Certainly in the Amazon in particular, the majority of deforestation has been due to the expansion of cattle pasture, and so I think changing diet is very important. Just thinking and asking about what are the implications of what I’m doing every day for my planet, that’s the important question.

Greetings, caring viewers, to this week’s edition of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. Numerous scientific studies have shown that meat production and consumption are the main culprits in the accelerated global warming seen over the recent decades, and the consequences are catastrophic for humans, animals and the environment alike. Our planet’s glaciers are melting rapidly, sea levels are on the rise, and both plant and animal species are disappearing at an alarming rate.

We know that in recent times the climate change at a global level is affecting, for example, my municipality before (it) had rain in full. Now there is hail, wind, there is drought, there is much heat. Something is happening in the world and (it) is a great concern.

On this program, we’ll examine some of the key indicators of Earth’s grave state and why we should take immediate action to reverse the current trend before it’s too late.

Satellite images taken by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center show that during the first three weeks of July 2011, Arctic ice melted at the fastest rate in recorded history, an astounding 120,000 square kilometers per day, or an area the size of the state of Pennsylvania, USA lost daily. Also, thawing permafrost in the Arctic region is releasing massive amounts of the deadly greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, threatening humanity’s future survival.

The concentrations of methane in Svalbard (Norway) are very high, and that is very worrisome. We are looking into what is the cause. It may be because the permafrost is thawing, and the methane is released, and if that is the case, it means that we are approaching such a "tipping point" and then it is very serious.

It means that we have put into action an accelerating process, a self-reinforcing process that makes global warming go even faster. So now there is much research trying to analyze the results of these measurements on Svalbard.

Scientists warn that if we continue our business-as-usual lifestyle, we won’t be able to lessen greenhouse-gas levels enough to limit the global temperature rise to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius as compared to pre-industrial levels. Preventing more than a 2 degree rise was the primary focus for leaders at the Copenhagen and Cancún climate change talks held in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Beyond this mark, extreme weather events occurring now will become even more extreme, coastal cities will disappear under the rising oceans and raging wildfires will become ever more frequent – to name just a few of the drastic consequences.

In the energy sector alone, 2010 carbon dioxide emissions were recorded at a staggering 30.6 gigatons, the highest level in history, and 80% of the forecast emissions for 2020 in this sector are already “locked in,” meaning they include the CO2 releases by power plants currently in operation and the carbon that will be emitted in 2020 by those plants currently under construction.

It's very worrisome. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing for every day that goes by, and the prospects of being able to keep within the two-degrees’ target is getting increasingly difficult. The demand for energy in the world is pointing straight up, and the UN climate panel says that emissions must begin to point down by 2015. It’s only four years left, so we are facing a tremendous challenge.

Rainforests, called the “lungs of the Earth,” play a vital role in absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide as well as providing oxygen and reducing environmental degradation. But deforestation to produce grazing land for livestock or fields to grow animal feed absolutely decimates these priceless carbon sinks.

Humans emit about a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year from deforestation. So one of the things we need to do as well as reduce the emissions from fossil fuel use is to reduce emissions from deforestation. And, for example, in the Amazon about 70% of deforestation is associated with converting forest to cattle pasture. So we need to get out of converting forest to cattle pasture and move away from that.

If the forests suffer, we suffer. By conserving forests, we strengthen our societies today and create the ecological and economic foundation that is essential for a secure future.

Preventing deforestation and sustainably managing forests does offer four significant advantages. First, we already know how to do it, so gains are a given. Second, it can have an immediate effect in reducing emissions. Third, it is one of the most cost-effective climate-change mitigation measures available. Fourth, it has multiple co-benefits, including soil conservation, flood control, and biodiversity protection. Such services are worth many billions of dollars. Protecting forests is vital for sustaining ecosystems and providing sustenance and income for more than a billion people.

We don’t have to wait for climate tipping points to be passed to see the real life effects of the climate-damaging activity of livestock raising. In the horrendously filthy, disease-ridden conditions of factory farms, antibiotics may be given to cattle to speed growth and keep animals alive until slaughter. The widespread abuse of these substances by the livestock industry has created extremely dangerous, drug-resistant pathogens called “super bugs.”

