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A Food Revolution: The Climate Case for a Factory Farm Ban


#1

A Food Revolution: The Climate Case for a Factory Farm Ban

Patty Lovera

The way we grow our food and raise livestock has changed significantly over the past several decades. Independent, small-scale family farms are increasingly giving way to industrial factory farms.

Factory farms have problems, one of which is their contribution to global climate change.


#2

There are many advantages to avoiding meat. This short list is in addition to using less plastic packaging plus avoiding antibiotic and hormone residues in meat;

  1. You will become slim like when you were young, or, like the healthy person you should be now.

  2. No yucky grease clogging drain pipes and blood vessels. Dishes rinse quickly with cold water (it’s fun to use a spoon to deflect faucet water on a dish and blast it clean). Save on hot water bill.

  3. Reduce refrigeration energy by storing dry nuts, beans, rice and corn in jars and cupboards.


#3

The ethical case for eliminating meat-eating entirely:

  1. The farm animals we kill for food are highly complex, sentient beings.
  2. These deaths are unnecessary.
  3. Therefore, these deaths are wrong.

It’s that simple.


#4

It isn’t only environmental. Factory farms, where female animals are production machines and their babies are widgets, are deplorably inhumane. They are overproducing meat and spending billions trying to debunk vegetarianism and veganism and encouraging more consumption. And our government is set up to support this industry that refuses to acknowledge the new millennium. Factory farms need to go away. If we can break up oppressive corporate monopolies, we can break up factory farms into much smaller units that raise livestock humanely.


#5

I don’t eat any meat, I know I said that before. Since country of origin meat labeling was thrown out, gag me with a spoon.


#6

Nonsense, before the invention of agriculture, humans were hunters and gatherers. If our ancestors had not eaten meat, our species would have gone extinct.

Predators today eat nothing but meat. Do you think their arteries become clogged with lipids?

What we need to stop eating is sugar. Because high fructose corn syrup (this ain’t meat) is in all processed foods, the incidence of obesity and type II diabetes is epidemic in the developed world.

The problem with this article is that the author doesn’t understand that when living and dead organisms produce greenhouse gases, this does not contribute to climate change because these gases are part of natural cycles that are steady states. This means the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases fluctuates, but there is no net increase or decrease.

The carbon in fossil fuels and the methane in permafrost is sequestered and is not cycling. When humans burn fossil fuels this adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that should not be there. Hence, the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere increases and this causes the earth to warm, melting the permafrost and releasing methane. Because greenhouse gases are opaque to infrared radiation, the less infrared radiation lost to outer space, the more the earth will warm.

LIving organisms produce far more carbon dioxide and water vapor (a greenhouse gas) by just breathing than they produce by burning fossil fuels. Garbage dumps produce methane (a potent greenhouse gas). But this was the case before the Industrial Revolution and there was no climate change, other than natural climate change: cooler glacial periods and warmer interglacial periods.


#7

Humans have no moral obligations to non-human animals because non-human animals are not moral agents.

Immanuel Kant


#8

But this is also true in family farms that use domesticated animals to make a living. The difference between a family farm and a factory farm is the number of animals in the herd.

All people are free to be vegetarians, but nobody is free to tell me that I should be a vegetarian.

By the way, we now know that humans have taste receptors that are specific for cooked meat (these receptors also respond to monosodium glutamate; this is why the Chinese use it in cooking). If eating meat were bad for you, these receptors would never have evolved.

Before we forced the native people living on the Great Plains onto reservations and expected them to become sedentary farmers, they were nomadic hunters and gatherers. What do you think would have happened had you tried to convince them to be vegans?


#9

Most commenters here seem stuck on livestock farms. The true problem here is just how much our current food production and supply system relies on fossil fuels. As fossil fuels have now peaked and plateaued in supply, unless we rapidly transition to green energy sources the ever rising price of fuel will cause the price foodstuffs to skyrocket. In a nation where people already make less money than their parents did this is a recipe (pun intended) for disaster.
The meals you ate yesterday in America traveled nearly 2000 miles to get to your plate. Imagine how much they will cost when the price of gas hits 7,8, even $10 a gallon.
I suggest a read of Richard Wolff. He calls for a transition to smaller localized economies once again. Growing locally in a more sustainable fashion and eliminating transportation costs from the food chain may be the only way will survive the coming economic and climate upheavals.
Of course all my points are completely moot as the temperature of the earth is now rising rapidly and much of America will be unlivable in the next 50 years. So have a big fat steak. Scramble a couple of condor eggs. Have a bagett baked two states over. Wash it down with some insecticide ridden wine.
Our demise is already baked into this pie.


#10

Actually, our numbers only increased AFTER we left our Hunter/gatherer phase and transitioned into sustainable farming after the last ice age.
From an evolutionary standpoint, while we needed proteins in our diet in order for our brains to develop, after we became Homo sapiens that extra protein from animal fat in our diets disappeared.


#11

Life expectancy was about thirty-five when humans were hunter gatherers. Yes, old people lived exactly as long as old people do today and lot’s of babies and children died, so averages don’t mean that much.

Although the individual cow grazing on native prairie recycles CO2 very well that also obscures reality in the meat cycle.

Modern meat depends on chemicals sprayed and tractors mowing and balers baling. There are combines harvesting grain and trucks hauling everything around. And tractors plowing planting and fertilizing the harvested fields.

Intense chemical based mechanized agriculture has delivered poisons into every living cell on Earth. Of course factories with legal capitalist government pollution permits add to the poisons floating around in all living cells.

