Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Living in the Anthropocene

Posted in Ecology, Environment by helenofmarlowe on July 5, 2017

We’ve all heard the oft-quoted aphorism that if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain.

I’ve never subscribed to that stance.

But there is a parallel philosophy that is harder to dismiss.

If we decry the hunger of 1 million people on this planet, and the trashing of the oceans and the destruction of the rain forests, the extinction of species and the wasting of water – and yet we choose to participate in the causes, do we have the right to decry? Or must we say, Well, I sort of care, a little bit, but not much – not enough to give up some of the pleasures I’m accustomed to.

I have this on my mind because a friend sent me a link to a November 10 New York Times article,

Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene, by Roy Scranton.
A brief excerpt:

The biggest problem climate change poses isn’t how the Department of Defense should plan for resource wars, or how we should put up sea walls to protect Alphabet City, or when we should evacuate Hoboken. It won’t be addressed by buying a Prius, signing a treaty, or turning off the air-conditioning. The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is  already dead.

Our leaders ignored the warnings while there was still time.

And still, most of us are choosing, not from necessity but because we like the taste of other animals, to continue unraveling the web of life on this planet that we will leave to our children and grandchildren.

We know that greenhouse gasses accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and oceans, and yet we continue the destruction of the rain forest, the lungs of the planet.

There is much information about the connections between eating meat and climate change, some of it published by the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office. Here is a 4-minute video that the UU UNO makes available on its website.


It’s  taken from this  slightly longer (12 minute) video.

Some of the points made in this video (video number 5 in the list of resources):

While we are being encouraged to change our lightbulbs and drive hybrid cars, the united nations found that raising animals for human food contributes more to global warming than all the planes, cars, and trucks on the planet combined. Forty % more.

You can leave your shower running for 24 hours a day every day of the year and you would still not waste as much water as when you include meat in your diet.

Many of us recycle paper because we want to save trees. But the number one reason for cutting down trees, including the destruction of the rain forest, is to clear land for grazing meat animals and growing corn to feed to animals that we will slaughter and eat.

40,000 people on this planet starve to death every day! This does not happen because there is not enough food for everyone – this happens because, while people are starving, we are wasting enormous amounts of food to feed cows, pigs, chickens and other animals so that we can satisfy our desire (not need) for meat.

Today, we look back on behaviors of humans in previous centuries and wonder how they could participate in some of the cruel practices common to the culture in early American history.

Now, we persistently put our frivolous desires above the indisputable needs and rights of many who go hungry while we support a meat industry that metes out to us vastly more of the world’s resources than is our just portion.

As we continue to eat animals even knowing that a vegetarian diet is healthier, and knowing that factory farming is the greatest contributor to water pollution and climate change, and knowing the pain and suffering inflicted on other sentient beings who want to live, I believe history will judge us harshly.



27 Responses

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  1. vorsteggianuu said, on November 13, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    This is a passionate call to awake a dying world that doesn’t want
    to know.

  2. Joseph Gilmore said, on November 14, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Climate change is the most important issue of our time …where is the crowd?

  3. amovingmoon said, on November 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    In addition to environmental reasons for not eating animals, we commit a grave injustice to the animals we enslave and slaughter for our taste pleasures. Scientists (and our own observations) confirm that chickens, pigs, cows, are conscious, are self-aware, remember the past and anticipate the future, have feelings, feel pain and joy, and want to live.

  4. Jim Wheeler said, on November 26, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I must admit something about diet. I have discovered that even occasionally eating vegetarian has a marked effect on controlling my weight. It can be delicious and provided satiation without many calories. A half decade ago I clocked in at about 205 pounds and now I am, at 6′ 2″, a svelte 175.

    That said, however, I do not contemplate abandoning meat, nor do I think it likely that most people will any time soon. In fact, Asians are increasingly embracing it. There is hope. Your interesting post, Helen, caused me to recall and look up a marvelous TED talk on the overall problem. I think Hans Roeling has it right.

  5. Jim Wheeler said, on November 26, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I meant to embed Rosling’s (not Roelling’s) video. His talk is, IMHO, the best one on international economics I have ever experienced. Pardon me, please, while I try again.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on November 26, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Hi Jim,
      It looks to me like you did link to the video you intended. Hans Rosling: New insights on poverty
      Filmed Mar 2007 • Posted Jun 2007 • TED2007 I have it running now on a different scan – have not got very far into it yet. Is this the one you mean to link?

      • Jim Wheeler said, on November 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

        Yes. I want to know what you think of it.

        • helenofmarlowe said, on November 27, 2013 at 9:29 am

          Jim, he knows how to give an interesting talk. Human overpopulation is a major problem, and we seems determined to stifle any attempts to curb population growth directly. Educating women in the poorest countries is probably the best way to tackle that, since in this country politics stands in the way of simply allowing women to make family planning decisions. I see rosling’s talk as only tangentially related to the topic of climate change. I saw another video last night with a convincing claim that the only serious approach to slowing down climate change is more trees, more forest, and that means we must stop clearing forest land to turn it into grazing land for livestock. So, back to “less meat = less heat” as a current poster succinctly puts it.

