Harping on again?

May 30, 2008

It’s been a while since I mentioned the reality of the effects of our huge meat production line, but a story in this mornings papers has made me decide to bring it back into focus here.

The Guardians article “More Wealth, more meat.  How China’s rise spells trouble.”  highlights a very simple yet enlightening fact about our meat eating environmental economy.

To produce a kilogram of beef farmers need 8kg of feed; for pork about 6kg; for chicken 2kg. Worldwide, 700m tonnes of grain are needed to fatten animals each year.

When you think about that it raises many questions.  Food prices are rising, many people around the world are starving.  Now what would feed more people?  1kg of beef or 8kg of grain.  The answer is self explanatory in my opinion and although I am simplifying using the above quote the facts are not much more complicated.

Our meat industry is hugely inefficient when it comes to the amount of food we get out of it compared to the amount of energy put in and the environmental impact created is also hugely underestimated and misunderstood.

The impact of the global meat industry with regards to green house gasses is larger than the worlds car or automobile footprint.  Yes, that’s right.  The meat industry contributes more green house gasses to our atmosphere than the total impact of cars, motorbikes and lorries.

It’s definitely something to think about.

And as the worlds population rises at an unprecedented rate, so does the impact of the meat industry.

On average Americans eat 129% more meat than the Chinese; Europeans consume 83% more. But in China’s case the fear is not of individual consumption, but of the multiples of scale and speed of 1.3 billion people growing richer at a rate of more than 10% a year.

I haven’t even touched on world food prices and the treatment of said animals, but I believe, pardon the pun, that there is enough food for thought above.


Processed Meat

March 31, 2008

According to new research by ‘World Cancer Research Fund’, eating one sausage or excessive processed meats (meats that have any from of preservative in them) increases your chances of developing bowel cancer by about 20%.

Eating just one sausage or around three rashers of bacon a day can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer by a fifth, an expert warned.

Just 1.8oz (50g) of processed meat daily increases the chances of getting bowel cancer by around 20%.

This is a sliding scale, so the more you eat the higher the percentage risk, and the less you eat, vice versa.


Italian

March 4, 2008

We went out for a family meal tonight at an Italian restaurant just outside of town.

Was really nice and the food was excellent. Even though it looked like I could have whipped it up in our kitchen. I had Penne Primavera minus the dash of cream. Still vegan remember…. and it was gorgeous. Everyone loved their food, so it was a winner all round. Even CJ had a snack from her own menu.  I really wish I had remembered the camera.

Next family outing for a meal will be for Chinese.

Also, bought a case for my DS in town earlier today.


10 Reasons to Be A Vegetarian

January 26, 2008

Richard Dawkins on Vegetarianism
What I am doing is going along with the fact that I live in a society where meat eating is accepted as the norm, and it requires a level of social courage which I haven’t yet produced to break out of that. It’s a little bit like the position which many people would have held a couple of hundred years ago over slavery. Where lots of people felt morally uneasy about slavery but went along with it because the whole economy of the South depended upon slavery.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has said bad eating habits are the main cause of 70 percent American deaths. Consuming more fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains are the best source for living a healthy, more enjoyable life.By being a vegetarian you are not only helping your body but you also help the environment by reducing pollution created from animal agriculture. Also, you may appreciate your healthy meals even more knowing that no animals suffered along the way.

There are literally hundreds of great reasons to green with your diet but here are our top 10.

1. Live Longer
A study from the Loma Linda University has found that vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans live about 15 years longer than meat eaters. These studies are further supported by the Chinese Health Project (the largest population study on diet and health to date). They found Chinese people who eat the least amount of fat and animal products have the lowest risk of cancer, heart attack and other diseases.

Further proof comes from a British research that tracked 6,000 and 5,000 meat eaters for 12 years to find that vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases.

2. You’ll be more “regular.”
Vegetables are the ultimate source for fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber. Studies done at Harvard and Brigham Women’s Hospital found that people who ate a high-fiber diet had a 42 percent lower risk of diverticulitis. People who eat vegetable rich diets also tend to have fewer incidences of constipation, hemorrhoids and spastic colon.

3. Have a good heart

Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidant nutrients that protect the heart and its arteries. Plus, produce contains no saturated fat or cholesterol.

