CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS
from past issues, most recent at the top
read the complete latest issue of IVU Online News
for more in-depth articles see Meat Eating and Global Warming
Meatless Mondays To Begin in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Led by IVU member society, Vegetarian Society of Brazil (SVB), one of the world’s largest cities, Sao Paulo, with 11 million inhabitants, kicks off a Meatless Mondays campaign on 3-4 October: www.svb.org.br/segundasemcarne
The kick off to Meatless Mondays involves seminars, food demonstrations and a big event in the city’s main park, Ibirapuera. Four stations will be set up in the park, Health, Environment, Ethics and New Tastes, each one symbolized by one of the ‘toys’ of the campaign (pictured above).
SVB is launching Meatless Mondays in partnership with the Sao Paulo city government’s Green and Environment Department, along with NGOs, such as Greenpeace and Slow Food. Plus, another Brazilian city is joining the campaign, Sao Lourenço da Serra. The mayor there is vegetarian and a SVB member. Congratulations!
Update on Meatless Thursdays in Belgium
Ghent, Belgium has the distinction of being the world's first city to have a Meatless Day. We asked Tobias Leenaert of the Belgian organisation EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative) for more on what’s happening there.
Please tell us the history of how Meatless Thursday came to be. What was your society's role in making this happen?
EVA started its "Thursday Veggie Day" campaign at the end of 2007. Last year, we managed to convince IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) chairperson, Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri, to come to Ghent and give a talk about meat and global warming: www.evana.org/index.php?id=36895&lang=en
Tom Balthazar, the Ghent councilman responsible for the environment, was there, and, after that, he became more and more convinced of the importance of meat reduction. We made contact with two of his staff who were also enthusiastic, and we suggested that they ask Balthazar if he would be prepared to officially proclaim Thursdays to be veggie days in Ghent. Apparently, he didn't need much convincing, and he managed to get his colleagues on the executive council of the city to go along with him.
How does the city government support the Meatless Thursdays? Is it just lip service?
The city supports the campaign in several ways: we receive financial support; several city employees have already spent many days on the campaign; we have developed and distributed campaign materials together; we organized the launch event together; and from October, 2009 onwards, city funded schools will have vegetarian dishes by default on Thursday. The latter was decided by the councilman for the environment. So no, it’s definitely not just lip service.
What is the public reaction? What percentage of people would you estimate are reducing their meat consumption?
We haven't done any research yet; we plan to that in October. But so far we have heard many, many positive comments, and many people tell us they are participating.
Are other Belgian cities or towns thinking of following Ghent's example?
The town of Hasselt has already declared that it will start in October. There have also been some other towns expressing an interest, and we will start working on the bigger cities, like Antwerp and Brussels. Internationally, Sao Paulo, Brazil is already convinced, and they're working on it in France, UK, Austria, Israel, etc.
Has your organisation grown as a result of the success of Veggie Day?
We have certainly received a lot of attention and inquiries, and we have attracted new advertisers and interested potential partners. We recently also received a national sustainability award. I can feel that the whole campaign has brought us a lot of recognition and that the road is wide open for further growth. We have also received a lot of international inquiries from sister organisations all over, and it's particularly rewarding to see that our campaign has inspired other people.
What is being planned to broaden and deepen Veggie Day?
We are now trying to organize something on the European level, and are checking if we can collaborate with the Meatless Monday campaign by Paul McCartney. We are also getting the support again of Dr. Pachauri, who will urge other cities to follow Ghent's example. www.vegetarisme.be/. . . article&id=792 Furthermore, we want to make sure Ghent succeeds as a pilot city and serves as an example for other cities to follow.
Any advice for organisations hoping to do something similar?
My main advice would be to take this from the environmental and health angle, not from an animal rights angle. The meat reduction angle is also much more successful than the all-or-nothing vegetarian angle. Obviously, it's good to present the benefits for the city or the city official involved. Make them concrete (CO2 saved, health benefits…). In general, I think it is fruitful to work at a city level rather than a national level.
Some material can be found at www.vegetarisme.be/ghent People are also welcome to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Sweden: Draft Guidelines Urge Citizens To Eat Less Meat
Momentum towards eating less meat grew recently when the Swedish government issued draft guidelines suggesting that people can reduce global warming by cutting back on meat: www.slv.se/. . .food_choices_proposal. . .pdf
www.ciwf.org.uk/. . . /visionary_sweden.aspx
However, a Swedish vegetarian who used to live in Singapore is sceptical:
The text is very vague. It puts all the work on the reader (=public) to reduce the carbon footprint, while it offers no legislation/taxes/subsidies to facilitate this effort. I suspect very little will change due to this report, except a few upset farmers as usual. Alas, the world will not be saved by individuals, because far too many don't care about it.
Finally, the EU and Sweden speak with double tongues, as always. On one hand, they talk about greenhouse gas reduction, environmentalism, support to developing countries, and, with the other hand, they pay billions and billions to EU farmers and fishermen to continue producing greenhouse gas, polluting the environment and driving African/Asian farmers out of jobs. Just now, the EU has agreed to pay out enormous sums of money to European dairy farmers, because not enough people are buying "their" milk, despite the already substantial subsidies.
