Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Living in the Anthropocene

Posted in Ecology, Environment by helenofmarlowe on November 1, 2015

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.

http://climate.uu-uno.org/topics/view/524759010cf264abcd860045/#resources

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.

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Major Moral Issue

Posted in "North Carolina", Environment, NC, Planet Care by helenofmarlowe on July 2, 2015

Wrong on many levels

Our local newspaper has recently published articles about industrial chicken farms around Pilot Mountain. These chicken farms are wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to focus on just one.

The Journal stories focus mainly on the financial cost to the nearby homeowners. Families who have lived there for decades, putting their life savings into their property, now have their homes made almost unlivable by “the unbearable stench of death,” putting them into the bind of being unable to enjoy their land and unable to sell it. Surely our legislators can protect taxpaying citizens from what amounts to a take-over of their property by industrial
chicken farms that pollute the land, air and water and destroy the value of area properties.

Even more important, I think, than the injustice done to these individuals is the damage to our children and grandchildren who will have to deal with the environmental devastation caused by CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). Since animal farms are the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, this is an issue we should all care about. Pollution from chicken farms kills fish and other wildlife and makes people sick.

And this does not even take into account the suffering of these sentient creatures who live their entire lives locked in cages so small they cannot spread their wings.

I believe history will show that the way humans treat other animals is the major moral issue of our times.

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To Justify the Ways of God to Man (and to other animals as well)

Posted in Ecology, Planet Care by helenofmarlowe on September 24, 2010

Introduction:  Our grandson sent email to my husband and me with a link to a New York Times OpEd, and the message, “Your thoughts?”

Here is the link that he sent us,

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/the-meat-eaters/

and here is my reply:

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Bob and I finally — finally! — got the last of our tax documents off to the accountant late last night,
and so we both printed a copy of this to read.

Bob was reading it when I fell asleep, so he will likely send you comments today too, comments more philosophically sophisticated than mine.  The article is interesting for sure,  and some of his comments about animal cruelty at the hands of humans seem, surprisingly, new to me.   Surprisingly because when I read them they seem obvious.

I do not believe the author is serious in his suggestion that we might try to eliminate carnivores from the planet.
So why does he explore the idea? I guess to explore the outer limits of the observation that

Our own form of predation is of course more refined than those of other meat-eaters,
who must capture their prey and tear it apart as it struggles to escape.  We instead employ
professionals to breed our prey in captivity and prepare their bodies for us behind a veil of
propriety, so that our sensibilities are spared the recognition that we too are predators…

I think he cannot be serious, not because it would be “playing God” (his second response to that
accusation is good enough for me) but because it simply makes no practical sense.  (I can speak more to
that upon request but my guess is that you agree.)

Or maybe he explores the idea of eliminating carnivorous species as a way of mocking the arguments that I do take seriously,
The main one (to me) being

The reality behind the veil is, however, far worse than that in the natural world.  Our factory
farms, which supply most of the meat and eggs consumed in developed societies, inflict a lifetime
of misery and torment on our prey, in contrast to the relatively brief agonies endured by the victims
of predators in the wild.  From the moral perspective, there is nothing that can plausibly be said in
defense of this practice.

And this, for me, is the crux of the matter.  We cannot eliminate suffering from the world, but we should not contribute to it unnecessarily.   And factory farming is unnecessary.  (I would go further and say eating animals is unnecessary, but that argument is not necessary for this particular point and might lead us toward than infamous tangent.)

Your thoughts?

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