Showing posts with label skeptics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skeptics. Show all posts

Livestock's Emissions Denial?

Meat Society: Number 13 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

Science raises above religion and politics most of the time, but not when it comes to economics and the treatment of food and experimental animals. Then, science takes a back seat. The social and political contexts of animal-based diets and climate change shape engagement of both of these issues, and it is hard to get a truly balanced view.

Mirroring carnism in the general population, probably close to 95% of climatologists are consumers of animal products. And, while there is agreement on the manmade causes of global warming, this inherent conflict of interest in climatology fosters the denial of dietary footprints. As a result, even scientists who focus on methane's short-term impacts on abrupt planetary heating are largely dismissive of the voluminous discharges from animal agriculture.

Regardless of the peril, food and climate scientists, animal advocates, and health experts all face a public backlash if they are perceived as being too invasive by telling individuals what to eat and how to live their lives. These agents of change risk disapproval in trying to save the public from themselves. Yet, if climatologists continue to minimize and ignore diet-related dangers, this sets a bad example for the general public to do nothing as well.

To their credit, many environmental, food-focused, and animal protection NGOs in the US, Canada, and Sweden do mention the contribution of food animal production to climate warming on their websites. Yet, few of these NGOs have formal campaigns to reduce animal consumption, or seek to promote national-level polices to reduce the consumption of animal products.

Linking food animal consumption to climate is outside the core missions of many intergovernmental agencies as well. Moreover, many environmental organizations prefer tactics other than behavior modification promotion. Not surprisingly, then, animal protection organizations are advocating for larger reductions in animal-based consumption than environmental groups.(362)

In contrast, climate scientists and activists alike are sounding the alarm regarding fossil fuel pollution. In a controversial statement, James Hansen, arguably the world's most famous climate scientist, compared coal trains to Nazi death trains. In particular, Hansen and other climatologists call for radical and transformative modifications in the energy system. They even argue that energy producers and consumers should pay for the social cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

Hansen writes, "If fossil fuels were made to pay their costs to society, costs of pollution and climate change, carbon-free alternatives might supplant fossil fuels over a period of decades. However, if governments force the public to bear the external costs and even subsidize fossil fuels, carbon emissions are likely to continue to grow, with deleterious consequences for young people and future generations."

While climatologists are calling for a radical transformation in fossil-based economies, few even view animal-based agriculture as relevant. Nevertheless, the mounting consumption of food animals is similar to the widening use of fossil fuels. And, the endangerment and effect on global temperature are the same. Additional anthropogenic CO2 is going to cause extra climate warming, irrespective of whether the source of CO2 is a car or a cow.

If the food animal industry and consumers were made to pay their costs to society for ill health, pollution, and global warming, plant-based alternatives might supplant animal flesh over a period of decades. But, if governments continue to force the public to bear the external costs and subsidize livestock, GHGs will proliferate with severe outcomes for children and future generations.

Unlike his views on coal, Hansen does not see cattle trains as death trains, but he does admit that one of the best actions an individual can take is to stop eating animals. “I've almost become a vegetarian,” he claimed in an interview.(363) But Hansen has never publicly discussed plant-based diet as a climate solution.

Scientists, NGOs and activists alike point out that the food animal industry is vital to incomes, employment, labor, and economies across the globe. These same arguments for jobs and economic growth are made by the fossil fuel industry. Yet, the benefits of oil, coal and gas are viewed as not enough to overcome the perils of pollution and climate warming.

In contrast, scientists and environmentalists consider the arguments made for people to go vegetarian or vegan in order to stop climate warming, and to reduce pressure on forests and food prices, as hyperbolic and bound to fail. These 'experts' have rarely inspected livestock's GHG pollution. And, they deflect the western livestock over-consumption problem by focusing on how plant-based diets would fail in the developing world.

The vast majority of the global South are primarily plant-based, though they still depend on animals for food and products such as leather and wool, for manure, and for help in tilling fields to grow crops. Subsistence and small farmers are not the main culprits of planetary heating. The lion's share of the industry's GHG pollution and growth are from industrialized factory farms.