It's a good first step, but sadly much more is needed.
And, A Petition for Taiwan
A petition is circulating on the internet urging the government of Taiwan to adopt Meatless Mondays: www.gopetition.com/. . /meat-free-monday-taiwan.html People from outside Taiwan are welcome to sign the petition.
Similar petition campaigns are happening in several other countries: www.meatfreepetition.com
Energy Flow, Environment and Ethical Implications for Meat Production
This is the title of a draft report issued by UNESCO. While the report focuses on Asia, it has implications worldwide. Perhaps a somewhat unique aspect of the report is that in addition to considering economic and environmental issues, it also discusses the ethics of industrial meat production. Here is an extract from the report’s Executive Summary:
An ethical analysis of principles associated with use of animals in intensive meat production is presented and, while recognizing a right to adequate access to food – that all people should be free from chronic hunger, should be free from food insecurity and should have access to safe food of nutritional value, the report also includes examination of the perspectives from the point of view of animals and the environment.
www.unescobkk.org/. . . /EETAPWG13rptdraft3.pdf
Belgian City Goes Once A Week Veg
The damage done by meat calls louder and louder for a response, and more people the world over are responding. A great example is the city of Ghent, Belgium. From May, government staff and elected officials will go veg once a week and from Sep, schools will follow suit. The goal is to protect the environment and to guard against obesity. news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8046970.stm
Here’s a PowerPoint file on the idea presented at the 2008 IVU World Vegetarian Congress by Tobias Leenaert of Ethical Vegetarian Alternative (EVA), Belgium’s biggest vegetarian organisation:
And, here’s an FAQ by EVA: www.vegetarisme.be/ghent
Global Warming Debate – The Risk Management View
Meat production is strongly implicated in Global Warming, but some people maintain that we still don’t know for sure whether global warming will indeed happen. A reader sent the following link to a video that says we shouldn’t take the risk and that we need to act now: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF_anaVcCXg
The video is about nine mins long and uses a few tricks to keep us entertained while pushing us to think more about this important issue.
One-Minute Video on the Amazon Rainforest and Meat
Here's a 1-minute Greenpeace video making the clear connection between cattle ranching/meat eating and Amazon Rainforest destruction/global warming:
Dr Pachauri’s Blog
Dr R.K. Pachauri is head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is also a vegetarian who urges meatarians to go meatless at least one day a week. His blog features videos of his speeches, as well as interviews and articles: www.rkpachauri.org
Here’s one example: www.rkpachauri.org/pdf/London08.pdf
Podcast on Energy Inputs in the Food System
In this new podcast, Dr. David Pimentel of Cornell University is interviewed by Louisa Dell'Amico on topics related to his paper: "Reducing Energy Inputs in the US Food System": h2opodcast.com/vsse.html#re
Other podcasts can be found at h2opodcast.com/vsse.html and www.vegcast.com
Video of a Talk on the Link between Meat Eating and Climate Change
Noted futurist, Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, delivered a keynote address on the devastating role factory farms are playing in the climate change crisis at Harvard Law School in Mar 2007: www.youtube.com/...Z0Ac8
Here are a couple quotes:
“The #1 human cause of climate change is not the gas we put in our cars; it’s the meat we put on our tables”.
“One-third of the arable land in the world today is being used to grow feed grain for animals”.
According to the 2007 report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock generate a whopping 18% percent of human-related greenhouse gas emissions—that's even more than the gas-guzzling transportation industry. You can also view the talk at: www.facebook.com/....ym5AZ0Ac8
Statement on Environmental Issues by IVU International Council
The following statement is from the IVU International Council. Please distribute it widely through your own networks, email groups, journals etc. Careful translations into your own language where appropriate would be very much appreciated.
The International Council of the International Vegetarian Union wishes to
bring to the attention of member societies and other interested parties the
growing awareness deserved by the connection between, on one hand, the
production of meat and other animal-based products and, on the other hand,
environmental destruction. While this connection has long been known, recent
reports, such as the FAO's "Livestock's Long Shadow", have strengthened the
case and increased public consciousness of the fact that vegetarianism is an
eco-friendly choice, due to the link between livestock farming and climate
change and to links between livestock farming and deforestation and habitat
destruction, water and energy resource depletion, and food conversion
inefficiency and waste.
The IVU website offers one place to learn more about why vegetarianism is an
eco-friendly choice and about how to inform the public about this. For
instance, at www.ivu.org/members/globalwarming.html resources can be
found on animal-based food's contribution to global warming. The
environment, like all issues, is a complex one. It is suggested that member
societies and other interested parties endeavour to stay up-to-date, to rely
on reputable information sources, to avoid exaggeration and to share
resources with other green groups, including fellow vegetarian
organisations. The IVU website and various IVU internet lists offer avenues
for this sharing of resources.
