Krishna Consciousness & Ecological Awareness


ISKCON Represented at UF Panel
November 1, 2009, 5:17 am
Filed under: Education, Global Warming, Religion, Vegetarianism

By Ali Krishna devi dasi

On Thursday, October 29th, I represented ISKCON and participated in a panel, organized by graduate students in the University of Florida (UF) Religion Department, discussing religious values and the environment.  The other panelists included a representative of Islam, Professor Sarra Tlili from the UF Department of Asian & African Languages, a local Jewish rabbi, and another student from Campus Crusade for Christ.

Having an undergraduate degree in environmental science and as an environmental activist for the past 15 years, my personal conclusion is that Krishna consciousness is the climax and saving grace of any environmentalist’s career.  I emphasized in my introductory statement why vegetarianism and simple living are two of ISKCON’s most relevant values when it comes to ecological awareness.  As we strive to see all living entities with equal vision, embracing vegetarianism is an immediate symptom of higher consciousness.  Naturally, vegetarianism is also a symptom of ecological awareness.  As the industrialized agricultural industry and meat consumption continues to expand, the environmental impact has been detrimental.  I explained that by the end of our discussion, over 1.5 million animals will have been slaughtered in the U.S. alone.  What this translates into is over 55 billion animals slaughtered annually. Thus, an unprecedented demand for petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides is needed in order to grow enough feed crops, which means more land to grow these crops, which demands one-third of the world’s arable land and another 25% of the world’s ice-free land to “graze” them.  I further explained that 5000 gallons of water are used to produce one pound of beef versus 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat or lettuce, and that last year, the UN made a statement that 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions were attributed to the livestock industry, whereas all modes of transportation, including cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships combined, account for a lesser 13%.  I quoted manta one from the Sri Isopanisad, “isavasyam idam sarvam…”  and concluded by saying that ISKCON sees the root of all sin as the deliberate disobedience of the laws of nature through disregarding the proprietorship of the Lord.

In summary, I felt the other panelists had much to say philosophically but few examples of “lived religion” or organized efforts of environmentalism in practice.  An interesting point I observed was that every panelist commented on the environment as being under humanity’s stewardship yet also existing for our enjoyment.  After all the panelists presented their opening statement, the forum was opened up to questions from the audience.  Approximately 50 students and community members were in attendance.  The lively discussion that followed centered on vegetarianism, global warming, death rites, and war.

This panel is the first of a series of three.  My professor, Dr. Whitney Sanford, who has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a specialization in north Indian devotional traditions, is very favorable towards ISKCON and recently attended the Vaishnavi Retreat at New Vrindavan.  The following day, Professor Tlili approached a devotee on campus and asked for a copy of the Bhagavad-gita.  In my opinion, ISKCON has an invaluable voice that must be strengthened and refined in order to be heard and understood by modern society and academia in regards to environmentalism.  Yet, embracing or even discussing vegetarianism as a solution seems to be a truth even too inconvenient for Al Gore.

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Turn vegetarian and conquer climate change
October 30, 2009, 10:08 am
Filed under: Environmental Politics, Global Warming, Vegetarianism

The Economic Times

LONDON: Going the vegetarian way can help to tackle the problem of global warming apart from its known health benefits to human, according to a climate expert.

“Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better,” Lord Stern of Brentford said.

“Direct emissions of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas,” he said.

Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.

“I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said.

A former chief economist at the World Bank, Stern warned that British taxpayers would need to contribute about £ 3 billion a year by 2015 to help poor countries to cope with the impact of climate change.

Speaking on the eve of an all-parliamentary debate on climate change, Lord Stern admitted that he himself is not a strict vegetarian.

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Go Vegetarian, Save the Planet.
October 15, 2009, 10:08 am
Filed under: Environmental Politics, Vegetarianism

vegetarian-IQVideo found at CNN.com

According to the U.N., going vegetarian would have a positive impact on climate change.  Watch the video here.

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Food For Life
December 24, 2008, 10:08 am
Filed under: Morality, Vegetarianism

ffl_home_logo

Article posted on the Food For Life Global website.

Director of Food for Life Global, Priyavrata das (Paul Turner), was interviewed on Healthy Life Radio, touted as the “all positive talk radio” by celebrity vegan Victoria Moran. The 60-minute interview covered such topics as global warming, the economic crisis and the negative karma of eating meat. Paul also talked about the charities solution to world hunger and his experience in war zones during food relief operations.

The full interview can be downloaded from Healthylife.net.