Cholesterol levels for vegetarians are 14 percent lower than meat eaters. American diet that’s filled with saturated fats and cholestrol from meat and dairy has made cardiovascular disease the number one killer in the United States.

4. You’ll avoid toxic chemicals.
95 percent of pesticide residue in our diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products (according to EPA estimates). Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic; lead, cadmium) that cannot be removed through cooking or freezing. Meat and dairy products are also laced with steroids and hormones.

5. You’ll give your body a spring cleaning.
Fruit and vegetable juices contain phytochemicals that help us detox naturally. Giving up meat helps rid the body of toxins (environmental pollutants, pesticides, preservatives) that overload our systems and cause illness.

6. You Will Look Better And Skinnier
On average, vegetarians are slimmer than meat eaters. Vegetarian diets are much lower in calories than the standard American diet. Vegetarians are also less likely to suffer from weight-related disorders like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

7. Think of The Money You Will Save
Replacing meat, chicken and fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.

8. Help the environment
You’ll help reduce waste and air pollution. Circle 4 Farms in Milford, Utah, which raises 2.5 million pigs every year, creates more waste than the entire city of Los Angeles. And this is just one farm. Each year, the nation’s factory farms, collectively produce 2 billion tons of manure, a substance that’s rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the country’s top 10 pollutants. And that’s not even counting the methane gas released by cows, pigs and poultry (which contributes to the greenhouse effect); the ammonia gases from urine; poison gases that emanate from manure lagoons; toxic chemicals from pesticides; and exhaust from farm equipment used to raise feed for animals.

9. More Efficient
Right now, 72 percent of all grain produced in the United States is fed to animals raised for slaughter. It takes 15 pounds of feed to get one pound of meat. But if the grain were given directly to people, there’d be enough food to feed the entire planet. In addition, using land for animal agriculture is inefficient in terms of maximizing food production. According to the journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250 pounds of beef.

10. Its The Right Thing To Do
“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
Albert Einstein

Did you know 22 million animals are slaughtered to support the American appetite for meat? Its a great feeling to finish a health meal knowing that no beings have suffered.


A Review of My 2007

January 1, 2008

Like most peoples years, mine has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. Plus the usual personal issues and quirks.

January was the month I found out my daughter CJ was to be arrive in September later in the year.

A little later on I had spent a lot of time reading and researching the current state, future prospects and how I can do my bit towards preventing the current march of man made global warming. This led me to becoming vegan, and joining the Green Political party of the UK. You can see more about this on my about me page.

What about technology? I got my PS3, and it kind of revolutionized my living room as a media center. I continued my linux march forward with a switch from PCLinuxOS to Kubuntu. I only now use M$ products / software on my old laptop, and that’s mainly for itunes. I built my new Desktop, a Core 2 Duo 4gig monster, and purchased the amazing little Asus EEE.

Towards the end of the year I began reading some books on Buddhism. After some extensive research I decided to pursue this ideology as something of a person philosophy, and as I continue my studies, this is one aspect of my life that I really want to improve and learn more about in 2008. I already have feelers out for a possible teacher. You can find info about this in my Buddhism is a Philosophy page

The two most important events of my 2007 were the birth of my daughter CJ and the death of my Gran. CJ came into the world on the 23rd of September and I can honestly say this was the happiest day of my life. She has changed my life in so many amazing ways and given me so much in her short time here. She is the light of my life. On the other side of this coin, my Gran passed on the 29th December. She will be missed so very much. Things will never be the same again.

I opened my ebay store. Added numerous books to my collection. Started my film review site, Chewed Celluloid. Celebrated the first birthday of my blog. Saw my Dad for Christmas for the first time in three years. Did the compulsory change about of my blog, including the move to this domain name. Started my Ecology diploma. Had the usual ups and downs in my personal life and health. Watched the amazing Six Feet Under and Dexter. Watched the world and our race come closer to implosion. But in the end, I have to say that the year just gone was revolutionary in lots of ways. There are plenty of things I missed out here, but the important things must be those that sprang to mind.
Bring on the variety of last year, this year, the sweet and sour, rough and smooth.

Hello 2008.


UN climate summit

October 1, 2007

New York, United States — The good news: The biggest environmental gathering of government leaders in many years showed the world is finally waking up to the urgency of climate change. The bad news: Time is running out.

