The end of 2015 saw the much hyped COP21, the United Nations Climate Change conference that featured political leaders from across the world coming together in an attempt to save our planet, taking place in Paris. While a deal was indeed reached, it has since been described as anything from promising to subterfuge, dependant upon whom you ask.
One aspect of the fight against climate change that the conference seems to have completely avoided is the major role played but the animal agriculture industry and its devastating effects on the environment. Last years documentary, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, sought to delve into this very serious issue (a newer version – executive-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio – is available on Netflix) and provides a very controversial yet interesting look at this issue.
However, the discovery of this particular problem is hardly new. In 2006, the United Nation 's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report entitled Livestock 's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Opinions, which “aims to assess the full impact of the livestock sector on environmental problems, along with potential technical and policy approaches to mitigation.”
The extensive report concluded the livestock industry to be among the top two or three most significant contributors to several of the most serious environmental problems we face today. All the way back in 2006, it made clear that when dealing with issues ranging from loss of biodiversity to land degradation to climate change, this issue should be a major policy focus.
Dr. Henning Steinfeld, the head of the livestock sector analysis and policy branch of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)...
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...mful (the cow, et al), is a viable solution? If so, should this be up to personal choice?
Both are valuable. Personally I’m not vegetarian but in the last year or so I’ve reduced my meat consumption so I have a few meat-free days every week. I also aim to eat more white meat rather than beef. I definitely think it has to be voluntary though education can help. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of the government legally directing people’s diets and frankly I think that any attempt to do so would be counterproductive for environmental protection overall.
Are youth in Europe taking any actions on this issue? Have their outlooks changed from those of past generations?
I think there’s a trend towards vegetarianism and low meat diets among more young people. That said my social circle may not be reflective of the population more generally; confirmation bias and all that!
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