1. New Podcast
Agriculture and Global Warming
3. Upcoming Leafleting
4. Answers to Last Week's Quiz
Christianity and Violence: Parable of the Prodigal Son
1. New Podcast
Check out the latest CVA podcast, recorded 2/18/07:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
Staff writer Peter Spotts contributed to this report.
Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics,
and related links:
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
[email protected] if you might be able to help at one
of these events or would like more information about leafleting for the
Answers to Last Week's Quiz
1. True or False: Peter Singer is the leading animal rights
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
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
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!
Christianity and Violence: Parable of the Prodigal
[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It
is being archived at
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
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.