Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taiwan leads the way in Asia: "Meat-free Mondays" (the world's biggest producer of harmful carbons is cattle) starts during Global Climate Week

Two Taiwanese authors, Su Hsiao-huan and Hsu Jen-hsiu, have started a regional and transnational campaign to address global warming by urging people to stop eating meat every Monday starting September 21 (the first day of Global Climate Week):
...Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization showed the biggest producer of harmful carbons in the world was not the petrochemical industry or not even cars, but cattle breeding, responsible for 18 percent of emissions, Su said.

The activists aim to have restaurants offer menus that contain at least one third vegetarian meals. Airlines could also make Mondays meatless, while supermarkets and convenience stores could reserve special sections for vegetarian products, the newspaper reported...

The rising consumption of meat led to the destruction of more forests to make way for fields for cattle to graze in, and the process of preparing meats and frozen foods contributed to the release of noxious gases in the atmosphere, the campaigners said.

If Taiwan could set an example and find followers throughout the region, the country could make a worthwhile contribution to the fight against global warming and climate change, Su said..."
Yoko Ono and Paul and Stella McCartney have already taken a similar campaign globally:
...To produce a single kilogram of beef, farmers have to feed a cow 15kg of grain and 30kg of forage. It is a highly intensive business that is ultimately not sustainable. Livestock production is responsible for 70 per cent of the deforestation of the Amazon jungle and, by 2050, the world’s livestock population is expected to rise from 60 billion farm animals to 120 billion. It is a scary fact when you consider that a single cow can produce 500 litres of methane per day, which has around 25 times the global warming impact of CO2.

“I think we forget more and more that we are animals,” says Stella, “and we are part of a planetary system where all of the animals are on this planet together and you are made to feel like a hippy-dippy jerk that should go and live in a tipi for even making a point of remembering...”
The cheerful UK-based Meatless Mondays site is great for "flexitarians"––people who don't want to stop eating meat completely for whatever reasons--but who want to support efforts to protect our environment.

Also in an attempt to raise popular awareness that we need to work collectively to stop global warming--the UN's Seal the Deal campaign hopes to galvanize global support for reaching a comprehensive global climate agreement in Copenhagen in December:
Climate change affects us all. Nine out of every ten disasters recorded are now climate related. Rising temperatures and more frequent floods, droughts and storms affect millions of people’s lives. This is set against a backdrop of financial and food insecurity.

On December 7, governments will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark to respond to one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. The main question will be how protect the planet and create a green economy that will lead to long-term prosperity

Reaching a deal by the time the meeting ends on December 18 will depend not only on complex political negotiations, but also on public pressure from around the globe. The United Nations has launched “Seal the Deal” campaign that encourages users to sign an online, global petition which will be presented by civil society to governments of the world.

The petition will serve as a reminder that our leaders must negotiate a fair, balanced and effective agreement in Copenhagen, and that they must seal a deal to power green growth, protect our planet and build a more sustainable, prosperous global economy that will benefit all nations and people.
Hopefully, in the future, more environmentalist NGOs and governments will acknowledge and address the multiple roles (carbon emissions, destruction of rainforests for ranches, transporting meat long distances) in which the multinational meat industry contributes to global warming.

–– Jean Downey

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