Just what does human domination of the natural world mean in biological terms? It means that over 90% of the mammals on the planet (by biomass) are humans and their livestock. Continue reading “Human Domination of the Natural World”
Peak oil — the maximum point of oil production — is of tremendous importance to the future of vegetarianism. A lot of vegetarians, though, have not even heard of peak oil, and it is hard to explain it to them. Why is this, and what can we do about it? Continue reading “Limits to Growth — A Vegetarian Issue”
This is an anti-vegan book which will be a difficult book for vegans to read. The text resembles more a stream-of-consciousness monologue than an organized discussion. The author is an ex-vegan, after having been a vegan for 20 years, and blames most of her numerous health problems (skeletal problems of some sort, evidently) and mental problems (depression, anger) on her vegan diet.
But this is an indictment not just of veganism, but of agriculture in general, and indeed our entire civilization, and needs to be read in that context. Obviously as a vegan I don’t go along with the anti-vegan part, but there are also several significant things she has stated accurately. Continue reading ““The Vegetarian Myth” (review)”
Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., who has done some pioneering research on the psychology of vegetarianism, recently gave a talk on religion and vegetarianism at the International Peace Research Association conference in Australia. O. K., I wasn’t there, but I did have a chance to talk to Rachel about her research (which I hope will be published soon), and several conclusions about religion and vegetarianism stand out. (You can visit Rachel’s web site at http://www.rachelmacnair.com/.) Continue reading “Religion and Vegetarianism — Some Surprising Results”
By Clem De Wall
Except for the Catholic hierarchy, few have been satisfied with Vatican excuses for priestly pedophilia. Instead, there are outcries for reparations, admissions of guilt and swift punishment. Some advocate reforming the celibacy rule. I would go further, judging clerical pedophilia to be a systemic evil, curable only by abolishing the system.
Illnesses are not cured by masking symptoms, but by attacking their cause. What is it about priesthood that allows, or even encourages pedophilia? Let’s look at the belief system supporting it. Continue reading “Priestly Pedophilia: A Systemic Evil”
It hardly seems fair to attack an article in which Bill McKibben, a tireless and effective advocate for much needed action on climate change, issues “a call for America to divest its heart and stomach from feedlot beef.” McKibben, like Michael Pollan, is attempting to define grass-fed beef as good, and factory farmed (corn-fed) beef as bad. From a political and ethical point of view, this isn’t a bad approach. In Colorado some years ago a ballot initiative restricting hog farms found the vegetarians and the cattle ranchers on the same side.
But does this make sense scientifically? Continue reading “Bill McKibben on Grass-Fed Beef”
One of the critical issues in the early church was the “table of demons.” Both the Ebionites and Paul discuss this with great energy. So, what is the “table of demons” and should we avoid eating there?
Paul discusses the table of demons at I Corinthians 10:21: “You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” Continue reading “Eating at the Table of Demons”
Just before his death, Jesus went into the temple and disrupted the business supporting the temple operations, by driving out all those who were buying and selling the sacrificial animals. It was this act which led to his arrest and crucifixion.
Jesus was killed because he was a palpable and physical threat to public order. That public order was embodied in the temple in Jerusalem, where animals were constantly sacrificed to appease the desires of a bloodthirsty God — or to appease the priests, depending on your point of view. But why did Jesus do this? Continue reading “Why was Jesus killed?”
Stephen Batchelor spoke at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on March 16 plugging his book, “Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist.” I was intrigued by his interest in the question of the “historical Buddha,” which has rarely been investigated. I asked him whether he (Batchelor) was a vegetarian, whether the historical Buddha was a vegetarian, and how this all related to the first precept (not to take the life of any sentient creature). Continue reading “Stephen Batchelor, the Historical Buddha, and Vegetarianism”
Some advocates of grass-fed beef argue that well-managed pasture land builds soil carbon. But when you look at the sources behind these claims, the evidence just isn’t there. Continue reading “Does Grass-Fed Beef Help Sequester Carbon?”
A lot of the questions people have about the WorldWatch article “Livestock and Climate Change” (Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, in the November / December 2009 WorldWatch) comes down to a simple problem: it’s difficult for many people to wrap their brains around what the authors are saying. All they see is something about livestock and a jumble of data. Maybe this is the way we should leave it, so that only the serious scientists will consider the idea. But the spread of an idea depends on its making intuitive sense. Here’s how I would pitch their thesis: you’ve heard of peak oil, the time of maximum production of oil on the planet. This is peak animals. We have an unprecedented (and unsustainable) amount of animal biomass on the planet, and climate change is just one of the symptoms. Continue reading “Peak Animals”
While promoting the excellent DVD Food, Inc. on Oprah on January 24, Michael Pollan made the following statement: “The Inuit in Greenland you were referring to [have a] 75% fat diet — no type II diabetes, no heart disease.”
The implication that the Inuit’s high-meat diet is healthful is almost certainly wrong. Continue reading “Michael Pollan and the Inuit Diet”
At first this sounds like some PETA press release, but it’s right there in the current issue of WorldWatch: “Livestock and Climate Change,” by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang. The key conclusion: livestock-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 51%, or more, of all human-caused GHG emissions.
If this stands up, it completely changes the politics of fighting global warming. Continue reading “Livestock The Main Cause of Global Warming?”
Heating of buildings is a significant chunk of the nation’s energy consumption, and many buildings are quite wasteful. This has huge consequences for climate change and resource depletion, and decisions about buildings have consequences that last decades.
So, in the summer of 2007 we decided to superinsulate our house. In 2009 we took further action to reduce heating consumption, installing a tankless hot water heater and further sealing the house. This post is a visual depiction of what happened. Continue reading “Superinsulation: the Process”
NOTE: I first published this on my web site on June 5, 2009, as a static file. I’ve now rather substantially changed my ideas on this subject; Arleen Lorrance is the author of the earliest written source of this saying, from 1971. But I include the present article in case people are interested in how I reached my conclusions.
One of the most widely-quoted aphorisms of Mahatma Gandhi is, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” But when, and where, did Gandhi make this statement? Or did he say it at all? Continue reading ““Be the Change”: Did Gandhi really make this statement?”