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Animals, food and climate change: an analysis of different responses to the environmental costs of factory farms by Rachel York-Bridgers and Paul York.

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Presentation on theme: "Animals, food and climate change: an analysis of different responses to the environmental costs of factory farms by Rachel York-Bridgers and Paul York."— Presentation transcript:

1 Animals, food and climate change: an analysis of different responses to the environmental costs of factory farms by Rachel York-Bridgers and Paul York

2 Two most significant ways that animals and climate change intersect Biodiversity loss / mass extinction (includes loss of ocean ecosystems, e.g.coral reef bleaching, habitat destruction of Amazon rainforst, pine beetles, loss of Arctic biodiversity, death of oceans, etc.) Animals as food, e.g. factory farms (CAFOs) Both are moral, as well as social and political issues that challenge us to think biocentrically

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4 Shark extinction as a municipal issue: global concerns require local action

5 Biocentric vs. anthropocentric cosmologies / worldviews Ancient cosmologies, (e.g. Mother Earth religions) Thomas Berry’s “Ecozoic Era” -- movement away from anthropocentric industrialization / paradigm of unlimited economic growth, via education, religion, government, business, to biocentric worldview, inclusive of nature and animals. The universe not as a “collection of objects, but as a communion of subjects.” Entering into a respectful relationship with animals. Principle of universalizability. Marc Bekoff: compassion tied to ethical response to climate change – “increase your compassion footprint”

6 “ The meat industry is one of the most significant contributors to today ’ s most serious environmental problems and urgent action is required to remedy the situation. ” - Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO ’ s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the United Nations report Livestock’s Long Shadow

7 The environmental costs of CAFOs Greenhouse gas emissions  global warming Fossil fuel consumption Deforestation  biodiversity loss, loss of carbon sinks Land degradation on feedlots Water overconsumption (largely grain production) Water and air contamination (tailing ponds, runoff) Biodiversity loss (thro’ industrial grain production) Cost to human health (toxins, diseases, pandemics) Cost to animals (approx. 58 billion killed, annually) Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow, FAO/U.N., 2006

8 Greenhouse gas emissions: 18% from industrial grain production, pesticides, fossil fuel use in production and transportation, methane from animals Animal agriculture generates 65 percent of all human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure. It also accounts for 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times the GWO of CO2), produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of all ammonia, which contributes to acid rain.

9 Biodiversity Loss / Deforestation Deforestation: Livestock expansion is cited as a key factor driving deforestation, in the Amazon basin 70% of previously forested area is now occupied by pastures and the remainder used for feedcrops. Biodiversity: Livestock ’ s presence in vast tracts of land and its demand for feed crops also contribute to biodiversity loss; 15 out of 24 important ecosystem services are assessed as in decline, with livestock identified as a culprit. Marine life: Livestock are estimated to be the main inland source of phosphorous and nitrogen contamination of the South China Sea, contributing to biodiversity loss in marine ecosystems.

10 Water consumption Data Source: Marcia Kreith, Water Inputs in California Food Production, Water Education Foundation, September, 1991 (chart E3 p28) Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above and below ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are use for the production of feed.

11 Water contamination Human disease. Animal waste contains disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform, which can be 10 to 100 times more concentrated than in human waste. More than 40 diseases can be transferred to humans through manure. Biodiversity. Huge open-air waste lagoons, often as big as several football fields, are prone to leaks and spills. In 1995 an eight-acre hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina burst, spilling 25 million gallons of manure into the New River. The spill killed about 10 million fish and closed 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shellfishing.

12 Animal waste contains disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform, which can be 10 to 100 times more concentrated than in human waste. More than 40 diseases can be transferred to humans through manure. In May 2000, 1,300 cases of gastroenteritis were reported, and six people died as the result of E. coli contaminating drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario. Health authorities determined that the most likely source was cattle manure runoff. Poorly managed CAFOs and overgrazing is the leading cause of river and stream impairment and the second leading cause of impairment in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs (National Water Quality Inventory, 2002) California officials identify agriculture, including cows, as the major source of nitrate pollution in more than 100,000 square miles of polluted groundwater. Huge open-air waste lagoons, often as big as several football fields, are prone to leaks and spills. In 1995 an eight-acre hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina burst, spilling 25 million gallons of manure into the New River. The spill killed about 10 million fish and closed 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shellfishing. From 1995 to 1998, 1,000 spills or pollution incidents occurred at livestock feedlots in 10 states and 200 manure-related fish kills resulted in the death of 13 million fish. Water contamination cont’d

