Planet Earth: Our Loving Home
 
Dr. Robert Goodland on Climate Change and the Destructive Livestock Industry      
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Informed viewers, welcome to this week’s edition of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home, the first in a two-part series featuring acclaimed US environmental scientist, Dr. Robert Goodland, who will discuss how animal product production and consumption causes climate change.

Regarded as the “Conscience of the World Bank,” Dr. Goodland served the Bank as a senior environmental advisor for 23 years. Currently he is a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, a non-profit global think tank that conducts environmental research and provides solutions to governments, companies and communities regarding ecology-related issues.

He has authored or co-authored numerous books on sustainable economic development and the environment, serves as Metropolitan Chair of the Ecological Society of America, and is the past president of the International Association for Impact Assessment. In 2008, he received the first International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Coolidge Medal for his outstanding contributions to environmental conservation.

In October 2011, the Gwangju NGO Global Forum was held at South Korea’s Chonnam National University and featured a talk by Dr. Goodland entitled ““Food and Climate Change: Risk and Opportunity for Korea and the World.” The event was part of the 2011 Gwangju Summit of the Urban Environment Accords where mayors and professionals from more than 100 cities around the world gathered in Gwangju City to discuss pressing environmental issues facing urban areas.

Some of the distinguished attendees included Lester Brown, founder and president of the US-based Earth Policy Institute, Amina Mohamed, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, and Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT). We now present excerpts from an interview with Dr. Goodland and his talk in South Korea.

I think most of us agree that climate catastrophe is the biggest problem, the biggest predicament facing civilization today. (South) Korean greenhouse gas emissions are steadily rising. In 2005, (South) Korea emitted 490-million tons. By 2010, it was 570-million tons. By 2015, it’s predicted to be 604-million tons and so on. This is what’s causing climate change. The worldwide level of atmospheric greenhouse gases that’s agreed to be safe is 350 parts per million. Those of you who were here and heard Lester Brown saw this huge badge he had on his jacket. It said “350.” That’s the goal, 350 parts per million of greenhouse gas.

But most unfortunately, last year, the world’s average concentration already exceeded 350. It’s 390 right now. So we have to get back to a safe level, and we don’t have long. Several people asked Lester Brown how long we’ve got to get back to a safe level. He said, "Well, no one knows, but not as long as most people think." Now, whether that’s five years or maybe at the outside 10, it’s a very short time to make the huge changes required in our civilization to prevent climate catastrophe.

A forthcoming report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change entitled “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” states that in coming years extreme weather-related events such as the 2011 wide-scale flooding in Thailand and the harsh droughts in the Horn of Africa will become more frequent.

Also, the Human Development Report 2011 by the United Nations Development Program includes a stern warning that without drastic action, the economic growth of developing countries could be halted or severely reduced by 2050. Massive biodiversity loss, fast-rising sea levels, immense food shortages, quickly-disappearing polar ice caps and glaciers, raging wildfires and millions of climate refugees are just a few of the other dire consequences of climate change. However when it comes to taking action on humanity’s most daunting challenge, investing in clean energy is the usual response. Dr. Goodland asks that we re-think this solution.

The biggest answer that most people think will help prevent climate catastrophe is a massive switch from fossil fuel, that’s coal, gas, oil, from fossil fuel over to sustainable energy, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, some small hydro maybe. But that transition from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, it’s essential but it’s too slow. Whatever you do, it’s going to take at least 20 years from 2010 to 2030, and most scientists say you cannot wait until 2030.

Changing from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, while essential, is not going to prevent climate catastrophe. The carbon dioxide that’s already in the atmosphere lasts hundreds of years. So we have to get a faster way to prevent climate change than the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy.

The research of Dr. Goodland and other scientific experts concludes that livestock production is what needs to be addressed immediately to halt climate change.

Most people don’t know the huge scale of global livestock. The population of land-based animals has grown six-fold since 1960. So this climbing up the food chain is a fairly recent phenomenon in the world. In 2009, 60-billion livestock animals were raised, 60-billion were killed and 60-billion were eaten by us.

Now, a full one-quarter of all land worldwide is used for livestock grazing. One-third of all farmable land is now used for growing livestock feed like soybeans. The Amazon rainforest has been destroyed for cattle ranching and feed production. Most of (South) Korea’s beef comes from the Amazon rainforest and most of (South) Korea’s pig food and chicken feed.

