• Friday, April 10th, 2009

To extol crows and lilies of the field, as Jesus did, implies that all More-than-Humans deserve their proportionate space.

To reduce the extinction of species, we must geometrically increase the variety in our foods and decrease the eating of beef. One pound of beef requires eight times more energy than one pound of soy. We humans set aside 30 percent of our land for grazing by only a few species of animals (mostly beef), which means that we kill or deny access to a large biodiversity of predators and plants that threaten our monotonously few favored animals. Writer Nathan Fiala in Scientific American symbolizes meat by the phrase “greenhouse hamburger.” Meat causes around 7 billion of the 36 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually. The production of one hamburger patty releases as much greenhouse emission as driving a 3,000-pound car 10 miles. Livestock excrement produces 86,000 pounds per second. This excrement, plus flatulence, generates more greenhouse gases than motorized transport.

If we choose to continue our long war against such large carnivores as lions and tigers, we will not only throw the balance of nature out of whack, we will create a world of incomprehensive loneliness where wild beings will never be again. We have hunted, trapped, and poisoned wolves, resulting in a deer and elk plague which kills vegetation. Remove sea otters and sharks, and the Ocean ecology collapses. A world devoid of animal predators beside ourselves (tragically, we are the chief predators) would be catastrophic, as William Stolzenburg writes in Where the Wild Things Were.

There are 30,000 edible plants on Earth, and we only eat twenty in any quantity. Wheat, corn, and rice account for about half the plants the people in the temperate world eat. Of the more than 3,000 fruits, we eat about twenty. Before the rise of husbandry and agriculture, indigenous people knew by name and ate on average 1,000 different species.

Astoundingly, we devote one-half of one percent of our land (60 times less than the land for grazing beef) for growing fruits and vegetables. We need to convert part of the grazing land to wilderness, so that threatened species can eat, and part to bio-diverse fruits and vegetables.

A way for many of us to begin is to plant gardens where now monotonous grass rectangles suffocate eco-diversity. Consult Tony Lienitz, The Year I Ate My Yard (2005).

Category: Self-Help
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