Haunani-Kay Trask

 

(Excerpt from Sista Resister: Bios of 50 Radical Women of Color Activists Resisting Sexism, Colonialism & Racism by m seenarine. Forthcoming 2021 from XPYR Press.)

“Politics - the blind are showing movies/in the plaza/so the deaf are gathering/in the plaza/so the mute can debate/in the plaza/the fate/of one beloved nation.”
            - Merlinda Bobis (born 1959) is a Philippine-Australian writer & academic.


Chapter 27. Haunani-Kay Trask (Hawaiʻi/US)


Introduction: Gynocentrism and Gift Economy

Among the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, corn was the staple crop, and the Green Corn Dance was celebrated from North to South America. This important dance varies by group, but the core is a commemoration of the gift of corn by an ancestral corn Goddess. This sacred gift was reciprocated among the people of many nations. In matrilineal cultures, corn was stored in large granaries and distributed equitably by the clan mothers, the oldest women from every extended family. Since Indigenous communities placed an emphasis on sharing and equity, inequality and stratification were far less of a problem than in Europe.

Gynocentric theorists link many forms of social oppression to male domination and the exchange economy. These feminists suggest that only by dismantling male rule and phallic supremacy will many of the social problems that plague our modern world be mitigated. In her fictional account of a mother-centered culture, “The World of the Gift Economy,” feminist scholar Genevieve Vaughan describes the characteristics of the maternal gift economy as "Giving rather than exchange in the way we transmit our goods." The female-centered system is based on unilateral giving, like the mothering of little children, who cannot give back an equivalent in exchange for what they receive from caregivers.

Gynocentric and matriarchal cultures focus on meeting the needs of its members, which establishes bonds of mutuality and trust between givers and receivers. For example, Vaughan writes, "Hums like to guess each other's needs, so it is not unusual if I need a new pair of shoes to find them on my doorstep without my even asking anyone." The relational economy helps the future society the author describes in “The World of the Gift Economy,” to overcome competition and violence so prevalent in male-dominated societies in each corner of the globe. She writes, "The elimination of Patriarchy and exchange everywhere has defused the emphasis on categorization and belonging to superior categories that was part of racism, classism and sexism."

Despite centuries of patriarchal colonization, it is remarkable that some gynocentric traditions remain, even in the colonized US, and other parts of Turtle Island. Many Indigenous survivors understand and write about the importance of maintaining female-centered ways of knowing and being, like gift-giving. First Nations female scholars also document the intersection of colonization, dispossession and racism on Turtle Island, and feminist, cultural, environmental and social justice activists could learn much from these women. A shining example of Indigenous female leadership is Haunani-Kay Trask of Hawaiʻi.

Haunani-Kay's Biography

Haunani-Kay Trask (born October 3rd 1949) is a Hawaiian nationalist, educator, political scientist and writer whose genealogy connects her to the Piʻilani line on her maternal side and the Kahakumakaliua line on her paternal side. The Hawaiian native grew up on the island of Oʻahu and continues to reside there. Known as "The Gathering Place", Oʻahu is the third-largest Hawaiian Island. The island has around one million people, about two-thirds of the state's population.

Haunani-Kay earned a BA, MA and PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She graduated in 1981, and her dissertation was published as Eros and Power: The Promise of Feminist Theory (1986). Trask is professor emeritus of the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and has represented Native Hawaiians at the UN and other global forums. Sista Trask is the author of two poetry books, Light in the Crevice Never Seen (1994) and Night Is a Sharkskin Drum (2002). And in addition to her thesis, Dr. Trask published the nonfiction, From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii (1993).

Professor Trask co-wrote and co-produced the award-winning documentary, Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation (2011). The scholar-activist also created an educational video on the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement, Haunani-Kay Trask: We Are Not Happy Natives (2002). In March 2017, Hawaiʻi Magazine recognized the Oʻahu native as one of the most influential women in Hawaiian history.

