March 30, 2005

3/30/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. “Imagining a Vegan World”/Suggestions on My Article Welcome

2. “Top Ten Ways To Create a Vegetarian World”/Suggestions on MY Talk/Article Welcome

3. “Judaism and Vegetarianism”/Suggestions Welcome on My Contribution to a Leaflet

4. “Contrasting Jewish and Other Values”/Suggestions Welcome on My Material for the Media

5. Statement by the National Council of Chain Restaurants re the Postville Situation

6. Another Startling Report on Global Threats

7. Material From Canfei Nesharim Newsletter

8. Suggestion Re Karpas

9. Exciting New Video Released

10. Statement by Ron Reagan on Foie Gras

11. Update on the Great American Meatout


Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, information re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsements by JVNA, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.

Thanks,
Richard

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1. “Imagining a Vegan World”/Suggestions on My Article Welcome

I was asked to submit an article on this topic for a collection of such articles in a book that is being produced by the International Vegetarian Union (IVU). Suggestions for improvements very welcome. Thanks.

Imagining a Vegan World
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

The late Senator Robert Kennedy often stated:
"Some see things as they are and ask why,
I dream of things that have never been and ask why not?"

Yes, why not? Why not a vegetarian world? Or, even better, since we are dreaming, why not a vegan world? When one considers all the negatives related to the current widespread production and consumption of animal products, it is hard to believe that so few people have seen the importance of shifting to such a world.

What would a vegan world be like?

It would be a world with far healthier people. There are numerous studies showing that plant-based diets can sharply reduce the risk factors for heart disease, various types of cancer, strokes, and other chronic degenerative diseases. Dr. Dean Ornish and others have shown that a well planned vegetarian diet, along with other positive lifestyle changes, can reverse severe heart-related problems. Currently about 1.3 million Americans die annually from diseases linked to the consumption of animal products. This number would be sharply reduced when people eat a wide variety of foods from what the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) calls the “New Four Food Groups”: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

It would be a far more humane world. We could eliminate the current abuse of the 10 billion animals in the United States and 50 billion animals worldwide raised annually for slaughter. Animals would no longer be bred and genetically programmed to produce far more flesh, milk, and eggs than is natural for them. The many horrors of factory farming, including force feeding of geese, debeaking of hens, and branding, dehorning, and castrating of cattle, would be eliminated. We would no longer need to feel shame when considering Gandhi’s statement: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by how its animals are treated.”

It would be an environmentally sustainable world. Since we would no longer be raising 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter under factory farmed conditions, there would be a sharp reduction in the current significant contributions that modern intensive livestock agriculture makes to global climate change; rapid species extinction; soil erosion and depletion; destruction of tropical rain forests, coral reefs, and other valuable habitats; desertification; and many more environmental threats. Without the need to feed so many animals, we could let land lay fallow on a rotating basis, and thus restore its fertility. There would be far less need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the production of feed crops for animals. Of course, changes would also have to be made in our production, transportation, and other systems to improve the environment as much as possible, but the shift to vegetarianism would be a major step.

It would be a world where hunger and thirst would be sharply reduced, if not eliminated. When we no longer feed 70 percent of the grain grown in the US and 40 percent of the grain grown worldwide to animals destined for slaughter, using vast amounts of agricultural resources to do so, we would have the potential to save the lives of many of the estimated 20 million people who currently die of hunger and its effects. When we shift away from current animal-centered diets that require up to 14 times the amount of water that vegan diets do, we can help reverse current trends that have been leading to an increasingly thirsty world. Also, since current typical diets require large amounts of energy, a shift to vegan diets, and other positive changes, would give us additional time to develop more sustainable forms of energy.

It would be a far more peaceful world. Some may question this, but please consider that the slogans of the vegetarian and peace movements are the same: “All we are saying is give PEAS a chance.” More seriously, the Jewish sages, noting that the Hebrew words for bread (lechem) and war (milchamah) come from the same root, indicated that when there are shortages of grain and other resources, people are more likely to go to war. History has proven the truth of this statement many times. Hence, a vegetarian world, where far less water, land, energy, and other resources are required for our diets would reduce the potential for war and other conflicts.

