Shun meat, says UN climate chief

By, Richard Black, BBC News, September 7, 2008

People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN’s top climate scientist.

Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will make the call at a speech in London on Monday evening.

UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport.

But a spokeswoman for the UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said methane emissions from farms were declining.

Dr Pachauri has just been re-appointed for a second six-year term as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC, the body that collates and evaluates climate data for the world’s governments.

“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” he told BBC News.

“So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider.”

Climate of persuasion

The FAO figure of 18% includes greenhouse gases released in every part of the meat production cycle – clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in farm vehicles, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep.

The contributions of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – are roughly equivalent, the FAO calculates.

Transport, by contrast, accounts for just 13% of humankind’s greenhouse gas footprint, according to the IPCC.

Dr Pachauri will be speaking at a meeting organised by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), whose main reason for suggesting people lower their consumption of meat is to reduce the number of animals in factory farms.

CIWF’s ambassador Joyce D’Silva said that thinking about climate change could spur people to change their habits.

“The climate change angle could be quite persuasive,” she said.

“Surveys show people are anxious about their personal carbon footprints and cutting back on car journeys and so on; but they may not realise that changing what’s on their plate could have an even bigger effect.”

Side benefits

There are various possibilities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming animals.

They range from scientific approaches, such as genetically engineering strains of cattle that produce less methane flatus, to reducing the amount of transport involved through eating locally reared animals.

“The NFU is committed to ensuring farming is part of the solution to climate change, rather than being part of the problem,” an NFU spokeswoman told BBC News.

“We strongly support research aimed at reducing methane emissions from livestock farming by, for example, changing diets and using anaerobic digestion.”

Methane emissions from UK farms have fallen by 13% since 1990.

But the biggest source globally of carbon dioxide from meat production is land clearance, particularly of tropical forest, which is set to continue as long as demand for meat rises.

Ms D’Silva believes that governments negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol ought to take these factors into account.

“I would like governments to set targets for reduction in meat production and consumption,” she said.

“That’s something that should probably happen at a global level as part of a negotiated climate change treaty, and it would be done fairly, so that people with little meat at the moment such as in sub-Saharan Africa would be able to eat more, and we in the west would eat less.”

Dr Pachauri, however, sees it more as an issue of personal choice.

“I’m not in favour of mandating things like this, but if there were a (global) price on carbon perhaps the price of meat would go up and people would eat less,” he said.

“But if we’re honest, less meat is also good for the health, and would also at the same time reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7600005.stm

Podcast: Oil massage course in Chiang Mai

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In Tina’s last week in Chiang Mai, we went to Sabai De Ka Thai Massage to do a one day oil massage course with a lovely Thai lady called Kloy. We had a really memorable day and wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to others. You can listen to the podcast we made during the day by clicking the play button below. And yes, I’m shamelessly pimping my oily girlfriend in the picture below :-).

Erotic Oil Massage course in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The details

Sabai De Ka Massage is located at 93/3 Moonmuang Road (just North of Tapae gate – the East gate of the old city) in Chiang Mai (see map below). You can contact Kloy by emailing her at sabai_de_ka@hotmail.com, or by telephone on 081-8813697 or 053-326529. A one day oil massage course cost 1100THB per person.


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Global hunger: The more meat we eat, the fewer people we can feed

There is more than enough food in the world to feed the entire human population. So why are more than 840 million people still going hungry?

The truth: The more meat we eat, the fewer people we can feed. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people would have food to eat. Dropping that figure to 15 percent would mean that 4.2 billion people could be fed. If the whole world became vegan, there would be plenty food to feed all of us"”more than 6.3 billion people. The World Watch Institute sums this up rightly, saying, “Meat consumption is an inefficient use of grain"”the grain is used more efficiently when consumed by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world’s poor.”

pig

It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh. According to the USDA and the United Nations, using an acre of land to raise cattle for slaughter yields 20 pounds of usable protein. That same acre would yield 356 pounds of protein if soybeans were grown instead"”more than 17 times as much!

Producing the grain that is used to feed farmed animals requires vast amounts of water. It takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a meat-eater. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.

It should be no surprise, then, that food for a vegan can be produced on only 1/6 of an acre of land, while it takes 3 1/4 acres of land to produce food for a meat-eater. If we added up all the arable land on the planet and divided it equally, every human would get 2/3 of an acre"”more than enough to sustain a vegetarian diet, but not nearly enough to sustain a meat-eater.