As an Indigenous feminist, Haunani-Kay opposes tourism to Hawaiʻi, as well as US military's presence on the islands. In a 2014 interview, the Oʻahu native explained how she got involved with anti-military activism in the Pacific,
I got involved with Kahoʻolawe and the whole archipelagic idea of bombing ranges when I came back from college [in the mid-1970s from the University of Wisconsin Madison]. My mother, who was very straight, said you better come home, these people are going out there [to Kaho‘olawe] and getting arrested, and some of them are dying. It sounds like something you’d like. So that’s how I got into it. I did come home, and I didn’t write my dissertation for two years because I was so engaged in this process.
More recently the professor has spoken against the Akaka Bill to establish a process for Native Hawaiians to gain federal recognition similar to the recognition that some Native American tribes currently possess. Advocates of Hawaiian sovereignty oppose the bill since it disregards the 1993 Public Law (103-150) in which the US Congress apologized "for the overthrow and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination." Professor Trask exposes the Eurocentric settler bias and violence present in her native islands, writing,
The color of violence, then, is the color of white over black, white over brown, white over red, white over yellow. It is the violence of north over south, of continents over archipelagos, of settlers over natives and slaves.
The Hawaiian studies scholar explains further that melaninized subjugation in the island chain is inter-linked with other layers of oppression,
Shaping this color scheme are the labyrinths of class and gender, of geography and industry, of metropoles and peripheries, of sexual definitions and confinements. There is not just one binary opposition, but many oppositions.
Melaninized persecution is one form of patriarchal dualism among many. Intersectional oppression in Hawaiʻi is complicated and requires complex analysis and multi-disciplinary approaches. The political scientist describes different levels of violence inherent in the occupation of Indigenous lands by the most powerful nation in the Anglo-sphere,
Within colonialism, such as that now practiced in my own country of Hawai'i, violence against women of color, especially our Native women, is the economic and cultural violence of tourism and of militarism. It is the violence of our imprisonments: reservations, incarcerations, diasporas. It is the violence of military bases, of the largest porting of nuclear submarines in the world, of the inundation of our exquisite islands by eager settlers and tourists from the American and Asian continents.
Predatory capitalism is part of colonialism and racism, and this gets translated into the society, language and institutions of Eurocentric rule on Turtle Island. The Hawaiian nationalist describes this process with regards to culture,
Colonialism began with conquest and is today maintained by a settler administration created out of the doctrine of cultural hierarchy. It is a hierarchy in which Euro-Americans and whiteness dominate non-Euro-Americans and darkness.
Professor Trask contends that in a colonial country, there must be dominance and subordination, and low-melanin hegemony delineates this hierarchy in the US. Thus, the Indigenous political scientist argues,
white people are the dominant group, Christianity is the dominant religion, capitalism is the dominant economy, and militarism is the dominant form of diplomacy and the underlying force of international relations. Violence is thus normal, and race prejudice, like race violence, is as American as apple pie.
People of European descent are an elite minority in the islands. Low-melanin people comprise about 25 percent of the ethnically diverse state's 1.3 million residents, while those who identify as Native Hawaiian account for around 20 percent. Most residents are of mixed 'race,' so multi-racial people are the majority. The female Indigenous scholar explains how structural racism works in the US,
In a racist society, there is no need to justify white racist behavior. The naturalness of segregation and hierarchy is the naturalness of hearing English on the street, or seeing a McDonalds on every other corner, or assuming the U.S. dollar and United Airlines will enable a vacation in Hawai'i, my native country. Indeed, the natural, everyday presence of the "way things are" explains the strength and resilience of racism. Racism envelops us, intoxicating our thoughts, permeating our brains and skins, determining the shape of our growth and the longevity of our lives.
As an activist poet, Professor Trask employs the “art as an anvil” method in her writing style. Recognizing that Indigenous Hawaiians have been relegated to the margins of their society, the First Nations poet utilizes her words as weapons against the colonizing oppressors. An example of the art as anvil approach can be seen in the poem, "Racist White Woman," featured in her 1994 book, Light in the Crevice Never Seen:
Racist White Woman
I could kick
Your face, puncture
Both eyes.
You deserve this kind
Of violence
No more vicious
Tongues, obscene
Lies.
Just a knife
Slitting your tight
Little heart.
For all my people
Under your feet
For all those years
Lived smug and wealthy
Off our land
Parasite arrogant
A fist
In your painted
Mouth, thick
With money
And piety.

Haneen Zoabi

(Excerpt from Sista Resister: Bios of 50 Radical Women of Color Activists Resisting Sexism, Colonialism & Racism by m seenarine. Forthcoming 2021 from XPYR Press.)

Introduction: Zionism and Feminism

The overwhelming majority of people affected by divisive patriarchal ideologies such as racism, casteism, Zionism and Islamophobia are women and children. The survivors of thousands of years of misogynist authority and religion are also mostly women and children. Jews in the apartheid state of Israel consider themselves an integral part of the Anglo-sphere, and for over seven decades, Zionists have practiced some of the worse forms of Eurocentric oppression in the world against Indigenous Palestinians.

The 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine advocated for independent Arab and Jewish states, and a neutral Jerusalem. The UN Plan was rejected by Arab leaders, but the 1948 Arab–Jewish War led to the establishment of Israel over the former British territory. As tens of thousands of Eastern European Jews, Persian Jews, and other Jewish communities from across the globe migrated to colonize Palestine, they displaced millions of Indigenous Arabs, Christians, Druze and other local populations.

The West Bank and Gaza remained under Arab control, but the colonization continues with Zionist military occupation, illegal Jewish settlements, walled-in Palestinian ghettos, and the killings and imprisonment of Palestinians. As of 2013, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has condemned Israel in 45 resolutions. And, the UN General Assembly has adopted numerous resolutions saying that the strategic relationship between Israel and the USA encourages Israel to pursue aggressive and expansionist policies and practices.

