming effect of CO2. However, in contrast to carbon dioxide, all of these are short-lived climate forcers, meaning they dissipate from the atmosphere much more quickly than CO2. Methane is dispersed from the air in about a decade’s time, black carbon within weeks, and ozone within hours.

An organic vegan diet is the best solution to halt climate change, because livestock are the single largest source of human-caused methane, and methane is a building-block to ozone. Forest and savannah burning, the number one source of black carbon globally, is largely driven by livestock raising. Thus ending livestock production will lead to huge declines in emissions of these short-lived climate forcers.

Some have suggested mitigating methane emissions through a technology called methane capture. However this supposed solution is fundamentally flawed. Supreme Master Ching Hai commented on this technology during a press conference held in Cancún, Mexico in December 2010.

And when we say we raise the animals “organically” or capture methane from manure to reduce emissions – these methods also fall exceedingly short of expectation. Even in the case of capturing methane from animal manure, three times that amount is still being released from the livestock digestive process. Plus, this technique cannot be considered clean energy at all, when the same factory farm is destroying the environment in a dozen other ways.

We would like to close by recognizing that for individuals, choosing an organic plant-based lifestyle over a diet centered on meat, dairy, and eggs is the single most impactful action anyone can take to improve the health of our planet's vital life-support systems. For governments, re-directing all current subsidies for animal product producers to vegan organic farmers is a budget-neutral way to significantly reverse the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.

Thank you for joining us for Planet Earth: Our Loving Home, here on Supreme Master Television. May we forever respect and honor our planetary abode.

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