13 When Hurricane Floyd hit North Carolina in 1999, at least five manure lagoons burst and approximately 47 lagoons were completely flooded. Runoff of chicken and hog waste from factory farms in Maryland and North Carolina is believed to have contributed to outbreaks of Pfiesteria piscicida, killing millions of fish and causing skin irritation, short-term memory loss and other cognitive problems in local people. In Oklahoma, nitrates from Seaboard Farms' hog operations contaminated drinking water wells, prompting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue an emergency order in June 2001 requiring the company to provide safe drinking water to area residents. In 1996 the Centers for Disease Control established a link between spontaneous abortions and high nitrate levels in Indiana drinking water wells located close to feedlots. High levels of nitrates in drinking water also increase the risk of methemoglobinemia, or "blue-baby syndrome," which can kill infants. In this country, roughly 29 million pounds of antibiotics -- about 80 percent of the nation's antibiotics use in total -- are added to animal feed every year to speed livestock growth. This widespread use of antibiotics on animals contributes to the rise of resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat human illnesses. Large hog farms emit hydrogen sulfide, a gas that most often causes flu-like symptoms in humans, but at high concentrations can lead to brain damage. In 1998, the National Institute of Health reported that 19 people died as a result of hydrogen sulfide emissions from manure pits

14 Land use efficiency; land degradation About 20 percent of pastures are considered degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. This also contributes to desertification in some regions of the world.

15 Human health costs Heart disease, cancers Illness from water contamination Risk of global pandemics There is a relationship between animal protein and heart disease. Red meat is not the only problem. The consumption of chicken and fish is also linked to colon cancer. The risk of developing stomach cancer rose by 15 to 38 percent if consumption of processed meats increased by 30 grams (1 ounce) per day. – Gerald Pugliese, The Meat-Disease Connection, 2006

16 Cost to animals 58 billion per year killed; unimaginable suffering; loss of most basic liberties (e.g. ability to move, turn around); grief at loss of loved ones; terror; despair.

17 Four Major Responses 1. Pro-animal solutions (vegan/vegetarian / meat reduction) – Sees nonhuman animals as fellow Earthlings, not as food – Critical of CAFOs. Proposes diet change. Three variants on the solution: (i) meat reduction (e.g. Meat Free Monday); (ii) vegetarian diet (e.g. Toronto Vegetarian Association); (iii) vegan diet (e.g. Vegan Outreach) 2. Silence: no mention of CAFOs – Sees nonhuman animals as food. – Does not address issue of animal agriculture as a major contributing factor in climate change. Example: many environmental NGOs 3. Local omnivore solution (e.g. grass-feed beef) – Sees nonhuman animals as food. – Critical of CAFOs; propose consumption of local organic grass- fed cows and free-range chickens as a solution. Example: WWF 4. Technological solution – Sees nonhuman animals as food. – Accepting of CAFOs; proposes technological solutions to mitigate environmental costs (e.g. engineer a less flatulent cow).

18 Some questions we want to explore Why do many environmental, climate justice, food equity and food justice groups opt for Option 2, 3, 4, all of which regard animals as food? Why do they distance themselves from vegetarian and vegan solutions? How can we account for and understand the difference between the pro-animal and the local omnivore solutions? How do they compare? Can they be reconciled? Can movements for social and political reform work together on points of agreement? Specifically, it is possible for environmental and animal rights movements to work together to end factory farming, even if they do not agree on the solutions?