Amira Hass, a Jewish female journalist argues, Israeli feminism has a dangerous mutation, namely the demand for an increasing number of women to assume “combat” roles. 

We do not know whether some day they will have to defend the homeland from a foreign army. Meanwhile, they – like the male soldiers – are maintaining the military occupation and defending its trophies: the outposts and the settlements, all of them illegal. The female soldiers, like the men, whether or not they are combat soldiers, are sent to defend the observance of the Jewish mitzvah to abuse, to rob, to expel.(156)

Yet, patriarchal hegemony, including Jewish variants, is never complete, and the feminist agency of Palestinian women like Haneen Zoabi is a model of resistance for struggles in the Global South.

Haneen's Biography

Haneen Zoabi (born May 23rd 1969) is a Palestinian educator, activist and politician. In 2009, Zoabi became the first woman elected from an Arab party to the Israeli Knesset, a parliament increasingly dominated by right-wing Jewish men. Haneen was born in Nazareth to a Muslim family. Nazareth, known as "the Arab capital of Israel," is the largest city in the Northern District. The population in the childhood home of Jesus is around 77,000, mostly Arab citizens of Israel, of whom 70 percent are Muslim and 30 percent Christian.

Sista Haneen described her parents as liberal Muslims, 

My parents are Muslims. They pray, they fast, they have been to Mecca, but they raised their children to think and feel as liberal, open-minded people.(157)

The Nazarene child grew up in a home where academic achievement was extolled. Her brother is an economist, with a degree from Tel Aviv University and one sister is an Arabic language instructor. Haneen earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and psychology, and a Master of Arts in communications. She became the first Arab citizen of Israel to graduate in media studies, and she established the first media classes in Arab schools.

After university, Nazareth's native daughter worked as a mathematics teacher and school inspector for the Ministry of Education. In 2003, Haneen co-founded an NGO to expose Israeli media bias. And in 2009, she resigned to focus on her political career. Zoabi decided to go into politics because of her family's commitment to public service, and her "desire to effect even small positive change for my people."

Zoabi joined the Balad party in 2001 and entered the Knesset after the Arab party won three seats in the 2009 elections. The female Arab Parliamentarian served as a member of the Israeli Knesset until 2019. Haneen is a fierce advocate for Palestinian, Arab, women and non-Jewish rights in the Zionist state. She comments, "I was not elected to keep silent or sit at the table and clap."

Like Jesus in his time, this female Nazarene is not afraid of speaking truth to power. Haneen's courageous voice interrupts the false narrative of Jewish Holocaust victims living peacefully in West Asia's only 'democratic' state. For example, the female Arab leader notes the hypocrisy of the Zionist state,

The state treats all Jews and Palestinians differently. Israel doesn't recognize us as the owners of this homeland. The theory is that we have equal civil rights, but the practice is very far from this.(158)

In May 2010, the Parliamentarian participated in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla to deliver aid to the besieged Palestinian territory. The female Parliamentarian was on board the Turkish ship, MV Mavi Marmara, when Israeli commandos attacked and killed nine activists.

Zoabi was arrested, and she accused the Jewish authorities of acting criminally after her release,

It was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail, but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future.(159)

On July 13th, 2010, the Israeli Knesset voted to strip the female Arab parliamentarian of the right to hold a diplomatic passport, to participate in Knesset discussions, and to vote in parliamentary committees. Asked to describe what is it like being a Palestinian in Israel, the Nazarene politician responded,

Israel did everything it could to make us forget our history: controlling education and the media, putting us in a ghetto, preventing us from having normal relations with the Arab world and visiting our families in Syria and Lebanon.(160)

Zoabi is opposed to any form of mandatory national service for Israel's second-class Arab citizens. In 2009, she characterized right-wing Israeli politicians like Avigdor Lieberman, Tzipi Livni, and Benjamin Netanyahu as "a bunch of fascists pure and simple."

However, Zoabi observed that Israeli president Netanyahu is "much more dangerous" than Lieberman, because he, "shares Lieberman's fascist views but takes care to sugarcoat his message for the international media. My anger is real, not a joke for the TV cameras. I will not shake the hands of these men."(161)

On July 29th, 2014, Zoabi was suspended again from the Knesset for six months. Of the parliament’s 120 members, at least 65 are part of the Zionist right and far-right. Nazareth's daughter regards the two-state solution as politically unrealistic, and the idea that Israel is a Jewish state as inherently racist. Instead, the Palestinian parliamentarian advocates a single state shared by Jews and Palestinian Arabs alike, with full equality and rights for all national and religious groups. Palestinians have advocated for this political solution ever since they rejected the 1947 UN Plan. 

