VivaVegie = Outreach, activism.
Following is an edited compilation
New York City, Friday, May 25th
I learned of your demo a day late. I would have liked to have been there.
I know that Al Gore's family gave up growing tobacco when his sister developed lung cancer; so it just makes sense that he address the cattle issue.
Thank you for pushing Al Gore to highlight the contribution of industrialized animal agriculture to global climate change, and Pamela, I hope your demonstration was a success.
I thought I'd add what little background I can:
I recently heard one of Mr. Gore's 1,000 hand-picked speakers who spent time at his [Gore's] "boot camp", learning how to spread the messages of "An Inconvenient Truth". The speaker had mistakenly brought the computer file with "about 1,000 slides" instead of the 100 or so he intended, so he went through them all in his talk (albeit, very quickly). In the entire collection, I never saw the word 'methane' or any mention of animal agriculture, nor did I hear him mention these topics, in spite of the fact that he was talking to a very sympathetic audience (the meal consisted of a vegan pot-luck, supplied by many of the 100 or so attendees). I approached him afterwards and asked him why he neglected to address methane and ruminants. He said "There is only so much I can go over in a limited time ..." I gave him the 30-second summary of Livestock's Long Shadow and he appeared unaware of the contribution of animal agriculture and methane to global climate change. I later forwarded him the link to the report, along with an EarthSave report and a quick summary I drafted. I've yet to receive a response.
I long thought that Mr. Gore was reluctant to address livestock because his father ran a cattle farm (in addition to a tobacco farm). But I think there is another reason. From "Bushwacked" (New York: Random House, 2003, p. 128), by Lou Dubose and the late Molly Ivins:
"The Republicans win elections in the 'red states' in the center of the country, where cattle and chickens are produced and slaughtered. Democrats win their elections in the 'blue states' on the coasts. Republicans use the USDA to pay off their contributors in the red states. The result of that crude electoral calculus is laissez-faire food-safety policy whenever a Republican is in the White House. (If you must eat while the Republicans control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the judiciary, you might want to consider becoming a vegetarian about now.)"
Mr. Gore is a politician. He has repeatedly denied any immediate political ambitions, but it takes no great stretch of imagination to envision him running for public office. It's standard operating practice for candidates to demonize "big oil", particularly when gas prices are where they are. But Mr. Gore knows better than to demonize the meat industry for fear of losing the red states.
I've sent him emails through his organization about the impact of animal agriculture and methane and have yet to receive a reply. I just attended a PETA meeting where they said that they had someone put a copy of "Livestock's Long Shadow" in his hand, but he has yet to acknowledge the issue. I think the reality is this: he's a politician, and he doesn't want to alienate the red states, either because he wants to unite them against global climate change, or because of more personal and political reasons.
I'm grateful that Mr. Gore is so successful in spreading the global warming message while some (e.g., Bush) only pay it lip service on occasion (State of the Union), and others simply assert that the conclusions drawn from careful studies by thousands of scientists are the makings of a "hoax" (Sensenbrenner, when he goes off his meds). And the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But I'm also reminded of a quote by Baron Immanuel Jakobovits: "Silence, indifference, and inaction were Hitler's principal allies." Mr. Gore's silence, indifference, and inaction to livestock-driven greenhouse gases allow the devastation to continue during a window of opportunity that is quickly closing.
NEXT LETTER RE: Demonstration at Mr. Gore's book signing
Ohmygod -- the whole page looks GOOD, really GOOD. High impact. Love the red plates. Wish there were a way to make the number of burgers smaller than the number of oil containers. Or put all the oil into one big clear bottle.
Good luck & thank you for doing this.
Al Gore has generally failed to acknowledge an important “inconvenient truth” - that animal-based agriculture causes 18% of greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents), more than all forms of transportation (13.5%). This comparison of global warming impacts was in a November, 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report, ”Livestock's Long Shadow.”
There is a consensus of almost all climate scientists that global warming threatens all of humanity. According to some distinguished climate scientists, such as James Hansen of NASA, AND Al Gore, global warming could reach a tipping point and spiral out of control within a decade, with catastrophic consequences, unless major changes soon occur. Thus, it is essential that we do all we can to effectively respond.
In a way, the refusal of Al Gore and many other global warming activists to increase awareness of the significant contribution of “livestock” agriculture to climate change is, in itself, “an assault on reason.” This failure is even more dangerous because the production of animal products is projected to double by the middle of this century, potentially eliminating the greenhouse gas emission effects of many positive changes re automobiles, factories, etc.
Hence, based on a suggestion from Pamela Rice, director of the VivaVegie Society and author of “101 Reasons Why I Am a Vegetarian,” I believe that vegetarians should use events on Al Gore's book tour as a way to get the animal-agriculture/global warming connection onto the national agenda.
