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Meat eating - consuming our Planet

New era of food scarcity threat

Environmentalists say the world is on the brink of a new era of food scarcity driven by a "perfect storm" of climate change, water shortage and a rising population” says US analyst and author Lester Brown.

The world is adding 80 more million people are year and that means there's an extra 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who weren't there last night.

And it's not only that, as you know it's fed to cattle, pigs and chicken. So it's the price of meat that's really at stake here when the price of corn doubles as it has over the last several months.

US Drought

More than half the counties in the US have been declared natural disaster areas by the US Department of Agriculture due to the drought, which now covers more than 60 per cent of the lower 48 states. In response, the US Government plans to buy up to $160 million of meat from its farmers to help them through the drought crisis. Severe draught is also crippling farmland in Russia's wheat belt, while below average monsoon rains in India is also adding to concern that global grain crops could plunge.

Ukraine, also a major exporter of grain, has banned wheat exports due to poor harvest this year.   As a consequence only 50 days’ worth of stocks are left in world’s granaries.

A rise in food prices is often linked to social and political turmoil in poor countries, where people already use most of their income to buy food.

Since the 1990s, a once-standard policy of most countries since ancient times – maintaining of reserves from good years as a hedge against famine in bad years – has disappeared, making all people reliant on this year’s weather – something so stupid it has never been done before. Over time,  these grain reserve programs were discontinued largely because of cost and improved market efficiency. If  future supply disruptions attributable to drought  become more frequent, they  may affect not only livestock production but human food consumption as well.

The high costs of producing meat

Meat raising use up 43% of entire grain harvesting and 85% of entire legume harvesting. Of all the cause of Amazon virgin rain forest deforestation, 70% are cut down in order to raise meat.

If crops wastefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have more than three times more food than they need, while the US has around four times more food than is needed, and up to three-quarters of the nutritional value is lost before it reaches people's mouths.

High corn prices mean high feedstock prices, so impact on livestock industry not only in China but throughout Asia because Asia imports corn for livestock. Many ranchers have been forced to bring their animals to market earlier than usual because they cannot afford the rising price of grain, thus cutting into the market value of their animals. Providing assistance to Mid-Western farmers makes matters worse because a good portion of the grain grown in the “farm belt” is used to feed livestock. Very little of the US's rich agricultural lands actually grows food for direct human consumption; rather a large proportion is fed to cattle.

Meat eating surging in Asia

As recently as 1995, China was basically self-sufficient in soybeans. Today, imports account for 75 per cent of its soaring consumption as rising incomes, especially in the burgeoning middle-class, enable many of the country's 1.35 billion people to consume more meat, dairy products, eggs and farmed fish.

More than a quarter of the meat produced worldwide is now eaten in China, mainly pork and poultry. In 1978 when China started agricultural reforms, its meat consumption was one third that of the US. Today, China's annual meat consumption of 71 million tonnes is more than double the US figure.

Wastage and devastation of eating meat

Entire livestock in the world produce 87,000 pounds of excrements per second, which is 130 times more then the human population.

Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and contributes to animal suffering. According to PETA more than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution claim that the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed worldwide every minute to create more room for farmed animals.

More than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that are grown in the USA are fed to farmed animals. Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient, because while animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats, and corn, they only produce comparatively small amounts of meat.

It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein.

Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.

According to Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms.

The EPA (USA) reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

This industry is based on a cuisine that demands animal products, to conform to traditions of our assumed "hunter and gatherer" past, slavishly assuming that the hunting harvest is and must remain the main source of our nutrition. It's rapacious in it's appetite for natural resources, environmental destruction, pollution and ongoing animal cruelty. Farms are not what they once were, with farmers having a close connection with their land and stock. They are big corporations now, and factory farms are inherently cruel - with massive political power.

Much of the world's water supply is quietly being diverted to raise livestock without any media coverage, while millions of people across the globe are faced with droughts and water shortages. Sadly, as the Western diet spreads to the rest of the world, even desert nations in Africa and the Middle East are pouring what little water remains into meat production.

Vegan Organic and Environment

Lester Brown: if it's business as usual, nothing else happens, there'll be food scarcity but I find it inconceivable there wouldn't be responses (from world leaders).

Some nations, such as China, are already taking action by buying arable land around world, including Africa, and, yes, Australia.

SAVE OUR PLANET Energy sectors to shape sustainability of future development -- UN

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, FAOSTAT data for 2009: 8,702,490 beef cattle, 32,049,100 sheep , 474,809,000 chickens and 4,521,760 Pigs were sent to slaughter in AUSTRALIA in just one year (Ref. Food and Agr. Org. of U.N website)

Over 700,000 unwanted week old dairy calves are sent to slaughter ever year in Australia as a by-product of the dairy Industry. (Ref, Animals Australia website)

Embracing a diet full of organic life giving fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains not only nourishes the body but the mind and spirit as well.

