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Update Newsletters
25 February 2007 Issue

1. New Podcast

2. Animal Agriculture and Global Warming

3. Upcoming Leafleting Opportunities

4. Answers to Last Week's Quiz

5. Christianity and Violence: Parable of the Prodigal Son

1. New Podcast
Check out the latest CVA podcast, recorded 2/18/07:
http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/podcast/index.htm 

2. Animal Agriculture and Global Warming
Humans' beef with livestock: a warmer planet

American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.

By Brad Knickerbocker, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

The latter two gases are particularly troubling - even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Methane could become a greater problem if the permafrost in northern latitudes thaws with increasing temperatures, releasing the gas now trapped below decaying vegetation. What's more certain is that emissions of these gases can spike as humans consume more livestock products.

As prosperity increased around the world in recent decades, the number of people eating meat (and the amount one eats every year) has risen steadily.

Between 1970 and 2002, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries rose from 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) to 29 kilograms (64 lbs.), according to the FAO. (In developed countries, the comparable figures were 65 kilos and 80 kilos.) As population increased, total meat consumption in the developing world grew nearly five-fold over that period.

Beyond that, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons at the beginning of the decade to 465 million tons in 2050. This makes livestock the fastest growing sector of global agriculture.

Animal-rights activists and those advocating vegetarianism have been quick to pick up on the implications of the FAO report.

"Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products," writes Noam Mohr in a report for EarthSave International.

Changing one's diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions quicker than shifts away from fossil fuel burning technologies, Mr. Mohr writes, because the turnover rate for farm animals is shorter than that for cars and power plants.

"Even if cheap, zero-emission fuel sources were available today, they would take many years to build and slowly replace the massive infrastructure our economy depends upon today," he writes. "Similarly, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth."

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet - including all food processing steps - results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.

"It doesn't have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan," says Dr. Eshel, whose family raised beef cattle in Israel. "If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you've already made a substantial difference."

Staff writer Peter Spotts contributed to this report.

Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0220/p03s01-ussc.html

3. Upcoming Leafleting Opportunities

3/4 IA Dubuque TABLE 26th Annual Rural Ministry Conference
3/4 CO Colorado Springs Jeremy Camp Christian Concert
3/9 Ok Tulsa Jeremy Camp Christian Concert
3/9 PA Pittsburgh Gaither Homecoming Tour
3/9 ND Grand Forks Newsboys Go Tour Christian Concert
3/9 AR Rogers Audio Adrenaline Christian Rock Concert
3/10 TX Houston Jeremy Camp Christian Concert
3/10 VA Fairfax Gaithers Homecoming Tour
3/11-12 LA New Orleans Franklin Graham FREE Celebration of Hope Crusade
3/16 IN Indianapolis Gaithers Homecoming Tour
3/16 NY Rochester Worship Revolution Delirious
3/17 OH Dayton Gaithers Homecoming Tour
3/17 NY Utica Worship Revolution Delirious

Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you might be able to help at one of these events or would like more information about leafleting for the CVA.

4. Answers to Last Week's Quiz

1. True or False: Peter Singer is the leading animal rights philosopher.

Answer: FALSE. Peter Singer is a prominent thinker about animal issues, but he has taken a utilitarian approach and rejects the notion of animal (as
well as human) rights.

2. True or False: Tom Regan has held that a "subject-of-a-life" has a right not to be used in a harmful manner.

Answer: TRUE. See The Case for Animal Rights.

3. True or False: Andrew Linzey has held that animal rights are grounded in "theos-rights", in which we have duties to animals because they belong to God.

Answer: TRUE. See Animal Theology.

4. True or False: Huntington Life Sciences is responsible for more than 75% of animal test on household products.

Answer: FALSE. While activists have targeted Huntington Life Sciences for cruel experiments on animals, it is responsible for a small percentage of such testing.

5. True or False: Descartes held that the liver was the seat of the soul.

Answer: FALSE. Descartes believed that the pineal gland in the brain was the seat of the soul, because he believed that only humans had souls and only humans had pineal glands. It turns out that other animals also have pineal glands, and he may have been wrong about other animals not having souls, also.

6. True of False: The monster in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein: or the modern Prometheus was a vegetarian.

Answer: TRUE. Tristam Stuart, author of The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from
1600 to Modern Times, writes, "Frankenstein's monster was created with an unadulterated human nature corrupted only by a hostile human environment. He started life eating berries and drinking water; he learns to cook offal, but finally declares that he will live on accords and berries and thus live a life that is peaceful and human."

7. True or False: Malthus argued that populations grow arithmetically, while food supplies grow exponentially, resulting in stable populations as long as there is no outside interference.

Answer: FALSE. Populations grow exponentially and food supplies grow arithmetically. Consequently, populations invariably outgrow food supplies, resulting to competition for scarce food resources.

8. True or False: Leo Tolstoy was a lifelong vegetarian.

Answer: FALSE. He became a vegetarian in his later years.

Congratulations to Jiri from the Czeck Republic, who had the highest score and wins a copy of the book!

5. Christianity and Violence: Parable of the Prodigal Son

[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It is being archived at http://www.christianveg.org/violence_view.htm.]

From a Girardian perspective, the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) encourages forgiveness, even to the point of allowing oneself to be a victim of scapegoating. The story begins with the younger son asking for his inheritance.

The father divides his "living" (15:12), which describes the property that is the source of his livelihood, between his two sons. The elder son's lack of objection suggests that he, too, does not care whether his father lives. Both sons regard their father's property (his "living") as their own possessions. Later, the older brother would find no room in his heart to forgive the sins of his younger brother.

Instead, he would be self-centered, self-righteous, and judgmental, reflecting his narcissism, arrogance, and sense of entitlement. The prodigal son takes his inheritance and squanders it. When he returns humiliated and destitute, his father does not condemn him. Rather, the father runs to the son, embraces him, and welcomes him back to the family with a grand party.

Conventionally, fathers were expected to walk slowly and erect, and sons were to approach fathers with deference. However, the father's behavior conveys love and forgiveness. The father also lovingly forgives his elder son, who had just berated the father for welcoming back the prodigal son. The father gently explains the rationale for celebrating the younger son's return and reminds the older son, "all that is mine is yours." By forgiving both sons, the father offers the possibility of familial reconciliation that could not happen if the father were judgmental and punitive.

In ancient Hebrew culture, fathers generally asserted their patriarchal authority and demanded respect for their social position. However, using one's power and position to enforce obedience and deference does not generate loving personal relationships.

Loving personal relationships require mutual respect as individuals, not respect based on social standing. Social standing is grounded in the scapegoating process, while loving personal relationships are unrelated to victimization.

Presumably, the sons, as all young children, had once loved their father, and the father's showing love for his wayward sons was the only way he could reestablish a loving relationship with them.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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