“It’s impossible to deny — humans are changing and destroying the natural environment at an unprecedented and alarming rate.”
So begins a CBS News report released today. The review of the World Wildlife Fund’s biannual landmark report on shrinking animal-species populations paints a truly grim picture:
“…[Animal populations have declined by such a staggering amount, that only an overhaul of the world’s economic systems could possibly reverse the damage.”
How much damage?
“Destruction of ecosystems has threatened “1 million species’ — 500,000 animals and plants and 500,000 insects — with extinction.”
The number one cause of the destruction, as the report accurately observes, is animal agriculture. The environmental consequences of raising animal-based food are truly horrifying:
80 percent of global deforestation
70 percent of freshwater use
29 percent of global greenhouse gas production
and the killing of 70 percent of terrestrial and 20 percent of freshwater biodiversity all stem from our addiction to meat, dairy and eggs.
Through most of human history, most of the world lived in relative poverty and subsisted on staples such as rice, beans, wheat, and potatoes. The introduction of cheap, factory-farmed meat — paid for in part by government subsidies — has changed that.
Plant-based staples that fed us for millennia have been shoved aside for absurdly cheap fast-food burgers. But what we’re saving in food costs pales in comparison to the price being paid by Mother Earth and all her inhabitants.
The CBS article is big on dire warnings, but short on real solutions. One suggestion is that we consume animal-derived products “in moderation.”
What does that even mean? And how do we reverse the damage to species we’ve driven to extinction?
I much prefer the solution Dame Jane Goodall offered CBS just two months ago:
“But, you know, most of the people listening probably can have a choice. Think about what you buy. How did it harm the environment in its production? Did it lead to cruelty to animals, like the terrible factory farms? Is it cheap because of child slave labor or wages that don’t even enable people to live properly? Make those ethical choices. And when billions of people make those ethical choices, then we start moving towards a different world.”
Our world can start by getting meat, dairy, and egg consumption below 10% of our calories, ASAP. Of course, anyone serious about the health of the planet will choose 100% plant-based foods.