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Supreme Master Ching Hai on the Environment: The True Solution for a Carbon-free Society -P4/4 Compilation of Supreme Master Ching Hai's lectures    
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: Supreme Master, here in Ireland, we are very concerned about our beautiful world and sincerely strive to do our bit to conserve it, and indeed to preserve the planet. What do you feel are the best ways that we can go about doing this, on an individual basis?

It’s like everywhere, Louise. But first of all, I commend Ireland for her leadership in improving our world, as the first country in Europe to implement a smoking ban in workplaces, and the Irish government is working hard to promote organic farming. Bravo. A lot of work must be done still to have a beautiful and healthy planet. We have to stop the planetary climate change, stop depleting our water supplies, stop deforestation, desertification, ocean pollution, river pollution, species extinction, etc., etc.

But all these can be accomplished to a vast degree and very quickly by individuals changing to an organic vegan diet. And the leading voices in global warming, like former US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mr. Al Gore and UK climate expert and economist Lord Nicholas Stern have also made statements that being vegetarian for the environment is important. As an individual, by choosing the organic vegan diet, we will save 1.5 tons of carbon emissions per year, which is more than the savings from driving a hybrid car for the whole year; we will save 5 to 10 times the amount of grains; and by not eating just one pound of beef, we save more water than by not showering daily for 6 months to a whole year!

Imagine! Yes. So, as a whole, we can shift our food system to organic – not to an “organic” animal system. My God! They use “organic” for everything. We have to switch to organic vegan diet because the “organic” animal system could even cause more emissions than the conventional way. For example, the Rodale Institute has found that 40% of the CO2 in the air can be absorbed if all the tillable land on the planet were organic vegan. So, in fact, one study calculated that the organic vegan diet saves 94%, Louise, of the greenhouse gas emissions per person per year!

That’s all we have to do, switch to organic vegan, 94% is saved per person and the little 6% nature can eat it up in no time. Because nature is also made to protect us, but we just overload nature. Moreover, if all the people in the world are veg, it would preserve the lives of over a billion fellow human beings suffering from hunger. There would be no more climate refugees, Louise. The Earth would heal itself and there would be more than enough for all the children to grow in health and safety. I am sure that this day will come Louise, very soon, as humankind joins hands to make it happen, just like we do now. Please have hope, Louise, and pray. (I do.)

I will ask the next question on behalf of Mr. Danyo Koami Hagbalé who is Chief Division Supervisor of Prefectures and Regions at the Ministry of Territorial Administration, and the question is: Charcoal is an energy source regularly used in Africa, mostly in household activities because it is cheaper compared to gas. However, its use has caused many parks to be deforested and not reforested, while the burning of charcoal also increases air pollution. Please, Master, could you give us advice about other energy sources that would be affordable and could help us avoid deforestation and air pollution?

Hallo, Monsieur Chief Danyo. Yes, I understand, and I am glad people such as yourself are concerned about preserving our forests. We must protect the trees as much as we can. According to the environmental organization Greenpeace, 8% of the Earth's forest-related carbon is stored in the vast rainforests of the Congo River Basin in Central Africa. Scientists predict that continued deforestation of the Congo will release the same amount of CO2 as the United Kingdom emitted over the last 60 years! Imagine that. So, it is important to preserve the forest while we still can because it helps in addressing global warming.

Another alternative that could be used to avoid deforestation is something called green charcoal, or biochar, which has been introduced in Senegal. This is made from agricultural waste products, is affordable and prevents deforestation. It also absorbs CO2 as well, which is why climate scientists support the use of it. It absorbs the CO2 very well. So this is one alternative. And, of course, if possible you can use a sustainable energy alternative such as a solar oven cooker, which is safer and causes no air pollution at all. So, these are just some examples of affordable energy sources we can try and share with one another. I’m sure there are more. You can do some internet research to see any better solution up to date.

But the most important and most urgent, once again, is the veg diet. V-E-G diet. This is the good deed that you can do to help save the planet as a whole, because this will most quickly reduce global warming. And it’s not just that. Truly, being veg is not just about reducing greenhouse gases, it is about stopping the suffering of the animals and their cruel inhuman mistreatment. We have to be a noble species. We have to be noble human beings. This is what it is all about. We have to stop inhumane treatment of animals.

And if we, in Africa, join together to be veg, we will be blessed by all the Heavens. I’m totally in support of the compassionate vegetarian solution that you lovingly propose. Could you explain further: is the organic vegan lifestyle the most effective solution to save the planet, and also a vision of a noble lifestyle in the future, when Earth merges with other enlightened beings in the galaxy? I’m glad to hear that you support the vegan solution. It is a true solution, yes, and it is the most effective way to save the planet. The reason is based on the significant planet-cooling effect of removing methane from the atmosphere, which happens when we switch to the organic vegan diet. And, besides removing the harmful methane emissions, organic tilling methods can actually store 40% of the carbon back into the soil. So to be veg is a way to not only eliminate significant emissions, but to absorb even more carbon from the atmosphere. The organic approach also does not apply harmful chemicals like the ones used for conventional farming. This is very reassuring for anyone who has children, especially as a recent study showed that young persons are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides. So, the organic vegan diet is multifold beneficial. Forests also play a tremendous role in absorbing CO2. For example, the forests in the Pacific Northwest region of the US are able to absorb half of all the emissions of the state of Oregon, USA. So we should protect our forests as well, especially from clearing for cattle grazing and for animal-feed growing, because these activities even add back many times more greenhouse gases. Most of the deforestation in our world is due to animal raising, taking up a staggering one-third of the entire land area on the globe! Now, you ask about a vision of Earth merging with others in the galaxy – that’s a big vision. We only need to look at our own neighboring planets, Mars and Venus, to see that the vision is bleak, is disastrous, ##if we don’t make the right choice, the right change now. Any planetary scientist knows that Mars and Venus went through dramatic atmospheric changes in the past, similar to what we have begun to experience right now. Long ago, Mars and Venus were once a lot like our planet – they had water, life, and people similar to us - but the inhabitants of Mars and Venus destroyed their respective planetary homes because they raised too much livestock, and the gases released triggered an irreversible greenhouse gas effect, plus poisonous hydrogen sulfide in the case of Mars. So, that’s why we see only the traces of the landforms and oceans that once used to be there. And on Venus, the atmosphere is so heated and choked up with CO2 – carbon dioxide – scientists thus called it “runaway global warming” and say this is what the future of Earth might be like. So, let’s not end up like either Mars or Venus, our neighboring planets. Also, once we stop the killing, then we will generate a more loving, kind, and inviting atmosphere for other noble beings in the galaxy to perhaps join us or be in contact with us. But, regardless of the contact with other beings, humanity must uphold a gentler, higher standard for the Earth to continue supporting life. This greater virtue is absolutely necessary for the conscience to be at peace. So, beyond the physical consideration of things like methane gas and toxic chemicals, there is also the spiritual consequence of killing. Killing is stealing life, the most precious gift to any physical being. Animals are killed for meat consumption in the cruelest ways imaginable. That makes us humans the cruelest beings on the planet. We are the cruelest beings on the planet. I don’t know if we should call ourselves civilized, great beings. The degrading practice of killing must stop. The killing must stop and we replace it by virtuous ways of life that are also peaceful and kind. If all of humanity turns to such a standard, this world will be transformed indeed, heralding a true Golden Age of harmony and happiness for all beings. Let’s pray that it will be so.
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