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Meat: Making Global Warming Worse
September 18, 2008, 1:08 am
Filed under: Environmental Politics, Vegetarianism

By Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine

Need another reason to feel guilty about feeding your children that Happy Meal — aside from the fat, the calories and that voice in your head asking why you can’t be bothered to actually cook a well-balanced meal now and then? Rajendra Pachauri would like to offer you one. The head of the U.N.’s Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Pachauri on Monday urged people around the world to cut back on meat in order to combat climate change. “Give up meat for one day [per week] at least initially, and decrease it from there,” Pachauri told Britain’s Observer newspaper. “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.” So, that addiction to pork and beef isn’t just clogging your arteries; it’s flame-broiling the earth, too.

By the numbers, Pachauri is absolutely right. In a 2006 report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions — by comparison, all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats account for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. Much of livestock’s contribution to global warming come from deforestation, as the growing demand for meat results in trees being cut down to make space for pasture or farmland to grow animal feed. Livestock takes up a lot of space — nearly one-third of the earth’s entire landmass. In Latin America, the FAO estimates that some 70% of former forest cover has been converted for grazing. Lost forest cover heats the planet, because trees absorb CO2 while they’re alive — and when they’re burned or cut down, the greenhouse gas is released back into the atmosphere.
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Shun meat, says UN climate chief
September 6, 2008, 10:08 am
Filed under: Environmental Politics, Morality, Vegetarianism

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Cow road sign

Livestock production has a bigger climate impact than transport, the UN believes

People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN’s top climate scientist.

Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will make the call at a speech in London on Monday evening.

UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport.  But a spokeswoman for the UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said methane emissions from farms were declining.

People may not realise that changing what’s on their plate could have an even bigger effect.
-Joyce D’Silva
Compassion in World Farming

Dr Pachauri has just been re-appointed for a second six-year term as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC, the body that collates and evaluates climate data for the world’s governments.

“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” he told BBC News.

“So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider.”

Climate of persuasion

The FAO figure of 18% includes greenhouse gases released in every part of the meat production cycle – clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in farm vehicles, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep.

Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman
Dr Pachauri has chaired the Nobel Prize-winning body since 2002

The contributions of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – are roughly equivalent, the FAO calculates.

Transport, by contrast, accounts for just 13% of humankind’s greenhouse gas footprint, according to the IPCC.

Dr Pachauri will be speaking at a meeting organised by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), whose main reason for suggesting people lower their consumption of meat is to reduce the number of animals in factory farms.

CIWF’s ambassador Joyce D’Silva said that thinking about climate change could spur people to change their habits.

“The climate change angle could be quite persuasive,” she said.

“Surveys show people are anxious about their personal carbon footprints and cutting back on car journeys and so on; but they may not realise that changing what’s on their plate could have an even bigger effect.”

Side benefits

There are various possibilities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming animals.

They range from scientific approaches, such as genetically engineering strains of cattle that produce less methane flatus, to reducing the amount of transport involved through eating locally reared animals.

“The NFU is committed to ensuring farming is part of the solution to climate change, rather than being part of the problem,” an NFU spokeswoman told BBC News.

“We strongly support research aimed at reducing methane emissions from livestock farming by, for example, changing diets and using anaerobic digestion.”

Methane emissions from UK farms have fallen by 13% since 1990.

But the biggest source globally of carbon dioxide from meat production is land clearance, particularly of tropical forest, which is set to continue as long as demand for meat rises.

Ms D’Silva believes that governments negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol ought to take these factors into account.

“I would like governments to set targets for reduction in meat production and consumption,” she said.

“That’s something that should probably happen at a global level as part of a negotiated climate change treaty, and it would be done fairly, so that people with little meat at the moment such as in sub-Saharan Africa would be able to eat more, and we in the west would eat less.”

Dr Pachauri, however, sees it more as an issue of personal choice.

“I’m not in favour of mandating things like this, but if there were a (global) price on carbon perhaps the price of meat would go up and people would eat less,” he said.

“But if we’re honest, less meat is also good for the health, and would also at the same time reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”

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Anecdotes of a Modern-Day Saint
August 18, 2008, 1:08 am
Filed under: Vegetarianism

We were in the country driving from Durban, South Africa, and there were some big, long, white buildings some distance from the highway.  Srila Prabhupada asked, “What are those buildings?”  I responded, “They are chicken coops that belong to a large chicken farm. They use them as slaughterhouses.”  Srila Prabhupada said, “Why do they buy chicken?  Let them make a chicken.  Let them take some egg, put some liquid on it, incubate it, and hatch a chicken.  But those rascals can’t because they don’t understand that life is not the egg but the spirit soul.”  He carried on in an animated way talking about that.”

-Pusta Krishna das, Memories: Anecdotes of a Modern-Day Saint

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