Obtaining a vegan world may sound utopian today as so much meat is consumed in the developed world and as newly affluent people in several countries, including Japan, China, and india, shift toward animal-centered diets. However, borrowing the title of a Buckminster Fuller book, we may have a choice between “Utopia and Oblivion.” Our current dietary and other practices threaten major catastrophies for humanity from global warming, losses of biodiversity, water and food shortages, just to name a few problems. So, as difficult as it seems, it is essential that we alert people to the necessity of adapting vegan diets.

As a song from the popular musical “South Pacific” indicates, “If you do not have a dream, how yuh gonna have a dream come true.” So it is essential that we keep the dream of a vegan world alive.

And, as the Zionist leader Theodore Herzl stated “ If you will it, it is not a dream.” So, we must do more than dream. We must work diligently to make that dream come true. The fate of our precious, but imperiled, planet depends on it.

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2. “Top Ten Ways To Create a Vegetarian World”/Suggestions on My Talk/Article Welcome

Below is an outline for my talk at the “Grassroots Animal Rights Conference (GARC) on Friday, and I also plan to submit it as an article to a vegetarian publication. Suggestions for improvements very welcome. Thanks.

TOP TEN WAYS TO CREATE A VEGETARIAN WORLD
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

1) Set a Goal and a Time Table

We should not be satisfied with the relatively slow progress currently being made toward vegetarianism, especially in the face of all the recent disturbing reports of environmental catastrophes ahead. One possibility is to declare a goal of “A Vegetarian-conscious world by 2010.” This could inspire our efforts. Note the term “vegetarian conscious.” We can’t hope that every person will be a vegetarian by 2010, or any other time, and we should not argue that each person must be a vegetarian. However, we can work, with a heightened sense of urgency, to see that everyone will be aware of the many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, with the hope that many will act based on that knowledge.

2) Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is Beneficial for People as Well as Animals

Many people resist vegetarian arguments, asserting that they can’t be concerned about animals when people face so many problems. We should stress that animal-based diets increase risk factors for many life threatening diseases, including heart disease, several types of cancer, and stroke. Animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to many environmental threats to humanity. Also, the feeding of 70 percent of grain produced in the United States to farmed animals is a factor behind the fact that an estimated 20 million of the world’s people die annually from hunger and its effects.

3) Argue that a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Societal Imperative Today

Humanity is arguably threatened as perhaps never before from global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and many other problems. We should make people aware that all of these threats and many more are significantly worsened by the following: we are raising 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter annually worldwide; almost 40 percent of the world’s grain is used to fatten farmed animals; it takes 14 times as much water, ten times as much energy, and over 20 times as much land for an animal-based diet than it does for a vegan diet; animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other green house gases; and much more. We should also stress that diseases caused by the consumption of animal product results in soaring medical expenditures which are contributing to record budget deficits and the perceived need to cut basic social services.

4) Argue that a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Religious Imperative Today

Most people profess to be religious today and many claim to base their lives on moral values related to their religions. We should respectfully discuss with such people how animal-based diets and agriculture contradict basic religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace. We should stress such biblical teachings as “God’s mercies are over all of his creatures” (Psalms 145:9), “the righteous person considers the lives of his or her animals” (Proverbs 12:10), that animals as well as people are to be permitted to rest on the Sabbath day (part of the Ten Commandments), and similar teachings from other holy books and teachers.

5) Relate Vegetarianism to Current News Items

Vegetarianism touches on almost all phases of life – health, nutrition, animals, the environment, energy, water and other resources, economics, politics, family life, and many more – and we should make people aware of connections. When there are news reports re global warming and its effects, we should point out that animal-based diets contribute significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. When there are articles re taxes, budget deficits, and other economic issues, we should indicate that health costs are soaring in efforts to cure the many diseases that have been conclusively connected to animal-centered diets. Many such examples can be given.

When there is great attention to events, such as the Terri Schiavo case, we should be very sensitive and compassionate, express our sympathy, but indicate that this case should remind us of the preciousness of every life, while 1.3 million Americans die of diet-related diseases annually and an estimated 20 million of the world’s people die of hunger and its effects annually, while almost 40 percent of the world’s grain is fed to animals destined for slaughter.

6) Start a Letter Writing Campaign

As a follow-up to the discussion in item #5, there should be a major campaign to get letters to editors on connections between various issues and vegetarianism. If only a small percentage of the people concerned about vegetarianism and related issues wrote a letter just once a month, it could have a major impact. A web site should be set up that gives talking points for letters based on current issues.

