The New Human Ecology consists of the following Seven Results:
1) Healthy, intact ecosystems that dominate the global landscapes and seascapes and require little to no human intervention:
Aside from their intrinsic value and beauty, ecosystems provide us with life-sustaining services such as food, clean water, oxygen, medicines, pollination and seed dispersal, flood control, nutrient recycling and redistribution, raw materials for durable goods, biodiversity, climate regulation, personal renewal, and spiritual inspiration for starters. Ecosystems have their own needs that cannot be contained within political boundaries. They must not be fragmented and require being inter-connected to function. They have carrying capacities of just how many humans they can support.
As the World Bank stated in 2009, "Today, as much as 50% of the earth's ice-free land surface has been transformed, and virtually all land has been affected in some way by such processes as co-adapted landscapes, climate change, and tropospheric pollution. Much of this change is a direct consequence of land uses: approximately 40% of land surface is in agriculture (including improved pasture and coadapted grassland), which accounts for nearly 85% of annual water withdrawals globally and surpasses nature as the principal source of nitrogen emissions; 3.3 billion ruminants graze rangelands, producing methane; and land uses take up 10- 50% of terrestrial net primary production.11 …the ratio of fossil fuel energy inputs per unit of food energy produced averages 3:1 for all US agricultural products combined. For industrially produced meat products, the ratio can be as high as 35:1"12 In the U.S., most animal product sales are controlled by just 10 grocery and 15 restaurant companies.13
2) A vegan, organic, and humane consumer lifestyle oriented to sustainable efficiencies and relationships:
Depending upon the source cited, there is a wide variability in the estimated number of "head" of livestock chewing on Earth. One report notes the range at 21.7 billion to 50 billion.14 "Action to replace livestock products not only can achieve quick reductions in atmospheric GHGs, but can also reverse the ongoing world food and water crises. Were the recommendations described below followed, at least a 25-percent reduction in livestock products worldwide could be achieved between now and 2017… This would yield at minimum a 12.5-percent reduction in global anthropogenic GHGs, (Greenhouse Gases) emissions, which by itself would be almost as much reduction as is generally expected to be negotiated in Copenhagen."15 This would also release millions of acres of habitat for restoration, reduce water and fossil fuel consumption, and reduce pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer runoff pollution.
According to USDA statistics for 2008, the number of lives they call poultry who were killed in slaughterhouses the United States of America totaled 9,370,655,000 individuals.16 In 2008, there were approximately 339,572,000 "laying hens." Each hen averaged 266 eggs; total U.S. egg production was 90,151,000,000.17 U.S. Commercial cattle slaughter during 2008 totaled 34.4 million head. Steers comprised 50.1 percent of the total; heifers 29.9 percent; dairy cows 7.7 percent, other cows 10.6 percent, and bulls 1.8 percent; Commercial calf slaughter totaled 956,600 head.18 Commercial hog slaughter totaled 116.5 million head; Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter, at 2.56 million head with Lambs and yearlings comprised 94.9 percent of the total federally inspected sheep slaughter.19 From the New Human Ecology perspective, all of it is cruel and unnecessary.
3) Social and economic justice for all with transparency in public and corporate institutions:
Ecosystems require the stability found in human social and economic justice. If denied access to capital and rights to land ownership, the poor are not be able to provide for themselves and become locked into poverty. If food is not affordable to purchase, children leave school because the family money must be used to buy what meals they can instead of books, basic school supplies, and uniforms. There is a direct correlation between high population growth and the absence of human rights for women and their access to education. When the region is poor, there is little if any ability to protect ecosystems, provide for transportation of crops to market, access to seeds, fertilizer, technology, and organic agricultural alternatives. Poor people are not empowered people who can oppose dictatorial regimes, fight corruption, regulate resource use, or have control over their lives.
"Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.20 For very poor people, reducing consumption from already low levels even for a short period has severe long-term consequences. Higher food prices during 2008 alone may have increased the number of children suffering permanent cognitive and physical injury due to malnutrition by 44 percent."21
4) An immediate negative human population growth based on natural attrition:
That experts and international agencies have general agreement upon several global population scenarios. The most common figure is that by 2050, there will be 9.1 or 9.2 billion people. However, the estimates range from 8 billion up to 11 billion people by 2050. The most optimistic projection we can find is this: "Even if global population conformed to the low projection of 6.0 billion by 2100 (after a mid-century peak of 8.0 billion), consumption would still increase 8.4 times. Yet this lower level of consumption increase would surely prove unsustainable…The above is not to overlook the severe fact that there are 1.3 billion people, or almost 1 in 5, who subsist off cash incomes of $1 or less per day. For certain, these people need to be enabled to consume more – much more, and immediately."22 Projected population and socio-economic growth will double current food demand by 2050.23 There are now so many of us that we need social, political, and economic stability from nations rich and poor. We depend upon their ecosystems to continue functioning no matter how geographically far they may seem. Consumption and population variables must become more equal with some lowering and others rising.