The Arab educator and activist explains her reasoning, 

The reality of Israel's actions shows us that it's unrealistic to have a real sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as the capital. The more realistic solution is one state with full national equality for both national groups.(162)

Zoabi argues that rejection of the Jewish state concept is the only way to combat right-wing Jewish leaders' demand that all Israeli citizens take loyalty oaths. She contends that it is Jewish right-wing leaders like Lieberman who should take an oath of loyalty. "He is an immigrant from Moldova. I was born here, as were my ancestors. He's the outsider, not me."

Despite facing the wrath of the Israeli parliament and state, Haneen remains firm in her Indigenous views. Rejecting the 'Jewish state' concept, the Arab parliamentarian argues, is the only idea that can remove Lieberman from the circle of political and moral legitimacy... When you agree with the 'Jewish state' idea, you necessarily agree with the idea of loyalty to this state. Rejecting the 'Jewish state' concept will block the road for anyone who demands our loyalty to such a state.(163)

The former Palestinian teacher explains the source of her activism and courage,

We didn't expect an easy struggle. I chose to be involved in politics because I was born in a racist context. I will continue using all the democratic tools that are available. I ask Israel not to push us into undesirable activities... We do not want to throw Jews into the sea. We are not against Jews. We are against Israeli policies and the definition of Israel as a Jewish state.(164)

Haneen continued,

I have a vision of our rights as indigenous people. We didn't migrate to Israel; it is Israel that migrated to us.


Chapter 22. Haneen Zoabi (Nazareth, Israel)

LaDonna Brave Bull

(Excerpt from Sista Resister: Bios of 50 Radical Women of Color Activists Resisting Sexism, Colonialism & Racism by m seenarine. Forthcoming 2021 from XPYR Press.)

20. LaDonna Brave Bull (Sioux/US)


Introduction: Indigenous Women's Resistance

In the Anglo-sphere, fake news of 'white' genocide is used to erase the actual genocide of Indigenous peoples in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Meanwhile, oil oligarchs in Russia and Europe continue to colonize and exploit Indigenous lands for profit in the Global North and across the Global South. The vast majority of Native people affected by dispossession and pollution are women and children, so First Nations' land rights is a feminist issue.

As the Anglo-sphere becomes increasingly racist against high-melanin migrants from the Global South, it is worth remembering that most people with low-melanin are themselves migrants, colonizers and occupiers of First Nations gynocentric lands on Turtle Island and traditions in the Global South.

Many mainstream Western feminists are reluctant to prioritize issues that are urgent crises in Indigenous communities. For example, the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the forced sterilization of Native women, the struggle for land rights, drug and alcohol addiction, and partner violence. There is a lack of awareness of the disproportionate sexual victimization of Indigenous women, specifically as targets of European American and Canadian men.i In addition, there is little attention given to the capitalist ecocide being practiced in First Nations' environments by fossil fuel and other industries, like tar sands pollution, spills from oil pipelines and mining ponds, deforestation, and so on.

Despite 500 years of colonization, Western colonization and fossil fuel hegemony on Turtle Island are not complete. First Nations women and girls have resisted decades of carbon pollution, and there are millions of high-melanin female survivors of centuries of Anglo-spheric genocide. Indigenous women have solutions to both Western consumption-driven ecocide and Eurocentric genocidal racism. First Nations females who are resisting the 6th mass-extinction through peaceful methods of gynocentrism are powerful role models, and one example, is LaDonna Bravebull Allard.

LaDonna's Biography

LaDonna Bravebull Allard (1955 to 2021) was an outstanding Lakota-Dakota activist, native historian, and leader of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, known by the hashtag #NoDAPL. LaDonna Bravebull was an enrolled member of, and former historical preservation officer for, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The Standing Rock Reservation, located in North Dakota and South Dakota, is the sixth-largest Indigenous reservation in the US.

Brave Bull Allard is the great-great-granddaughter of Nape Hote Win (Mary Big Moccasin), a survivor of the Whitestone Massacre. Sista LaDonna graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in History. She later became instrumental in establishing the Standing Rock Scenic Byway which passes many historic sites including the place where Sitting Bull was killed.

In an interview, the female First Nations leader states,

… my family has been here since 1873, when we were brought across from the east side of the river. My name is LaDonna Brave Bull Allard. My real name is Ta Maka Waste Win, Her Good Earth Woman. I am Ihunktonwan, Hunkpatina and Pabaska Dakota on my father’s side. I am Hunkpapa, Sihasapa and Oglala Lakota on my mother’s side. So, I’m Lakota-Dakota, but I was raised Dakota.ii
The upper Missouri River is the only water supply for Standing Rock, and after a proposed route near the state capital was denied, the privately owned Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was rerouted near the Reservation. The Sioux opposed construction of the pipeline under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, and a grassroots movement began in 2016 to protect the water, land, and sites sacred to the First Nations people.

On April 1st, 2016, Sista LaDonna and her grandchildren founded the Sacred Stone Camp on her land, which was the first resistance gathering of the #NoDAPL movement, with some of the closest Indigenous-owned land to the construction site. Since the establishment of Sacred Stone Camp, thousands of water protectors camped on the Sioux reservation and organized to prevent the construction of the pipeline.