As a related approach, since many people listen daily to talk radio shows, there should also be a concerted effort to get people to call such shows with vegetarian messages. While radio talk show hosts are generally very well informed on a wide variety of issues, I have found that many have major misconceptions re health, nutrition, and other vegetarian-related issues.

7) Make a Shift to Vegetarianism a Priority for the Animal Rights Movement

The vast majority of cases of animal abuses occur on factory farms. Yet, many, perhaps most, animal rights activists are working on other issues, such as circuses, rodeos, fur, pets, and animal experimentation. These are all important issues and it is essential to end all cases of animal abuse. But, animal-based diets and agriculture threaten most individuals’ personal health and the well being of humanity. If most animal rights advocates worked on promoting vegetarianism and veganism, even for a limited time, it could have a very powerful impact.

8) Challenge the Medical Establishment

Every person is concerned about his or her health and the health of loved ones. There is very strong evidence that incidents of heart disease, various types of cancer, strokes, and other chronic degenerative diseases can be sharply reduced by a shift to vegetarian and vegan diets, along with other positive lifestyle changes. Yet, the medical establishment, including most nutritionists, are ignoring this information, and not making patients and the general public aware that many diseases can be prevented, and sometimes reversed, through dietary changes. It might even be called medical malpractice. I recently visited a cousin in a rehabilitation center, and was astounded at reading the daily menus, which had animal products at every meal. It is essential that we challenge medical practitioners and respectfully urge them to help educate people about healthy diets.

As indicated in point #10, others, such as educators, politicians, religious leaders, and reporters, should also be challenged to increase awareness of the health and many other benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.

9) Form Alliances With Other Groups

Since vegetarianism has connections with many societal issues, we should try to build strong alliances with many other groups that are working for positive changes. For example, we should seek alliances with environmental groups, and inform them that the raising of 50 billion animals for slaughter annually, primarily on “factory farms,” contributes to many environmental threats; we should seek alliances with groups concerned about hunger, poverty, water and energy shortages, global warming, and related issues, and inform them about how the production of animal products contributes to many environmental threats and is extremely wasteful of resources.

10) Challenge the Media, Politicians, Educators, and Other Members of the Establishment

Since, as indicated above humanity is threatened as perhaps never before, and a switch toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative, and there are vegetarian connections to many current issues, we should try to meet with influential members of society and urge them to take a stand re vegetarianism, or at least to put the issues on their agendas. Children should be educated about proper nutrition, and they should be provided with tasty, nutritious options at every meal. Reporters and editors should be urged to make people aware of the many negative effects of animal-based diets and the many benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.

This is just an outline of some steps that I think would be helpful in moving toward a vegetarian world. I am sure that the many dedicated people in the vegetarian and related movements can add to my points and come up with additional suggestions. The important thing is that we become increasingly involved, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our precious, but imperiled, planet.

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3. “Judaism and Vegetarianism”/Suggestions Welcome on My contribution to a Leaflet

I am currently coordinator of SERV (Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians). The group is currently preparing a leaflet which will discuss teachings of various religions toward vegetarianism. A first draft of my contribution is below. Suggestions for improvements very welcome. Thanks.

JUDAISM AND VEGETARIANISM

There is a widely accepted aspect of modern life that contradicts many Jewish teachings and harms people, communities, and the planet: the mass production and widespread consumption of meat. High meat consumption and the ways in which meat is produced today conflict with Judaism in at least six important areas:

1) While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2) While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals—including those raised for kosher consumers—are raised for slaughter on "factory farms" where they are confined in cramped spaces, are often drugged and mutilated, and are denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any opportunity to satisfy their natural instincts.

3) While Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord's" (Psalm 24:1) and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the world, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to global climate change, soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, and other environmental damages.

4) While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, or to use more than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the wasteful use of land, water, fuel, grain, and other resources.

5) While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, an estimated twenty million human beings worldwide die each year because of hunger and its effects--a horror which could be partly alleviated by feeding grain to people rather than animals destined for slaughter. More than 70% of the grain grown in the U.S. is given to animals who will be killed, and it takes up to sixteen pounds of grain to produce just one pound of edible beef.

6) While Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions, animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that often lead to instability and war.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, contrasted with the harm that animal-centered diets do in each of these areas, Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products, and the Jewish community should play a leading role in advocating vegetarianism as a moral and ecological imperative. Besides having great benefits for animals, such actions would greatly benefit the health of the Jewish people and others, move our precious, but imperiled planet to a more sustainable path, and show the relevance of Jewish teachings to the problems confronting the world today.

