Connecting the dots: animal exploitation and climate change

Scoop Independent News

There is a growing body of evidence which shows that if the human race is to survive sustainably on this planet, it has to acknowledge the connection between humans, animals and the climate. An article published in the latest Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work journal, titled “For the future of all life, the Code of Ethics is the key” is the most recent piece.

In the article the authors, Kerstin and Alina Hagena and Luis Alevero, “suggest that animal rights, the natural environment, climate change, and humanity’s permanency have intersected and are now a united single strand”. The opinion piece goes on to talk about how animal agriculture is “causing untold damage
to the environment through enormous deforestation, using most of the world’s water, causing soil erosion and pumping huge amounts of emissions into the air. It is causing the death of, worldwide, billions of innocent sentient non-human beings and, but not specifically mentioned earlier, it would be greatly contributing to rising sea levels that will cause the permanent displacement of entire island nations and with it the absolute destruction of entire cultures”

Many people experience food poverty in Aotearoa, where the toll of child poverty means lower income families end up with reduced educational outcomes. Those less educated end up with lower incomes and then they buy cheap, processed, unhealthy foods, which affects their ability to learn and helps create a poverty cycle.

The science says that animal agriculture is driving climate change through deforestation (14% of global forests), land use (85% of global farmland), water use (16% of global freshwater), pollution of waterways, use of fossil fuels, production of the highly noxious greenhouse gas methane and loss of biodiversity. All of this impacts climate change negatively, yet it could be changed within one year by stopping animal agriculture.

Yet the data shows that if all the fertile land was used to grow plants to feed humans, far less land would be needed than is currently in use. One third of the global grain produced feeds animals. It would be possible to eliminate food poverty worldwide through a plant-based diet for all. Forests could be replanted, wildlife would come back into balance, as their habitats increased again. Waterways would become clean again, as the land above was protected from harm by chemicals.

The Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 stated the right of all humans to water, food, clothing, shelter and healthcare. It is surely possible with the current resources to ensure this, by putting the planet’s resources into a plant-based economy. A new world is possible, one where every human is fed, clothed, sheltered and educated, one where animals are seen as precious friends, who have as much right to live as humans. The planet herself would have protection from those taking resources beyond sustainability. Humans would live happier lives, being more in balance with nature.


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