Yet, one denier of food animals' GHGs concluded, “The notion that cows and sheep are four-legged weapons of mass destruction has become something of a distraction from the real issues in both climate change and food production."(364) This framing minimizes and trivializes the over-consumption crisis. Furthermore, it inherently provides an endorsement for large-scale livestock production, while ignoring its pollution and endangerment to humans and biodiversity.

Western livestock over-consumption patterns are a far bigger problem than animal use by the billions of poor in the under-developed world. To boot, a large part of the developed world's animal flesh and feed is imported from the under-developed world, so casting blame on them is doubly cruel. To make matters worse, environmentalists and climate activists routinely use animal husbandry among third world subsistence farmers as an excuse to reject dietary modification as a strategy for reducing climate-altering gases.

The effects of animal consumption on climate are rarely acknowledged as an issue by climate journalists or by many of the world's leading climatologists, leaders, and activists. From Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore, Renate Christ, James Hansen and Michael Mann, to Susan Solomon, Gavin Schmidt, Bill McKibben, Neil deGrassse Tyson, Bill Nye, Michael Bloomberg, Naomi Klein, Richard Tol and Bob Ward, there is mainly silence.

The following can similarly be added to the list of people in climate science who ignore and deny livestock's GHG pollution: Suzanne Goldenberg, Joe Romm, Dana Nuccitelli, Alice Bows-Larkin, Max Boycoff, Simon Buckle, Mike Childs, Tan Copsey, Susannah Eliott, Sam Geall, Will Grant, Fiona Fox, Leo Hickman, Brendan Montague, Tim Nuthall, James Painter, Chris Rapley, John Timmer, and James Wilsdon.

When they do talk about diet, climate leaders dangerously under-estimate animal agriculture’s impact. Case in point, McKibben of admits that he does not eat animal carcass that often, but claims animal agriculture can be done sustainably.(365) This reductionist position can be summed up as: “we need to move away from factory farming, adopt a modified form of grazing, and buy locally.”(366)

Nobel Laureate Al Gore, it his 2006 film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” gave minimal mention to diet in terms of its contributions to GHGs and what people can do to lower their footprints. Gore did go vegan in 2013, but he did so quietly and rarely talks of diet's link to climate change.

Dozens of climate organizations have called for divestment from fossil fuel companies. And, prompted by student activism on campus, many college endowments have started to divest from oil, coal and gas companies. Even fossil fuel heirs, like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, have pledged to divest a total of $50bn from fossil fuels.(367)

In the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014 Synthesis report, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon specifically addressed investors and pension fund managers. Ki-moon pleaded, “Please reduce your investments in the coal- and fossil fuel-based economy and (move) to renewable energy.” Similarly, UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, urged faith groups to tell followers not to invest in fossil fuel companies.(368)

Pope Francis of the powerful Catholic church issued the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change, following a visit in March 2015, to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by Typhoon Haiyan. (369) The edict urges 1.2 billion Catholic followers to take climate action and was sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who distributed it to their parishioners. 

Even Prince Charles of the UK called out corporate lobbyists, saying “Climate change skeptics are turning Earth into dying patient.”(370) Top climatologists, a Prince, and the Pope, all understand the seriousness of climate alteration, and some are even confronting the fossil fuel industry with calls for divestment. However, they are largely silent on food animals' GHGs. There is a dire need for experts and those with influence to take on animal-based agribusiness and call for zero-use and divestment from livestock production as well.

One example of this denial was evident at the UN Climate Change Conference, Lima COP20 in 2014. At the event, two of Peru’s most famous chefs give lessons in sustainable cooking to the Conference of the Parties (COP) president and the head of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The chefs helped the VIPs prepare vegetarian ceviche using a cleaner, wood-fired cook stove. Tellingly, the press and photo opportunity event centered almost exclusively on reducing emissions by using the wood stove, rather than through dietary modifications.(371)

Chapter 11: WHAT CRISIS? page 104-5

GHGs: A Tale of Two Sources

Meat Society: Number 12 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 food animal sector plays an often unrecognized role in planetary heating. Animal agriculture specifically drives global warming and is linked to proliferating greenhouse gasses (GHGs), the food crisis, and water emergencies. Animal agribusiness has large footprints on the air, land, water, energy, materials, health, and other areas. These GHG footprints are part of food animals' life-cycle and their byproducts' supply chains.