A VEGETARIAN VIEW OF THE TORAH

God's initial intention was that people be vegetarians: “And God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food.’” (Genesis 1:29) While God later gave permission for people to eat meat (Genesis 9:3; Deuteronomy 12:20), many Jewish sages regarded this as a concession. Based on the arguments above, there are many reasons to believe that God prefers that people have vegetarian diets. Some scholars also believe that God attempted a second vegetarian experiment in terms of the manna from heaven, which kept the Israelis in good health for 40 years in the wilderness. When the people cried out for flesh, God reluctantly provided it, and this resulted in a plague that caused many deaths at a place called “The Graves of Lust.”

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel believed that the permission to eat meat was only a temporary concession to the practices of the times and that the kosher laws were an implied reprimand and were designed to keep alive a sense of reverence for life that would bring the Jewish people back to the original diet. Rav Kook felt that the prophecy of Isaiah (“The wolf will dwell with the lamb … the lion will eat straw like the ox … and no one shall hurt nor destroy on all of God’s holy mountain,” Isaiah 11:6-9) meant that during the messianic period people would be vegetarians.
Sources for Further Information:

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) http://jewishveg.com/
Richard Schwartz articleshttp://JewishVeg.com/schwartz
Judaism and Vegetarianism, Richard H. Schwartz (New York: Lantern Books, 2001)
Vegetarian Judaism, Roberta Kalechofsky (Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah Publications, 1998)
“A Case for Jewish Vegetarianism” (2005) Aaron Frank and others; for free copies, call 1-888-VEG FOOD.

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4. “Contrasting Jewish and General Values”/Suggestions Welcome on My Material for the Media

I am planning to send the following item from my book “Judaism and Global Survival” to the Jewish media. Suggestions very welcome. Thanks.

JEWISH VALUES VS. THE CONVENTIONAL VALUES HELD BY MANY PEOPLE

One of the primary factors behind many of the world's problems today is the sharp discrepancies between Jewish values and those believed and practiced by much of the rest of the world, including many Jews. Consider:

Jewish Values / Conventional Values

1. Prophets / Profits

2. Love your neighbor as yourself / Suspect your neighbor as yourself

3. Just weights; just measures / Let the buyer beware.

4. People created in God's image / People treated as consumers.

5. God / Me.

6. The Earth is the Lord's / The earth exploited for convenience and profit.

7. People are co-workers with God in efforts to improve the world / Do your own thing. Seek.personal advantage.

8. Sanctity of every life. / Lives endangered to increase gain.

9. Tzedek, tzedek tirdof (Justice, justice shall you pursue). / Societies filled with injustice.

10. Tza'ar ba'alei chayim (kindness to animals) / Animals treated cruelly to meet human desires

11. God provides food for all; Share your bread with the hungry / Millions die annually, due to lack of food; "enough for the world's need, but not its greed."

12. Leave corners of the field and gleanings of the harvest for the poor / Centralized help; let government handle social problems.

13. I am my brother's keeper. / "What’s in it for me?"

14. Sumptuary laws that limit expenditures on simchas14. Lavish affairs; wastefulness.

15. Sabbatical year; let the ground lie fallow. / Fertility of soil destroyed by planting single-crops year after year.

16. Jubilee; redistribution of wealth. / Growing rich-poor gaps.

17. To be. / To have; to consume; to appear.

18. Dignity of labor. / Little pride in work.

19. Seek peace and pursue it. / ‘My country right or wrong’; Excessive arms expenditures.

20. Be kind to the stranger. / Discrimination and animosity between groups.

In order to solve the many critical problems that the world now faces, it is essential that the world be influenced by Jewish values!

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5. Statement by the National Council of Chain Restaurants re the Postville Situation

Supermarket News, Feb 21, 2005 p40
KOSHER AUDIT ALLEGATIONS REFUTED.
(National Council of Chain Restaurants)

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2005 Fairchild Publications, Inc.

Unfortunately, SN [Supermarket News] missed an opportunity to bring clarity to an important and confusing issue in its article "Rabbis Object to FMI Kosher Audit" (Feb. 14, 2005, Page 27). The basis of the SN article appears to be a series of stories in the publication "Kosher Today," which made several inaccurate allegations about the FMI-NCCR Animal Welfare program without ever contacting or seeking comment from Food Marketing Institute (FMI) or the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR).