Avoiding meat and replacing it with organic beans, peas, corn and rice requires less land, no feed lots or sewage ponds, and reduced antibiotics necessary to factory farm animals. Small scale organic farming also opens the door to family farming and a stronger America.


#12

Nobody is telling anybody they are required to be vegetarian and local.

The point is that taking this step is something that can be done to help delay human species extinction long enough for social consciousness to develop and replace barbaric capitalism and imposed austerity.


#13

You know not of what you speak. All animal ethicists reject Kant’s strict view of our obligations as fatally flawed (as are all ethical systems that restrict basic moral status to agency), since it excludes all human non-agents as well (that’s all children, the mentally impaired or enfeebled, etc.). Nope, can’t have your burger and ethics, too!


#14

You speak from ignorance of the entire field. Anyone who thinks clearly about ethics has a right, indeed an obligation, to tell you what you “should” do – a normative notion and the very point of ethics/morality. What you do, of course, is up to you (that is, you can chose to do wrong).

Evolution is silent on ethical obligations, since we’ve evolved to be able to do a lot of things that we know we should not. (Again, if you studied ethics at all, you’d know that it’s axiomatic not to derive an “ought” from an “is” – the basic law of all moral systems.)


#15

An example of a small-time chicken operation appears in “The Chicken Project” published in Orion Magazine" in June 2015. Gina Warren, a former vegetarian turned enthusiastic DIY chicken slaughterer, describes her introduction to “Cody’s free-range, organic” henhouse in Northern California:

WHEN CODY OPENED THE DOOR to the henhouse, the first thing that hit me was the smell. The ammonia stench clogged my throat and nose, and while my eyes didn’t literally water, I wished they would’ve because of how badly they burned. I cannot imagine what a factory farm might smell like, with chickens piled one on top of the other, surrounded by feces, and suffering blindness and ammonia burns from the poorly ventilated air. Which is nothing like Cody’s farm, but good God it reeked.

In fact, Cody’s farm – “two hundred birds, sixty dozen eggs a week. Every now and then he’ll slaughter a batch for meat” – is like a factory farm in all but scale. It’s a factory farm in terms of the attitude of the people running it and as an example of traditional farming practices that make chickens suffer and make them sick.


“Slaughterhouse” was first published in 1997. Twenty years ago, Gail Eisnitz bore witness to events that are the same today as they were then: Your worst nightmares are “normal agricultural practices.” (See my review of Slaughterhouse.)

Articles I’ve read in agribusiness publications about cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs and other farmed animals being locked in a building in which a fire broke out, quote the “humane” family farmer: “At least no one got hurt.” I recall an article about a small dairy farm’s cows – those who did not die in the barn fire but were suffering badly from smoke inhalation – being held without help on the farm until the auction truck came to take them away.


Farmers are not sentimental about “their” animals, and this is a source of pride with them. Yet they have no problem creating smarmy, cloyingly sentimental and dishonest ads on TV and elsewhere about their “wholesome” enterprise and their “humane” animal care – anything to anesthetize the public. Each time I see one of these “dairy pure” types of ads with a farmer holding an inert newborn calf (just taken away from his or her mother), I want to puke and weep with sadness and disgust.

I want all forms of animal agribusiness to be abolished forever asap. I support whatever will make that happen. I will never stop working for an animal-free food supply and for animals themselves until I die trying.


My view is that making a business out of chickens does not bode well, however “small,” benign or local the business may appear compared to so-called factory farming. It can be an extension of factory farming rather than an alternative.

This rising awareness is moving us toward a more compassionate culture, and it is an encouraging sign that we are acknowledging that animals suffer in food production. However, the unfortunate reality is that animals whose flesh or body fluids are labeled “humane” endure many of the same cruel practices as animals in standard production, and a brutal slaughter is still the end result. Between conventional and al­ternative operations, the similarities far outweigh the differences. There are inherent cruelties in any animal agribusiness that cannot be avoided and are universal and essential to making a profit. Farms cannot circumvent these heartless practices, and the consumer is left uninformed, unaware, and assuaged by the reassuring label.


#16

Sugar only (carbs)? Unless I’m wrong, before World War II, before industrialization of agriculture, most folks enjoyed diets consisting of potatoes, cereals, and grains (complex carbs)–not exclusively, of course–because meat, dairy and eggs were not so plentiful and they were expensive. Also, unless I’m wrong, there were no epidemics of obesity and type II diabetes like today. That changed after World War II with the industrialization of agriculture (factory farming, etc) and automobile production. Meat, dairy and eggs became plentiful and cheaper–and addictive (sodium, fat content). Along with automobile production and highways, the fast-food industry got started and expanded. After decades of “progress,” we now have epidemics of obesity and type II diabetes. We now have extreme, escalated and reinforced animal abuse and suffering on all farming systems–because all are “production systems” first and foremost. We now have negative and harmful environmental impacts.

Our ancestors may have eaten meat swiped from the kills of predators–complete with internal parasites. The cardiovascular system of predators and their digestive system differ from ours–their arteries don’t clog–except in the lab. Our cardiovascular system and digestive system resemble those of herbivores. To the best of my knowledge, male predators don’t suffer from erectile dysfunction due to compromised vascular systems. If they did over time, they would have gone extinct.


#17

To paraphrase Tom Regan (the great animal rights theorist), “you don’t fix unjust institutions by tidying them up.”