Ominously, livestock's footprints consist of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and other GHGs, that have a larger cumulative effect on climate warming than from each gas added up individually. And, unless food animals' GHGs are reduced along with fossil fuels, they may set in motion various environmental feedbacks that result in surpassing climate tipping points. 

According to one study, by 2050, the food animal sector may alone account for 72% of the total “safe operating space” for human-caused GHG pollution, 88% of the safe operating space for biomass use, and 300% of the safe operating space for the mobilization of nitrogen compounds in soils and elsewhere. This would lead to irreversible changes, irrespective of efforts to mitigate GHGs in other sectors.(356)

For reducing carbon-based emissions, an argument can be made that fossil fuels are not essential for human survival and that many non-carbon sources of energy already exist, and should be used instead. Oddly, this argument is often inverted when dealing with animal agribusiness GHGs. Animal-based diets are routinely viewed as non-negotiable and indispensable to human survival. And, the common perception is that other protein sources are not as good or available.

All the same, a World Bank review of the connection between consumption of animal products and health determined that in many situations, the partial displacement of carbohydrate staple source of energy with animal products may have neutral or no beneficial health effect. Another socioeconomic inquiry noted, “the use of plant source of protein and fat, such as soy products, nuts, and vegetable oils, may provide even greater health benefits and should therefore be considered simultaneously when considering investments in development.”(357)

Red meat consumption is associated with an enhanced hazard of cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality. In contrast, substitution of other healthy protein sources for red meat is associated with lower mortality.(358) Similar to pollution from fossil fuels, animal-based diets have profoundly negative effects on human health and the environment. And, in turn, animal-based diet related illnesses and animal waste pollution, generate immense quantities of CO2 in health care, habitat restoration, and so on.

Interestingly, Pope Francis's 183-page encyclical on the environment, released in June 2015, discusses the environmental crisis and the immorality of capitalism. It argues passionately for economic and cultural equality. For all that, the encyclical remains completely silent on animal agribusiness GHG pollution.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is headquartered in Rome, not far from the Vatican. The agency has acknowledged numerous times the significance of livestock's GHGs and the sector's contributions to planetary heating. Despite this, the Pope and the Church refuse to call out the exploitative and destructive practices of the animal flesh, cow's milk and chicken egg industries in their encyclical to save humanity from escalating temperatures.(359)

In October 2015, the FAO's director and the French Minister of Agriculture both called for targeted policies and investments in food security and agriculture, to be at the center of debates on climate. They warned that failure to do so would unravel recent progress made in combating world hunger.(360)

The FAO's director indicated that there was a need to reduce deforestation and overfishing, and to improve soil fertility, to achieve lower emissions. He said the FAO was ready to assist countries through agroecology, 'climate-smart' agriculture, integrated coastal management, sustainable land management, and forest landscape restoration. Curiously, the director did not call for a reduction in food animal production or suggest that stepping up animal-based consumption was unsustainable and self-destructive.

The animal carcass, chicken eggs, and cow's milk lobbies are well-organized, and many politicians minimize and ignore animal agribusiness GHGs due to conflicts of interest. Case in point, a European Parliament member belittled the problem by saying, "I don't believe that the world will come to an end because of cows burping and farting."

A senior member of the staff of the German Environment Minister confessed, "We have exempted agriculture from the climate protection strategy in order to limit the number of potential sources of conflict.” While, the chairman of the German Advisory Council on the Environment was explicit in stating, "No one dares to say that we ought to eat less meat and more plant-based protein."(361)

Carbon and food based emissions are both real and dangerous. While one is increasingly being placed under a policy microscope, the other remains completely untouchable by priests and politicians alike. Fear of a public backlash and neoliberal attack by transnational food corporations (TFCs) prevents the powerful solution of dietary change from seeing the light of day.