The #NoDAPL movement has become the largest inter-Indigenous alliance on Turtle Island in centuries, with over 200 nations represented in the protest. Due to the courage of First Nations activists like LaDonna Bravebull, the #NoDAPL movement grew to become one of the most powerful and widely supported Indigenous rights movements in recent decades.

In addition to her direct action near the construction site, LaDonna Bravebull conducted numerous interviews and wrote several articles to popularize the #NoDAPL movement. The Lakota-Dakota leader often highlight the state's racist hypocrisy in the handling of people protesting for land rights.

For example, European American ranchers like the Bundys, who encroached on protected lands in Nevada for decades, confronted federal agents in 2014, and occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016, were deemed innocent by the courts. At the same time, First Nations activists who peacefully protested DAPL, faced hefty fines and years in jail.

In her article, "Why do we punish Dakota pipeline protesters but exonerate the Bundys?" LaDonna Bravebull notes that the Bundys and the water protectors at Standing Rock were both concerned with rights to federal land. There were important differences though. For instance, the Bundy militia were fighting for their right to make money by grazing cattle on protected ecosystems.

In contrast, the actions of First Nations people are not motivated by profit. The Sioux only want to protect their sacred lands and water supply. In response, the state confronts Indigenous activists with violence and hostility, while protecting the rights of corporations to pollute Native peoples' survival resources.

Sista LaDonna writes,

When I began to look into the Bundy’s standoff at the Malheur Refuge, I became angry. That place is a locus of ancestral heritage of the Burns Paiute Tribe, which the Bundys knowingly desecrated. They reportedly dug latrines through recognized cultural sites. As a tribal historic preservation officer, my heart broke when I heard they allegedly rifled through some 4,000 cultural items that had been kept in the museum. Some of the sacred objects they destroyed were hundreds of years old. The Bundys did not reclaim that land. It was never theirs. It is Paiute land.iii
In comparison to the armed face-off of European American ranchers in 2014 and 2016, the Lakota-Dakota activist emphasized the peaceful nature of Indigenous water protectors' protest,
From the beginning, we at Standing Rock gathered in a spirit of prayer and non-violent resistance to the destruction of our homeland and culture. We came together with our ceremonies, songs and drums. Weapons are not allowed into our camps. The Bundys’ occupation began with threats and guns. It was violent from the outset, and the people they pretended to represent did not even condone it.

Instead of handguns, shotguns and rifles, First Nations employed songs, drums and dance. The peaceful protesters never represented a danger to local authorities, but they were considered as such. LaDonna Bravebull describes how First Nations water protectors were treated by the police, state and private security forces,

While we stand in prayer, we have assault rifles aimed at us, we are attacked by dogs, pushed from our sacred sites with pepper spray, shot with rubber bullets and bean bag rounds and Tasers, beaten with sticks, handcuffed and thrown in dog kennels. Our horses have been shot and killed.
The scene the female Lakota-Dakota leader describes is reminiscent of centuries of European settlers' genocidal campaigns against First Nations. LaDonna Bravebull argues that the attack on Native water protectors is also part of a pattern of environmental racism,
As indigenous people, we know these attempts to erase us very well, and one of the ways it works is through environmental racism. Indigenous lands across the country are the sites of nuclear waste dumping, toxic mining operations, oil and gas drilling and a long list of other harmful environmental practices, but see very little benefit from these projects. We live in the sacrifice zones.iv
First Nations are on the front lines of resistance to the carbon-based economy and climate pollution. The proximity of Indigenous communities to fossil-fuel production sites means that they suffer some of its worse polluting effects. In order to preserve their existence, First Nations often find that they have to fight against the confluence of interests and combined forces of the fossil-fuel industry and post-colonial governments.

The Lakota-Dakota leader describes how Indigenous people are able to persevere and resist the powerful alliance of capitalism and the state,
The national guard and state police have been reinforced by forces from seven other states, to push corporate interests through our home, but together with our relatives, we stand up. We are still here. We have always welcomed everyone to come stand with us against the injustices of the federal government. Joining forces would be a source of great power – if we stand together to confront racism and destruction of the land. But we will do that with prayer, not guns. We are the people of this land. We have the roots growing out of our feet. We stand with compassion and prayer. They cannot break us.
After years of protest, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous organizers scored a legal victory on June 6th, 2020 when a federal judge ordered Dakota Access controlled by Energy Transfer Partners, to stop operations and empty its pipelines of all oil pending an environmental review.

