Preventing further climate change: A call to individual action through a decrease in meat consumption
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Copyright © 2011 The Authors and MSSANZ
As the threats and realities of global warming, and the concomitant urgency of decarbonising cities and regions become increasingly apparent, academics, governments, NGOs, local and international think-tanks and policy initiators, continue to concentrate on initiatives largely aimed at reducing fossil fuels (specifically transport and energy use) and increasing development of economies based on renewable energies. Yet, to date, the progress has been slow. Despite being one of the greatest causes of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, meat production and consumption seldom get attention. The negative effects of the ever-increasing livestock sector are felt across a wide range of areas and much scientific evidence is left unnoticed. This includes serious contributions to environmental concerns, including climate change, water and air pollution, deforestation, land degradation, decreases in habitat and biodiversity as well as direct negative social impacts such as direct responsibility for deteriorating human physical and mental health, global inequality and world hunger, and non-sensitivity to factory farming and slaughter. This paper uses extrapolation and generalisation in assessing the impact of meat consumption on the globe, including putting it into perspective in comparison to other commonly acknowledged and accepted factors, such as transport. It also highlights some stumbling blocks, vested interests and existing attitudes that make the meat problem not only persist but also expand over the developing world.The study suggests that current decarbonising focuses are disempowering and as a result, to date, insufficiently effective. It proposes a new ethics model of increasing vegetarianism to empower individuals to make a meaningful and significant, personal contribution to climate change mitigation. It is easy and does not require significant policy, institutional or industrial changes. If adopted and implemented, such an ethics model will ensure that, individually and collectively we have the power not only to address and resolve a currently overwhelming number of social and environmental threats, but essentially, to change the current global warming trajectory and return the planet’s climate patterns to safer levels.
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