We can have a very positive effect, while being respectful, polite, reasonable, presentable and thoughtful, when appearing at an Al Gore book tour event.
One approach is to try to address a question to Al Gore. One example is: “Mr. Gore, I greatly respect you for your superb efforts to educate people about global warming. However, in view of the recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization's report that animal-based agriculture contributes more green house gases than all forms of transportation, in CO2 equivalents, shouldn't people be urged to shift toward plant-centered diets?” Or some similar statement.
Another possibility is to hold up signs, with statements like: “Another Inconvenient Truth: Producing Meat Contributes More to Global Warming Than All Transport.” Or “Eating Meat Is Inconsistent With Reducing Global Warming.” Many far better examples can be found, I am sure. Suggestions welcome.
Suggestion from author, editor and vegetarian activist Syd Baumel: One tack would be to find out and publicize to the vegetarian community when Al Gore will be on call-in shows. [Please check re your local programs, and try to get on and raise the issue.]
Please check when Al Gore will be having an event in your area, and please consider how to use that as an opportunity to get vegetarianism onto the national agenda. And please keep in mind that the fate of humanity is involved in how we respond to the climate change crisis.Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," "Judaism and Global Survival," and "Mathematics and Global Survival," and over 130 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz
President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and
Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV)
Certainly, these people should have something better to do with their lives than protest against Al Gore and meat eating. I don't eat meat, but it's not a frickin' religion. Besides, Al Gore is a friend of the earth and you'll raise no one's consciousness.
Go protest at a cattlemen's convention instead. Better yet, get a life!
I think this issue needs to be the vegan community's biggest focus right now. I got into it with some &*#@! at Whole Foods the other day who said she'd never heard about animal agriculture being linked to global warming.
Sorry I couldn't make the demo. Damn job!
Either he [Al Gore] is doing this only for publicity, or he believes, like most politicians, that he must avoid the truth until he gets into office, at which time he will make the hard choices which, if the public had known prior, would not have elected him.
According to your signs, greenhouse gas emissions from cars and livestock are 13% and 18% of the total. As I wrote in my letter to the editor, if government would just stop subsidizing suburbs and animal industries, most people would no longer be able to afford to live in the suburbs or eat animal products, we would substantially reduce our emissions and change, not lower, our quality of life.
Keep up the great work.
Following is Nick's letterOriginal at: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/s_509167.html
Less meat, more oil
Letter to the editor of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Thursday, May 24, 2007
In the "Saturday Essay" by Gery Steighner ("What about oil shale?" May 19 and PghTrib.com), Steighner says "For the foreseeable future, the U.S. will continue to need lots of oil in order to maintain our standard of living."
That is not true. We need lots of oil in order to maintain our particular standard of living.
If we changed two things -- eliminated suburban development that requires automobiles and stopped eating animal products, the production of which is extreme in its inefficiency -- our standard of living would be just as high (in fact, it would increase along with our quality of life) but we would need only a fraction of the oil we now need.
And all that needs to happen for both of those things to occur is for the government to stop subsidizing them both.
[Though his name was left off in the Web page for some reason, letter was indeed submitted by Nicholas Kyriazi - Pamela R.]
NEXT LETTER RE: Demonstration at Mr. Gore's book signing
Dear Pamela- I wish that you were as aggressive in targeting Bush, Pataki, and Giulliani as much as you are going after Al Gore, who would have done infinitely more for this country than Bush, had the election not been stolen for him, and had many vegetarians not followed the foolish urgings of the Green Party to vote for Nader.
We now have a Supreme Court that is rolling back every single gain made in the field of civil rights, the environment, consumer litigation, controls on corporations, etc.
The Democrats barely control the House and Senate, and if you have read any of the materials by Greg Palast in the past few months (his addendum to Armed Madhouse), both he and RFK Jr. assert that the firing of the prosecutors by Bush was a prelude to staging a theft of the 2008 vote.
I think your priorities are badly misfocused on getting Al Gore to be perfect, in a world where we are spending billions to decimate and slaughter both humans, animals, and vegetation in Iraq, as we are waging nuclear war against them, and we are using WMD's, namely depleted uranium bullets.
Bush would like nothing more than to see people attacking Gore and other progressive leaders. Demonstrating against Al Gore, who does not appear to be hostile or unreceptive to a meeting or platform delivered to him will be reported as a soundbyte of people protesting him for being hypocritical. Doing so feeds right into the Republican strategy.
I won't participate in this, as I think Al Gore should be honored for his work and his courage.
