Skip to content

To Bernie Sanders: It’s the animals, stupid!

Animal Person reader, Chris, whom I believe is still in Beijing, wrote to The Nation in response to Bernie Sanders’ article "Global Warming is Reversible," where he addresses the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act. Check it out. I usually like Sanders, and I’m disappointed he’s unable to see–or address–the elephant in the room. Here’s Chris’ awesome response:

You Cannot Balance the Tires on a Cow, Change the Lightbulbs on a Pig or Put Solar Panels on a Chicken

I wish SOME of these proposals to halt global warming would address the single most salient factor that literally threatens to doom human civilization as we know it: 

The reckless, wasteful and massively-subsidized propagation and exploitation of several species of life forms ("food animals") by one single life form (homo sapiens), in a way that is largely unnecessary.

The single biggest energy-inefficient act is something most of us do three times a day. Instead of getting our energy directly from plants (you know what those are, right?), we waste most of the energy in a system that makes big corporations richer, little kids more obese and poor nations poorer.

I wish some candidate would run on the slogan: "It’s the animals, stupid."

The recent United Nations FAO report on the impact of livestock on the planet attaches some scientifically researched statistics to a reality that anyone can figure out with a tiny bit of brainpower: The average American is going to consume 7,000 animals in his or her life time, not to mention the vast quantities of dairy and other animal products we consume. These sentient beings (born into families, confined, made to suffer unnecessarily and slaughtered for our "happy meals"), consume vast quantities of natural resources through both direct and indirect consumption, transportation and result in the pollution and destruction of entire ecological systems.

But, you ask, how important could this factor be? It’s just breakfast, lunch, dinner, ice cream, candy bars, our shoes, leather coats, belts, guitar strap, iPod case, etc. I mean, it’s just food, right? JUST FOOD.

Heck, animals can’t be THAT important, can they? (There’s only a few trillion of them.)

Yet, no one in the mainstream global warming debate, including Senator Sanders, and certainly least of all Al Gore (blowing the opportunity of the century to really advocate change), seems to be addressing this rather large elephant standing and pooping and farting in the middle of the living room called Planet Earth.

They don’t even mention it! Like it’s a small issue. Like it’s not so global that our bodies (inside and out) are literally coated in the results of this single biggest form of "commerce"!

(Try this: If you are an adult, try to go a single month without consuming anything not utilizing dairy products. Just try it. If you’re in the west, you’ll quickly find you live on Planet Cow, not Planet Earth.)

Senator Sanders’ bill seems really nifty to me. It would be a wonderful bill if Planet Earth were ONLY inhabited by a mere six billion humans.

But what is anyone going to do about the trillions of nonhuman animals whose "production" (i.e., breeding, confinement, transport, slaughter) is producing more greenhouse gases than any other single anthropogenic activity!

But I know why it’s not being taken seriously. Because, really, when it comes down to it, Big Oil is a tiny little runt compared to Big Meat (which is basically everyone — we are all meatheads).

I can only imagine the kind of political pressure that would be put on the one political bigwig to say "it’s the animals, stupid," and go head-to-head with Big Meat.

I mean, imagine this competition: Two American parents versus the needs of McDonald’s. Two American parents have a healthy young child who needs nutritious food and water to grow into a healthy adult. Now, McDonald’s has cattle that ALSO need food and water to grow into adulthood (albeit, a rather short-lived adulthood).

Which participant in this contest has the greater resources to guarantee its supply of grain, soil and water to meet its needs?

Do you really think McDonald’s is going to sacrifice its cattle’s needs for your child? Think McD’s is going to say, "we best cut down on pig and cow production so kids can drink clean water and get nutrition directly from a plant-based diet, as humans did mainly for millions of years?"

Dream on.

McDonald’s WILL indeed balance its tires, change its lightbulbs and invest in solar panels. No problem!!! "We’re loving it!"

But, speaking of legislation that MIGHT save us from global warming, there’s a new diet book out called Skinny Bitch. NYT bestseller and all that. Written by a supermodel/nutritionist and her agent. If either of these women — Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin — ran for President right now, they’d have my vote.

Now, if some Nobel Peace Prize Winner-To-Be could re-write Skinny Bitch into a global warming bill, then we’d finally be talking.

(Oh, yeah, and there’s that other small thing: Er, basic compassion and decency towards sentient beings who want to live, and be free from suffering just as much as we do.)

Let’s wake up to reality: Without recognizing the single most destructive inefficiency on the planet — the human diet — Senator Sanders’ bill is like flying a paper airplane into the Sun.

Check out Sanders’ article, and drop him–or The Nation, a note . . . .

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS