Taxes should not subsidize meat addictions contributing to moral and physical afflictions.

With growing wildfires, deforestation, and threats to alpine species like the pika, the Colorado River dries up every year, never reaching the Gulf of California due to global warming and the worst drought. American for 1,200 years. Climate change is not only preventing winter snow accumulations from meeting regional water demands, but 10 percent of what melts is lost to summer heat waves. Last year, Lakes Mead and Powell lost nearly a million acre-feet of water to evaporation. Not that cattle ranching, intense irrigation of drylands, and 40 million other Americans in seven western states are not abusing the resource, contributing to water crises. But, Colorado basically goes through every beef and burger joint and produces tubs from Albuquerque to Montpellier. Half of the water used in the United States produces grain for livestock feed. If Americans avoided meat just one day a week, the saved volumes of water (5,000 gallons / lb of beef) would equal Colorado’s annual flow rate, alleviating shortages. The meatless days supported wars, why not save the planet with them? Bacon and bison wings don’t have to be America’s raison d’être.

It is well known that large-scale meat consumption has enormous repercussions on the environment. Bothsd The law of thermodynamics and modern ecology prove that this is not sustainable. Longer food chains become unstable because higher trophic levels lose energy with each successive transition from producer to consumer. “Lindeman’s Law”, as we call it, has been taught since Fundamentals of Ecology by Eugene Odum (University of Georgia) first appeared in 1953. Known for his pioneering work on the interdependence of ecosystems and energy flows, Odum referred to a 1941 thesis from the University of Minnesota Ph.D. student, Raymond Lindeman. Submit to Ecology just 6 years after the term “ecosystem” was coined, Lindeman would die (at age 27) before it was published. But, thanks to Odum, the energy losses between ascending ecological trophic levels are named after Lindeman. Checked several times, Lindeman’s law (aka “coefficient”) predicts 90% energy loss when herbivores are consumed instead of the plants on which they subsist.

Even if the growth of the human population comes to a halt, saving the wilderness and cultivated land, such inefficiency is not sustainable. Meat production, around 350 million tonnes per year, doubling the last 30, puts enormous pressure on Earth’s ecosystems, accounting for 60% of biodiversity loss. It takes 75 times more energy to produce meat protein compared to the equivalent protein in corn, for example. Using similar comparisons, the researchers estimate that red meat is more than 35 times more damaging to the environment, produces 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions and uses 100 times more land. In the United States, 56% of farmland is devoted to beef production. Globally, meat production and its billions of tonnes of annual faecal pollution account for 15% of all anthropogenic atmospheric carbon emissions. Cattle alone (1.5 billion worldwide) represent 37% of methane. According to the Oxford results published in Nature, Western beef consumption will need to fall by 80 to 90 percent to mitigate climate change. Meat consumption is also a major contributor to food crises, as half of the total global harvest is used for livestock feed. Fortunately, nutritionally superior plant-based products are packed with the same tastes and textures as beef.

Unduly, 72,000,000,000 terrestrial animals are slaughtered each year for human consumption of meat; 95% are chickens, 300 million cattle; 1.5 billion pigs. Yet 40% of food is wasted. For health, ecology, ethics and economy, a more vegetarian future is a moral imperative and a global necessity, especially in the United States and Australia, where meat consumption is excessive. This consideration also extends to the oceans, where Jacques Cousteau declared “we act like barbarians”. Fish populations are so overexploited that jellyfish once again dominate the “mud oceans” as they did 300 million years ago. Taxes should not subsidize meat addictions that contribute to widespread obesity, heart disease, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and other moral and physical afflictions. Budding vegetarians / vegans can look to Pythagoras, da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Einstein, Gandhi, Billie Jean King, Hank Aaron, Edwin Moses, Johnny Weissmuller, Jane Goodall, Cameron Diaz and countless others for role models.

Scott Deshefy is a biologist, environmentalist and two-time Green Party congressional candidate.

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