Sista Brave Bull underwent brain surgery in 2020, and her family announced her death on April 10th, 2021. North Dakota State Representative Ruth Buffalo stated, "Her courage was contagious and inspiring. She was very knowledgeable of the extensive history of the land and worked to preserve our history and sacred sites." And, South Dakota state Senator Red Dawn Foster noted, "She inspired the world with her love for the water, the land, the people, and the love she shared with her husband Miles."v


Livestock Triangle

Meat Society: Number 23 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 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


There is a “triangle of industrial animal agriculture” that connects the world’s biggest players in the food animal and feed industries: the US, China, and Brazil. The three nations form three points of a triangle, with the US serving as a major exporter of mature, industrialized, livestock production chains.(514)

The US is one of the world’s top cow flesh producer and the second largest pig flesh producer, comprising 18.6 percent and 9.4 percent of world production, respectively.(515) Between 2002 and 2012, the number of animals on the biggest US factory farms swelled by 20 percent. Both US livestock exports and domestic consumption are projected to grow throughout the next decade.(516)

China is a rapidly growing economy with a huge appetite for livestock products and a major market for US production. China became the world’s largest importer of soybeans, used for livestock feed, in 2000, and the top animal carcass producer in 2009.(517) The rapid expansion of intensive animal farming facilities is part of an effort to catch up with the livestock production model now standard in industrialized countries. In 2014, China produced 56.7 million metric tons of pig and 6.9 million metric tons of cow flesh, representing 51.3 percent and 11.5 percent of world production, respectively.

Despite this, with restricted natural resources domestically, especially water, to meet the demand for livestock, China is heavily importing food animal carcass and live animals from other countries as well. Together, China and Hong Kong in 2014 were the top importers of cow and pig flesh. During the first half of 2013, Hong Kong became the largest export market for Brazilian food animal carcass.(518)

Brazil is the world’s largest chicken flesh and soybean trader, the second largest cow carcass exporter, and the fourth largest pig flesh dealer. Brazil is a country with intensifying conflicts between the economic returns of spreading livestock- and feed-centered agricultural production and the need to protect some of Earth’s most ecologically critical ecosystems.

Currently, upwards of 40 percent of Brazil’s soybean harvest is crushed domestically to create soybean meal, half of which is used in the country as food animal feed. Most of the rest are exported. A large percentage of the products of intensive agriculture in Brazil, like pig carcass, chicken flesh, and food animal feed, is exported. In contrast, China only exports a small fraction of these products.

Turning farms into factories has helped the US achieve huge agricultural yields, producing at low cost and high “efficiency” with regard to time, if not energy or environmental efficiencies. As the small players drop out or merge with the big players through vertical or horizontal integration, concentration in the food animal industry is exacerbated. As with energy, transport, communications, health and other vital sectors, the food system is increasingly controlled by fewer, larger transnational food corporations (TFCs).

With broadening market strength and dominance, food integrators are able to influence policy-making and policy implementation in favor of their bottom lines. Subsidies are a key case in point. In 2012, US government subsidies for livestock, soybeans, and corn were US$ 58.7 million, $1.5 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively.(519)

The US model of integration easily found a place in Brazil and has thrived there. Although the export of this model to China has encountered some obstacles, construction of large facilities by national and international agribusinesses is mounting with government policy support.

But this triangle of industrial animal agriculture is not sustainable, and is self-destructive for humans. The externalized costs of factory farming will put progressively heavier burdens on consumers, producers, and even on those who choose not to produce or consume factory farmed products or any food animal products at all.


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 138

Hidden Population: Obesity

Meat Society: Number 22 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 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


Considerable scientific attention is given to calculating the number of people and rate of population growth, but much less effort is expended on estimating average human mass. This disparity exists despite evidence that average body mass is climbing at a sharp pace. Weight is measured using body mass index (BMI). The overweight have a BMI over 25, and the obese have a BMI above 30.

For the first time in human history obese people outnumber underweight people. Almost 11 percent of men and 15 percent of women worldwide are obese, while under 9 percent of men and 10 percent of women are underweight, defined by a BMI of under 18.5. Severe and morbid obesity are associated with highly elevated risks of adverse health outcomes.(509)

Due to the rapid expansion in animal domesticates population and carnism in both industrialized and industrializing countries, human body weight is becoming a serious public health concern. Moreover, excess human population mass could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra half a billion people living on the earth. Obese populations need more food to support their extra mass, and thereby amplify climate-altering gases discharged from food production. Overweight bodies also need more fossil fuel to transport them in cars and planes. So maintenance of a healthy weight has crucial health and environmental benefits. Globally, BMI for both men and women have climbed sharply for four decades. 

In 1975, men had a BMI of 21.7 and women had a 22.1 BMI. In 2014, those figures ware 24.2 for men and 24.4 for women. This means that the average person became 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) heavier each decade. If present trends continue more women will be severely obese than underweight by 2025. 

According to the CDC, in 1960, the average American male weighed 166.3 pounds, which is the same as the average mass for American women in 2010 at 166.2 pounds. The average weight for women in 1960 was 140 pounds, so there was an 18.5 percent gain for females over half a century.(510)

In 2010, the average weight for men jumped to 195.5 pounds, adding almost 30 pounds, a 17.6 percent gain in 50 years. Over 35 percent of American females and males over the age of 20 are obese. An astonishing 70 percent of American adults, who are over 20 years of age, are either overweight or obese. On top of this, around 20 percent of American children between six to 19 years old are obese. 

