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Current Media Reports on Livestock Farming's Planet-wide Impacts    
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Greetings, environmentally aware viewers. Today, more and more people are realizing that meat consumption is exceedingly unsustainable, causing tremendous damage to our health and the environment. Meat and dairy production is the leading factor in deforestation, which alone causes about 20% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. But scientists recently have found that calculations of the carbon intensity of beef production, which drives the deforestation, may have been underestimated.

On March 7, the reputable research news source, ScienceDaily, explained in an article titled, “Brazilian Beef: Greater Impact on the Environment Than We Realize.”

“Increased export of Brazilian beef indirectly leads to deforestation in the Amazon. New research from Chalmers and [the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK)] in Sweden that was recently published in Environmental Science & Technology shows that impact on the climate is much greater than current estimates indicate. The researchers are now demanding that indirect effect on land be included when determining a product’s carbon footprint.

“If this aspect is not taken into consideration, there is a risk of the wrong signals being sent to policy makers and consumers, and we become guilty of underestimating the impact Brazilian beef has on the climate,” says Sverker Molander, Professor Environmental Systems Analysis and one of the researchers responsible for the article.

“In Brazil, beef production is the major cause of deforestation in the Amazon. The consequence is not only that valuable rainforest disappears – deforestation also adds to the greenhouse effect. When the carbon-rich forest is burned down to clear land for farming, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released. An estimated 60-70 per cent of the deforested land is used for cattle ranching.”

The Amazon rainforest is widely known as the lungs of the Earth, a vital producer of oxygen as well as a carbon sink that absorbs greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In addition, another vast region in Brazil, the Cerrado, is also extremely important – and likewise under threat due to the livestock industry. The Cerrado is half as large as the Amazon rainforest, covering a huge area of up to 21% of Brazil, equivalent to the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined. It is said to contain 5% of the world’s animal species as the world’s biologically richest savannah.

But according journalist Mr. Martin Hickman, writing on April 11 for the UK-based newspaper, “The Independent,” the Cerrado forest may be even more endangered than the Amazon. He wrote:

“What was, only a generation ago, an almost unbroken two million square kilometer mass of trees and bushes in central Brazil is now covered with fields of soy beans, waiting to be fed to pigs and chickens in Europe and China. Such has been the pace of conversion to agriculture that more than 50 per cent of the Cerrado has already been lost, threatening the future of some of the region's most charismatic animals.

After decades of conversion to cattle farming and agriculture, overwhelmingly soy, but also corn and coffee, only 20 per cent of pristine Cerrado remains, much fragmented between farmland. Inside the country, [the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)] is stressing the region’s role as the supplier of drinking water for the capital Brasilia.

Michael Becker, leader of WWF Brazil's Cerrado programme, said: “The Cerrado is very important for Brazil because it is the water basket; many Brazilian rivers begin in the Cerrado…” …Wildlife groups fear that soy production to meet rising global demand for meat has shifted from the Amazon rainforest to Brazil's lesser known interior. …WWF is hoping that consumers in Europe – which imports around 30 per cent of Brazil’s soy – will eat less meat to reduce environmental damage…”

There is a constant stream of research findings about the serious environmental impacts of meat production, ranging from biodiversity loss and global warming – as we have just seen – to excessive pollution. On April 10, BBC News’ environment analyst Mr. Roger Harrabin reported on a new study, which was the first of its kind assessing nitrogen pollution in Europe. The study found that livestock farming could shorten an average EU resident’s lifespan by six months.

“Nitrogen pollution from farms, vehicles, industry and waste treatment is costing the EU up to £280 billion (320 billion euros) a year, a report says. The study by 200 European experts says reactive nitrogen contributes to air pollution, fuels climate change and is estimated to shorten the life of the average resident by six months. Livestock farming is one of the biggest causes of nitrogen pollution, it adds. It calls for changes in farming and more controls on vehicles and industry. The problem would be greatly helped if less meat was consumed, the report says.

