Carnism and Climate Justice

Carnism and Climate Justice
by Moses Seenarine, 01/16/18

Inclusive wealth is the sum of a community's capital assets, including natural assets like fish or trees, but also human health and education, as well as built assets like roads, buildings and factories. A changing climate can reallocate natural capital, change the value of all forms of capital, and lead to mass redistribution of wealth.

"Inclusive wealth" is shifting out of the temperate zones and toward the poles as global temperatures rise. Climate change is thus taking inclusive wealth from the poor and giving to the rich. This reallocation of resources from the global South to the global North should be an essential part of climate justice.

Climate justice advocates view planetary heating as an ethical issue and scrutinize how its causes and effects relate to concepts of justice, particularly environmental justice and social justice. Climate justice is a struggle over land, forest, water, culture, food sovereignty, collective and social rights. It is a struggle that considers “justice” at the basis of any solution. This can mean examining issues such as equality, human rights, collective rights and historical responsibility in relation to environmental degradation and climate warming. Recognizing the fact that those least responsible for climate chaos will experience its greatest impacts is central to climate justice.

Advocates point out that there are racial and class differences in responses to social and environmental disasters, like with Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Katrina culminated in the displacement of 400,000 individuals along the US Gulf Coast and disproportionately affected low-income and minority victims. The groups most vulnerable to the Katrina disaster were the poor, black, brown, elderly, sick, and homeless. Similarly, when Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012, 33% of individuals in the storm surge area lived in government-assisted housing, and half of the 40,000 public housing residents of the city were displaced.

Katrina, Sandy, and other disasters show that climate inequalities are horizontal as well as vertical. For example, (i) women face greater endangerment than men; (ii) rural communities are exposed to a larger extent than urban ones; and (iii) groups marginalized because of class, race, ethnicity, migration and other factors are likely to be disproportionately affected.

The global livestock sector is part of the reallocation of the global South's resources to the global North. The food animal industry is a slower and less noticeable environmental disaster than a hurricane, but it is more widespread and involves far greater forms of human and nonhuman animal oppression. Loss of land rights, indigenous dispossession, trafficking and sexual oppression are part and parcel of the livestock sector, so food animal production and consumption are essential climate justice issues. 

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ ]

Where the Left Turns Right: Carnism and Colonialism

Where the Left Turns Right: Carnism and Colonialism
by Moses Seenarine, 01/16/18

Livestock is related to colonialism, racism, and classism. Geologist Tony Weis in his book, The Ecological Hoofprint - The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock, explains how the growth and industrialization of livestock production were instrumental to European colonialism and imperialism, and to worsening human inequality in the present. For centuries, over the course of European colonial domination and expansion worldwide, livestock production enlarged through intention and accident.

Livestock was a profound part of European conquest of thousands of indigenous groups, and their subsequent extraction and under-development policies on local lands. From mining and logging to plantations and trade, livestock was instrumental in land dispossession, indigenous genocide, extraction of minerals, and ecological disaster. In Brazil and elsewhere, the growth of cattle facilitated the colonial economy's expansion into the forests and indigenous communities, and continues to do so in the present-day. 

Unequal consumption of animal-based foods was a critical aspect of colonialism, class differentiation and white supremacy. Eating animal carcass was a prized demonstration of class status in England, first among the nobility and later for emergent capitalist elites. And, progressively, consumption of animal flesh became a strong working class aspiration as well. Across Europe and the globe, progressively, flesh intake's marker of class and privilege is linked to social oppression. By way of illustration, one researcher shows how by exploiting Irish and Scottish workers and land, carcass intake in England was able to dwarf that of the rest of Europe well into the 19th century. 

Sociologist David Nibert centers his analysis on nomadic pastoralism and the development of commercial ranching, and he shows how this practice was largely controlled by elite groups with the rise of capitalism. Nibert links domestication to some of the most critical issues facing the world today, like the depletion of fresh water, topsoil, and oil reserves, global warming, and world hunger. Similar to Weis, Nibert argues that animal-based exploitation was central to the expansion of capitalism and economic elites. 

Nibert explicates four critical connections: (i) the military use of domesticated animals in agrarian society; (ii) livestock's role in the Spanish invasion of the Philippines; (iii) domesticates and indigenous displacement; and (iv) the reign of “cattle kings” in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America. 

Rural displacement is commonplace in the industry. In the 1950s, only 25% of the population in Latin America lived in urban areas. This number grew to 40% by the 1980s. And, over this period, the number of landless campesinos more than tripled. By 2007, around 77% of the population were living in urban areas. 

Nibert further links domesticated animals with depletion of finite resources and conflicts at regional and international levels in the present. And, he probes how exploding animal-based food intake is leading to a pandemic of chronic diseases and creates the potential for a global influenza pandemic that may disproportionately affect the poor and disadvantaged.

