Press News 012021

We published several articles in the fall of 2020, including:

"Repression of Anti-Racist Organic Intellectuals and Social Movements." Critical Mass Bulletin, Newsletter of the Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements, American Sociological Association, Volume 45 (4) Special Issue Fall 2020

"Moses Seenarine - Scholar/Activist Profiles." Critical Mass Bulletin, Newsletter of the Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements, American Sociological Association, Volume 45 (4) Special Issue Fall 2020

"Is Critical Race Theory Divisive? Politics and Curriculum in the Trump Era." Teaching/Learning Matters, American Sociological Association, Section on Teaching and Learning. Volume 51, Issue 4. Fall 2020

"Deconstructing ‘Race’ and ‘Whiteness’ in Critical Animal Studies." Mobilizing Ideas, Center for the Study of Social Movements, University of Notre Dame, Oct. 30 

2020 Climate Review

As the 2021 year begins, we review some important climate developments last year. First of all, 2020 tied 2016 for the hottest year on record globally. Second, 2020 continues a rapid heating trend as the last seven years have been the warmest in 150 years, and it concludes the warmest decade on record.  

Average global temperatures in 2020 were 1 degree Celsius (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than in the 30-year average between 1951 and 1980. Since 1980, warming has averaged around 0.2 degree C (0.32 degrees F) per decade. NASA Global Climate Change's Vital Signs of the Planet report that CO2 level is now 415 ppm, the Arctic ice minimum loss is 13.1 percent per decade, the ice sheets are losing 428 billion metric tons per year, and sea level is raising at 3.3 millimeters per year. 

The changing climate is contributing to stronger hurricanes, larger and more destructive wildfires, and heavier rainfall that can cause flooding. Rising temperatures are also causing loss of sea ice and ice sheet mass, sea level rise, longer and more intense heat waves, and shifts in plant and animal habitats.

There were record fires in Australia and California, and severe drought in central South America and the American Southwest. Notably, 2020 was a La Nina year, with cooler temperatures in the vast Pacific Ocean. Yet, Typhoon Goni made landfall in the Philippines as the strongest tropical cyclone in history with sustained winds of 195 mph. 

Europe and Asia had their hottest years on record, while South America and the Caribbean had their second-hottest. Europe had its warmest year ever in 2020, with heat waves lasting into September. The world’s oceans had their third warmest year. The Arctic and Siberia were among the hottest regions, around 6 degrees C warmer than the mid-20th century average. In South American, warming and drought resulted in fires across the vast Pantanal wetland.  

According to NOAA, the US experienced $95 billion in climate disaster damages, with major disasters like the western wildfires, a record-breaking hurricane season and the mid-summer Midwest derecho that caused extensive damage. There were 22 weather and climate disasters in 2020 that cost over $1 billion in damages, surpassing the annual record of 16 billion-dollar disasters in 2017. The Atlantic Basin produced 30 named storms, with 13 of those becoming hurricanes. This topped 2005, which previously had the most storms in a season, 28. And, a record-breaking 12 named storms made a US landfall in 2020. Six of the US landfalls were from hurricanes - Hanna, Isaias, Laura, Sally, Delta and Zeta - far above the average of one to two hurricane landfalls per year.

Phoenix, AZ, saw 145 days of 100-degree heat, breaking the previous record of 143 days set in 1989. Miami, FL, saw daily record temperatures (record warm highs, record warm lows) broken or tied a combined 64 times in 2020. The temperature in Death Valley, CA, reached 54.4 degrees C, the hottest in 80 years. Meanwhile, the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk reported a summer temperature of 100.4 degrees F, the first time recorded temperatures above the Arctic Circle have surpassed 100 degrees F.

As the 2020 year ends, some of the changes scientists are exploring include the weird fact that nights are warming faster than days, and how climate change is harming children's diets. Global warming is faster than evolution, and is making baby sharks smaller, undernourished and exhausted. Also, researchers found that global warming has profoundly transformed Arctic in just 15 years, the urban heat-island effect is turning cities into ovens, and that the warming already baked in will blow pass climate goals.

Although the political climate improved in the US at the end of the year, there has been decades of climate denial and limited action. This polluting legacy means that the new administration's climate policies may fall well short of what is needed to slow down abrupt climate change in 2021 and beyond.