19 Position 1: Pro-animal /Veg*n

20 Vegetarian / Vegan solutions

21 Meat-reduction solution “UN says eat less meat to curb global warming: Climate expert urges radical shift in diet” – The Observer, Sept. 7, 2008 Paul McCartney backs 'Meat Free Monday' to cut carbon emissions” – UK Guardian, June 15, 2009

22 Analysis of pro-animal solutions Philosophically, aligned with ethical individualism Environmental concern often secondary, and used to support the animal rights position (e.g. PETA) Focused on behavioral change (not structural or technological change) Not widely accepted by dominant society

23 An example of deliberate silence Toronto Climate Campaign “Here are some of the things people across our city are working on: community gardens, bike lanes, solar hot water heating panels [list continues]... eating less meat (or becoming vegetarian).” Reply: "The sponsoring groups do not have a consensus position on eating meat. I would leave that out. Perhaps replace it with more support for public transportation." Second comment, in reply to the first: "UNEP has come out strongly in favour of reducing meat consumption, as has the IPCC. That’s not even contentious. If the UN can agree to this surely our group of climate activists can agree on this one. If not, I’d like to hear why not.” No response.

24 Position 2: Silence on the issue of the environmental costs of CAFOs, and the plight of animals – Toronto Climate Campaign – 350.org – Climate Action Network – World Preservation Campaign – Blue W ater Network – Center For a New A merican Dream – Earth R ights International – Environmental Working G roup – World R esources Institute – PEW Foundation – Act for the Earth

25 Additional examples of silence Green Party climate change conference, Toronto 2010 PBS documentary on climate change, HBO Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth Green Education Council

26 No Statement on GHGS, Factory farms, or Veg*n Small statement on factory farms; prescribes reduced meat-eating or grassfed, free-range options; no campaign Larger statement, or series of statements, or campaign for reduced meat-eating and/or grass fed, etc. Some options. Complete rejection of all animal products: environmental and AR grounds Grassroots: TO Climate Campaign ENGO’ s 1.Climate Action network 2.WWF 3.World Preservation campaign 4. Blue water network 5. Center for a new american dream 6. Earth rights international 7.Environmental working group 8.World resources institute 9. PEW 10. Act for the Earth 11. Earthroots 12. Green Education Council 1.Sierra Club 2. Greenpeace 3. Earthjustice 4. Environmental Defense fund 5. National wildlife federation 6. NRDC org 2.Friends of the earth 3.Worldwatch institute 1.Global Action Network 2. PETA Authors Sara EltonDavid Suzuki George Monbiot Michael Pollan Wayne Robert Wendell Berry George Wuerthner Food groups : Foodshare The Stop Documentarie s PBS on climate change Climate scientists Danny Harvey Civic, activists groups Toronto Climate Campaign UTCARE Animal liberation front Comparison chart

27 No Statement on GHGS, Factory farms, or Veg*n Small statement against factory farms, or prescribes reduced meat-eating or grassfed,organic free- range options; no campaign Larger statement, or series of statements, or campaign for reduced meat-eating and/or grass fed, etc. Some options. Complete rejection of all animal products: environmental and AR grounds Grassroots: TO Climate Campaign Earthroots ENGO’ s 1.Climate Action network 2.WWF 3.World Preservation campaign 4. Blue water network 5. Center for a new american dream 6. Earth rights international 7.Environmental working group 8.World resources institute 9. PEW 10. Act for the Earth 1 1.Sierra Club 2. Greenpeace 3. Earthjustice 4. Environmental Defense fund 5. National wildlife federation 6. NRDC org 2.Friends of the earth 3.Worldwatch institute 1.Global Action Network 2. PETA Authors Sarah EltonDavid Suzuki George Monbiot George Wuerthner Food groups : Foodshare The Stop Documentaries PBS Climate scientists Danny Harvey Civic, activists groups Toronto Climate Campaign Ark II

28 Analysis of silence Different philosophical foundation: ethical holism (naturalistic argument); view of animals as food Charge of speciesism; cultural bias? Decision-makers in the group are meat-eaters? Fear of losing public support and funding? Attempt to appeal to the widest possible audience Focus on policy issues, not behavioral change Focus on energy issues, as fossil fuels are the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions Exclusion of domestic animals from environmental analysis: non-universalizable definition of sustainability

29 Defining sustainability Potentially exclusive definition: maintains and contributes to the integrity and well-being and proper functioning of the ecological system (e.g. Leopold’s land ethic) More inclusive definition: any cooperative construct that protects and/or enables universal access to life goods. i.e. – universalizable, taking all individuals into account The inclusive definition can be anthropocentric, excluding animals (not truly universal); or inclusive of animals (an extension of ethical individualism to all individuals). Key concept: universalizability (Kant)

