- Government, Politicians and Organisations in Australia
AUSTRALIA Preamble (New Zealand below):
We urge the Australian government, especially the Prime Minister - Kevin Rudd; Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts - Peter Garrett; and Minister for Climate Change and Water - Penny Wong, to recognize the many benefits of a meat free diet and promote them to the Australian public in order to slow climate change.
It’s critical that we bring down our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions now. Dr. James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists and Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies recently said in an interview: “Yes, we’re really running out of time… this next year or two years are the critical time period."
In June this year, research by international climate scientists revealed grave news that the world is facing severe and irreversible climatic events due to the unprecedented accelerated warming of the earth. Though we definitely need to transition from our dependency on coal to renewable, sustainable energy, it takes several hundred years for the carbon dioxide that is already in our atmosphere to break down and dissipate. And meanwhile planetary warming keeps rising because we’re not limiting other greenhouse gases that can abate climate change much quicker than carbon dioxide reductions.
There is hope. We can quickly reduce our impact on planetary heating by focusing on limiting the short-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) like methane. Reducing the short-lived GHGs will substantially slow down global warming over a short period of time - this is what needs to happen. Methane in particular has a very short atmospheric life. If we stopped all our methane emissions now, the methane currently in the sky will disappear within less than 20 years and that would reduce a substantial amount of warming effect.
According to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, methane has a warming impact 72 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame. Limiting this gas is relatively inexpensive and will produce rapid results.
In Australia, sources of methane are derived from a variety of sectors but the one that produces the most is Agriculture. The emissions produced by livestock production alone have more impact than the emissions from all the coal-fired power stations combined!
(Source: Russell G., CSIRO Perfidy, Vivid Publishing (2009))
As well as being major contributors to global warming, livestock farming and feedlots have extensive impacts on our Earth’s resources:
o In Queensland, 96% of land cleared in 2006 was for animal grazing.
o Meat production, particularly ‘feed’ production for livestock consumes large amounts of critically important water resources.
o About 70% of all grazing land in dry areas is considered degraded, mostly because of overgrazing, compaction and erosion caused by rearing of animals for their meat.
o More than 2 billion tons of animal manure was produced worldwide during the late 1990s. Assuming an average nitrogen content of around 5%, this makes 100 million tons of nitrogen finding its way into our water systems.
Loss of Biodiversity
o Tropical forests hold half of the world’s species which are becoming extinct at an alarming rate due to deforestation for meat production.
Not to mention the energy resources used to transport, refrigerate and process livestock into meat, and not forgetting the black carbon generated from deforestation specifically resulting from livestock grazing. Black carbon may only stay in the atmosphere for a short amount of time but is an incredibly potent climate warming agent.
Avoiding the Tipping Points
It’s essential that we avoid the tipping points identified by climate scientists – climatic thresholds that are irreversible once exceeded. Surpassing these tipping points will lead to catastrophic climate events such as unprecedented food and water shortages, massive changes in weather patterns, and the further melting of ice sheets that could introduce unforeseen rates of rise in sea level. Focusing on reducing carbon dioxide emissions Even if we could shut down all the coal-fired power stations tomorrow a problem arises in that these power stations generate, as well as carbon dioxide, sulphate aerosols, which have an immediate cooling impact. They lessen the impact of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations. Taking out this cooling effect without a quick reduction in other GHGs at the same time, could rapidly lead to an even hotter planet, running the risk of crossing dangerous tipping points. By focusing on reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions now, we can avoid going over these tipping points, buying us more time to transition to renewable energy.
What You Can Do
In light of the planetary emergency we face, the single most effective thing that individuals can do right now to bring down net GHG emissions that doesn’t cost the earth is, go vegan. If changing to a vegan diet is considered difficult at present then the next effective thing to do is:
* Eat less meat. Choose to eat vegan meals at least twice or more times per week. The less animal products consumed the greater the impact on rapidly reducing our net GHG emissions. If we are to save our world and ourselves from the impending dangers of runaway climate change we need to act as quickly as possible.
NEW ZEALAND Preamble:
Target audience: New Zealand Prime Minister - John Key, Climate Change Minister - Nick Smith and Environmental Groups and Organisations.
Today, almost 40% of NZ’s land has been converted from native forest to pasture for grazing animals.
(State of New Zealand’s Environment 1997, www.mfe.govt.nz)
Per head of population New Zealanders emit nearly twice as much greenhouse gases as the British- we are not far behind the Americans.
Our greenhouse gas emissions are growing rapidly – we are producing 22% more than in 1990.
Our growing dairy herd and energy demand mean that our net emissions are expected to grow to over 70 percent above 1990 levels by 2012. NZ is also the world’s largest exporter of meat and dairy produce.
Despite being a small country, our carbon footprint per capita is very significant. NZ emission per capita greenhouse gas emission in 2000 is 19.3 tonnes of CO2 compared to 22.9 tonnes of CO2 in the USA being a much larger country.
(World Resource Institute WRI)
Expected level of deforestation in NZ between 2008-12 will result in 40 million tonnes CO2 emissions above 1990 levels= excess agricultural emissions.
The risk of drought is expected to increase in already drought-prone areas
The frequency of severe droughts is expected to increase across many eastern parts of New Zealand by 2080.
Droughts may happen in spring and autumn, not just summer
Temps expected to increase, increased risk of forest fires
Very heavy rainfall events predicted to increase in many parts of New Zealand, even in those areas where the average annual rainfall decreases. Increased floods predicted. The sea level is expected to rise.
In 2007, the agriculture sector was the largest source of emissions, contributing 48% (36.4 Mt CO2 -e) to total emissions. As a result, NZ has a unique emissions profile compared to other developed countries where agricultural emissions are typically 11% of national emissions.
(NZ's GHG Inventory 1990-2007)
Plus - obesity, heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer are big killers in NZ - there are already recommendations to reduce meat consumption just for health reasons but meat consumption remains high especially in Maori and Pacific communities.
There are two main issues - first, that we are consuming far too much protein over and above the levels recommended by the World Health Organization. And second, to dispel the myth that it is necessary to consume meat in order to obtain an adequate amount of protein. It is very easy to obtain adequate protein levels through the consumption of plant foods, whilst the over-consumption of protein through the high meat and dairy diet is avoided which also gives the added benefit of reducing certain diseases linked to consumption of animal fats such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes and
But we don't need any figures to show that one can obtain adequate protein through a 100% plant-based diet - there is a multitude of vegans out there in Europe, USA and other developed countries - and most are healthy and well-educated about their diet - including Olympic athletes such as Carl Lewis. Protein deficiency is pretty much unheard of in vegans! (That is those with a well-balanced vegan diet - it goes without saying that this may not refer to the malnourished people in developing countries who may be living on a diet of rice and potatoes).
Let your voice be heard in Australia, New Zealand and around the world join the meat free, meat less, and meat out campaigns - Sign & Spread the petition anyway you know how.
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The Meat Free Monday in Australia & New Zealand petition to Government, Politicians and Organisations in Australia was written by Concerned Citizen and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.