The 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow” estimated that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of human-induced global greenhouse-gas emissions.

The report examined the end-to-end emissions attributable to the livestock industry, including those from producing fertilizer, growing food crops for livestock and raising, killing, processing, refrigerating and transporting animals for food. Dr. Goodland and his colleague, Jeff Anhang re-examined the data presented in “Livestock’s Long Shadow” regarding the amount of greenhouse gases being generated by the industry and arrived at a different conclusion. Their findings are in the 2009 article “Livestock and Climate Change” that was published in World Watch Magazine.

Just raising cattle with their respiration and other parts of the livestock production cycle increases the greenhouse gas immensely.

FAO calculated that only 18% of anthropic greenhouse gas is produced by the livestock sector. Jeff Anhang and I recalculated FAO’s 18% and we found it was more like 51%. In other words, a huge difference. How come there is such a huge difference between FAO’s figure and ours? Well, it’s not easy to say, but it’s all in detail in the Table 1 of our World Watch article.

I took FAO's calculation and dissected it into all its many small parts. If you look at the WorldWatch article, Table 1, we have found about 10 discrepancies in the calculation of FAO. And when you put all those small discrepancies together, they add up to 51%, up from FAO's calculation of 18%.

The biggest one that FAO omitted was the respiration of the six-billion livestock animals that are killed every year. They all respire, and that contains carbon dioxide. And, they didn't include that. Most cattle come from the Amazon forest. People cut down the Amazon forest. The effect of that is it reduces the greenhouse-gas sequestration capacity of the forest.

Second, they burn the forest, which emits a huge amount of greenhouse gas. Then they raise cattle. Their belches, and respiration increase greenhouse gas. And then in the lifecycle of livestock, refrigeration, transport, and things like that also emit much more greenhouse gas. In addition, much Amazon forest is cut down not for livestock ranches but for livestock feed. And this livestock feed, a lot comes into (South) Korea, a lot goes to feed Chinese pigs. And so that's a huge amount of extra greenhouse gas from the livestock process.

Greenpeace Brazil points out that the livestock industry is responsible for about 80% of Amazon deforestation. The world’s forests store approximately 289 gigatons of carbon dioxide in trees and vegetation. Dr. Goodland estimates that at least 200 tons of carbon are released into the atmosphere for each hectare of forest cleared or burned, whereas moderately degraded grassland can store just eight tons per hectare.

Cutting the Amazon rainforest has huge implications for climate change. The Amazon forest in general is the biggest carbon sink the world has ever known, terrestrial sink. I think the oceans are slightly bigger. But if you cut down the forest, you reduce the capacity of that carbon sink to sequester carbon. Not only do you reduce the carbon absorption of the forest, but when the forest is burned, having been cut to create cattle pasture, that releases enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The article “Livestock and Climate Change” addresses why livestock cannot be considered as a repository for carbon by stating: “Even if one considers the standing mass of livestock as a carbon sink, by the FAO’s own estimate, the amount of carbon stored in livestock is trivial compared to the amount stored in forest cleared to create space for growing feed and grazing livestock.”

Now, so much forest is being cut down, the photosynthetic absorptive capacity of the world has been reduced. And so the old concept of the beautifully balanced ying and yang carbon cycle, where photosynthesis perfectly balances respiration, that's all out of the window. Humanity has managed to break the carbon cycle, and not many people admit it, yet.

In the end, only immediately changing the way we all eat will solve our world’s climate crisis.

And now we come to, I hope, the solution. What are the alternatives to animal-food-centric diets?

Climatically effective alternatives to eating livestock include any plant-based foods. If you find it difficult to make a transition from meat, then you can eat meat analogs.

Our sincere thanks, Dr. Robert Goodland, for your invaluable scientific research that clearly demonstrates that the production and consumption of animal products is the primary driver of climate change and deeply threatens the future of all civilization. May the entire world soon become aware of this fact and quickly put a stop to the livestock industry by following an organic vegan lifestyle for the sake of our planet and future generations.