5) Economic systems that are ecologically sustainable and restorative, enable social and economic justice, and operate within the new human ecology:
Economic systems in place today require endless growth and believe it can be supplied by technology and greater efficiencies. They know endless growth is neither possible nor desirable. Not knowing what else to do, growth advocates continue on with the result that they are unable to adapt sustainably to ecosystems because the output of ecosystems is finite. Though it may not be the final answer on things economic, Green Vegans endorses the Steady State Economy as proposed by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE – see our links page). 24 Leading proponents have written this brief description: "The most distinctive trait of a steady state economy is stable size. A steady state economy undergoes neither growth nor recession. To be more specific, it has constant populations of people (and therefore "stocks" of labor) and constant stocks of capital. It also has a constant rate of "throughput"–i.e., the energy and materials used to produce goods and services…. there are limits to productive efficiency imposed by the laws of thermodynamics and therefore limits to the amount and value of goods and services that may be produced in a given ecosystem. In other words, consistent with the ecological principle of carrying capacity, often denoted as "K," there is a maximum size at which a steady state economy may exist. Conflicts with wildlife conservation occur long before a steady state economy is maximized. By "constant" we do not mean absolutely unchanging at the finest level of measurement. We mean mildly fluctuating in the short run … but tending toward a stable equilibrium in the long run ….." 25
6) An increase in empathy, love, and compassion towards all beings and ecosystems:
Worldviews have within them explanations about our place in the universe and on Earth, our reasons for existence, our source of being, and how we should behave. To survive from one generation to the next, worldviews have to result in a social and environmental sustainability. If they are adaptive, those beliefs survive and evolve. In a world now profoundly different from even fifty years ago, we must behave in a way that reflects sustainability. We now have a vastly expanded awareness of the plight of other people, ecosystems, and individuals of other species. We see that their interests are also our interests. Toxic pollution travels the globe and does not discriminate, nor does climate change. If we do not expand our love and empathy to the network of people, individuals of other species and ecosystems around the world, the wealthy may only be the last ones to die after witnessing the most horrific fall of humanity. The stakes are that high since the collapse of ecosystems is already underway.
You remember how the Haiti earthquake, the New Orleans hurricane, the 911 tragedy, and the Christmas tsunami affected you. All of them were immediate, visceral, and heart wrenching. Imagine now, what is being destroyed every day, and the immense suffering and decimation of individuals of all species as entire rainforests are eliminated by logging, cleared for palm oil plantations, and leveled for growing soybeans exported to feed European cattle. Oceans are being stripped of their species and their seafloors ripped apart by fishers. Imagine. Increasing empathy, love, and compassion for beings and ecosystems motivates us to act and is as essential as bringing human population down to sustainable levels, social and economic justice, and reforming economic systems to make them compatible with ecosystems.
7) Appropriate, sustainable, and equitable consumption of goods and services:
As Jared Diamond pointed out in "What's Your Consumption Factor?" "A real problem for the world is that each of us 300 million Americans consumes as much as 32 Kenyans. With 10 times the population, the United States consumes 320 times more resources than Kenya does. … If India as well as China were to catch up, world consumption rates would triple. If the whole developing world were suddenly to catch up … It would be as if the world population ballooned to 72 billion people (retaining present consumption rates)…. "we could have a stable outcome in which all countries converge on consumption rates considerably below the current highest levels. … whether we get there willingly or not, we shall soon have lower consumption rates, because our present rates are unsustainable. Real sacrifice wouldn't be required, however, because living standards are not tightly coupled to consumption rates." 26
PPP stands for Purchasing Power Parity. It was developed to translate the actual purchasing power of a standard U.S. dollar equivalent in local economies around the world and is more accurate in measuring poverty than generalizing, as had been the practice. "Based on countries with data (90 percent of the world's population), half the world's people consumed less than PPP $1,300 a year and the bottom quarter less than PPP $660 in 2005. The richest 20 percent of the world's population spent more than 75 percent of the world total, while the poorest 20 percent spent less than 2 percent."27 This is unacceptable. Food is not the only issue, of course, but key. The haves must consume much less, the have-nots more. That is our goal.