COVID-19 in 2020: Lessons Learned


A year ago, on 2019 New Year's Eve (NYE), China's health authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that they had identified a cluster of cases of "pneumonia of an unknown cause" in the city of Wuhan. A year later, the streets of Wuhan were packed with crowds of people celebrating 2020 NYE, while billions around the world were left stranded inside their homes, in an attempt to curb the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2 virus that cause the COVID-19 disease. As 2020 comes to an end, we reflect on the lessons learned so far regarding this health pandemic.

2020 was an unprecedented year that saw the novel coronavirus spread from Wuhan, where it was originally detected, to reach each continent and corner of the globe, including Antarctica. According to Johns Hopkins University, by the end of the year, SARS-CoV-2 had infected 83 million people, and caused the deaths of 1.8 million individuals.[1] The USA, with a population of 332 million people, had the most infections and deaths, 20 million cases and 346,000 deaths. With less than five percent of the world's population, the USA had close to a quarter of the world's total number of coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19. The USA had more coronavirus cases than the next three countries combined (India, Brazil and Russia).

Compared to the USA, India with four times the population (1.3 billion), had half the number of cases and deaths, 10 million cases and 148,000 deaths. And, China, with even more people (1.4 billion), had even less cases and deaths, 87,000 cases and 4,600 deaths. The figures from the USA, India and China show that the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 has been unequal. Why is the USA figure so high, and what do these numbers tell us about this deadly virus?

Where Did SARS Originate?

Before we can start analyzing the unequal toll from the disease, it is important to consider some basic questions, and sum up the lessons learned so far. The first set of questions relate to the origin of the crisis - where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? Does the origin of SARS-CoV-2 have anything in common with the the SARS virus that appeared in 2002? What are the chances of a third severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus arising in the next decade? The constant mutation of SARS viruses are also troubling. In the final weeks of 2020, there was two significant SARS-CoV-2 mutations, the UK’s B.1.1.7 and South Africa’s 501.V2. Both are more infectious than their progenitors. If we understand what is causing SARS pathogens to materialize and mutate, then we can try to prevent future pandemics from this coronavirus.

Destruction of Nature

The UN and World Health Organization suggest that, in general, pandemics result from the destruction of nature. Environmental scientists also argue that less biodiversity will eventually lead to more disease. We know that the state of biodiversity is bad, but what can we do to turn things around? For one, destructive development projects are often subsidized by governments and international monetary organizations, so this form of socialized capitalism has to end. To preserve biodiversity, it is critical to restore and respect indigenous land rights. Also, an important economic lesson that business owners in urban areas should learn is that investing some of their profits in preserving nature, forests and ecosystems will enable them to remain in business in the long run. This is because protecting biodiversity can help to prevent future health pandemics and economic crises that can result in loss of market and business failure.

Are Animal Wet Markets to Blame?

In addition to the general cause of pandemics, it would be useful to know if there was a specific vector that caused SARS-CoV-2? Did this infectious virus originate in a food animal wet market or on a particular factory farm? The exact cause of transmission is yet unknown, but if food animal production is to blame, then reducing demand for animal products has to be part of the SARS solution. However, governments and banks are expending billions of dollars to subsidize factory farms and promote carnism as part of economic growth. This funding of future pandemics has to stop. Just like we have to de-fund fossil fuel companies to stop global warming, in order to decrease the chance of more SARS pandemics arising, funding agencies must recognize that industrial animal agriculture has to be curtailed.

Failure of Herd-immunity

One vital lesson of 2020 relates to the failure of an open economic policy and trying to develop natural immunity to a SARS virus in the general population. Sweden (pop. 10 million) followed a herd-immunity plan with little official restrictions. By the end of the year, this national approach resulted in 437K infections and 8,700 deaths from COVID-19. Sweden's neighbors had much lower COVID-19 death figures in 2020. For example, there were only 450 deaths in Norway, and 1,400 in Denmark. In comparison, Australia (pop. 25 million) with double the population of Sweden, implemented strong lockdown measures, like business and school closures and mandatory mask-wearing. By the end of the year, Australia's response resulted in far lower infections and fatalities, 28K cases and 900 deaths from COVID-19. Sweden's policy was irresponsible since it resulted in 15 times the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases and 10 times the number of COVID-19 fatalities as Australia. This shows that trying to achieve natural herd-immunity is a poor response to SARS viruses, with deadly consequences.