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ ]

Eating Responsibly: Meat Causes Food Insecurity

Eating Responsibly: Meat Causes Food Insecurity
by Moses Seenarine, 1/12/18

The modern practice of animal-based agribusiness has implications for food security, inequality, and human health. Humans produce enough calories in the world to feed everyone, even with an accretionary global population. Still and all, according to the UN, around one in eight people in the world is severely malnourished or lack access to food, due to poverty and high food prices. 

While 91% of farmers in the US have crop insurance to cover losses in the event of extreme weather, only 15% of farmers in India are covered. In China, only around 10% of farmers have crop insurance, and just 1% or less in Malawi and most low-income countries. Food security and food sustainability are on a collision course. Reversing direction to avoid this major counterpoint will require extreme downward shifts by large segments of the world's population in their intake of animal carcass, chicken eggs, cow's milk and seafood. 

Given current and future crop projections under a warmer climate, it is wasteful to use highly productive croplands to produce animal feed since this is conducive to exhausting the world's food supply. According to one study, “80 percent of the world’s starving children live in countries where food surpluses are fed to animal that are then killed and eaten by more well-off individuals in developed countries.” 

Similarly, an advocate for dietary change pointed out, “Intensive meat production isn’t just torture for animals. It destroys the environment, and devours great chunks of our raw materials which we import from the global South as animal feed.” This plant-based advocate continued, “Argentina and Brazil are dramatically increasing their soy cultivation, and it's being fed almost exclusively to the animals we slaughter, forcing up land prices. Small farmers are losing their land and livelihoods. That schnitzel on our plates jeopardizes the food security of many people in the global South.” 

Food waste is another mountainous issue since 30% to 50% of food is wasted worldwide. Waste negatively affects global food availability, especially in the US, China, and India. Reducing food waste in these three countries alone could yield food for upwards of 400 million people.

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ ]

Eating 'Rich': Class and Diet

Eating 'Rich': Class and Diet
by Moses Seenarine 1/10/18

Food security is a problem of distribution, not just production. Around 17% of densely populated India is undernourished, even though per capita flesh consumption is relatively low. In contrast, fewer than 5% of people in the US, where 22% of the world’s cattle is raised, are at risk of going hungry. 

Overall, the clear trend globally is for rising animal consumption among the urban middle class. Eating animal-based meals is a status symbol. Even with India's religious prohibitions and cultural politics 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 animals as part of a feast, holiday or celebration. School cafeterias serve animal carcass every day with few plant-based offerings, raising expectations for a daily dose of flesh. 

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. The economic gap between developed and developing countries is reflected in their animal consumption. While people in developed countries fulfill upwards of half, 56%, of their protein needs from animal sources, people in developing countries obtain only 18% 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% of the world’s population. Between 2003 and 2012, BRICS animal consumption rose by 6.3% a year and is expected to rise by another 2.5% a year between 2013 and 2022. 

The upsurge in carnism is due to the expansion in poultry consumption worldwide. Cow carcass is the one category that on a worldwide level showed no gain in consumption levels 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 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. 

Between 2005 and 2050, food demand may soar 60 to 100% higher than the FAO's estimate of 50% from 2005/2007 levels. There are many uncertainties, but food projections are more sensitive to socio-economic assumptions than to climate warming or bioenergy scenarios. With higher population and lower economic growth, food consumption per capita drops on average by 10% for crops and 20% for livestock. This shows that a consumption tax on food animals can greatly lower livestock intake and associated climate-altering gases.

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ ]

Colonizer Diet: Feed and Displacement

Colonizer Diet: Feed and Displacement 
by Moses Seenarine 1/10/18

Land used to grow a billion tons of livestock feed is cultivated as monoculture over vast areas. Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop or plant species over a wide area for consecutive years. In many regions feed crops are grown in mass monocultures and exported worldwide. 

The animal feed business is booming and spreading out rapidly. By way of illustration, in Argentina, soy crops ballooned from 4 million hectares (15k sq mi) in 1988, to 9 million (35k sq mi) in 2000, to 19 million hectares (73k sq mi) in 2012. This is close to a five-fold boost in a little over two decades. Correspondingly, soy production in Argentina went from 10 million tons in 1988, to 20 million in 2000, to 52 million tons in 2012. 

In 2012, soy represented 22% of Argentinian exports, compared to cow carcass and chicken at 3%. Around 25% of the world's soybean exports are from Argentina. Soy production alone is projected to boom by 5 million hectares (19k sq mi) by 2020, to 27 million hectares (104k sq mi) – the area of New Zealand. By 2020, cattle production is likewise predicted to enlarge by 25%. 

Even so, cattle-ranching is already responsible for about half of Brazil’s GHG pollution, involving large amounts of methane, due to the vast numbers of cattle. Feed crop monoculture has caused the displacement of millions of families, and thousands of communities across the global South. 

