Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon remains high. It grew by 9.5% between 2019 and 2020 and reached 11,088 km2. More than 720 million trees were felled in 12 months.
It’s like every Brazilian felled 3.5 trees with their own hands. Almost all of the wood and an astronomical number of roots, leaves, flowers, and fruits rise in smoke or rot, adding to the worsening global warming.
Land robbers, loggers, ranchers and farmers are behind this destruction, and more than half of deforestation is illegal. Most of it turns into pasture. More than 80% of the beef is destined for the domestic market, not for export.
Put simply, your grill is the engine of devastation in the Amazon and is a major contributor to the global climate crisis. Projections of how much carbon is caused by livestock deforestation and the production of methane in the rumen of cattle vary widely, but no estimate is small.
The writer and essayist Jonathan Safran Foer, who participated in Flip on Friday (4), points to two extremes in the book Somos Somos o Clima: 14.5% and 51% of the contribution of farm animals to the climate crisis. The first number comes from the FAO (2006), the United Nations Agency for Agriculture, and the second from the NGO Worldwatch Institute (2009).
Foer argues that the second dates are more correct. It is not appropriate to go into the merits of the methodological discussion here, but the discussion is even more relevant in Brazil because of the link between cattle and deforestation.
The author suggests that each person help slow global warming and catastrophic climate change by avoiding animal products in the first two meals (hence the book’s subtitle, “Save the Planet Begins at Breakfast”). This would reduce the emissions caused by the diet by 2/3.
Since Al Gore’s good youth in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” I’ve had problems with advice on individual action. Cycling, changing house lamps, using ethanol instead of gasoline – all of this makes sense, but it would be tantamount to saving a drop of the ocean of oil that was burned in the world.
The reduction in meat consumption is another 500. If adherence to vegetarianism is not an option, the reduction proposed by Foer seems to be a good compromise, also because a change in diet makes sense for other reasons as well.
Ethics first of all. Raising animals, however good they are, is always more or less associated with suffering. Anyone who has seen a truck full of oxen and cows knows this and does not need to visit slaughterhouses, chicken coops and industrial stalls.
There are still many health reasons. A report on the effects of climate change published Wednesday (2) by the UK medical journal The Lancet estimates that 990,000 people worldwide die each year from diseases associated with meat-consuming – and that number has increased by 72% since then in nineteen-ninety.
In Brazil, the carnivorous habit would be responsible for 38,000 deaths a year. With the 175,000 deaths caused by the incompetence and criminal denialism of the Jair Bolsonaro government in the epidemic, this may seem small, but every preventable death counts.
Changing habits is costly, and Foer’s book is a full treatise on it. But the point is to stop thinking: What other individual political attitudes can you adopt that really affect your own health, animal welfare, the conservation of the Amazon rainforest, and dangerous climate change?