Strong Lockdowns Work

An important lesson learned in 2020 relates to the effectiveness of strong lockdown policies. To stop infections from getting out of control, it is important to immediately address the problem by shutting down the economy and halting the movement of people. Countries that had the most success in limiting the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections in 2020, like China (87K), Australia (28K), New Zealand (2,181) and Taiwan (812), did so with strong lockdown measures.[2] And, regions that had the least success in limiting the rise in SARS-CoV-2 cases by the end of the year, like Europe, North America and South American, implemented limited lockdown measures, with fewer business and school closures.

Another lesson learned from 2020, is that as SARS-CoV-2 spreads in a country, it becomes increasingly deadly. This is evident in the nationally reported figures on COVID-19 deaths. Although countrywide levels of testing and transparency vary, we can learn a lot by looking at COVID-19 fatalities per million people in 2020.[2] The number of deaths in the European Union (EU), US, Mexico and South America are far beyond the figures in Asian countries that have managed to limit the spread of the virus. Let's examine the numbers.

In Depth: European Union

Many Western European countries experienced an infection surge in the Spring, and implemented strong lockdown measures. Most states were fully reopened a few months later after flattening the SARS-CoV-2 curve. But, after the Summer lull, cases began to rise again with deadly consequences by the end of 2020. For example, France (pop. 67 million) had 2.6 million total SARS-CoV-2 infections and 988 deaths per million people from COVID-19. At one point during the Spring peak, France had around 975 deaths per day. But this number dropped during the Summer to as few as 8 deaths per day. At the end of the year, the fatality rate was back up, and above the Spring peak. The UK (pop. 66 million) had 2.7 million cases in total, and a fatality rate of 1070. Italy (pop. 60 million) had 2.1 million infections and 1217 deaths per one million people. Italy was among EU countries with the highest fatality rate from the virus. And, Spain (pop. 47 million) had 1.9 million cases and a COVID-19 fatality rate of 1084 by the end of 2020.

Most Central and Eastern Europe states avoided the worst of the first coronavirus wave in the Spring. However, at the end of 2020, these nations were experiencing some of the most rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the world. For example, Slovenia (pop. 2 million) had a total of 150 COVID-19 deaths as of October 1st, but then, over the next 10 weeks, that figure jumped to over 2,000. As the year closed, the country had 125K infections, 2.8K deaths, and a high fatality rate of 1,365 deaths per million people.

Compared to these high SARS-CoV-2 case numbers and morbidity rates, some EU countries maintained preventive measures throughout the Summer and Fall, which resulted in less infections and deaths. For example, Germany (pop. 83 million) had 1.7 million cases and a fatality rate of 396 deaths per million people. Denmark (pop. 6 million) had 170K cases and a fatality rate of 216. And, Norway (pop. 5 million) had 51K infections and 80 deaths per million people from COVID-19. Germany, Denmark and Norway implemented stronger lockdowns measures for longer periods of time, which reduced their numbers, compared to EU countries with higher fatality rates. This trend suggest that more open policies results in more deaths from this pandemic.

In Depth: North and South America

During this unprecedented year, in general, countries in North and South America remained mostly open with limited lockdowns, which resulted in higher COVID-19 fatality rates. For example, the USA (pop. 330 million) had 20 million SARS-CoV-2 cases and a COVID-19 fatality rate of 1034 deaths per million people. Brazil (pop. 210 million) had 7.7 million infections and a fatality rate of 912. Columbia (pop. 50 million) had 1.7 million cases and a death rate of 843. Argentina (pop. 45 million) had 1.6 million cases and a fatality rate of 961. Mexico (pop. 126 million) had 1.4 million cases and a death rate of 968. Peru (pop. 32 million) had 1 million infections and a fatality rate of 1139. And, Bolivia (pop. 11 million) had 167K cases and 783 deaths per million people.

Fatality rates in the Western Hemisphere are as high as those in the worse EU countries, but there are a few exceptions. Like Germany, Canada (pop. 37 million) took strong lockdown and preventative measures, which resulted in 610K cases and a fatality rate of 410. The states with the first and second highest number of total COVID-19 deaths are both in the Western Hemisphere - the USA (350K) and Brazil (195K). Tellingly, the machismo leaders of both countries downplayed the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and resisted lockdowns. Their inaction show that doing little to slow the spread of SARS viruses leads to more deaths.

