All posts by ledav

Eat more Chicken

As a meat eater, I do love a good steak, but I am also aware of the environmental impact that eating beef has on the environment. One kg of beef produces 27 kg of CO2 while the same amount of chicken produces 6.9 kg and rice produces 2.7 kg. I am also aware of the other impacts such as methane emissions—a much more potent greenhouse gas—and the tremendous waste that the meat industry produces. As a result, I try to limit the amount of certain meat that I eat, but I do not think it is necessarily easy to convince everybody to go completely vegan or vegetarian. Nor do I believe it is necessary to go to that extreme as it would be better for everybody to compromise and choose to limit our carbon footprint. I agree with some points but have different opinions on others: here are two of my thoughts.

 

Firstly, I am a bit confused about the analogy between cannibalism and the consumption of meat. I think that for the majority of other animals out there, they would agree that eating their own kind is morally taboo too. It is strange that the author uses the phrase “the role of the principle or norm of autonomy in naturalizing the killing of animals for food consumptions” when carnivores and omnivores exist in nature. I think that argument is a bit inadequate and stretching it a bit too much, but I certainly agree that we must revise the way we mechanized the slaughter of animals. Industrial meat production has removed us from reality and perhaps objectify the sacrifices of the animals. We waste a substantial amount of food and overconsume leading to environmental and health issues. However, our consumption of processed food high in excess carbs and fats is more to blame for our obesity crisis than meat has.

 

Lastly, I strongly agree that we need to rethink our diet and consume everything in moderation. It is probably very difficult for everybody to eat the “utopian diet” because not everybody has consistent access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Not to mention that finding alternative protein sources would be difficult for those without much disposable income. I think that the true solution for everyone will come in the form of lab-grown meat which has proven to be very likely viable. Even when it is commercially available, the technology may still too costly to justify for everyone. I think that saying that “actively desiring the taste, smell, visual presentation and texture of meat” and “mistaking that appearance of choice is autonomy” is as judgmental as judging a balanced vegan diet as unhealthy. Any drastic change will not happen, but we can encourage others to mind their environmental impact as we all share this same planet. Maybe instead of eating meat, maybe eat more chicken (I am not sponsored by Chick Fil A) or some other meat with less CO2 output. It’s easier to change in small steps, not huge leaps.

Is Nature out of our grasp?

Humans are naturally curious from the time we were toddlers to when we become adults. We tend to want to know more in order to understand our surroundings to exploit for our own advantages. For instances, since the advent of agriculture, humans have been manipulating plants to be more nutritious and high yielding through artificial selection and more recently genetic modification. Through technological advances, people have bettered the lives of others using nature as both a resource pool and catalysis for innovations. However, we also overexploit Mother Nature because we sometimes think of ourselves as against nature. As thesis 1 states, “it makes no sense to oppose nature to culture” as we depend on nature itself for our successes. How can we be against nature when human inventions such medicines are derived from plants in nature and flight was achieved by observing birds? By that logic, destroying nature slows our rate of technological advances.

 

I also find that thesis 3’s quote about how “Nature itself is always in movement” which is very true to me. Nature will always move on without humans as it had when humans did not exist. The concept of nature conservation is conserving nature so that it is habitable for us, not that it will be destroyed for all life. Life in nature will always appear in some form just as how it appeared out of simple chemicals through abiogenesis during the Planet’s infancy. In that sense, we do not control nature as it is something that defines us and our culture. We do not build dikes and earthquake to quell nature, but rather to live with nature. Like the article says, “we must think of Nature without any residual anthropocentrism” because nature does not care if we’re in the way.

 

Lastly, I believe that thesis 7’s quote “Our task today is, similarly, to conceive of Nature in ways that are grounded in, but are not reducible to, the best contemporary science” really speaks to me as a STEM student. In many ways, many of us tend to think that the math and sciences are inherent truths, but they are realistically the closest understanding of the universe at the time. “The best contemporary science” is one that evolves like an organism because there is so much information that gets supported and unsupported every day. The best mathematical models, such as ones for fluid flow in pipes, all have a degree of uncertainty because it is our best estimate. In other words, as much as we try to understand nature, we can only get closer but never achieve a “Theory of everything.”

