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PLANET EARTH:OUR LOVING HOME Dr. Robert Goodland on Climate Change and the Destructive Livestock Industry - P2/2    
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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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