This is the minimum bundle of Seven Results. They are goals to which we aspire and will not perfectly achieve. More could be included such as preventing war that is responsible for so much suffering in humans and ecosystems. However, we believe The New Human Ecology can go a long way towards addressing that and other issues.
The scale of our destructive predation is unprecedented, entrenched in the global power structures and growing human demand. Obviously, even with our using up more ecosystem than is sustainable, the billions of impoverished are still suffering. We need a new and different way at looking at ourselves and immediately change our personal and collective behavior to alter the radical, dead-end course we are on today. The New Human Ecology, defined by seven results, is what we propose.
No single or few changes in human behavior will stop the loss of biodiversity and hopes for social and economic justice. Population reduction alone will not be enough. A vegan lifestyle alone will not do it. Though human ecology is a near limitless subject, the Seven Results we have chosen to represent it are each entirely dependent upon the other six to succeed. All of the major challenges we face are interrelated, like ecosystems. So too must be our human responses. We must turn our backs on the old human ecology and embrace the new in its entirety.
*Excerpted from a forthcoming book, This Is Hope: Green Vegans and The New Human Ecology.
11 Turner II, B.L., et. Al. The emergence of land change science for global environmental change and sustainability. Proceedings from the National Academy of Science U.S. PNAS, vol. 104, no. 52. December 26, 2007. www.pnas.org_cgi_doi_10.1073_pnas.0704119104 . http://www.pnas.org/content/104/52/20666.full.pdf+html Accessed 10/22/2009.
12 Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America. A Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. 2008. http://www.ncifap.org/_images/PCIFAPFin.pdf Accessed 11/17/2009.
13 Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America. A Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. 2008. http://www.ncifap.org/_images/PCIFAPFin.pdf Accessed 11/17/2009.
14 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Livestock’s Long Shadow; Environmental Issues and Options. 2006. ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf
15 Goodland, Robert and Anhang, Jeff. Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs, chickens? World Watch. November/December 2009. P.10-19.
http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf Accessed 11/17/2009.
16 Poultry Slaughter 2008 Annual Summary. Agricultural Statistics Board. February 2009 1 NASS, USDA http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/PoulSlauSu/PoulSlauSu-02-25-2009.pdf Accessed 1/09/2010.
17 Chickens and Eggs 2008 Summary Agricultural Statistics Board. February 2009 2 NASS, USDA. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/ChickEgg/ChickEgg-02-26-2009.pdf Accessed 1/09/2010.
18 The descriptions and terms used are those of the USDA Report. Livestock Slaughter 2008 Summary. Agricultural Statistics Board. March 2009 1 NASS, USDA. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/LiveSlauSu/LiveSlauSu-03-06-2009.pdf Accessed 1/09/2010.
19 The descriptions and terms used are those of the USDA Report. Livestock Slaughter 2008 Summary. Agricultural Statistics Board. March 2009 1 NASS, USDA. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/LiveSlauSu/LiveSlauSu-03-06-2009.pdf Accessed 1/09/2010.
20 What is Poverty? The World Bank. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTPA/0,,contentMDK:20153855~menuPK:435040~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367,00.html
21 High Commodity Prices: Impact on poor people. World Bank. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTDECPROSPECTS/GEPEXT/EXTGEP2009/0,,contentMDK:22002680~pagePK:64167689~piPK:64167673~theSitePK:5530498,00.html
22 New Consumers: A discussion with Dr. Norman Myers. Posted at Electronic Conferences, Instruments for Change. http://www.iisd.org/susprod/newbackground.htm . Last accessed April 27, 2009.
23 The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008. FAO.
25 In My Opinion: The steady state economy—what it is, entails, and connotes. Brian Czech and Herman E. Daly. Wildlife Society Bulletin 2004, 32(2):598–605 Peer edited. http://steadystate.org/files/SSE.pdf Accessed 10/20/2009.
26 Diamond, Jared. What’s Your Consumption Factor? First published as an Op-Ed piece by The New York Times, January 2, 2008. Posted online at The Edge, http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/diamond08/diamond08_index.html. John Brockman, Editor and Publisher; Russell Weinberger, Associate Publisher; contact: email@example.com; Copyright © 2008 By Edge Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
27 Viewing the world at purchasing power parity. World Bank. 2005. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/WDI08_section1_intro.pdf Accessed 1/21/2010.