      • Jim Wheeler said, on November 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

        I see rosling’s talk as only tangentially related to the topic of climate change.

        True, Helen, but it seemed to me that your subject was the challenge of accomodating human populations to Earth’s limited resources. Rosling’s profound insight is that it is a multi-faceted problem, but one that can be solved. The linked TED lecture is but one of five he did on economics. The others also gave me optimism that it can be done.

        • helenofmarlowe said, on November 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm

          I do see your point Jim, and now I see that my writing did not stay sharply in focus. I do think that the challenge of reducing human population would be a better, higher, more “efficient” if that’s not too cold, challenge than simply stretching resources, but that’s also necessary. (I just learned that Al Gore has become a vegan. I remember when people were saying to him that “you can’t be a meat-eating environmentalist” so I guess he decided to take that seriously.)
          Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Jim Wheeler said, on November 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Happy turkey day to you too, Helen.

  6. Chichina said, on November 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    A wonderful blog! Finally,someone else who is willing to shout, The Emperor has no clothes.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on November 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Thank you Chichina. Maybe if enough of us shout, our voice will become as loud as industry’s.

  7. Elisabeth said, on December 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    our way of living is dying but that does not mean we are dying. there is not only another way, there is a better way, and we will only collectively change when there is no choice involved. The choice is coming upon us. That is actually good news.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on December 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks Elizabeth. I do hope we can learn to pay more attention to our 7th principle.

  8. Rachel said, on December 2, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Helen, I am optimistic that our civilisation is not dying and that one hundred years from now the human race will eat a predominantly plant-based diet. Or failing that, humans will eat synthetic meat which is produced without harming animals and in an environmentally friendly way. Yes, developing populations are starting to consume more meat but the wealthier nations have already started turning towards plant-based foods I feel. There is also a push from organisations like the Food and Agricultural Organisation to try to wean humans off meat. They recently wrote a report about insects becoming more important as a source of food – http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e00.htm

    • helenofmarlowe said, on December 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      I’m so glad you’re an optimist on this Rachel. We need optimists, if we’re to keep going another 100 years. I did check the Food and Agricultural Organisation site — thanks for the reference. They said,

      All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains add up to 14.5 percent of all human-caused GHG releases.
      The main sources of emissions are feed production and processing, outputs of GHG during digestion by cows, and manure decomposition.

      Its puzzling that they do not mention the biggest problem, which is the razing of forests, turning forests into grazing land. If they counted that, I guess livestock would account for much more than 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions.
      Thanks for visiting and chatting, Rachel.

    • Rosemary Lowe said, on December 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      It really isn’t about “us” anymore. In fact, it never was. Homo sapiens’ delusional hubris is why the Earth is dying: Our species’ never-ending growth addiction, with the delusional idea that “we” somehow must “survive” and that we will, no matter what condition the planet is in, is total insanity. We are but one species, among millions of others, but we are so selfish, and self-centered, we unfortunately see ourselves as the center of it all. We just cannot accept the stark reality that the Earth would do just fine without us, in fact she would be healthier, much less crowded, free from the poisons of Fukushima, the numerous oil disasters, our nuclear bombs, our on-going wars, the cruelty and suffering we cause other species, our human noise, just to name a few of our evils. Going vegan is not the end all to everything. I eat a plant-based diet, and I chose not to breed, and I am so glad I did, but as a member of Homo sapiens, I now understand that the best thing for this very sick planet, is for our species to go.

  9. Exposing the Big Game said, on December 3, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Exposing the Big Game and commented:
    “As we continue to eat animals even knowing that a vegetarian diet is healthier, and knowing that factory farming is the greatest contributor to water pollution and climate change, and knowing the pain and suffering inflicted on other sentient beings who want to live, I believe history will judge us harshly.”

  10. Rosemary Lowe said, on December 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    So true, unfortunately. Homo sapiens, the perpetrator of the greatest crimes against Nature, cannot face its own self-fulfilling prophecy: the Death of Life as it is now known, which means mass extinction for most non-human beings, and humans. All the beautiful biodiversity which we have known, and taken for granted, will vanish. If you don’t realize this, take a look at the Alberta Tar Sands Industrial Wasteland, larger than the country of Greece, and growing every day. Nature is not there, anymore. And this is only one of thousands other man-made wastelands around the planet, with more to come. Homo sapiens started out a Destroyer, and will end as a Destroyer.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on December 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Dear Rosemary,
      You are passionate about this, as more of us should be. Thank you for your heartfelt comments, and your care for the earth.

  11. Jim Wheeler said, on January 13, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Helen, I tried to access your latest post (blackbirds torn), but it came up blank.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on January 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Jim, I’m not sure but I’ll guess: I think maybe when I created the post Using Gimp, the title of the picture somehow became the title of the post? Because I had not yet titled the post so it took the first thing there with a name, and the first thing I uploaded was a picture by that name? Just guessing. Can you see the one Using Gimp? If so, then, well, that’s the best guess I can come up with. That or gremlins.
      The one Using Gimp is about, I think, the third one down from the top.

  12. argentumvulgaris said, on February 13, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Reblogged this on Eco-Crap.

  13. […] Sourced through Scoop.it from: helenofmarlowe.wordpress.com […]

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