- Allegation [from "Kosher Today"]: That FMI and NCCR never sought input from the kosher community. In fact, FMI and NCCR shared with the major kosher organizations (including the OU) the draft humane slaughter guidelines for kosher meat that were developed in 2002. The guidelines were developed in conformance with those of the American Meat Institute, and written by Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University and Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University. Dr. Grandin is a world-renowned expert on humane slaughter. Dr. Regenstein is a well-known, well-respected expert on kosher. Some adjustments were made based on comments that were received on the draft. The final version of the guidelines was published in 2003 and an audit, based on the guidelines, was developed by SES Inc., the company administering the FMI-NCCR Animal Welfare Audit Program (AWAP).

- Allegation [from "Kosher Today"]: That FMI and NCCR refused to meet with members of the Jewish community to discuss the guidelines. In fact, a year after the guidelines were published, a group of 15 Jewish leaders representing a narrow interest within the Jewish community contacted FMI and NCCR, and requested a meeting to discuss revisions to the FMI-NCCR kosher guidelines. FMI and NCCR agreed, but asked that the group meet first with Drs. Grandin and Regenstein to outline their issues of concern before such a meeting took place. FMI and NCCR said they would be happy to sit down with the group, along with Drs. Grandin and Regenstein, following that initial discussion.

- Allegation [from "Kosher Today"]: That a large FMI supermarket member is pressuring FMI to change the kosher guidelines and audit. In fact, the FMI-NCCR animal welfare program has been developed at the request of, and with the participation of, FMI and NCCR member companies. Our process has been inclusive, transparent and flexible. We have worked with the producer communities (including the kosher community), our members and an advisory committee of recognized animal welfare experts, including animal scientists and doctors of veterinary medicine. Our member companies have been committed to the program's success. We receive feedback from our members on a regular basis, but they have never pressured us to make changes our advisors are not willing to endorse. The purpose of the FMI-NCCR program is to enhance animal welfare in the production and processing of animals for food. It is based on the belief that we in the food industry have a responsibility to ensure that animals are raised, transported and processed using procedures that are clean, safe and free from cruelty, abuse or neglect. We also believe that these goals are consistent with all religious principles and laws.

Karen Brown
Senior Vice President Food Marketing Institute Washington

Terrie M. Dort
President
National Council of Chain Restaurants Washington

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6. Another Startling Report on Global Threats

Thanks to JVNA advisors John Diamond and Lewis Regenstein for forwarding the following important articles:

Experts Warn Ecosystem Changes Will Continue to Worsen, Putting Global Development Goals At Risk
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 London, UK
http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/Article.aspx?id=58

A landmark study released today reveals that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth – such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests – are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years.

“Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem services on which humanity relies continue to be degraded,” said the study, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis Report, conducted by 1,300 experts from 95 countries. It specifically states that the ongoing degradation of ecosystem services is a road block to the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the world leaders at the United Nations in 2000.

Although evidence remains incomplete, there is enough for the experts to warn that the ongoing degradation of 15 of the 24 ecosystem services examined is increasing the likelihood of potentially abrupt changes that will seriously affect human well-being. This includes the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of “dead zones” along the coasts, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate.

The MA Synthesis Report highlights four main findings:

Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years than in any other period. This was done largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel. More land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined. More than half of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, first made in 1913, ever used on the planet has been used since 1985. Experts say that this resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth, with some 10 to 30 percent of the mammal, bird and amphibian species currently threatened with extinction.

Ecosystem changes that have contributed substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development have been achieved at growing costs in the form of degradation of other services. Only four ecosystem services have been enhanced in the last 50 years: increases in crop, livestock and aquaculture production, and increased carbon sequestration for global climate regulation. Two services – capture fisheries and fresh water – are now well beyond levels that can sustain current, much less future, demands. Experts say that these problems will substantially diminish the benefits for future generations.

The degradation of ecosystem services could grow significantly worse during the first half of this century and is a barrier to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals. In all the four plausible futures explored by the scientists, they project progress in eliminating hunger, but at far slower rates than needed to halve number of people suffering from hunger by 2015. Experts warn that changes in ecosystems such as deforestation influence the abundance of human pathogens such as malaria and cholera, as well as the risk of emergence of new diseases. Malaria, for example, accounts for 11 percent of the disease burden in Africa and had it been eliminated 35 years ago, the continent’s gross domestic product would have increased by $100 billion.

