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SUPREME MASTER CHING HAI ON THE ENVIRONMENT Stop Soil Erosion and Desertification: Make the Switch to the Animal-free Lifestyle - P2/3, A compilation of Supreme Master Ching Hai's lectures    
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Mexico has also been particularly affected by desertification, which you know is due in part to her arid climate, as well as what experts report is the effect of excessive cattle-raising and associated irrigation. In 2003, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that 70% of the land in Mexico was already vulnerable to desertification, a situation that he said was causing up to 900,000 of your fellow countrymen to have to leave their homes every year.

I repeat: it causes up to 900,000 of your fellow countrymen to have to leave their homes every year, with many going to seek better livelihoods in the United States, if they can find it. This astonishing number of nearly one million Mexican people per year came from a Mexican government report. I’m not making it up. It comes from your government report, which stated that soil conditions were too parched for citizens to support themselves and their families. Another study conducted last year found additional desertification, particularly in Oaxaca State.

So it could really be said, very regrettably, that your people are among the many today who must cope with the real and harsh status of “climate refugee.” These are just a few examples of how climate change is already taking its toll on the Mexican people. It’s real, it’s intensifying, it’s not abstract. And please remember, the number 1 cause behind it all is animal agriculture. People have to be informed fast.

However, the good news is that the way to end all this is truly even more real and quickly manifested than the problem itself, because each and every person can do something significant to stop global warming. And you know already what that is, right? Yes, the vegan diet. And here I say “vegan” rather than “vegetarian” because we also need to eliminate the eggs, dairy, and fish industry. These products are all part of the inhumane cruelty to the animals and the greenhouse gas production of the livestock industry that is destroying our planet. We can inform the people of all this.

The government should inform people of all this so that they can see that their lives and the lives of their loved ones are on the line due to climate change and livestock production. So, even if they can only think for themselves and their loved ones, they still need to take fast, preventive actions now to protect their children and families by turning to the vegan diet. But you see, we are not just victims: we are also the rescuers and part of the solution. If we stop the meat eating, we stop the animal consumption. We must all be vegan. There’s no other solution, I’m sorry. And the more people do so, the more it becomes like a popular trend. So in that way, it’s also easier for people to think beyond themselves when they see the positive results of changing.

The main thing is: switch away from meat, eggs, dairy, fish, meal by meal, day by day, and we will be living in a vegan paradise in no time.

A top Irish environmental economist, Dr. Richard Tol from the Economic and Social Research Unit of the Department of Economics, stated that if you are serious about reducing emissions in Ireland, there is no future for beef and dairy in the country. He also said that with Ireland failing to meet the target set out by the Kyoto agreement, that penalties are expected to run close to one billion euros a year in the lead-up to 2020. What alternatives do Irish farmers have to dairy and beef? We can turn to organic farming, and it’s easy, it’s simple, cost and water effective, and it’s ecologically, economically sound. It will absorb even 40% of CO2 if all the tillable lands are organically cultivated.

It could be more than that. According to the Kyoto agreement, if in any country where the farmers grow organic fruit and vegetables, then there would be no need to pay subsidies. Organic food and produce are grown and handled according to strict sustainable procedures, with limited chemical input or we could even use no chemical input at all. So, organic food, also GM-free (free of genetically modified organisms). Organic farming preserves topsoil. Chemically intensive practices are a key factor in the erosion of top soil. Scientists found that soils in organic plots were up to 60% more stable and are less prone to erosion. So, over one-third of Irish rivers are now polluted, mainly due to farm runoff; could be more than that, but we want to try to be conservative here.

Organic farming reduces toxic farming runoff and pollutants that contaminate our water, soil, and air as well. So organic farming is healthier for farm workers, the surrounding communities as well, and for natural wildlife. Now, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) considers 60% of all herbicides, weed killers, or 90% of all fungicides – that means mold killers – and 30% of all insecticides – that means insect killers – are potentially cancer-causing for humans and animals of course. Organic farming keeps harmful chemicals and pesticides out of the food that we eat and the beverage that we drink. So, farmers may apply for a grant from the Department of Agriculture, for up to a maximum of €60,000. So, organic sales in Ireland have increased, you see, by 82% already, reaching a value of 104 million in the year up to July 2008. Yes.

For Ireland to meet the Kyoto agreement target, they need to plant millions of trees so farmers can use their land to do that, and this will help to cool the world also. And forestry, it also adds to the beauty of the landscape, and that’s good for Ireland’s tourist industry.

We notice that in Africa most people do not show concern about the issue of global warming. They pinpoint Westerners as responsible for this calamity because of the large scale animal agriculture practiced there. What could you tell Africans to let them understand that the issue is a common threat and, therefore, it must be a common concern for all Earth’s inhabitants? What is the advice you would give us to motivate them to change their diet?

Well, I’m sorry that global warming does not spare anyone. Each person is responsible to do their best in awakening noble qualities in themselves to save the planet and, of course, their lives and the lives of their family. Also, Africa has not been spared the effects of global warming. As early as 1997, a United Nations document refers to desertification, which came from people removing the protective mangrove trees on the western coast of Africa. The reason was understandable: they need wood for fires and for home-building. However, the trees’ loss resulted in salt water contamination of crops and also a loss of coastal biodiversity.

While it may be true that other countries in the world are responsible for larger releases of greenhouse gases, there are also situations that are a direct cause and effect within Africa. Another situation that has had drastic effects within Africa is drought, but the biggest cause and effect is on an individual level, that is, meat consumption, or I should say meat, fish, or egg, milk consumption. This category of food, meaning animal products, is truly one of the biggest, or I shall say the biggest ever, contributor of global warming. The biggest contributor to global warming is the animal product industry. In terms of drought, you see, one serving of beef on average requires 1,200 gallons of water to produce, while an entire vegan meal takes only 98 gallons.

That is 12 times as much water to produce the same amount of energy from food – and in this I describe only the physical situation. Along with the physical is the reason behind, which is that we must switch to a more compassionate way of living in order to survive. At the same time, please remember that global warming is not about blame. We all have a shared planet and we have shared responsibility, and we all want it to be saved for every one of us. Just like in the human body, if one area is hurt, it will affect the whole body as well. So even if the injury came to Africa from another part of the world, we should all fix it because we want the entire body to be well again.

And that is very good for us to have such a noble intention, helping to save the world because every good deed helps balance the entire planet’s karma (retribution) – meaning the atmosphere, the energy. So that is the key, to be veg and spread the message of compassion, to let people know that they can really make a difference; and we each can through the choices we make in putting food on our plate. Please try to inform your people that peace and the survival of our planet begin at home, begin on our plate.
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