We live in a highly imperfect world, and we should be addressing the main problem this country and planet face, the singular destruction of life by an imperial empire, the US, which through its current euphemism "globalization" seeks to control any nation whose resources and labor it needs to exploit to continue the patterns of consumer consumption its upper classes desire.
Your approach towards Gore is far too adversarial. He has acknowledged his conscience over his family's sinvolvement in tobacco production. I believe they divested their interests. You should be exposing Cheney, Bush, and the rest for their practice of torture, and the massive destruction of the environment and living creatures in Iraq by Bush.
I disagree, Carol. This is a serious, serious hole in his [Gore's] approach. It would be nothing for him to simply say, "People need to eat less meat." Nothing!...
Vegetarians have to start getting on board for our OWN issues for a change. I don't think you're aware of how much of an impact animal ag has on the environment, and who knows it?.... I'd be happy to direct you to an array of jaw-dropping articles (including peer-reviewed ones in the journal Science -- all of which have gotten zilch play in the media.
Bush and the gang have millions of people on his trail. At this point, compared to the veg issues, that attack-campaign is well-manned.
On the other hand, a fully equally important campaign is all but snuffed out.
We even have nothing but attacks on OUR lifestyle (I trust that you got wind of the opinion piece, "Death by Veganism," in the New York Times lately and all the fallout there ....)
I think you have abandoned the veg cause. And that is a shame.
Pamela: Again, I think your scientific position and analysis is incorrect.
Veganism is somewhat of a trick bag, as vegans advocate the reliance upon petrochemical products, as they are non-leather. The use of petrochemical products supports the multinational corporations which despoil the environment to produce these products, and which rely on the oil we have to conquer other countries to get. It is also responsible for the deaths of workers from cancer and the ruination of our rivers and streams from PCB's and other chemicals.
It would be OK if vegans were to acknowledge this, but all I am seeing is denial and a holier-than-thou purity, when nothing in our society is or can be pure, as we are too heavily invested in killing and destruction of the environment.
Would any of you give up your precious cell phones? The New York Times Sunday magazine did a cover story about 7 years ago, with in-depth reporting on the mining of the mineral which is used to construct cell phones. It is extracted in strip mines in Africa, and the workers in these mines toil in the hot sun in conditions comparable to slave labor. The incidence of violence and murder in these mines is staggering.
The strip mining serves to ruin their environment as well.
But no one would dream of relinquishing their cell phones. We have all been sold on a lifestyle which ruins the environment, and we all participate in the depletion of the earth's resources.
While you exhort others to give up meat, what would you do if others exhorted you to give up your cell phone or others, pleather and vinyl (which by the way contains lead, and is potentially harmful for human use).
During the Gulf War in 1991, the burning of the oil fields caused worldwide pollution, as did the blanket bombing of Iraq with scud missiles. The use of depleted uranium is what caused the Gulf War illness, which is actually radiation sickness.
The United States could never operate a conquering army on a vegetarian diet. Merely advocating for a lifestyle shift does not address the basic problem, of who we see ourselves as being, and what our treatment of our own lower classes and minorities has been.
We are a nation which practiced slavery for the first 100 years of our existence and decimated our native populations. The Native Americans ate meat, and did not despoil the environment nor cause the extinction of species.
The US is incapable of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, because it is a nation based on aggression and the conquering of other peoples to obtain their resources.
There are right now thousands of upper class people, such as Donna Karan, who have adopted a vegan lifestyle. Karan eats only raw foods and is vegan. She still maintains sweatshops in Asia where workers live and work in the most horrendous conditions.
Yoga and vegan lifestyles are becoming all the rage among the wealthy, so much so that wheatgrass is now a de rigeur element of luxury design. But it does not alter any of the relations of production or the formula of exploitation which the top .05% of this nation require to maintain their wealth.
What humans do in wars, the horrors they do to one another throughout history, will all pale in comparison to climate change. All that stuff will be irrelevant when the atmosphere is gone...
We will all wish that we humans had curbed our appetite for chicken when bird flu impacts $4 trillion in economic activity across the globe. That's the projection for that tragedy...
We humans are going to have to use our (highly evolved ) brains to shift to eating less meat, or we're cooked.
Sorry. That's the truth.
And until veg'n get on board with this, nothing will change.
The meat eaters are not going to fight this fight.
It's up to us.
The blood of factory farming is on our (veg'n's) hands as well, because we haven't done enough to stop that either. We're too busy going to potlucks and not demos...
We veg'ns have to get organized, just like every other constituent group out there. Why don't we get this?
I'm at a loss as to why the veg'ns are so unorganized, but some of your comments are giving me a clue.
Your attitude will doom life on planet Earth, I'm afraid.
Gore is right. But half right, and that's as good as being wrong in some cases...