The Issues a Vegan New Human Ecology addresses:
Our dietary choices define a great deal of our human ecology and our relationships with ecosystems and individuals of other species. Our continued insistence to consume as hunters, pastoralists, and fishers has been replaced by the environmental impacts we create by our very existence. For instance, clear and reflective glass on tall buildings kills an estimated 34,000,000 birds during fall and spring migrations every year just in the urban cities north of Mexico in North America.7
The cotton we wear, our transportation, the resources we take to build and heat or cool our homes, and the astronomical impacts we create through animal and botanical agriculture are multiplied by 6.8 billion of us consuming ecosystem services at an unsustainable rate. We can and must use organic and recycled materials, prevent waste, choose rational and sustainable public transportation, build smaller, more efficient homes in higher densities, reduce our population, and make better use of what we already have, but it will not be enough – not even close. Our largest impacts – on ecosystems and the immoral treatment of individuals of other species – are caused by our dietary choices.
As noted by the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2006, “The livestock sector is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land. The total area occupied by grazing is equivalent to 26 percent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet. In addition, the total area dedicated to feedcrop production amounts to 33 percent of total arable land. In all, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet…. Livestock now account for about 20 percent of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the 30 percent of the earth’s land surface that they now pre-empt was once habitat for wildlife. Indeed, the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species. In addition, resource conflicts with pastoralists threaten species of wild predators and also protected areas close to pastures.”8
Several findings since then continue to document the impacts caused by animal agriculture. One recent and detailed study found it to be responsible for 51% of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions. Green Vegans understands that the hunter, fisher, pastoralist models of the old human ecology must end now.
We use the term, “carnist” to describe that part of the old human ecology model. It was coined by Melanie Joy who wrote in part, “Neither carnivore or omnivore expresses the beliefs beneath the behavior…. I have chosen to employ the terms carnism and carnist to the ideology of meat production/consumption and its proponents…”10 The important word there is ideology, the deep-seated, long-held belief system that is tightly woven into worldviews and cultural norms. The ideology justifies and makes normal the carnist ecosystem relationship that is no longer a viable adaptation for our species and by extension any other species on Earth since we are killing them at a rate one-thousand times more than the fossil record shows occurred in the past. Quite the opposite, carnism guarantees our failure.
Ecosystems are now trying to adapt to our species. We have remade our human ecology into a machine that kicks ecosystems (and people) towards dysfunctional failure. Oddly, in our blind efforts to thrive, it is unlikely we will be able to live with and adapt to the results we created. We quite literally may not be able to live with ourselves. Our response must not be passive. You can purposefully create the new human ecology this very moment in your personal life. That is where it starts. That is where the power lies. Green Vegans is working to get that message out and identifying the other sources of empowering information for your use. It all comes down to who we have become and now, who we choose to be. We are arrogantly out of control and a threat to all life on Earth.
Green Vegans is your organization’s name because a vegan human ecology will change all relationships – the keys to the survival of ecosystems and humans. Green Vegans is an offering of answers. Most importantly, the new norms of behavior required and implied by The New Human Ecology empower you to be THE agent of change. This is your job as much as ours.
This is about joyous change and taking personal responsibility for the reality that afflicts the poor and least powerful, human and non-human alike. As a species, we need to remember the examples of our altruistic potential, the good we have accomplished and continue doing. The Green Vegans’ New Human Ecology is not the complete story; that will be written by you. This is just the outline, a beginning. In proposing just Seven Results, we do not want to infer all of it is easy. Some of it is complex and tough and will require billions of people to figure out how to achieve them in ways relevant to their cultures. We will be expanding this website to serve you and create the transformation of our species’ human ecology. But it will not happen without you.
There is one thing that will not stop: there will be no end to the work and passion to which we must commit ourselves to live up to who we claim to be as humans. Our task here is to gain your consensus and engagement that our current worldview and strategic approaches to achieving the Seven Results must be in the context of a comprehensive, New Human Ecology. We have never been here, in this state of the Earth, before. Therefore, our human ecology must also be nothing like we have done before now.
*Portions of this website are excerpted from a forthcoming book, This Is Hope: Green Vegans and The New Human Ecology.
7 Klem, Daniel Jr. et al. Architectural and Landscape Risk Factors Associated With Bird-Glass Collisions In An Urban Environment. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 121(1):126-134, 2009. http://www.muhlenberg.edu/depts/biology/faculty/klem/ACO/documents/Klem-Et-al-2009-A-L-Risk-Factors-WJO-121-01-126-134-l.pdf Acessed 1/04/2010.
8 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
9 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.
10 “Neither carnivore or omnivore expresses the beliefs beneath the behavior…. I have chosen to employ the terms carnism and carnist to the ideology of meat production/consumption and its proponents…”, From Carnivore to Carnist: Liberating the Language of Meat. Melanie Joy. Satya Magazine, September 2001. http://www.satyamag.com/sept01/joy.html