In Depth: Asia

In the East, where SARS-CoV-2 supposedly originated, COVID-19 fatality rates are far lower than those in the West. Asian countries have more experience in dealing with infectious disease, compared to the West. For example, a SARS-associated coronavirus, originated in China in 2002, and killed more than 800 people around the world by 2003. Asian countries have prior experience with the SARS virus, so there is more health compliance, like avoiding contact, mask-wearing and isolation. One exception is India, which has the third highest COVID-19 deaths (178K). With 107 deaths per million people, India also has the highest COVID-19 fatality rate in Asia. One main reason is that India's strong lockdown policy triggered a mass migration of laborers from urban areas that spread the virus to rural areas. Better planning and support for workers could have limited the spread, but India's death rate is still almost 10 times less than that of the UK and US.

Although Asian countries have larger populations, their SARS-CoV-2 case and morbidity numbers in 2020 were much lower than countries in the West. For example, the Philippines (pop. 106 million) had 475K cases, 9K deaths, and a COVID-19 fatality rate of 84 deaths per million people. Indonesia (pop. 267 million) had 770K infections, 22K deaths and a death rate of 80. Nepal (pop. 28 million) had 262K cases, 1.8K deaths, and a fatality rate of 63. Myanmar (pop. 54 million) had 126K infections, 2.7K fatalities, and a rate of 48 deaths per million people.

In Bangladesh (pop. 161 million), there were 516K cases of SARS-CoV-2, 7.5K deaths from COVID-19, and a fatality rate of 45. Pakistan (pop. 212 million) had 490K infections, 10.5K deaths and a fatality rate of 46. Japan (pop. 126 million) had 243K cases, 3.5K fatalities and a rate of 25 deaths per million people. South Korea (pop. 51 million) had 64K infections, 1K deaths and a fatality rate of 17, and China had 3 deaths per million people. In Oceania, the rates of death from the virus are lower still. Australia's COVID-19 fatality rate was 35, and New Zealand (pop. 5 million) had 2.1K infections, 25 deaths and a fatality rate of 5 deaths per million people. These figures show that lockdowns and preventive measures were effective in reducing morbidity rates in the East.

In Depth: West Asia and Africa

West Asia was slow to implement lockdown measures in 2020, and many restrictions were not followed or enforced. There is an uneven distribution of COVID-19 fatality rates per million people across the region. For example, in Iran (pop. 82 million), there were 1.2 million infections of SARS-CoV-2, 55K deaths from COVID-19, and a high fatality rate of 650 deaths per million people. Turkey (pop. 82 million) had 2.2 million cases, 21K deaths, and a fatality rate of 250. Saudi Arabia (pop. 33 million) had 363K infections, 6.2K deaths, and a fatality rate of 175. In Egypt (pop. 98 million), there were 143K cases, 7.8K deaths, and a low fatality rate of 76.

Lockdowns and restrictions were uneven in Africa as well. And fatality rates per million people vary widely on the vast African continent, from high to low. For example, South Africa (pop. 58 million) had 1.1 million SARS-CoV-2 infections, 30K deaths from COVID-19, and Africa's highest fatality rate at 472 deaths per million people. Tunisia (pop. 12 million) had 144K cases, 4.8K deaths and a fatality rate of 390. Morocco (pop. 36 million) had 430K infections, 7.5K deaths and a fatality rate of 199. In contrast, Kenya (pop. 51 million) had 95K cases, 1.5K deaths, and a fatality rate of 31 COVID-19 deaths per million people. And Ghana (pop. 30 million) had 55K infections, 335 deaths and a fatality rate of 10 deaths per million people. Unlike West Asian states, most African countries have managed to limit their number of infections and deaths. Many African countries have decades of experience dealing with infectious disease, like hepatitis, HIV, Ebola and cholera, so there is greater health compliance, like mask-wearing and isolation.

Comorbidity Factors

A third basic question from 2020 relates to comorbidities and other issues that can lead to higher COVID-19 fatality rates. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) state that some pre-existing health conditions can increase the likelihood of illness and death from the disease.[3] For example, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and severe obesity can lead to more severe symptoms and outcomes. Age and sex are factors important as well. The length and amount of exposure to the virus is significant, and the weather is a key driver, as colder Winter temperatures have resulted in higher transmission and morbidity rates.

