By Lee Hall
Part 1 of a Series
Sustainable Development Goals: They’re a major topic on social media. But if humans want to be sustainable, we’ve got to get serious. We must divest from customs and businesses that treat animal life as commodities.
This blog entry is the first in a series, as we look at each of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
We’ll look at discussing the UN’s 17 Goals in a way our friends can understand. We do this because it’s an important global conversation, and vegans need to be in it. And because, as ethical humans, we must do it.
That doesn’t mean others will listen to us. The UN itself, we learn this month, has been shutting out the facts for 17 years.
As this article in the Guardian reports, the farming researchers at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) were sabotaged at every turn after they first called attention to the hugely damaging effects of the cattle industry—both flesh and dairy—on Earth’s climate.
In 2006 (in “Livestock’s Long Shadow”) they traced about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions to animal agribusiness, mainly the cattle sector. Industry has found ways to undermine, shun, and sideline the researchers ever since. This is a big reason why we don’t hear about divesting from animal ag in climate-focused action!
The Guardian notes how Matthew Hayek, an assistant professor in environmental sciences at New York University, thinks that the use of verifiable monitoring data could prove methane emissions are being undercounted by 90% in some countries, the United States included. Maybe we’ll start finding out what’s really going on now. That’s what the Guardian thinks.
Now, whether the percentage is 11%, 14%, 18%, 20%, or more (all numbers that have been issued at some point in the UN literature), the farming of ruminant animals makes up A LOT of damaging greenhouse emissions. The use of fossil fuels does, too.
And you know what else? Animal agribusiness uses a whole lot of fossil fuel. Think of the emissions of the international feed shipping sector.
One thing is not under debate. The emissions from both animal ag and fossil fuels are ruining our atmosphere.
People need to divest our finances and our lives from fossil fuels. And from animal products. We can do both. It’s important that we do.
The UN needs to stand up to the grand poohbahs of agribusiness. As for the vegans, we already do stand up to the animal users. We need to continue to stay focused on the ethics.
It’s a shift to an ethical humanity that will make us “sustainable” if that’s possible to be. We must try, for all we’re worth. That’s what we’ll discuss in future #SDG discussions here. Please come with us on this journey.
Lee Hall is a member of the Speaker’s Bureau of the American Vegan Society. Lee’s entry on “Nonhuman Rights and Human Sustainability” appears in the Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Springer). Lee holds a Master’s degree in environmental law with a focus on climate change from Vermont Law School, and has taught environmental law at the University level.