The challenge of reversing the degradation of ecosystems while meeting increasing demands can be met under some scenarios involving significant policy and institutional changes. However, these changes will be large and are not currently under way. The report mentions options that exist to conserve or enhance ecosystem services that reduce negative trade-offs or that will positively impact other services. Protection of natural forests, for example, not only conserves wildlife but also supplies fresh water and reduces carbon emissions.

“The over-riding conclusion of this assessment is that it lies within the power of human societies to ease the strains we are putting on the nature services of the planet, while continuing to use them to bring better living standards to all,” said the MA board of directors in a statement, “Living beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-being.” “Achieving this, however, will require radical changes in the way nature is treated at every level of decision-making and new ways of cooperation between government, business and civil society. The warning signs are there for all of us to see. The future now lies in our hands.”

The MA Synthesis Report also reveals that it is the world’s poorest people who suffer most from ecosystem changes. The regions facing significant problems of ecosystem degradation – sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, some regions in Latin America, and parts of South and Southeast Asia – are also facing the greatest challenges in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the number of poor people is forecast to rise from 315 million in 1999 to 404 million by 2015.

“Only by understanding the environment and how it works, can we make the necessary decisions to protect it. Only by valuing all our precious natural and human resources can we hope to build a sustainable future,” said Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations in a message launching the MA reports. ”The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is an unprecedented contribution to our global mission for development, sustainability and peace.”

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis Report is the first in a series of seven synthesis and summary reports and four technical volumes that assess the state of global ecosystems and their impact on human well-being. This report is being released together with a statement by the MA board of directors entitled “Living beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-being.”

The four-year assessment was designed by a partnership of UN agencies, international scientific organizations, and development agencies, with guidance from the private sector and civil society groups. Major funding is provided by the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and The World Bank. The MA Secretariat is coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The MA is recognized by governments as a mechanism to meet part of the assessment needs of four international environmental treaties – the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Migratory Species. It is supported by 22 of the world’s leading scientific bodies, including The Royal Society of the U.K. and the Third World Academy of Sciences.

The MA’s work is overseen by a 45-member board of directors, co-chaired by Dr. Robert Watson, chief scientist of The World Bank, and Dr. A. H. Zakri, director of the United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies. The Assessment Panel, which oversees the technical work of the MA, includes 13 of the world’s leading social and natural scientists. It is co-chaired by Angela Cropper of the Cropper Foundation, and Dr. Harold Mooney of Stanford University. Dr. Walter Reid is the director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

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Another article on the topic:

Two-thirds of world's resources 'used up'

Tim Radford, science editor
Wednesday March 30, 2005
The Guardian

The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.

The study contains what its authors call “a stark warning” for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself.

Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted,” it says.

SNIP

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7. Material From Canfei Nesharim Newsletter

Canfei Nesharim is an organization of Orthodox Jews who are dedicated to educating the Orthodox community about environmental issues and their connection to Torah and halacha.

ON EAGLES' WINGS, VOL. III, ISSUE II
March 28, 2005 16 Adar II 5765
NOTE: This email contains an abbreviated version of our latest newsletter. Please click [copy and paste] on any of the links below in order to view the full article from our website, or to print the full version, visit http://canfeinesharim.org/newsletter.shtml

TABLE OF CONTENTS [Not all items are included in this JVNA newsletter.]
DVAR TORAH: Our Beautiful World
SCIENCE ARTICLE: Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol
ACTION CORNER: Minimal Consumption Is Necessary, Paying Retail Prices Is Not
COMMITTEE UPDATE
UPCOMING EVENTS
ON A WING

FROM THE ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
Adar! It's very joyous time, and this is a very joyous time for Canfei Nesharim, as well. I am pleased to announce that, Baruch Hashem, several of our steering committee members have recently had their first children, including Evonne Marzouk, our executive director, Shai Spetgang, the coordinator of our business committee, and David Mason, our webmaster. This is in addition to two other recent births – my own daughter last summer, and Atara Weisberger, our education chair, who had a daughter last summer as well!

Canfei Nesharim celebrates these births and wishes our members, and their families, much joy and nachas from their new additions. May we all work together to create a safe and healthy world for future generations.