Since May 2011 in Europe, the deadly Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli have caused approximately 50 fatalities in the more than 4,000 cases reported. Scientists such as Dr. Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, a food safety professor at the University of Minnesota, USA point out that the ultimate cause of these infections is cattle.

Intensive farming relies very, very heavily on antibiotics, even today despite the (European Union) ban on the antibiotic growth promoters. This has a lot of consequences for human health, the main consequence being that antibiotic- resistant bacteria such as MRSA, salmonella or campylobacter develop resistance in farm animals and can then be transmitted to humans. If meat is handled, for instance, when it’s raw, the bacteria can get onto your hands, or even if it’s cooked incorrectly it can get into your gut.

The US government supports the livestock industry by providing it with over 60% of the country’s total agricultural subsidies, despite federal dietary recommendations about reducing meat and dairy consumption. Without these subsidies, the cheapest hamburger in the US would cost up to US$35.

I think that the majority of parliamentarians will support the idea to stop European subsidies for industrial farming, like pig farms which are thousands and thousands of pigs in one place. And we should change European common agriculture policy, we should support more natural farming, family farming, organic farming, and ecological farming.

I think it’s incredibly important that the MEPs (Members of European Parliament) recognize that factory farming is actually only profitable because they haven’t paid the true cost of their production system. Because it’s very, very damaging not only to the health of the animal, but actually it’s very polluting on the environment.

Policy is important to make behavior change. We know how fiscal policies can influence anyone in the world. You simply decide that cigarettes are bad for health and then you impose something like a 500% tax on tobacco. And you will see the impact on human behavior. I think that the incentive system to orient people towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable consumption patterns is key in terms of policy making.

Meat production is a huge burden on our Earth, since it requires immense amounts of greenhouse gas-producing inputs such as feed, fertilizer, fuel, and pesticides. Each year livestock worldwide are responsible for 37% of all humane induced methane emissions and 65% of all human caused releases of nitrous oxide.

The recently published study “Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health” by the US non-profit organization Environmental Working Group concludes that if all 300 million people in the US were to stop eating meat or cheese for one day a week for one year, the reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions would be equivalent to not driving 146.5-billion kilometers or eliminating 7.6 million cars from the roads.

The study also found that beef emits the equivalent of 27 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilogram consumed, while vegetable-protein sources such as beans, tofu and nuts emit approximately 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilogram eaten, or only 7.4% the amount of beef. So, adopting a plant-based diet greatly minimizes our impact on the climate and environment.

Actually, the consumption of meat, I think it is very bad for all these greenhouse gases, and also another way it is very terrible is because, first you are feeding them the crops and then you are getting their meat and then you are consuming that meat. You are losing a couple of cycles.

It’s better if the human being can practice direct (consumption) of vegetarian food; you will protect lots of crops and flora and fauna. Also at the end you reduce lots of (greenhouse gas) emissions. I think we should go for green. We should go for vegetarian food.

A study by the Rodale Institute in the US found that if organic farming practices were implemented on all tillable land worldwide, it would absorb and store approximately 40% of current CO2 emissions.

I used to be work at Humane Society in United States and one of the policies that I helped pass was eat lower on the food chain, and to the extent that people do that you will reduce the amount of carbon being used.

So between the organic movement, the local organic farmer’s markets, and eating lower on the food chain, trending toward vegetarianism and veganism clearly reduces the amount of carbon being used. There’s no question about it. And the numbers are huge because it’s not that any one individual eats that much, but all of us eat quite a bit.

I generally support this idea to consume less meat. I prefer vegetarian food. We should change behavior of the people and to promote a vegetarian way of consumption, because meat production is very expensive and not effective in the general balance of food.

How do we eliminate the livestock industry? The organic vegan diet is the answer. If the world embraces a benevolent, animal-free lifestyle, the industry’s destructive activities will end immediately, and emissions of toxic greenhouse gases will be significantly reduced, thus cooling our planet.

Eco-conscious viewers, thank you for joining us on this episode of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. May our world be forever blessed with abundant love and peace by Heaven.