Higher GDP Equals More Deaths

One other lesson we can learn about the difference in the death rates per million people in countries and regions across the globe is that Western and developed nations have higher death rates than Eastern states and those that are less developed. This is shown is a chart comparing death rates and gross domestic production (GDP). On the GDP chart, the countries with higher fatality rates skew towards the top-right, consisting of high GDP states in the EU, like Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, and France, plus the USA and Canada. On the other hand, countries with lower death rates per million people skew towards the bottom-left, consisting of low GDP states in Africa and Asia, like Liberia, Ghana, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Is this GDP and morbidity difference similar to the distinction between higher fatalities in Western states and lower fatalities in Eastern countries that have more experience with infectious diseases and compliance to health regulations? On the chart, many Asian countries are on the right in terms of GDP and in the middle in regards to mortality, for example, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. These Asian countries are more similar to Western states than lower GDP countries in Africa with lower fatality rates per million people.

Carnism and Comorbidities

The co-relation between higher GDPs and higher fatality rates per million people is surprising. Higher GDP countries have advanced medical resources and care, with more doctors, nurses, ICU beds, ventilators, etc., than lower GDP states. So the death rates in rich nations should be lower, not higher. One explanation for the higher death rates relates to diet. Specifically the over-consumption of animal products in higher GDP countries leads to obesity and comorbidities that increase the risk of more severe illness and death from COVID-19. For example, the CDC state that over 40% of adults in the US are obese. The UN FAO chart on meat consumption show that countries with higher food animal consumption are countries with higher GDP, like the US, Canada and the UK. The USA is the top consumer of food animals, and it also has the most COVID-19 deaths.


Food animal consumption is linked to the origin of deadly SARS viruses, and also to higher fatality rates. Yet, there no calls to reduce animal consumption. If the over-consumption rates of the wealthiest nations are not curbed, this will lead to increasing obesity and more COVID-19 deaths. There is little evidence that food animal consumption is slowing, and average GDP countries are starting to follow the same trend as high GDP nations in terms of diet and disease.

Moses Seenarine is the author of Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157

[1] Staff. 2020. Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. Dec. 31.

[2] Staff. 2020. Our World in Data. Global Change Data Lab, University of Oxford.

[3] Ogden, Cynthia. 2015. "Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014." CDC. November 

Over-Consumption Curse

Meat Society: Number 19 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157

As part of due course, many in the over-consumption class suffer from stressful personal and social problems. Individuals often face several personal costs associated with high levels of consumption, like (i) financial debt; (ii) time and stress associated with working to support higher consumption; (iii) time required to clean, upgrade, store, or otherwise maintain possessions; and (iv) the ways in which consumption replaces time with family and friends.

On top of this, aggressive pursuit of a mass consumption society typically correlates with a decline in health indicators in many countries, as obesity, crime, and other social ills surge. One defining characteristic of the consumer class is their marked escalation in food animal consumption.

Appallingly, across the globe, there is a rapid increase in rates of obesity and the numbers of overweight individuals. To solve this health crisis, an array of large-scale programmatic and policy measures are being pursued in a few countries, although, animal consumption remains sacrosanct from change.

Type 2 diabetes is a global public health crisis that threatens the economies of all nations, particularly developing countries. Fueled by rapid urbanization, nutrition transition, and progressively sedentary lifestyles, this epidemic has grown in parallel with the worldwide rise in obesity. Asia's large population and rapid economic development have made it an epicenter of the diabetes epidemic.(488)

Interactions between Westernized diet, lifestyle and genetic background may accelerate the growth of diabetes. On the positive side, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through diet and lifestyle modifications. Putting this into practice, though, will require profound changes in public policies, food and health systems. In addition to obesity and diabetes, there are other chronic health problems associated with food animal over-consumption, such as cancer and heart disease.

Few countries are engaged in serious efforts to prevent the dietary and environment challenges being faced. Around 65 percent of US adults are overweight or obese, leading to an annual loss of 300,000 lives and, at least $117 billion in health care costs in 1999.

Another aspect of over-consumption is increasing consumer debt. In 2002, 61 percent of US credit card users carried a monthly balance, averaging $12,000 at 16 percent interest. This amounts to about $1,900 a year in finance charges, which is in excess of the average per capita income in at least 35 countries.

If the over-consumption rates of the wealthiest nations are curbed, this may slow the rate of expansion everywhere else. Be that as it may, there is little evidence that their consumption is slowing, even in the US, where most people are amply supplied with the goods and services needed to lead a dignified life.