We are pleased to share our latest newsletter. This newsletter includes a dvar Torah on appreciating our natural world, a science article on climate change, and a fascinating action article on protecting the environment while saving money at the same time. Enjoy!
- Ora Sheinson

DVAR TORAH: Our Beautiful World
By Ilana Stein

Much time is spent discussing our commitments and duties to our environment because we love and revere the world in which we live. If we do not incorporate these into our lives, we will destroy an already damaged world. But sometimes we must step back and appreciate the planet's sheer physical beauty. The Torah and Talmud are not afraid to see and appreciate beauty and the examples are many. In this article, we review the Torah's approach to appreciating the beauty of nature.

For the full article click here:
http://canfeinesharim.org/newsletter.shtml#2

INQUIRIES FOR THE EAGLE

What are your questions about Judaism or the environment? We want to answer you! Send your inquiries to canfei.nesharim@verizon.net.

COMMITTEE UPDATE
Shabbaton success: Canfei Nesharim hosted our second annual Orthodox environmental Shabbaton in Silver Spring, MD on February 25-26. "Or L'Torah, Maayan L'Olam," was a huge success, with more than 30 participants from around the world and community participation in several events, reaching a total of about 100 people. If you would like to help plan future Canfei Nesharim events, email info@canfeinesharim.org.

If you'd like to be involved with Canfei Nesharim in other ways, email Canfei.nesharim@verizon.net to get involved.


UPCOMING EVENTS, OPPORTUNITIES, AND NEWS

Canfei Nesharim would like to share the following upcoming opportunities with our readership. These activities may not be directly affiliated with our effort, but may be of interest to Orthodox Jews who care about the environment. If you know of any event that might interest our members, please let us know and we'll consider adding it to this list.

Below are brief summaries. The full listings can be read at:
http://canfeinesharim.org/newsletter.shtml#6

The 11th Annual Jewish Environmental Education Seminar For Jewish Educators, Camp Staff, and Naturalists:
The Teva Learning Center invites you to join them for a 4-day program from June 6th-9th 2005 at Surprise Lake Camp, Cold Springs, NY, designed to give participants the tools to create exciting Jewish nature programs at their camps, synagogues and institutions.

Hazon Bike Ride for Israel and the Environment:
Hazon invites you to join them for the 2005 Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride – a bike ride from Jerusalem to Eilat, over 5 days with riders from Israel and North America.

Environmental Conference in Jerusalem:
This pilot-conference is specifically geared towards the American and Israeli Jewish environmental activist and thinker for bridge-building, learning, and application between Torah, Jews, and the Earth that will include the following issues:
• Relating to our resources
• Approaches to activism in the Jewish community and beyond
• Balance of social responsibilities

Arutz Sheva – IsrealNationalNews.com:
The "Commandment" of Environmental Protection
One of man's duties after Creation was "to preserve" the world, according to the Torah. In this vein, hareidi-religious Israelis have recently become publicly active in environmental protection. To read the full story, click below:
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=74140

Note: All materials published herein are Copyright 2005 by their authors. Reproduction of this material is encouraged so long as the footer and header information remains intact.

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8. Suggestion Re Karpas

From JVNA Advisor Ron (Mithra621@aol.com)

Hi Richard,

I have a suggestion for "karpas". In my Southampton garden I have an herb patch and I am astonished by its strength and productivity. I was able to have fresh green herbs all winter long; even when snow covered the area I only needed to brush some snow away and gather fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, still alive and tasteful. Anyone can grow herbs outdoors or indoors all year long and nothing could taste sweeter at the seder than your "own" greens.

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9. Exciting New Video Released

I have long been a strong fan of Howard Lyman, the 4th generation cattle rancher and feedlot operator who is now one of the key leaders in the vegetarian movement. He is the person whose statement re mad cow disease dangers on the Oprah Winfrey show led her to state that she would never eat a hamburger again and led the “Cattlemen’s Association” to sue him and Oprah. For many years, Howard has traveled throughout the country giving many talks and appearing on many radio programs. I have heard him speak several times at vegetarian conferences, and he is an outstanding, very humorous speaker.

As indicated below, his new video, based on his life, his talks, and his book has arrived. I have already ordered a copy, and I recommend that you do so as well.

"Mad Cowboy: The Documentary" has arrived!!