Yesterday, world leaders gathered in New York City for the largest United Nations meeting on climate change since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.  Top officials from 150 countries (including 80 heads of state) plus big names like Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger were in attendance – and so were we.

“The time for doubt has passed,” as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening address.  Ban sees the world’s response to global warming as something that, “will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations”

Gore told the world leaders, “We have to overcome the paralysis that has prevented us from acting”.  Governor Schwarzenegger called for, “action, action, action”.

One by one, heads of state stood up and essentially echoed their sentiments.  Our own Lo Sze Ping, from Greenpeace China, told the attendees that the world’s worst per capita emitting countries need to stop using developing countries as an excuse not to act.

Lo went on to call for an energy revolution with massive uptake in energy saving and renewable energy technology world wide, and real action by world leaders rather than more talk.

“At the climate negotiations in December, you must therefore agree to nothing short of a Bali Mandate,” he said. “Not a road map to nowhere, not a wish list.”

Bali Mandate

The next meeting on climate change negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol will take place on the island of Bali in December. Greenpeace is pushing for world leaders to strengthen the Kyoto Protocol at these meetings. Industrialized countries must begin the process of negotiating emissions reductions of 30 percent by 2020, and at least 80 percent by 2050 in order to prevent climate chaos.  This is what the best and latest science tells us is needed now to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

The meetings in Bali must advance a negotiating agenda, a Bali Mandate, to combat climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies, deforestation and resource mobilization. All countries must do what they can to reach agreement by 2009, and to have it in force at the end of the current Kyoto Protocol commitment period at the end of 2012.

US remains isolated

US President George W. Bush was not among the heads of state at the high level UN climate change meeting.  He only showed up late at the end of the day to dine with a select group.

Instead, Bush has scheduled his own meeting for this Thursday and Friday in Washington, DC, limited to the countries with the largest global warming emissions.  Bush’s meeting, imaginatively dubbed the “Major Emitters Meeting”, is widely seen as part of his strategy to avoid legally binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions.  Instead, Bush is pushing for voluntary, “aspirational” targets with no weight behind them. Bush is just pretending to care. The world must not be fooled.

At our meeting with Ban, last Wednesday, Greenpeace USA executive director, John Passacantando, reassured the UN Secretary General that people in the US are ready to tackle climate change, and dismissed the Big Emitters Meeting as a diversion tactic from a president no one is listening to anymore.

I knew it, bloody America as usual.  Spend billions and billions on a war that nobody wants or that solves anything and can’t commit to the future of our planet.  Says something doesn’t it.  I hate to be in that ‘I told you so’ bracket but….

On a different note it’s much harder to find time to study with a small person in the house!  Who knew!?  Not that I would change anything 🙂

I have also started a page up for my gorgeous baby girl  Chelsea-Jennifer.co.uk

I intend for it to be a place where I can record everything that happens in her life until she can dictate to me when she is older, and finally take over the blog herself.  Call it a special present from me to her.


Two Long Sleepless Nights

September 28, 2007

So baby CJ is settling well here at home though she hasn’t settled during the night. Both me and Olly are quite tired but we may have found the solution.

I bottle fed her some expressed milk for the first time today and she has settled like magic. We have one content baby. It’s the first time she has been fed by bottle and the first time I have fed her. What a magical experience. We’ll see if a bottle settles her tonight at bed time.

On a more serious note:

Nutrient pollution from farms and livestock hurts amphibians

Remember the uproar in 1995 when school kids in Minnesota began finding frogs with extra limbs? The mutated amphibians looked like props in some sci-fi movie, and scientists quickly began searching for the culprit behind the deformities. Speculation centered on pesticides, increased UV radiation, and infection from parasites—which ultimately turned out to be the “villain.”

But the question remained: why were these parasites—called trematodes—increasing in number and preying on frogs? According to a study published earlier this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the leading cause of the problem is the runoff of phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizer, originating from agriculture (likely the monoculture corn and soybean farms of the Midwest), cattle grazing, and domestic runoff.