Governments could rein in high consumption by removing economic subsidies for everything from gas-guzzling vehicles to suburban home-building. Currently, government economic subsidies total around $1 trillion globally each year.(489) And since over-consumption translates into higher warming, it should be taxed to pay for mitigation and adaptation.

Chapter 13: OVER-CONSUMPTION CLASS, page 130

Class and Global Diet

Meat Society: Number 18 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157

Global food insecurity is a problem of distribution, not just production. The poor eat less across the world, and there is more poor in the Global South. Around 17 percent of densely populated India is undernourished, even though per capita flesh consumption is relatively low. In contrast, fewer than five percent of people in the US, where 22 percent of the world’s cattle is raised, are at risk of going hungry.(486)

Overall, the clear trend globally is increasing food animal consumption among the urban middle class. Eating animal-based meals is a status symbol. Even with India's religious prohibitions against the eating of cow flesh, 'non-veg' has become a status symbol in the thriving cities. On top of this, across the world, people typically eat food animals as part of a feast, holiday or celebration.

School cafeterias in the Global North serve animal flesh every day, with few plant-based offerings. This raises expectations in children for a daily dose of animal protein. Even though plants are cheaper, a high-pressure, fast food lifestyle is causing adults to lose their taste for vegetables, and they are forgetting how to cook them. Poor adults have to use more of their scarce money for food.

Another aspect of class and diet is the economic gap between developed and developing countries is reflected in their animal consumption. While people in developed countries fulfill upwards of half, 56 percent, of their protein needs from animal sources, people in developing countries obtain only 18 percent in this way.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the BRICS, are five big developing countries. Economic growth in the BRICS is reflected in their animal consumption, and together, they account for 40 percent of the world’s population. Between 2003 and 2012, BRICS animal consumption rose by 6.3 percent a year and is expected to rise by another 2.5 percent a year between 2013 and 2022.

Increase in food animals consumption affects different species. The global upsurge in carnism is mainly due to the expansion in poultry consumption. On a worldwide level, there was no gain in consumption levels of cow flesh from 1970-2000. This trend reflects the fact that while cattle consumption rose in developing countries such as China and Brazil, it fell modestly in North America, Oceania, and Europe.

Chicken consumption in China and India is determined by class and lifestyle to a larger extent, than by population growth. Similarly, in Russia, the world’s biggest cow carcass importer, demand depends on prosperity from oil and gas export revenues, since the population peaked in 1991, at around 150 million. While animal carcass is cheap in Brazil, it is expensive in South Africa. Several economic crises in South Africa have ensured that the rising demand for animal flesh is almost entirely limited to cheaper chicken carcass.

The world face increasing demand for food. Between 2005 and 2050, food demand may soar 59 to 98 percent higher than the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate of 54 percent, from the 2005/2007 levels. There are many uncertainties, but food projections are more sensitive to socio-economic assumptions, than to climate warming or bioenergy scenarios.(487) The global middle-class is the key driver of food demand. 

The FAO range in food estimates is wide, in particular for consumption of animal calories - between 61 percent and 144 percent. This is due to differences in specifications, income, and price. With higher population and lower economic growth, consumption per capita drops on average by 9 percent for crops and 18 percent for livestock. This shows that a consumption tax on food animals can greatly lower climate-altering gases.

Chapter 13: OVER-CONSUMPTION CLASS, page 130

Global Substitution Diets

Meat Society: Number 17 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157

One main aspect of over-consumption is the substitution of animal-base foods for plant-based foods as income and wealth swells. Food animal over-consumption is a increasing problem among the world's growing middle class. For example, there are over 300 million obese adults worldwide, up from 200 million in 1995.

Consumption habits have various environmental impacts, particularly on land. The planet has only 1.9 hectares (4.6 acres) of biologically productive land per person to supply resources and absorb wastes. In spite of that, the average person on Earth already uses 2.3 hectares (5.6 acres) worth. People's ecological footprints range from the 9.7 hectares (24 acres) claimed by the average American, to the 0.47 hectares (1.1 acre) used by the average Mozambican.(481)

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noteworthy improvements have been made in food consumption per person. During three decades, between 1969/1971 and 1999/2001, there has been an increase of almost 400 kcal per person, per day from 2,411 to 2,789 kcal, globally. All the same, at the lower end of the development spectrum, the poor regions of Sub-Saharan Africa saw only modest gains in their prevailing low levels of available food, while Middle Africa experienced a pronounced drop-off.