"I had no idea when we started the magnitude of what we were getting into... three years in the making, 150 hours of footage... countless interviews throughout the world with activists, scientists, victims, ranchers, farmers, doctors, and consumers... opinions on every side of the issues.

Some people believe the worst is over. Some believe the worst is yet to come. It's all crucial to planning a balance that has the potential to change the way that people think, and feel. It is without a doubt the most important thing I have been involved with in my entire life."

-- Howard (in "Mad Cowboy: The Documentary")

[More info about the Documentary DVD: http://www.madcowboy.com/02_VVFprods.002.html

[See 100's of digital pix shot by Howard and the Producer in Europe and the USA during filming: http://www.madcowboy.com/01_BookDOC.000.html

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10. Statement by Ron Reagan on Foie Gras

Thanks to author, scholar, and JVNA advisor Lewis Regenstein for forwarding the message below from Dawnwatch

Today, on the MSNBC show "Connected: Coast to Coast," Ron Reagan gave a wonderful commentary on foie gras, saying that animal rights groups are correct to call its production "a cruel and unnecessary practice." He also mentioned other cruel practices, calling our food industries "equal opportunity abusers." The piece is transcribed on the MSNBC website at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6969478/ and it is pasted below. Please send and an appreciative comment to Ron Reagan at: RReagan@MSNBC.com

March 30, 2005 1:04 p.m. ET
Objection to foie gras (Ron Reagan)

At Hurley's restaurant in Portland, Oregon, there's one thing you won't find on the menu: Pate de Foie Gras. In case you're wondering, that's a sort of liver puree, usually from ducks or geese. Oh, they've got it. But you'll have to have a private word with the waiter and you might want to whisper. Hurley's, like a number of restaurants around the country, has gone into stealth mode when it comes to this gourmet treat.

The reason: pressure from animal rights groups who say the techniques used to produce foie gras are a “cruel and unnecessary practice.” They're correct.

Foie gras is created by force-feeding grain to waterfowl in order to unnaturally enlarge their livers. Afficionados say they're simply taking advantage of a duck's natural ability to store fat. Last time I checked, there was no natural tendency on the part of ducks to shove stainless steel tubes down their throats and pump in huge amounts of half-cooked corn. That's how foie gras is made.

Now, I'm not a vegetarian, mind you. It's just that I have this funny objection to torturing small animals no matter how scrumptious their body parts might be.

And it's not just ducks and geese, is it? Our food industries are equal opportunity abusers: cows, chickens, pigs, and a special mention to those little calves who for their short, miserable lives are locked into crates too small to allow movement just so we can eat veal.

Our mistreatment of these creatures is no reflection on their intrinsic worth, but it does reflect the state of our humanity. The picture is, to say the least, unattractive.

I know we're carnivores. [We are????] Things die so that we can live. But simple decency requires that, whenever possible, we minimize the suffering of the beings under our control.

I've tasted foie gras. Yes, it's quite good. But not good enough to justify abusing animals.

I won't harangue you anymore— I know this subject makes folks uncomfortable. But here's a suggestion: next time you tuck into your foie gras and marvel at how rich and delicious it is, take a look in the mirror and remind yourself how it got that way.

E-mail RReagan@MSNBC.com.
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(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.dawnwatch.com/

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11. Update on the Great American Meatout

Forwarded message from FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement)

Meatout Sets New Records

Activists came out in droves in observance of the 20th Anniversary of the Great American Meatout, setting a new record for participation. Records were also set for number of proclamations issued and number of billboards placed. All 50 states and 23 other countries were represented. Thanks for making this Meatout observance the best yet!

In addition to the traditional information tables, cooking demonstrations, lectures and festivals, Meatout 2005 saw the introduction of a new event: the Meatout Walk. Coordinators in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Washington, and Orlando (to name a few) raised thousands of dollars for FARM's campaigns. Several met their fundraising goal of $1000, earning pro-veg billboards in their areas.

Governors and mayors issued a record 38 proclamations this year, urging citizens to explore a wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Major cities include Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York City, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Seattle. Washington. Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia round out the states.

Hundreds of billboards and bus cards are carrying the Meatout message in Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Eugene, Hartford, Los Angeles, New Haven, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa, Vancouver, and Washington (DC).

Celebrity entertainers like Casey Kasem, Mary Tyler Moore, Joaquin Phoenix, Rue McClanahan, James Cromwell, and Bill Maher headlined this year’s special observance.

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