…Lead editor, Mark Sutton from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology near Edinburgh, told BBC News that 80% of the nitrogen in crops feeds livestock, not people. “It's much more efficient to obtain protein by eating plants rather than animals,” he said. “If we want to help the problem we can all do something by eating less meat. Eating meat is the dominant driver of the nitrogen cycle in Europe.”

The livestock industry is the most significant contributor to land degradation and water scarcity. In December 2010, a study was released by researchers at the University of Twente in The Netherlands for the Water Footprint Network, titled, “The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.” It carefully examined the amount of water required to produce both plant and animal protein products. The following is an excerpt of the report summary by the researchers for the science news site Physorg.com.

“For the first time, it has now been calculated how much fresh water is needed for the production of all common protein products. For a kilo of beef, for example, 15,000 liters are needed. Pork uses up 6,000 liters of water per kilo and chicken 4,300 liters. 4,000 liters of water are needed for a kilo of pulses, while a kilo of soya beans uses up 'just' 2,100 liters. Per gram of protein, meat has a water footprint that is 1.5 to 6 times larger than that for pulses. There are also great differences between animal and plant products when the water use per calorie is calculated.

Beef, for example, scores on average twenty times higher than grain or potatoes. The location where the livestock is raised also determines the water footprint… The water demands of livestock breeding in the western world can… contribute to water shortages elsewhere. For example, a number of rivers in China are drying up before they reach the sea, partly because of the irrigation of agricultural land where animal feed is grown.”

Climate change; food and water scarcity; pollution; the decline of wildlife ecosystems. The problems seem insurmountable – yet the solutions are known and well documented. In the Worldwatch Institute’s “State of the World 2011: Innovations That Nourish the Planet,” a report was published by esteemed US researcher, national bestselling author, and vegetarian Ms. Anna Lappé.

The following is an excerpt from her article titled “Climate Crisis on Our Plates” highlighting the important and effective solution to climate change through sustainable farming and eating habits.

“In side-by-side field trials over 30 years, the US-based Rodale Institute found that corn and soybeans raised with organic techniques stored more carbon in the soil year after year. In a review of these field trials, Cornell University professor David Pimentel found that the organic farming methods produced the same yields of corn and soybeans as did industrial farming, but they used 30% less energy, less water and no synthetic pesticides…

These findings, and similar results from research around the world, are remarkable, for they point to the potential of agriculture to help mitigate climate change. A 2008 UN Conference on Trade and Development and UN Environment Programme report concluded that “organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and ... is more likely to be sustainable in the long term.”

The [International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)] study, the University of Essex findings, the Rodale Institute’s conclusions and Mark Shepard’s abundant fields all point in one direction: If we are to continue to feed the planet - and feed it well - in the face of global climate chaos, we should be radically rethinking the industrial food system.

We can start with what is on our plates. We can make food choices in line with a climate-friendly diet. We can choose to eat foods from sustainable farms, reduce consumption of highly processed foods, and cut back - or cut out - meat and dairy that comes from factory farms.”

We appreciate the journalists, researchers, and media groups around the world who have been informing us of the links between our food choices and our planetary survival. May we all choose wise Earth-saving actions, with the foremost being the organic vegan diet. In an interview with the Irish Sunday Independent published in July 2009, Supreme Master Ching Hai expressed her appreciation to the media, who are in the indispensable role of alerting society to both climate change problems and solutions.

SM: So, with the vegan diet, we eat what’s best for our health, for the animals, for the environment, and nature will do the rest to restore the balance and save our world.

I thank you for such noble journalism as you are upholding, because we really need the media to propagate the new noble lifestyle to save our planet. And I thank you manifold for doing that. Thank you truly from my heart.

Thank you for joining us on today’s program. Coming up next is Words of Wisdom after Noteworthy News. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Blessed be your courageous and noble hearts.

The articles and reports featured in today’s program are available to read on the following websites:
trackback : http://www.suprememastertv.tv/bbs/tb.php/download/9782

 
 

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