In 2012, the US came in third, following the Pacific island nations Micronesia and Tonga, for having the highest average weight in the world. By comparison, Americans are 33 pounds heavier than the French, and 70 pounds bigger than the average Bangladeshi.(511)

In 2005, global adult human biomass was 287 million tonnes, of which 15 million tonnes came from being overweight. This extra mass is equivalent to that of 242 million people of average body mass, or five percent of global human biomass. Biomass from obesity was 3.5 million tonnes, the equivalent of 56 million people of average body mass.

North America has 6 percent of the world population but 34 percent of biomass from obesity. In contrast, Asia has 61 percent of the world population and 13 percent of biomass from obesity. One tonne of human biomass corresponds to 12 adults in North America and 17 adults in Asia. 

If all countries of the world had the same BMI distribution as the US, the added human biomass of 58 million tonnes would be equivalent to an extra 935 million people of average body mass. Further, they will have energy requirements equivalent to that of 473 million adults.

Compared with a normal population distribution of BMI, a population that is 40 percent obese requires almost 20 percent more food energy. In a population of one billion, the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) from food production and car travel due to increases in obesity is around 0.4 Giga tonnes (GT) and 1.0 GT of CO2e per year. This is equivalent to between 1 and 2 percent of the recent emissions from the total human population.(512)

A reduction of average weight by 5 kg (11 lb) could reduce transport CO2 discharges in the 34 high-income OECD countries by more than 10 million t. GHG pollution could be diminished another 4 million t through reduction of associated food waste in OECD countries. And, while the shift from cow flesh to other forms of animal flesh in industrialized and countries in transition has lead to food animal lifecycle emissions savings of 20 million t CO2e between 1990 and 2005, GHG releases due to obesity-promoting foodstuffs have increased by more than 400 million t CO2e in advanced developing countries.(513)

Overweight Americans and others in the global North are causing far more planetary heating than people with average body mass. Dietary changes are essential to reversing this dangerous trend. However, this issue is tricky to address since 'fat-shaming' can be a counter-productive strategy.


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 137

Hungry Masses

Meat Society: Number 21 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 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


Malnutrition affects one in every three people worldwide, afflicting all age groups and populations, and plays a major role in half of the 10.4 million annual child deaths in the developing world. And, malnutrition continues to be a cause and a consequence of disease and disability in the children who survive.(494) The most visible form of hunger is famine, a true food crisis in which multitudes of people in an area starve and die.

There are over 850 million people who are chronically hungry. This is the largest number and proportion of malnourished people ever recorded in human history. Plus, being underweight is a major problem globally. A quarter of women in India and Bangladesh are underweight. And a fifth of men in India, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Ethiopia are underweight.(495) Being underweight put a person at risk for multiple health problems including anemia, infertility and osteoporosis.

In the entire developing world, or Global South, hunger and poverty are intense and may worsen as economic growth across the world stalls. From 2005 and 2008 food prices almost doubled. To make matters worse, from 2007, there has been a sizable slowdown in food aid, bringing hunger reduction "essentially to a halt for the developing countries as a whole."(496)

As many as 2.8 billion people on the planet struggle to survive on less than $2 a day, and upwards of one billion people lack reasonable access to safe drinking water. There is an enormous and persistent food gap between the Global South and the developed North. To illustrate, the average person in the industrial world took in 10 percent more calories daily in 1961 than the average person in the developing world consumes today.(497)

The large numbers of poor and malnourished people in the world are unacceptably high, but these numbers may be much higher due to under-counting. Misleadingly, the UN set the threshold for hunger as the minimum calories needed for a "sedentary lifestyle." In reality, the number of hungry people could be as high as 1.5 billion, or in excess of 25 percent of the world's adult population if the threshold was set as the minimum needed for "normal activity."

And, numbers of the hungry would jump to 2.6 billion, or nearly 45 percent of the global adult population, for the minimum calories needed for "intense activity." Currently, 4.3 billion people live on less than $5 a day. Although higher than the World Bank poverty criteria at $1.25 a day, one report showed that a realistic poverty measure would be around $10 a day.(498) This standard indicates over three-quarter of humans live in poverty.

One-fifth of the Earth's 7 billion people have no land and possessions at all. These "poorest of the poor" are nonliterates lacking safe drinking water and living on less than a dollar a day. Many spend about 80 percent of their earnings on food, but are still hungry and malnourished. The average US house cat eats twice as much protein every day as one of the world's poorest of the poor, and the cost to care for each cat is greater than a poor person's annual income.(499)

Half of the world's population have enough food to provide energy, but suffer from individual nutrient deficiencies. Billions of people lack iron, iodine, vitamin A, and other vital nutrients. In addition, racial, caste, ethnic, and religious hatred, along with monetary greed, cause food deprivation for whole masses of people around the globe. And, food insecurity is about to get worse. 

