“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.
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.
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.