You can take the growth out of economy, but you can’t take it out of human population

Gorz proposes a reduction in economic growth as a method of ecological conservation. He proposes that we should have “no-growth – or even degrowth – of material production” in order to preserve nature and its scarce resources. This sounds all good and excellent as we’ll have cleaner air, water, and soil as less oil and natural resources are taken out of the ground when fewer commodities are produced. But is it actually feasible?

The “American way” or quite frankly the “modern world’s way” of dealing with our natural resources is to commodify and put a price tag on them. We have been so accustomed to doing so – since ancient times even – that it would be difficult to reverse our economies into a simpler shared commons system. It would be hard to convince anyone of that fact. Yes, it is true that “growth can never satisfy positional competition” and that “growth does not increase happiness”, but I don’t think a degrowth would either.

One thing that is going to be hard to “degrowth” is the human population. This is always going to grow unless we all agree not to have kids. Even if everybody decides to have only one kid per family, there would still a net population growth. Global GDP grows every year because there are more people every year to produce and use goods and services. In order to support that growth, the economy must grow. More cars need to be made, more houses built, more food grown, more medicine discovered, and more basic necessities must be produced to accommodate a growing human population. In my opinion, there are really only a few ways to remedy this situation. One way is reducing our impact by reducing our dependence on non-renewable resources and focus on renewing energy and waste. That is not a complete degrowth of the economy but focusing on moderate consumption. The other way is to perhaps look beyond our planet.

 

 

 

Earth Yelp Review: 2/5 Stars

“Unsafe water results in many deaths and the spread water-related diseases… Underground water sources in many places are threatened by the pollution produced in certain mining, farming, and industrial activities.”

-Pope Francis

Great scenery and gorgeous wildlife, but poor management. That is what a Yelp review for Earth would read like. If the Earth was a restaurant, it would be immediately shut down by the local health department for severe health and safety infractions relating to unclean water on top of many other things. The managers of the place, the people of Earth, have neglected the establishment to the point of near-irreparability. As Lynn White beautifully stated, “surely no creature other than man has ever managed to foul its nest in such a short order.” We tend to believe that we are masters of nature and try to reign in its riches for our benefits. Yet, it is surely the actions of humans that have accelerated the end of our tenure of our planet.

 

I agree with White’s sentiment that humans have successfully used technology to further our ecological crisis. However, I am hesitant to blame technological and scientific progress as the sole culprits for the problem. I wish to point out that it is what we do with those advancements that contribute to the issue. For instance, the cattle industry has provided us with more beef products than ever before at the cost of huge energy input and greenhouse gas emissions. On the flipside, advances in renewable energy such as solar and wind energy have reduced our reliance on fossil fuels. Thus, rather than pass the blame onto the products of human ingenuity, we need to hold ourselves accountable and focus on new solutions.

 

Of course, White’s rhetoric does have merits on how we should approach the problem. I take his statement of finding a “new religion or rethink our old one” as saying that we need to rethink our societal values on waste and conservation before relying on new technology to bail us out. According to the BBC article, How many Earth do we need?, if the world lived like the average American, we would need roughly 4 Earths worth of resources to sustain ourselves. The “religion” we need is a stronger awareness for the planet and more importantly acting to preserve it.

 

As Pope Francis has stated, “We all know that it is not possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and society, where the habit of wasting and discarding has reached unprecedented levels.” I believe that further support for ecologically mindful technology such as renewable energy and sustainable manufacturing along with being mindful of how much waste we produce will help us save the planet. After all, the “species heading towards extinction” might include us too. In order to have a 5-star planet, we need to give 5-star quality effort in maintaining it.