On top of this the industrial world is exporting grain to developing countries and importing the meat that is produced with it, and thus farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land. Their efficient, plant-based agricultural model is being replaced with intensive livestock rearing, which also pollutes the air and water and renders the once-fertile land dead and barren.

If this trend continues, the developing world will never be able to produce enough food to feed itself, and global hunger will continue to plague hundreds of millions of people around the globe. There is only one solution to world hunger – A vegan diet is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue.

So the less meat you eat – the more people we can feed! Think about it.

The motivations and benefits of being a vegetarian

People often ask me why I am a vegetarian and for how long I have been a vegetarian. I decided to write a series of articles about vegetarianism because it is close to my heart and there are lots of things to be said about it. In this first article I briefly outline my personal reasons for being a vegetarian.

The simple answer is that I love animals and since the age of 16 I have refused to eat them. To me the notion of loving someone and killing them does not go together. And to me all animals are worthy of life and it makes no difference whether people eat a cow or a cat – you kill to eat and it is equally bad.

the cat who adopted me

Now I am not a fanatic vegetarian in the sense that I don’t object to other people eating whatever they want, but I do oppose people categorizing themselves as something they are not – like the notion that people who don’t eat meat but do eat fish are "vegetarians". To me this categorization is wrong because a fish is NOT a vegetable.

According to the official definition of vegetarianism from Wikipedia “it is the practice of a diet that excludes all animal flesh, including poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacean, and slaughter by-products”. A vegan is a person who excludes all animal products from diet and in some definitions from attire also, whether or not the production of clothing or items has involved the actual death of an animal (dairy, eggs, honey, wool, silk, down feathers, etc.). I am a vegetarian but I don’t buy leather or feather pillows or covers. This is against my conviction (which is personal and not religious).

My main reason thus is ethical – an aversion to inflicting pain or harm on other living creatures, or a belief that the unnecessary killing of other animals is inherently wrong.

Environmental reasons also count high on my list – namely the fact that so many people are starving and the production of meat for consumption as oppose to grains is unsustainable. Did you know that the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1 and as such the U.S. could feed 800 million people with the grain that the livestock eat.

Another argument is that farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States. Since factory farms don’t have sewage treatment systems as cities and towns do, this ends up polluting ground water, destroying the topsoil, and contaminating the air. Hence as a meat-eater you should consider yourself partly responsible for the production of all of this waste "” about 86,000 pounds per second.

There are an endless list of motivations and benefits of being a vegetarian including: religious and spiritual, health reasons, medical, ethical, environmental, economical, psychological, and cultural. In my next blog posts I will write on the topic in greater detail.

So as you can see there are plenty of reasons to stop eating meat – in fact you can improve the world by stopping today 🙂

Good luck.

Podcast: Pun Pun – Sustainable organic farming

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In this podcast, I met up with Peggy and Jo – the two founders of Pun Pun. During the interview, we discussed their views on Sustainable living & farming, Earthen house building, how they started out, and the philosophy & vision driving their work.

Pun Pun (meaning ‘thousand varieties’) is an organic farm, seed-saving operation, and sustainable living and learning centre based about 50km North of Chiang Mai, Thailand in Mae Taeng district. The first I knew about Pun Pun was last year, when I heard about an amazing new organic vegetarian restaurant that had opened in the grounds of Wat Suan Dok temple. I visited it at the first opportunity, and quickly became a regular!

Pun Pun Organic farm - sustainable living in Thailand

Pun Pun offers a variety of workshops and training courses, from their 10 week internship program offering an in-depth, hands-on experience in organic gardening (including seed saving, earthen building, and community living) through to 3-5 day earthen building workshops, and sustainability study trips. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can contact them via their website – the details are below.

Peggy & Jo - Pun Pun restaurant, ThailandFurther information

www.punpunthailand.org – For further information on Pun Pun, including upcoming workshops and internships at Pun Pun farm. Map of how to get to Pun Pun restaurant.

You SabaiYou Sabai Home is located in Mae Taeng, next door to Pun Pun’s organic farm and sustainable living learning center outside a village in Mae Tang province, 50 km from Chiang Mai. They also build and live in simple earthen houses, close to nature.