For more information on Dr. Robert Goodland, please visit www.GoodlandRobert.com
Dr. Goodland’s books are available at www.Amazon.com
Download a free PDF of the article “Livestock and Climate Change” at www.WorldWatch.org/node/6294

Eco-conscious viewers, please join us again next Wednesday on Planet Earth: Our Loving Home for the concluding episode in our two-part series featuring Dr. Robert Goodland. Thank you for watching today’s program. May our world be forever blessed with the abundant love from the Divine.
Involved viewers, welcome to this week’s edition of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home, the concluding episode in our two-part series featuring acclaimed US environmental scientist, Dr. Robert Goodland, who will further discuss how animal product production and consumption causes climate change as well as address other ways to lessen generation of greenhouse gases. Let's start with Lester Brown's conclusion. He said worldwide anthropogenic greenhouse gas must be reduced 80% by 2020. That is going to be a wrenching change. But that is necessary. I fully agree that that should be the goal. We're going to have to do simultaneously all possible means to prevent climate catastrophe.

Regarded as the “Conscience of the World Bank,” Dr. Goodland served the Bank as a senior environmental advisor for 23 years. Currently he is a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, a non-profit global think tank that conducts environmental research and provides solutions to governments, companies and communities regarding ecology-related issues.

He has authored or co-authored numerous books on sustainable economic development and the environment, serves as Metropolitan Chair of the Ecological Society of America, and is the past president of the International Association for Impact Assessment. In 2008, he received the first International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Coolidge Medal for his outstanding contributions to environmental conservation.

In October 2011, the Gwangju NGO Global Forum was held at South Korea’s Chonnam National University and featured a talk by Dr. Goodland entitled ““Food and Climate Change: Risk and Opportunity for Korea and the World.” The event was part of the 2011 Gwangju Summit of the Urban Environment Accords where mayors and professionals from more than 100 cities around the world gathered in Gwangju City to discuss pressing environmental issues facing urban areas.

Some of the distinguished attendees included Lester Brown, founder and president of the US-based Earth Policy Institute, Amina Mohamed, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, and Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT).

Dr. Goodland believes that implementing a carbon tax is a step all governments should take as part of a program to address climate change. In November 2011, the Australian government enacted a carbon tax to lessen carbon emissions. Starting July 2012, the 500 highest polluting corporations in Australia are subject to the tax.

We have to get a tax on greenhouse-gas emissions. Some people call it a carbon tax. The moment you get the market to speak the truth, then a lot of these problems will be solved. This tax must be applied domestically, but also to imports. If a country like China imports a lot of beef and livestock feed, chicken feed, pig feed from the Amazon, then the carbon embodied in that trade has to be taxed.

Like other experts, Dr. Goodland believes all nations should turn away from coal and other fossil fuels as energy sources as fast as possible, but also feels there is a misperception that this is the most cost-effective solution to global warming and that by simply taking this action we will be able to rapidly reverse the current situation of accelerating climate change.

Chris Mentzel, the chief executive officer of a US-based clean-energy consulting firm notes that a one-percent reduction in worldwide meat consumption would produce the same benefit as a US$3 trillion solar energy investment.

The biggest answer that most people think will help prevent climate catastrophe is a massive switch from fossil fuel, that’s coal, gas, oil, from fossil fuel over to sustainable energy, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, some small hydro maybe. But that transition from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, it’s essential but it’s too slow. Whatever you do, it’s going to take at least 20 years from 2010 to 2030, and most scientists say you cannot wait until 2030.

The other thing about the transition from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, it’s immensely expensive. Just think of Choi Yul’s (President of the Korea Green Foundation’s) talk this morning that you have nuclear reactors in Korea and you import US$2 billion worth of coal every year. Just imagine how expensive it’s going to be to change those figures. So it's essential, but only for the long term. It cannot prevent climate catastrophe in time.

The transport sector, all of the cars on the road only emit six-billion tons (of carbon). So I know there's a lot of attention devoted to more fuel-efficient cars or getting plug-in hybrid cars. And that's good, and it should be accelerated. But frankly, it doesn't help much as reducing your own intake of livestock products.

About half the world’s grain harvest is diverted to feeding livestock. Another portion is consumed in producing biofuels. In the US, 37% of annual corn production goes to creating corn ethanol. With one billion people starving or malnourished in our world, food crops should be reserved for human consumption, rather than livestock or energy production.

A prompt repeal of all subsidies for agro-fuels from oil seeds and grains. Human food cannot be allowed to compete with vehicle fuels. There just isn't enough food to go around to permit that. And we have to halt deforestation and forest fires. Those have to be reversed on a very large- scale, particularly tropical forests, particularly the Amazon forest, and switch deforestation over to regeneration, expand the capacity of forests to sequester greenhouse gases.

