Our Shared Environment 2017-01-09T18:06:14+00:00

Our Shared Environment

The human species has the ability and population to impact the entire earth as never before. Our ancestors from at least a million years ago simply didn’t have the population and technology to do so.

“Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work”

Oppenlander, R (2013) Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Langdon St Press. USA.

planet


The human species has the ability and population to impact the entire earth as never before. Our ancestors from at least a million years ago simply didn’t have the population and technology to do so.

In a relatively short period of time, since we domesticated other animals around 12,000 years ago, and since the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, humans have rapidly occupied an increasing amount of the planet’s surface, displacing other species and destroying their ecosystems in the process. We have usurped and sullied the resources that they require for survival.

As a direct result of human behaviour, other species are going extinct at a rate that far exceeds the natural rate of one to five species a year. Vertebrates are going extinct at a rate of at least a hundred times the background rate and estimates for non-vertebrate species are one thousand to ten thousand times the natural background rate, as indicated by the fossil records and other evidence. We have now entered the Sixth Mass Extinction.

For the first time in Earth’s history, a mass extinction is not being caused by a meteor strike or geologic forces like massive eruptions; this one is being caused by humans.

One would never guess the seriousness of the situation by observing our Western World lifestyles. In Ireland we live as if we had the resources of more than three planets at our disposal.

cow and calf affection

One of the most significant contributors to planetary destruction is our use of other animals. Animal agriculture accounts for, at a conservative estimate, 14.5% (UN-FAO 2013-2014) of Green House Gas Emissions. One study places this figure as high as 51% (Goodland & Anhang, 2009). Regardless of the number, this needs immediate attention. Not only are our lifestyles causing Climate Change, but our use of other animals for food is also putting the water and land resources of the planet under severe threat.

The best film resource to date on the link between animal agriculture and destruction of the natural environment is Cowspiracy, released in 2015. There is  an accompanying book The Sustainability Secret. Cowspiracy is available to download or to watch on Netflix.

The best book source is Dr Richard Oppenlander’s Food Choice and Sustainability. It covers all aspects of global depletion related to animal agriculture, offers unique perspectives on the disconnect that causes such unnecessary devastation including  the state of our oceans and sea life, world hunger, permaculture/land use inefficiencies, fresh water scarcity, fallacies with food movements, detailed discussions on climate change, and insights into loss of biodiversity.

Another excellent reference is source Dr Oppenlander’s first book Comfortably Unaware.


Be careful not to ‘scapegoat’ cows. Whenever there is a furore in the media about cow flesh, whether it pertains to harm to the environment, or to human health from BSE or its association with cancer, people tend to replace ‘beef’ with chickens and fishes. Chickens and fishes have smaller bodies. Significantly more of them are harmed when people view them as food or appropriate replacements for cow flesh. As Cowspiracy points out, all animal use is unjustifiable.


Vegetable garden

The most important action that all of us, as empowered individuals, can take to limit the damage we are causing the natural world is to go vegan. We owe it to the other humans who are greatly impacted by climate change and planetary destruction, although their lifestyles contribute less to the destruction than our Western lifestyles. We owe it to our children. We owe it to the billions of other lifeforms who exist alongside us and who have as much right to be here as humans.

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