Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Preserve the planet, eat fewer animals says... the UK government

Here's a not so new take on the animal ethics debate. What makes it newsworthy is that it is underwritten by the UK government. In a nutshell, the argument is that we should reduce the number of animals we produce in the context of generating food for us. The UK government experts conclude that a 30% reduction should have a significant positive impact on global warming. Here's the gist of the study as reported in today's Evening Standard:

'Scientists behind the report also hope the move will mean a dramatic reduction in the beef, lamb and pork consumed in households across Britain. It is aimed at helping to cut the UK's carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, in line with current targets.

Recent UN figures suggest that meat production is responsible for about 18 per cent of global carbon emissions, including the destruction of forest land for cattle ranching and the production of animal feeds such as soy.

On average, a British person currently eats 50g of protein derived from meat each day - the equivalent of a chicken breast or a lamb chop.

The report, entitled Health and Climate Change and which will be published in The Lancet today, says: "If [a 30 per cent reduction in livestock] translates into reduced meat consumption, the amount of saturated fat consumed would drop sharply, which would have positive effects on health through reductions in heart disease."'

So, even if you don't buy into the argument that we should not force sentient beings (such as higher mammals) unnecessarily (we can live healthier without eating them), there's an argument from environmental necessity and from moral responsibility to leave a livable planet behind for future generations.

In unrelated news, religious folks in Nepal - Hindus, I'm told - have begun their traditional animal massacre whereby about 250,000 (!!!) animals including sheep, goats, cows etc are being slaughtered in a major bloodbath for the purpose of ... well, something with Gods and blablabla.

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