Considering the long lifespan of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, lessening the release of shorter-lived greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, both with high global warming potentials, is a quicker way to mitigate climate change compared to simply limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2009, Dr. Goodland and his colleague Jeff Anhang published an article in World Watch Magazine entitled “Livestock and Climate Change” which concludes at least 51% of human-induced global greenhouse gas emissions come from the cycle of producing and consuming livestock. The article also states the following:

“According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), 37% of human induced methane comes from livestock. Although methane warms the atmosphere much more strongly than does CO2, its half-life in the atmosphere is only about 8 years, versus at least 100 years for CO2. As a result, a significant reduction in livestock raised worldwide would reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) relatively quickly compared with measures involving renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

So bottom line of this opportunity, a reduction in livestock may be the only way to stop global warming in 5 to 10 years. That's the main opportunity. The other thing related to this is a shift from beef to other animals doesn't help very much. Some people say, "Oh, I'll give up Bulgogi (barbecued beef), but I'll eat Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) instead." It doesn't help much, nor does eating chicken.

And the reason for that is the respiration, the carbon dioxide emitted by: pigs, cows, and chickens is roughly the same per kilogram of body weight. It's about two watts per kilogram. There's slight variation, but not enough to help the climate. Therefore, switching from beef to pork, or beef to pork to chicken won't help solve climate risk. The only thing you can do is to reduce livestock intake yourselves.

Upon reviewing Dr. Goodland’s article, in December 2009 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) invited him for an expert consultation on greenhouse-gas emissions and mitigation potentials in animal agriculture. In his recommendations, he called for the FAO to work with governments so that they can provide livestock producers with adequate support in obtaining alternative livelihoods. If everyone in the world would adopt the simple, but most powerful practice of following an animal-free diet, we could halt the detrimental effects of global warming in a short period.

(President) Choi this morning mentioned that some people go vegetarian. That's even better. That would be absolutely brilliant. Climatically effective alternatives to eating livestock include any plant-based foods. If you find it difficult to make a transition from meat, then you can eat meat analogs.

You all know Tonkatsu, pork chops. Well, there's a new one in (South) Korea – Konggas (soy cutlet). So the switch to Konggas would make a huge difference. By the way, it would also make us all a lot healthier and less obese.

The change of diet would reduce deforestation, and forest burning for cattle ranches, particularly in the Amazon Basin, where a lot of Chinese pig food and chicken food comes from. And allowing regeneration of the forest would absorb much more greenhouse gas very fast. I think that regeneration of forests is the only way to create a large-scale capacity to sequester today's atmospheric carbon.

If you replace animal products with alternatives, the world will more easily feed the 9 to 10-billion people expected by 2050. If global hunger and starvation is a big motivation for you, then one of the best ways to do it is to get people to switch and reduce their livestock production.

Supreme Master Ching Hai strongly advocates the global adoption of the organic plant-based diet as the best and fastest way to end our climate crisis. Speaking in a video message presented during a November 2010 climate change conference in the UK, Supreme Master Ching Hai addressed why this diet is so powerful and the greatest tool we have at our disposal.

We can prevent more than 20 million meat-related deaths worldwide per year if we turn to the vegan diet. No more suffering for loved ones, no more early separations, no more anguish for ourselves and others; and we will enjoy naturally longer, healthier, lovelier, happier lives.

Even without the “civilization busters” threatening our planet’s survival, an organic vegan diet would immensely improve the quality of our lives; spiritually also. It can curb the water and food crises and restore nature’s life-support systems. It also happens to be the most rapid, cost-effective, and the only feasible climate solution, one that every nation can easily implement.

We sincerely thank you, Dr. Robert Goodland for revealing the truth that the livestock industry is primarily responsibility for climate change. May you have continued success in your invaluable research on preserving the environment and our precious planet.

For more information on Dr. Robert Goodland, please visit www.GoodlandRobert.com
Dr. Goodland’s books are available at www.Amazon.com
Download a free PDF of the article “Livestock and Climate Change” at www.WorldWatch.org/node/6294

Thank you for watching this week’s episode of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. May all lives be filled with heavenly harmony and love.

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