Chapter 11: WHAT CRISIS? page 103

corona july 4th

Moon almost full
Jupiter raising
Saturn in tow
8pm in LA
banging pots
ringing bells 
a minute observed
for essential workers
too busy to notice

sirens wailing
left and right
for C-19 calls
11 million cases globally
nearing 3 million in usa
50K cases daily and raising
american hubris on display
trump lying, "it's being managed"

music blaring
from restaurants
customers laughing
carefree bromancing
as fireworks boom everywhere
sparking lights in the air
from red to blue to white
death is "so cool"
dogs barking all night
pandemonium is
a pandemic celebration

C-19 reflection 062220

four months spreading
a baby pandemic
barely three days old
feels like three years

with 9% positive rate
los angeles is post-pain
post-social distancing
post-giving a damn

with 50% republicans
usa has 2.3 million cases
120,000 deaths
not one is sorry
small price to pay
for MAGA

too broken to fix
too broke to try
who lives
who dies


Countering Climate Skeptics

Countering Climate 'Skeptics' - Why Ignoring Climate Reality is Delusional
by Moses Seenarine, 11/16/17

In the face of insurmountable evidence, climate 'skeptics' such as Roy Spencer maintain that the climate system is insensitive to humanity’s GHG releases. Global warming deniers assert that the earth is not heating up. One frequent claim is that the Earth has not warmed recently, which it clearly has. Deniers refer to surface temperatures, which is only 2% of where the warming is going, and they have still warmed 0.2°C (0.36°F) over the last 15 years. 

Another common tactic is to question whether alteration of the climate is natural, or as Spencer argues, “If we don't know how much of recent warming is natural, then how can we know how much is manmade?” There is little doubt remaining and climate science is almost unanimous on this point. The IPCC AR4 report clearly states, "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [90% confidence] due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” 

The report continues, "It is extremely likely [95% confidence] more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other forcings together." Observational evidence shows that anthropogenic CO2 discharges are causing the climate to warm. Specifically, there is less heat escaping to space and larger amounts returning to Earth. Nights are warming faster than days, and winter is warming faster than summer. There is less oxygen in the air, and there are greater quantities of fossil fuel carbon in the air, trees, and coral. 

The Earth had about 0.6°C (1.08°F) average global surface warming over the past 60 years. During that time, the IPCC's best estimate is that GHGs have caused about 0.9°C (1.62°F) warming, which was partially offset by about 0.3°C (0.54°F) cooling from human aerosol pollution. 

Other natural external factors have had no net influence on global temperatures, in particular, solar activity has been flat since 1950. And since warm and cool ocean cycles cancel each other, internal variability has no long-term influence on average global temperatures. Equally, the urban heat island effect does not have a profound influence on the surface temperature record. Climate deniers falsely state that climate models are unreliable, and have failed in hindcast to explain the lack of a notable temperature rise over the last 30 plus years. The evidence is that global surface temperatures have climbed above 0.5°C (0.9°F) over the past 30 years, and this ascent is momentous. And, climate models have accurately reproduced this slope. 

It is the skeptics themselves who have done poorly, having universally predicted less warming than has been observed. McLean's prediction that 2011 would return to 1956-level temperatures sticks out in particular. And Akasofu predicted only a 0.5°C (0.9°F) rise between 2000 and 2100. Skeptics frequently question whether models can accurately predict future climate. Be that as it may, climatologists use observational and real world methods in their projections. 

One common reference climatologists use is warming from the enhanced greenhouse effect of a doubling of CO2, around 560 ppm, or the 'climate sensitivity' effect. Climate sensitivity incorporates feedbacks which can either amplify or dampen warming due to a doubling of CO2. This is salient because if sensitivity is low, as some climate skeptics argue, then the planet will warm slowly and humans will have extra time to adapt. On the other hand, if climate sensitivity is high, the Earth will warm more quickly and humans will have less time to respond and adjust. 

Observational evidence suggests that it is high. Paleoclimate data from ice cores and other sources across a range of geologic eras are very consistent, finding between 2°C and 4.5°C (3.6 – 8.1°F) global surface warming in response to doubled CO2. Climate models likewise reproduce these findings. However, climate projections have vastly underestimated the role that clouds play, and future warming could be far worse. A doubling of CO2 could result in a global temperature increase of up to 5.3°C (9.5°F) – far warmer than the 4.5°C older models predict. 

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

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