You might also be interested in reading this article proving a rather interesting slant on the use of organic farming techniques in Africa – Green activists ‘are keeping Africa poor’.

Air pollution levels in Chiang Mai rising




Click the button to check the Chiang Mai pollution levels TODAY! It’s getting to that time of year again when the pollution levels in Chiang Mai start climbing to dangerous levels. This happens every year towards the end of the dry season, between February and April and is largely attributable to slash-and-burn farming methods. Last year the pollution levels got so high that literally thousands of people across Chiang Mai province were admitted to hospital with various respiratory illnesses – including Tina – and the government released a 24 hour emergency number for reporting the fires. You can view the pollution levels in Chiang Mai between 1998 and the present day by clicking on the button above.

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PM10 – small but deadly particles

One of the measurements to look for is the PM10 (PM-10) level. This indicates the density of very small particulate matter in the air (particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter in a cubic metre of air). These particles are too tiny to see – five particles would fit across a strand of human hair – but they can be deadly. As an illustration of how dangerous these particles can be, the number of people in a seemingly ‘clean’ country such as New Zealand who die early from pollution caused by traffic is similar to the number killed in road accidents each year.

These small particles of pollution in the air come from sources such as waste burning, wood burners, car exhausts and industry. They can cause serious health problems, such as making breathing problems like asthma and bronchitis worse. They can exacerbate heart problems, and are thought to be one of the catalysts for throat & lung cancer.

In London, the United States and the European Union as a whole it is considered a serious pollution ‘episode’ if the PM-10 level exceeds 50 – see the London Air Quality Network website.

For some reason, the Thai Pollution Control Department has set the ‘safe level’ to be anything less than a PM-10 of 120. Just to illustrate how high the levels can get to in Chiang Mai, on 14th March 2007 PM-10 levels reached 303.9 – catastrophically high by any standards.

By way of a comparison, the World Health Organisation came up with weighted list of average PM10 concentrations in residential areas of cities larger than 100,000 throughout the world, and the averages were as follows:

A selection of these is as follows:

  • China – 87
  • Denmark – 23
  • France – 15
  • Germany – 22
  • Greece – 47
  • Indonesia – 102
  • Iraq – 178
  • Israel – 52
  • Malaysia – 24
  • Myanmar – 89
  • New Zealand – 16
  • Pakistan – 180
  • Saudi Arabia – 106
  • Spain – 40
  • Sudan – 246
  • Syria – 102
  • Sweden – 13
  • Thailand – 76
  • United Kingdom – 19
  • United States – 25

I decided to work out the daily average for Chiang Mai over the last year from February 2007 to February 2008 and came up with the following:

  • Chiang Mai – 49.85

I then worked out the daily average for March 2007 only and it worked out as the following:

  • Chiang Mai – 161.7

When is the best time to visit Chiang Mai? The answer would depend on the state of your respiratory system – but I’d try to avoid March if possible!

If you’re interested in downloading the Excel spreadsheet with all the international data from the World Bank website – please click here.

Health reasons for being a vegetarian

If there is something all health experts can agree upon – it is that animal fat is NOT healthy. In fact the best thing you can do for your health is to become a vegetarian. A healthy vegetarian diet also protects you against numerous diseases, including: heart disease, cancer, and strokes.

Vegetarianism - Fruit and vegetables

The American Dietetic Association have declared that vegetarians have "lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer" and that vegetarians are less likely than meat-eaters to be overweight. This of course doesn’t mean that you are necessarily skinny just because you are a vegetarian – but you are definitely healthier. Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters. Meat-eaters are furthermore nine times more likely to be overweight than vegans are.

The consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products has also been strongly linked to osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, and male impotence. Scientists have also found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than their meat-eaters and this means that they are less prone to everyday sicknesses like the flu. Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters. Some may infer that it is not worth living longer if you can eat what you want – but there are more reasons than "merely" health to be a vegetarian (read: Global hunger: The more meat we eat, the fewer people we can feed)

A good vegetarian diet is perfectly sufficient for you to get all the nutrients you need, and without all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal products.

Highly recommended: On PETA’s website you can request a great, free vegetarian starter kit and they even send it for free (amazing!!!). I ordered one online for both of my sisters and my mum and they were delivered free of charge to their house: http://goveg.com/order.asp