What’s the connection? Through a process called eutrophication, the excess nutrients from animal manure and fertilizers cause more algae to grow in surface waters, like the pond where the kids first found the mutated frogs. The extra algae helps increase populations of snails (which feed on algae), as well as populations of the microscopic parasites (trematodes), which the snails eat and release into ponds. The trematodes form cysts on developing tadpoles, which can cause frogs to develop missing, or in some cases multiple, limbs. The frog’s predators then eat the frogs and the parasites, spreading the trematodes back into the ecosystem and relaunching the cycle.

But don’t think you’re safe from the effects of this pollution just because you’re not an amphibian. “Since most human diseases involve multiple hosts, understanding how increased nutrient pollution affects freshwater and marine food webs to influence disease is an emerging frontier in ecological research,” says Pieter Johnson, a water scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the lead author of the study.

Organic farming is the way forward as I have said many times, along with getting rid of farmed animals totally.

Arctic thaw may be at “tipping point”

Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:24am EDT

 

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) – A record melt of Arctic summer sea ice this month may be a sign that global warming is reaching a critical trigger point that could accelerate the northern thaw, some scientists say.

“The reason so much (of the Arctic ice) went suddenly is that it is hitting a tipping point that we have been warning about for the past few years,” James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told Reuters.

The Arctic summer sea ice shrank by more than 20 percent below the previous 2005 record low in mid-September to 4.13 million sq km (1.6 million sq miles), according to a 30-year satellite record. It has now frozen out to 4.2 million sq km.

The idea of climate tipping points — like a see-saw that suddenly flips over when enough weight gets onto one side — is controversial because it is little understood and dismissed by some as scaremongering about runaway effects.

The polar thaw may herald a self-sustaining acceleration that could threaten indigenous peoples and creatures such as polar bears — as Arctic sea ice shrinks, the darker ocean soaks up ever more heat than reflective snow and ice.

In Germany, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research says Arctic sea ice has “already tipped.”

Among potential “tipping elements” that are still stable, it lists on its Web site a melt of Siberian permafrost, a slowdown of the Gulf Stream and disruptions to the Indian monsoon.

“I’d say we are reaching a tipping point or are past it for the ice. This is a strong indication that there is an amplifying mechanism here,” said Paal Prestrud of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.
“But that’s more or less speculation. There isn’t scientific documentation other than the observations,” he said.

SHIPPING, POLAR BEARS

Many experts now reckon Arctic ice may disappear in summer before mid-century, decades before earlier forecasts. The thaw would open the region to oil and gas exploration or shipping.

Reuters will host a summit of leading newsmakers on Oct 1-3 to review the state of the environment. Speakers will include Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the U.N. Climate Panel and Michael Morris, chief executive of American Electric Power.

“All models seem to underestimate the speed at which the ice is melting,” said Anders Levermann, a Potsdam professor.

“I do not believe that this is alarmist… not all tipping points are irreversible,” he said. And societies can weigh up remote risks, such as planes crashing or nuclear meltdowns.

Hansen said he is seeking more study of causes of the melt, widely blamed on greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels but perhaps slightly stoked by soot from forest fires or industries in Russia and China. Ice darkened by soot melts faster.

“It is a very good lesson, because the ice sheets (on Greenland and Antarctica) have their own tipping points, somewhat harder to get started but far more dangerous for humanity around the globe,” he said.

A melt of floating Arctic sea ice does not affect sea levels but Greenland has enough ice to raise oceans by 7 meters and Antarctica by about 57 meters, according to U.N. estimates.
Pachauri’s authoritative climate panel, in a summary report due for release in November, does not use the phrase “tipping point” but does say: “Climate change could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate changes and impacts.”

It says, for instance, that it is “very unlikely” that the Gulf Stream bringing warm water north to Europe will switch off this century. That could bring a big regional cooling.

And it says that a melt of ice sheets could lead to big sea level rises over thousands of years. “Rapid sea level rise on century time scales cannot be excluded,” it adds.

From the bits and pieces I have read it is going to take a long while for us to notice a difference in Global Warming even if we were to stop polluting now, maybe up to 10 to 20 years. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop, because the longer we continue the worse it is going to get. Fact. Hopefully the summit happening shortly will come up with some strong concrete goals and objectives that will be kept rather than spotlighted for a short period of time and then brushed under the carpet. A certain North American country and a treaty beginning with K springs to mind.