Despite the 16.5 percent addition to per person global caloric intake, some developing countries have declined further from what was already a very low per capita food consumption level. This was especially so in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda and Kenya.(482)

In terms of calories from major food commodities, there are monumental differences between developing and industrial countries. Between 1963 and 2003, developing countries had immense upsurges in the consumption of calories from animal-based foods (119%), sugar (127%) and vegetable oils (199%). China showed even bigger hikes in this 40 year period, especially in vegetable oils (680%), animal products (349%) and sugar (305%).

There has been a 62 percent spike in food animal consumption worldwide, with the biggest growth in the developing countries which had an average three-fold increase since 1963. China had a dramatic nine-fold ramp-up and Eastern Asia had a five-fold expansion in the supply of animal food calories per capita.

In industrial countries, over the same four decades, vegetable oil consumption rose appreciably (105%). Animal-based products such as pig sausages, cow burgers, pig pies, etc., account for almost half of all carcass consumed in developed countries. In the US, over half of the energy intake, 58 percent of food consumed, comes from ultra-processed foods such as sodas, and milk-based drinks; cakes, cookies and pies; salty snacks; frozen and shelf-stable plates; pizza and breakfast cereals.(483)

In both developing and industrial countries, there were declines for pulses, roots, and tubers between 1963 and 2003. This is part of the ‘substitution’ effect, a shift in the consumption of foodstuffs with no major variation in the overall energy supply. This shift is primarily from carbohydrate-rich staples like cereals, roots, and tubers, to vegetable oils, animal products, and sugar.

Consumption of pulses plummeted globally, and in particular among developing countries. For instance, there was a 10-fold drop-off in China, from 30g (1 oz) per capita per day in 1963, to 3g (0.1 oz) in 2003. At the same time, there was a sharp plunge in sweet potatoes intake in many developing countries, accompanied by a parallel marked rise in potatoes. In China sweet potato dwindled down from 227g (8 oz) in 1963, to 99g (3.5 oz) in 2003, while intake of potatoes rose from 25g (1 oz) to 96g (3.3 oz) per capita per day.(484)

In Africa and parts of Asia, cereals supply up to 70 percent of energy intake. By comparison, in the UK, cereals provide only 30 percent of energy intake and 50 percent of available carbohydrates. Globally, rice consumption has seen negligible gains. This is due in large part to declines in countries that have predominantly rice-based diets, particularly China and other East Asian countries.

While production of fruits and vegetables has been expanding over recent years, inadequate consumption remains a problem worldwide. States need to help to make fruits and vegetables accessible and affordable to a larger extent for poor households as well as ensure access to markets by smaller producers.

The WHO recommends that average fruit and vegetable intake should be at least 400g (14 oz) per person per day. But in Europe and Australia, fruit and vegetable consumption remains well below the recommended levels for adults. What's more, in developed countries, the poor eat a smaller quantity of fruit and vegetables.(485)

Chapter 13: OVER-CONSUMPTION CLASS, page 129

Over-Consumption and GHGs

Meat Society: Number 16 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157

The stuff humans consume, like food, gadgets, toys and accessories, is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gases (GHGs), and around 50 to 80 percent of total land, material, and water use. Between 60 to 80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption.(476)

However, human shoe sizes are not identical, and it is the same with ecological footprints. Consumerism is much higher in developed countries than in poor countries. Those with the highest rates of consumerism have up to 5.5 times the environmental impact as the world average. The US have the highest per capita emissions with 18.6 tonnes CO2e. Luxembourg had 18.5 tonnes, and Australia came in third with 17.7 tonnes. The world average, for comparison, was 3.4 tonnes, and China had just 1.8 tonnes.

Lifestyle and consumption impacts are highly unequal within and between countries. For example, the carbon footprints of citizens in G20 developing countries like Brazil and India are far lower than those of their counterparts in the rich OECD nations like Germany and the UK. On top of that, there are significant differences in the consumption effects caused by rich and poor citizens in developed countries like the USA.

Overall, the world's rich are largely responsible for causing climate chaos. Moreover, climate warming is inextricably linked to economic inequality. A natural disaster crisis driven by climate-altering gases generated by the ‘haves,’ is affecting the ‘have-nots’ the hardest. 