30 Position 3: Local omnivore solution grass-fed, local, free-range, organic, etc. Popular environmental authors who advocate this solution: – George Monbiot – Wendell Berry – Wayne Roberts – Michael Pollan – David Suzuki – Lierre Keith

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32 Three major ethical positions: anthropocentrism ethical holism (e.g. land ethic) ethical individualism (e.g. animal rights)

33 Anthropocentrism Puts human interests foremost, views nature and animals instrumentally. There are two types: sustainable and unsustainable. Sustainable anthropocentrism advocates sustainable management of resources. (e.g. Herman Daly) Unsustainable anthropocentrism advocates endless economic growth (e.g. Julian Simon). This difference depends on how human health and well-being are viewed, and recognition of the finitude of natural resources. Neither position would favour the pro-animal position on CAFOs. Anthropocentrism is subject to criticism as being speciesist.

34 Ethical holism Gives priority to the natural system and puts the “biotic community” first (Leopold). Nature has inherent value. Human beings are not superior to other creatures in the biotic system. The criticism of this ethic is that it is prone to “environmental fascism” (Tom Regan). The local omnivore solution to CAFOs is vulnerable to that criticism, if the local farm is viewed as an extension of nature, and farm animals are thus viewed as expendable within that system.

35 Analysis of local omnivore solution Very popular with non-vegan environmentalists. Unregulated and increasingly corporatized, in danger of greenwash. The environmental benefits are clearly superior to CAFOs, but not necessarily superior to veganism ; the jury is out on this question. Ethical analysis: not inclusive of animals, speciesist. Philosophically, it rests on ethical holism and the land ethic. Question: Is a synthesis with ethical individualism, which takes the interests of animals in account, possible?

36 Ethical individualism Gives priority to the individual. This could be mean human beings and/or nonhuman animals as well (e.g. animal rights). This ethic is most closely aligned with pro-animal position. Both anthropocentricism and ethical holism can be critical of this ethic, as ignoring either human interests or the interests of the biotic community.

37 Debate between animals rights and local omnivore positions Crucial distinction between a technical argument (how sustainable is each position) and ethical arguments (moral considerability of animals, i.e. inclusive sustainability). Examples of technical criticisms of the local omnivore solution: Worldwatch Institute, PETA Ethical criticism: animal ethicists -Regan, et al. The case for the moral considerability of animals is often compared to moral case against racism. It rests on Darwin’s discovery that humans and nonhumans are different in degree, not type.

38 Local omnivore solution relies on the “lesser of two evils” argument Essence of the argument: given the choice of factory farming and local farming, local is better, because people will eat meat anyway. Response from AR position: there is a 3 rd option – behavioral change: pro-animal solutions.

39 . There appears to be an irreconcilable difference between the pro-animal and local omnivore positions, and their corresponding political movements, environmentalism and animal rights, regarding the moral considerability of animals. Can this be resolved? Two philosophical resolutions: (i) “moral pluralism” (Don Marietta). There can be more than one ethic employed in complex moral situations. The interests of the individual (individualism) and the interests of the natural system (holism) could be consistent in some situations. (ii) “indirect holism” (Jon Moline): holism as a guiding principle, not a direct duty. This is very similar to the idea of the “regulative” interpretation (Kant). This train of thought is potentially important for helping to bridge environmental and animal rights movements.

40 Sustainable anthropocentrism and the pro-animal position also seem at odds. However, if we subscribe to moral pluralism and regulative interpretation, they can be seen as reconcilable. It is in humanity’s best interests to not exploit animals, for several reasons: (i) individual human health (prevent diseases linked to meat consumption); (ii) global human health (prevent pandemics); (iii) environmental (mitigate global warming; save water, etc); (iv) mitigate the mass extinction, which will have adverse effects on humanity (E.O. Wilson) (v) ethical argument- “indirect duties to man” (Kant) This is important because most of the social and political movements for climate justice, food justice, water justice, human rights, etc. draw inspiration from sustainable anthropocentrism. To be able to illustrate that animal and human interests are consistent may help to bring human-centered environmental justice and pro-animal movements together, politically.