Multitudes of small-scale farmers have been priced off their land or forced to sell to bigger producers, losing homes and livelihood. Indigenous communities, whose traditional land rights are rarely recognized or respected, are particularly affected. They are powerless to stop the collusion of state, local elites and TFCs usurping their lands and ways of life with the spread of ranching and feed crops. 

There are around 1.5 million small farmers in Paraguay, yet 70% of the land is owned by just 2% of landowners. This extreme form of inequality is fueled by livestock production. Deplorably, the majority of the rural Paraguayan population, largely indigenous, no longer own land and live in extreme poverty. Only 15% of this population has access to safe drinking water and 42% to medical care. Similarly, small farms represent 78% of all farms in Peru but occupy a mere 6% of the country’s agricultural lands. 

Throughout the globe, livestock is a major cause of rising inequality and landlessness. The growing demand for land in South America, Asia and elsewhere is leading to conflicts across many feed-growing regions, with widespread reports of violent attacks on rural communities. Families and whole communities have been forcibly evicted from their homes. Some have had their houses burned, often in the middle of the night. In collusion with livestock and feed producers, the Paraguayan police and security forces have been accused of operating death squads. 

Across the world, the spread of feed plantations has reduced the number of small farms, the tradition source of food for rural communities. Production of corn, rice, oats, and beans has diminished substantially. The upshot has been an escalation in food insecurity. For example, from 1996 and 2003, the amount of people in Argentina lacking a 'basic nutrition basket' rose from 3.7 to 8.7 million. 

Soy farms can cover up to 50,000 hectares (193 sq miles). Large-scale soy production is highly mechanized and profitable. The planting and harvesting are carried out by machines, which means that few people are employed. A mechanized farm has an average of one employee per 200 hectares (500 acres or 0.7 sq mi). Rural unemployment has soared as large farms need little labor. Consequently, rural laborers migrate to cities to look for work, exacerbating urban poverty and unemployment. Basic survival needs fuel a migration crisis and compel displaced Latin American farmers to search of work in the US, Canada and elsewhere. 

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ ]

Is Neo-Imperialism on Your Plate? Meat, Feed and Neocolonialism

Is Neo-Imperialism on Your Plate? Meat, Feed and Neocolonialism
by Moses Seenarine, 1/10/18

Most of the 1.3 billion tons of grain consumed by livestock annually are fed to farm animals - primarily pigs and chickens - in Europe, North America, China and Latin America. Current grain prices make this profitable, but this could reverse if grain prices climb in the future. 

Due to expanding livestock production, world cereal feed demand will be significantly higher in the coming 30 years. The surge upwards in cereal feed demand greatly exceeds other factors in importance that are generally expected to affect the future world food situation, like GMOs and climate vicissitudes, in the coming three decades. 

Grain grown in the developing world and exported to the developed world is a form of neocolonialism. This is the geopolitical practice of using capitalism, business globalization, and cultural imperialism to influence a country, in lieu of either direct military control or indirect political control. Neocolonialism frequently involves imperialist or hegemonic colonialism, and the disproportionate economic influence of modern capitalist businesses in the economy of a developing country. 

Many multinational corporations (MNCs) continue to exploit the natural resources of former European colonies through collusion with local elites. Such economic control is inherently neocolonial. It is similar to the imperial and hegemonic varieties of colonialism practiced by the US and the empires of UK, France, and other European countries, from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Most of the world's feed crops are grown in the underdeveloped world and almost all of it is grown to be exported. This is very similar to sugar, coffee, tobacco, and other export crops grown during enslavement and colonial periods. 

After China, Europe is the biggest importer of soy. Europe is one of the largest importers of Brazilian soy, the leading importer of ethanol, and in the top four importers of cow carcass from Brazil. European imports of soy, cow carcass and ethanol are main drivers of deforestation and climate-altering gases, with destructive social impacts in Brazil and globally. Soy production in Latin America has more than doubled in 15 years. 

This rapid expansion in feed production has been facilitated by multilateral banks, like the International Financial Corporation (IFC), which is the private sector lending arm of the World Bank (WB), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). Multilateral banks are keen to encourage agriculture for export and are very successful at doing so. Case in point, around 80% of Paraguay’s soy is exported to feed livestock. 

Corporations involved in the soy trade are key drivers of expansion and intensive production. US companies Bunge and Cargill dominate the soy industry in Brazil and Argentina. They buy beans from farmers, own crushing mills, and export soymeal and oil to the UK and the rest of Europe. Cargill, the world’s largest commodity trader, owns crushing mills for soy and rape seed in the UK. Archer Daniel Midland (ADM), Dreyfus, and Brazilian company AndrĂ© Maggi, are major stakeholders in Brazilian soy production as well. Trading companies, like Cargill and Bunge, have a crucial role in controlling the whole soy production process, because farmers depend on them to provide credit and supplies of fertilizer and pesticides. On top of that, these TFCs manage the logistics, arranging storage, transportation and processing of the grain.

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ ]

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