VEGUCATED – the movie Six people- Six weeks – One Challenge

Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time.

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The following was posted in response to Disappearing Arctic Ice of 17  August on The peril this planet faces at the hand of expanded coal mining may prove to be even more terrible and immediate than what Bandicoot has described in this article, if it is not stopped.

So, why are Australia the US and other countries now apparently resolved to dig up coal even faster than before with technology of a scale which dwarfs even the massive coal mining machinery used thus far?

From 1939-1945, when the world faced peril at the hands of German Nazism and brutal Japanese colonialism, our parents and grandparents were able to find the resolve to meet that threat.

Why should we be any less resolved today with the even greater threat of global warming? We should demand of our federal and state mis-rulers that the scale of coal mining be immediately scaled back to, at most, what it was a generation ago, before the expansion of recent years commenced and to hell with those who have invested their money in destroying the prospects of future generations.

“Paleolithic diets have become all the rage, but they are getting our ancestral diet all wrong,” notes biologist and writer Rob Dunn in a recent piece for Scientific American.

So-called Paleolithic diets are an attempt to mimic the eating style of Paleolithic man.

These diets are typically classified as “low carb” and emphasize meat, fish, nuts and seeds, and certain fruits and vegetables. He explains “…if we want to return to the diet our guts and bodies evolved to deal with, we should not be looking at our most recent ancestors. Instead, we need to understand the diet of our ancestors during the time when the main features of our guts, and their magical abilities to turn food into life, evolved. We need, in other words, to look at apes, monkeys and other non-human primates.”

Our guts are remarkably similar to those of gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans which are remarkably similar to those of other apes, which are, in turn, not so very different from those of most monkeys.

He also points out that the digestive systems of modern man are remarkably similar to those of gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, and apes. And their diets consist mainly of fruit, nuts, leaves, and insects, and the occasional bird or lizard. Overall, however, meat makes up less than three percent of their dietary intake.

Sure, chimpanzees sometimes kill and devour a monkey, but the proportion of the diet of the average chimpanzee composed of meat is small, less than 3% by mass. Even with that modest preference for flesh, chimps are extreme. They eat more meat than any of the other apes or any of the monkeys.

LEADING water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying the world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

The Age - Water shortages to hit food supply

Humans derive about 20 per cent of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5 per cent to feed the extra 2 billion people expected by 2050, according to research by leading water scientists. Like overfishing decimating the oceans of fish, it's not that people are eating more fish, but more people are depleting the oceans and they are under threat of being fish-less by 2050!

The report by Malin Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute said: ''There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5 per cent of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade.''

Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in a climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet.

One-third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. It's inefficient, excessive, unsustainable - and the increased demand for quick livestock products at cheaper and faster rates means animals are forced to endure genetic manipulation, anti-biotic, unnatural food, genetic monocultures of breeds, and intense confinement all in the fast-lane to satisfy humanity's rapacious appetite for food derived from birds, fish and mammals.

The threat of food security is just as relevant as in the time of Maltheus, but the increasing demand for livestock products is exacerbating the "shortages" - or impact of human populations on declining, finite, natural resources.

Competition for water between food production and other uses will intensify pressure on essential resources, the scientists said. ''The UN predicts that we must increase food production by 70 per cent by mid-century,'' the report said. It will mean that land for wildlife will be even more vied for human occupation, more extinctions and lethal "management" of "pests" - all competing for habitats.

It was dismaying in the extreme to see the treatment of turkeys in Ingham's Sydney's processing plant on Lateline last night. I have no reason to expect that the cruel and aberrant behaviour shown by workers is not widespread. Why does it take the work of Animals Australia to reveal this conduct? Why does the company not supervise properly to ensure this does not happen and that standards are maintained?

The statement from Ingham in reply to this is that training of staff would be reviewed. I don't see that it is possible to retrain a person who is so damaged, himself as to deliberately and gratuitously inflict pain with such brutality on a helpless and doomed creature. People with no level of awareness of or care about the feelings of a fellow creature are unsuitable to for work in a bird processing capacity.This work actually requires special qualities and skills to ensure the welfare of the birds. It seems to me Ingham have hired the worst possible staff for this job. What is the reason for this? Is it desperation to find someone to do the work?

I could not bring myself ever to eat turkey again after seeing the footage of this cruelty. I am not a vegetarian , but may be forced to become one if I see too much more of the abominable and unnecessary practices involved in processing meat for human consumption .