41 Position 4: Technological solution Basic premise: the environmental problems caused by CAFOs can be solved technically: “The overall impact of livestock activities on the environment is enormous. Part of the damage can be offset by applying scientific knowledge and technological capability for dealing with these problems.” – Livestock’s Long Shadow, 2006, page 5

42 Examples of technological solution Researchers in Australia are looking into the possibility of reducing methane from cattle and sheep by introducing digestive bacteria from kangaroo intestines into livestock. A research team at Obihieo University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Hokkaido found that supplementing the animals' diet with cysteine, a type of amino acid, and nitrate can reduce the methane gas produced, without jeopardizing the cattle's productivity or the quality of their meat and milk.

43 Analysis of technological solutions 1) Lack of regulation, danger of greenwash; an attempt to maintain the status quo; a narrow focus which ignores the operation of natural systems; legitimizes continuation of ultimately unsustainable and unethical CAFOs “Big Beef wants to cash in as well... the beef industry is stamping the “grass-fed” label on cattle that have actually been fed grain nearly their entire lives... Some producers even feeding feedlot-confined animals with hay and corn stalks and other agricultural leftovers, then labeling them as "grass- fed." The new standard is voluntary …” - Worldwatch Institute, “Of course "grass-fed" beef doesn’'t mean "grain-fed"!”

44 Example: Sustainable beef conference with corporate beef producers Cargill and JBS, as well as World Wildlife Federation, McDonalds, Wal-Mart, et al

45 Critiques of technique / technologism Technological sustainability vs. ecological sustainability – David Orr Prescriptive vs. holistic technologies – Ursuala Franklin. The modern age subscribes to an “Enlightenment faith” in science and technology through knowledge of and mastery over nature – George Grant Nature is infinitely complex, unpredictable, ultimately unknowable; technological solutions operate within the paradigm of technique and cannot imagine solutions outside that paradigm – Jaques Ellul Technique reduces ethics to gambling – Zymunt Bauman, Hans Jonas Technique reduces ethics to risk management – Lawrence Schmidt Synthesis: technological solutions are not ecologically sustainable; they seek mastery over nature; they do not take into account the unpredictability of nature; they gamble with the life systems of Earth and apply a cost-benefit analysis in risks the possibility of life on Earth for the sake of producing meat for profit.

46 Movement building goals Need to indentify common educational and policy goals. Potential of animal rights, environmental and human rights movements to strengthen one another against a common problem: CAFOs. GOALS: Behavioural change: elimination of consumption of animal products. Social and political reforms to end CAFOs. Greater dialogue between reform movements. Adopt pluralist models for movements.

47 Examples of integrative approaches Supreme Master Television: marries pro-animal position with environmental concern Thomas Berry’s spiritual / cosmological approach:“the universe is a communion of subjects” Jay B. McDaniel’s pro-animal pro-environment theology Albert Schweitzer: “reverence for life” What all these integrative models point to is the practical advantage of having what Berry calls a “functional cosmology” which marries a pro-environment ontology with an ethical framework. However, modern society, characterized by liberal individualism does not have such a cosmology, according to Alisdair MacIntyre. This has led to the situation where we have different ethical systems which no one pays any attention to, and the default position is the will of large corporations, and the paradigm of endless economic growth and technological progress (not ethical concern for the human or animal other).

48 Conclusions re: use of animals In the technical debate over emissions, between the local omnivore and pro-animal positions, the jury is still out. It can be decided by a technical calculation of GHGs, water use, etc. (e.g. methane emissions higher in grass-fed cows 4x vs. carbon sequestration in soil: grass-fed cows as a carbon sinks). Ethically speaking, animal rights ethicists have won the debate, but politically they have lost it, as the omnivore solution grows more popular and CAFOs expand, and co-opt the grass-fed beef label. Anthropocentric and holistic positions are best served by ending CAFOs. However, CAFOs are increasing in number and size worldwide. Ultimately, this growth is not sustainable and will eventually collapse due to climate change, peak oil and finite resource depletion, thereby forcing humanity to adopt a combination of scenarios -- by default, not voluntary choice.

49 The big picture


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