The UN estimate that climate transformation will affect poor countries the most, and inflate food insecurity. Oxfam predicts world hunger will worsen as planetary heating inevitably affects crop production and disrupt incomes. The organization suggest the number of people in the peril of hunger might climb by 10 to 20 percent by 2050, with daily per capita calorie availability falling across the world.(500) 

Food inequality is also increasing. Worldwide, 2 billion people live primarily on an animal-based diet, while double that sum, or 4 billion people, live primarily on a plant-based diet. The UNEP estimated that calories lost from feeding cereals to animals could feed an extra 3.5 billion people.(501) Another analysis calculated that 4 billion people could be fed with the crops devoted to livestock. The single biggest intervention to free up calories would be to stop using grains for cow carcass production in the US. By far, the US, China, and Western Europe account for the bulk of the 'diet gap,' and corn is the main crop being diverted to animal feed.(502)

By moderating diets from food animals, choosing less resource-demanding animal products, and maintaining non-feed systems, around 1.3 and 3.6 billion more people could fed. And ending consumer waste of animal calories could feed an additional 235 million people.(503)

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the number of people fed in a year per hectare (2.5 acres) ranged from 22 individuals for potatoes and 19 for rice, to one and two persons, respectively for cow and sheep flesh. The agency added that the low energy conversion ratio from feed to carcass is a concern since most of the cereal grain being produced is diverted to livestock.(504)

A Bangladeshi family living off rice, beans, vegetables and fruit may live on an acre of land or less. In sharp contrast, the average American, who consumes around 270 pounds of animal carcass a year, needs 20 times that.(505) The current global average animal consumption is 100g (3.5 oz) per person per day, with about a ten-fold variation between high-consuming and low-consuming populations.(506)

For most people in developing countries who obtain their protein from plants, eating animal flesh is a luxury. A kilogram (2.2 lb) of animal carcass can cost from $2 to $5 in the local markets, which is several days’ wages. A typical African eats only 20 kg (44 lb) of animal flesh a year, well below the world average.(507)

These findings suggest that over-consumption and dietary habits are of the essence for understanding resource use and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, as opposed to expanding population being the primary driver as is popularly argued. That is, population's importance is related to lifestyle expenditures, and specifically to the over-consumption class.

A 2011 report concludes, “The mass consumption of animals is a primary reason why humans are hungry, fat, or sick and is a leading cause of the depletion and pollution of waterways, the degradation and deforestation of the land, the extinction of species, and the warming of the planet."(508)


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 135-6

Diet or Over Population?

Meat Society: Number 20 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 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


Substantial modifications in population size, age structure, and urbanization are expected in many parts of the world this century. These variations can affect energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) outflows. In particular, aging, urbanization and variations in household size can substantially influence GHG footprints in some regions. Aging will occur in most regions, due to declines in both fertility and mortality. 

Aging is expected to be particularly rapid in regions like China that have recently experienced sharp falls in fertility. On the positive side, slowing population growth could provide 16 to 29 percent of the GHG reductions suggested to be necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate transformation.(490)

There is an inverse relationship between the two main drivers behind increased land requirements for food – as socioeconomic development improves, population growth declines. At the same time, diets become richer. Typically, consumption of animal protein, vegetable oil, fruit and vegetable swells, while starchy staples become less essential.

With higher purchasing power comes higher consumption and a greater demand for processed food, animal flesh, cow milk products, chicken eggs, and fish, all of which add pressure to the food supply system. This over-consumption severely affects global sustainability, equity, and food security.(491) 

During a span of 46 years, from 1961 to 2007, a review of data from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that in most regions, diets became richer while available land for food diminished. In many regions, dietary change may override population growth as a major driver behind land requirements for food in the near future.(492)

Potential land savings through yield improvements are offset by a combination of population growth and dietary change. These dynamics were the largest in developing regions and emerging economies. Also, additions to the total per capita food supply is not occurring everywhere around the world. In some rich, developed regions, such as Northern Europe and Oceania, food supply levels remain constant.

In most developed regions, the share of animal products is extraordinary high. From 1961 to 2007, food animals constituted one-third of the available calories in the Global North, compared to 10 percent or less in many of the poorer regions in the global South. These dynamics are set to change. The FAO projects that world population will expand 34 to 41 percent by 2050 to reach 8.9 to 9.1 billion. Food demand will soar upwards by 70 percent, and daily per person calorie intake will rise to 3,130 calories.

Food is a major part of climate warming, but it is also essential for survival, security and equity. Although the consumption per capita of cereals is likely to stabilize, population growth will escalate the demand for both food animals (almost doubling) and cereals (50 percent) by 2050.(493)


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 134

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