Fifty percent of the world’s carbon outflows are produced by the world’s richest 10 percent, while the poorest half, 3.5 billion people, are responsible for a mere 10 percent of CO2 emission. Further exaggerated, the wealthiest one (1) percent of the world’s population emit 30 times the pollution of the poorest 50 percent, and 175 times the volume of carbon of those living in the bottom 10 percent.(477) 

The average GHG footprint of a person in the poorest half of the global population is just 1.57 tCO2. This amount is 11 times less than the average footprint of someone in the richest 10 percent of the world. The average emissions of someone in the poorest 10 percent of the global population is 60 times less that of someone in the richest 10 percent of the world.

The vast majority of the world’s wealthiest 10 percent are high emitters who live in developed 37 OECD countries, although this is slowly changing. In South Africa, the richest 10 percent of citizens already have average lifestyle consumption footprints ten times higher than the poorest half of the population. In Brazil, it is eight times as high. Still, around a third of the world’s richest 10 percent are from the US.

The per capita GHG footprints from the wealthiest 10 percent of Indian citizens are one-quarter of the poorest 50 percent of those from the US. The poorest 50 percent of Indians have a carbon footprint that is one-twentieth of the poorest 50 percent in the US. And, the poorest half of Indians, around 600m people, has a total emissions footprint about the same as the richest 10 percent of citizens in Japan, around 12m people.

While the total climate-altering gases produced in China divided on a per capita basis have now surpassed those of the European Union, the per capita lifestyle consumption footprint of the wealthiest 10 percent of Chinese citizens are considerably lower than the richest of their OECD counterparts. This is because a large share of China’s emissions is from the production of goods consumed in developed countries. The poorest half of the Chinese population, over 600m people, have a total GHG footprint that is one-third that of the wealthiest 10 percent of US citizens, around 30m people.

The richest citizens in the Global North and Global South can and should cut their GHG footprints through lifestyle modifications. Still and all, they cannot solve the climate crisis alone. Effectual solutions require reduced footprints from the vast majority of citizens in the Global North, who are distinctly part of the over-consumption problem.

One author, Oppenlander, argues, “Our civilization displays a curious instinct when confronted with a problem related to overconsumption - we simply find a way to produce more of what it is we are consuming, instead of limiting or stopping that consumption.”(478) This is certainly true for food animals, due to the combined efforts of governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and transnational corporations (TFCs).

For decades, the consumption of goods and services has risen steadily in industrial nations, by virtually any measure: (i) amount of household expenditures, (ii) number of consumers, or (iii) by extraction of raw materials. And, consumption is growing rapidly in many developing countries as well.

An emerging body of research is examining environmentally significant consumption, a broad term used to encompass consumption practices that have particularly serious environmental consequences. Stern notes that “(consumption) is not solely a social or economic activity but a human-environment transaction. Its causes are largely economic and social, at least in advanced societies, but its effects are biophysical.”(479)

Consumption is the result of social, economic, technological, political, and psychological forces. Global, private consumption expenditures - the total spent on goods and services at the household level - topped $20 trillion in 2000, a four-fold spread over 1960 (in 1995 dollars).(480)

There are in excess of 1.7 billion members of 'the consumer class' and nearly half of them are in the developing world. An over-consumption lifestyle and culture that became common in Europe, North America, Japan, and a few other pockets of the world in the 20th century, is going global in the 21st century.

Around 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe are responsible for 60 percent of private consumption spending. In comparison, the 33 percent of the global population living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent of private consumption.

US consumers are leaders in over-consumption. With less than 5 percent of the global population, Americans use about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources - 25 percent of the coal, 26 percent of the oil, and 27 percent of the world’s natural gas. On top of that, the UNEP calculated that 33 percent of the average US household's carbon footprint in 2010 was due to emissions caused abroad from the production of goods imported into the US market.

As of 2003, the US had a larger number of private cars than licensed drivers, and gas-guzzling sport utility trucks were among the best-selling vehicles. New houses in the US were 38 percent bigger in 2002 than in 1975, despite having fewer people per household on average.

China and India make up 20 percent of the global consumer class, with a combined population of 362 million. Notably, this Asian middle class is bigger than all of Western Europe. All the same, the average Chinese or Indian member consumes substantially less than the average European.

China and India’s large consumer class constitutes only 16 percent of the region’s population, whereas, in Europe the figure is 89 percent. This suggests that there is considerable room for growth in the developing world, and a vast opportunity to reduce over-consumption in Europe and the Global North.

Chapter 13: OVER-CONSUMPTION CLASS, pages 127-8

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