Business & Policy
FROM THE EDITOR: October 2007
What a Gas
By Kristy Nudds
What a Gas
The activists are at it again, and this time the campaign has taken an interesting turn.
Although the extremely popular documentary An Inconvenient Truth by former U.S. vice president Al Gore was praised by environmentalists, animal rights activists, namely those associated with PETA, saw it as another campaign idea.
Rather than targeting specific livestock systems, they’ve launched a “green” campaign in their fight to turn everyone on the planet into vegetarians and/or vegans.
On Oct. 2, the group launched a billboard campaign at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, where Gore was slated to give a lecture. The billboard has a bold yellow colour that screams “Too Chicken to Go Vegetarian” with a caricature of a pot-bellied Al Gore holding a drumstick on the right. Below it is the tagline, “Meat is the #1 Cause of Global Warming.”
They say they believe that raising animals for meat production contributes more to global warming than sport utility vehicles and industrialization. I’ve long argued that groups such as this don’t use science to base their decisions, but unfortunately I can’t say that this time around. Late last year the United Nations released a report that stated livestock generated more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined. The University of Chicago also released a report that indicates switching to a plant-based diet would be more beneficial for reducing greenhouse gases than switching to fuel-efficient cars or taking the bus.
But, of course, activist groups haven’t put this into perspective and are trying to take advantage of the latest and greatest public concern. As usual, they forgot to mention several other important facts and issues because these elements would complicate their agenda.
For example, they have chosen to ignore the fact that currently the expanse in biofuel production is causing a direct competition between those who produce food (farmers, processors, bakeries, etc.) and those who produce fuel. This way North Americans can continue driving their cars and living in larger-than-needed houses without feeling guilty about it.
So let’s get this straight – it’s OK to keep the SUV (or switch to a small car if one chooses) but not to eat meat? A rather stupid argument in my opinion. They’ve ignored the larger messages portrayed in Gore’s documentary – such as reducing our consumption and dependency on a non-infinite resource and working to find newer and more sustainable alternatives.
It also never seems to occur to activist groups that perhaps even plant-based diets and ingredients may be hard to come by or extremely expensive due to the current energy crisis.
What I find most humorous about this latest campaign is the fact that Al Gore is holding a chicken leg. The scientific papers activists have been quoting, such as the UN and University of Chicago reports – indicate that ruminant animals, namely cattle, are the significant contributors to atmospheric methane.
Is this ignorance on PETA’s part? Maybe, but remember that chickens have been in the hotseat for a while with these campaigns so it may just be a subtle ploy to keep that in the forefront of the minds of the followers.
I leave you with a thought. If everyone turned vegetarian, they would be forced to consume beans and legumes to meet their protein requirements. Think about how much methane would result. Thanks, but I think I’ll stick with my steak. n