Studies Examine Livestock-Global Warming Link
Here are two more studies suggesting that going vegetarian, especially going vegan, addresses growing concerns over global warming.
www.foodwatch.de/kampagnen..../index_ger.html [in German] and
Online Footprint Counters That Include Meat
Our environmental footprint is one way to measure our impact on the environment. There are now many online footprint calculators that include meat consumption as one factor in calculating our environmental impact.
Here are a several (some are more fun than others):
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Green to Go Veg
From a TV station in Hawai’i, is a great list of green reasons to be veg. Please share it with your green friends, and please ask them to share with you their list of other ways to be green. We can learn from each other.
And, from the Swiss Vegetarian Union comes a fact-filled report covering much of the same meat-blighted landscape: www.vegetarismus.ch/info/eoeko.htm
Save the Planet Petition from Argentina Vegetarian Union
The Argentina Vegetarian Union - www.uva.org.ar - has started a petition to the UN, entitled Save The Planet - Change Your Diet. Here is the explanation.
According to UN report, Livestock’s Long Shadow - www.virtualcentre.org/. . ./A0701E00.pdf - the meat industry is the one of the main producers of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation states that ranching is “the major driver of deforestation worldwide”, and overgrazing is turning a fifth of all pastures and ranges into desert. Pesticides used to grow cattle feed and antibiotics and hormones used to treat cattle get into drinking water and the food supply and endanger human health.
The Argentinean Vegetarian Union (UVA) asks the United Nations and, through this organisation, every government in the world to sensitize the world population about the importance of basing our diet on plant foods and to promote a dietary change as the main measure to diminish greenhouse gas emissions.
The UVA calls on every sensitive person interested in preserving life to sign this petition. The collected signatures will be sent to the United Nations.
Join this initiative! Save the future of our planet for future generations: www.petitiononline.com/uva1927
‘A Sacred Duty’ Now Available Online
The Jewish Vegetarians of North America - jewishveg.blogspot.com – has produced a film, ‘A Sacred Duty’, mentioned in this newsletter a few months back: asacredduty.com
The film highlights the link between meat eating and environmental destruction. ‘A Sacred Duty’ can now viewed online at youtube.com/watch?v=Y9RxmTGHZgE
Or at blip.tv/file/602351
Read more about the film at european-vegetarian.org/lang/en/news/news.php?id=29563
In Praise of Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Here’s something from a website that promotes peanut butter sandwiches as a means of fighting Global Warming: pbjcampaign.org
Next time you have one [a peanut butter sandwich] you'll reduce your carbon footprint by saving the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch like a hamburger, a tuna sandwich, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets.
That's about forty percent of what you'd save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan.
Important Reading on Global Warming and Meat
In a related story - afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iIVBkZpOUA9Hz3Xc2u-61mDlrw0Q - the head of the United Nation's Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri (a vegetarian), is quoted as saying, "Please eat less meat -- meat is a very carbon intensive commodity".
He also said that earlier the Panel had been afraid to talk about such lifestyle matters.
And, one more important article ‘Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler’. Great graphics: nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Vegetarian Shares Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore
To highlight the worsening problem of Global Warming, this year, the Nobel Committee awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to former US vice-president, Al Gore, and the International Panel on Climate Change, headed by Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri, a vegetarian: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajendra_K._Pachauri
For more on why going veg is a major way to address the climate crisis: www.ivu.org/members/globalwarming.html
Another Quote on Veg and the Environment
The IVU website now contains a page of links to a wide range of web resources on Global Warming: www.ivu.org/members/globalwarming.html
Last issue, IVU Online News featured a web resource from EVU on meat and global warming - www.vegetarismus.ch/klimaschutz/index_en.htm - including quotes from a wide range of people. And,
Here's another quote. This is from the founding prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, whose current position is Minister Mentor (MM). He's famous in Asia, but not sure if he's known in the West. The quote is from Singapore's leading newspaper, The Straits Times 7 Aug ’07. The most interesting part is underlined.
Headline: Green future: Why MM is not optimistic
Byline: Lynn Lee
A PESSIMISTIC Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said he could not predict what would impact regional growth in 50 years given the damage now taking place to the global environment.
Asked about what he thought could stonewall Asia's growth in the years ahead, he reflected on the issue of climate change.
The changes that have been set in motion, he told his 180-strong audience at The Arts House yesterday, 'have already changed the balance between what the planet can bear, and what the human beings want from the world'.
'So global warming is one big enormous problem that we end up with,' he said, pointing to out-of-whack weather patterns that have spawned droughts, hurricanes and typhoons, and led to glaciers melting.
Reflecting on concerns about global warming that he had highlighted in April, he asked: 'Will we have the wisdom and ability to prevent this degradation of the environment?
'I have very serious reservations, because I don't see any government telling its people to consume less...less travel, less food, eat more vegetables, don't eat more protein. That's not the way the world is going.'
for more in-depth articles see Meat Eating and Global Warming
Read the complete latest issue of IVU Online News