Thursday, November 22, 2007

If slaughterhouses had glass walls...

As millions of roasted turkey carcasses go on tables around the country, it's worth considering the relationship between the consumption of animal flesh and global warming. Those environmentalists who don't fall among the ranks of vegans or vegetarians (vegans number somewhere around 1 to 2.8 percent of the population by some estimates) have some explaining to do. As Bill Maher said in a recent column posted on Common Dreams:

Former Vice President Al Gore should be the first to take the meat-free Thanksgiving pledge. Since raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined, is it too much ask Mr. Gore to stop gazing at his Oscar and his Nobel Prize long enough to read the United Nations report that calls the meat industry “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”? has more to say on the topic:
Scientists also warn that global warming threatens the lives of millions of humans and countless other animals. Many conscientious people are trying to help reduce global warming by driving more fuel-efficient cars and using energy-saving light bulbs. Although this helps, science shows that going vegetarian is perhaps the most effective way to fight global warming.

In a groundbreaking 2006 report, the United Nations (U.N.) said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld reported that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.

As Paul McCartney once commented, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." Most people would rather fight off a hungry shark with their bare fists than consider dropping meat products from their diet, but someday maybe the notion will enter the popular consciousness: eating meat dramatically escalates global warming risks.