December 27, 2009

12/27/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy New Year

2. Your Financial Help Can Make a Big Difference

3. Press Release and Letter Challenging Rabbis

4. Editorial in Nature Magazine Urges Veg Diets In Response to Global Warming

5. Declaration on Meat Consumption and Climate Change Designed to Get Vegetarianism Onto Society’s Agenda

6. Judaism and Vegetarianism Book Now Can Be Read on Kindle

7. Study: Israel Must Make Energy Efficiency a Priority

8. A Basic Message In Response to Articles and Blogs

9. Response to NY Times Op-Ed Article

10. Action Alert: Provide Input on Regulating Factory Farms

11. Why Are Climate Warnings Ignored?/A Very Important, Challenging Article

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, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, 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. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Happy New Year

Best wishes to everyone for a very happy New Year.

Many thanks to all of you that helped by sending me articles or links, made suggestions, helped distribute DVDs and/or assisted in other ways.

We made much progress in the past year, and helped increase awareness of the urgency of a major shift to plant-based diets in order to have a chance of avoiding an unprecedented climate catastrophe. But, of course, much still remains to be done.

Please use the letter to rabbis below and press release to help spread our messages. Suggestions always welcome.

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2. Your Financial Help Can Make a Big Difference

After years of distributing tens of thousands of DVDs and of other expenses, the JVNA bank account is very low. Your year-end tax-deductible contribution would be very helpful and much appreciated. Everything done by me and other JVNA leaders is completely on a voluntary basis and I and several others have invested a lot of our own money. So, every dollar you contribute will be used to promote vegetarianism in the Jewish community and beyond.

As I have indicated previously, at this time when the world is imperiled as possibly never before, the most important contribution you can make for future generations is to help groups like JVNA that are working for a sustainable future.

Please make a generous contribution by sending a check made out to Jewish Vegetarians of North America (or JVNA) to our dedicated secretary/treasurer,
John Diamond, 44 Patten Drive, Newport News, VA 23666-1744

Many thanks.

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3. Press Release and Letter Challenging Rabbis

I am planning to send the press release to the Jewish media and the letter to many rabbis and other Jewish leaders. Please feel free to forward the letter to rabbis whom you know, possibly with a note from you.

Suggestions Very Welcome. Thanks.



For Immediate Release:

December 28, 2009


Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)

Phone: (718) 761-5876 Mobil (917) 576-0344

A coalition of Jewish groups today announced a comprehensive campaign to get the Jewish community to respond to climate change and other current global environmental threats. They are sending a letter (copy at the end of this release) to rabbis and other Jewish leaders, urging them to help put these issues on the Jewish agenda and help promote effective responses in the Jewish and other communities. They are also encouraging others to send similar letters to leaders of other religions.

“When we read almost daily reports of the effects of global climate change, such as record heat waves, severe storms, widespread droughts, and the rapid melting of glaciers and polar icecaps, and when some climate scientists are warning that global climate change may spin out of control with disastrous consequences unless major changes are soon made, it is increasingly apparent that the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe,” stated Richard Schwartz, president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and author of Judaism and Global Survival. “Fortunately, there is “a convenient truth’: a major shift to plant-based diets can rapidly and sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.”

The groups are stressing analyses in a 2006 UN FAO report that indicated that animal-based agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined and a cover article in the November/December, 2009 World Watch magazine that argued that the livestock sector is responsible for at least 51 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. They also cite arguments for less meat consumption to reduce global warming by leading climate experts, including Dr. James Hansen of NASA, Dr . Rajendra Pachauri, director of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Lord Nicholas Stern of Brentwood and even Al Gore.

The groups are urging that tikkun olam—the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions. “Judaism has splendid teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to climate change and the many current environmental threats,” stated Lewis Regenstein, director of The Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature, another of the supporting groups.

Further information about these issues can be found at . JVNA will provide complimentary copies of its new documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD and other background material to rabbis and other Jewish leaders who contact them ( and request them.



[Please feel free to adapt this letter for other religious and secular leders.]

Shalom Rabbi,

We are writing you about an urgent crisis facing our planet. Along with climate scientists and other experts, we are increasingly convinced that the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe due to climate change. This is not something that threatens us in 50 or 100 years. It is beginning right now. Its effects are already being felt. Climate scientists, including Prof. James Hansen of NASA, warn that global warming could reach a tipping point and spiral totally out of control within a few years. This bodes for disastrous consequences unless major changes occur immediately.

As you well know, Israel is already suffering from the worst drought in its history. And the Israel Union for Environmental Defense is projecting that global warming will result in Israel facing a decrease in average rainfall of 20 to 30 percent, severe heat waves and storms and an inundation of the coastal plain where most Israelis live by a rising Mediterranean Sea. Many other countries face similar threats.

Unfortunately, the recent Copenhagen climate conference ended without significant progress. It is not certain that the US Congress will be able to pass even a moderately effective bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the chances of avoiding severe climate repercussions seem remote.

Yet, to assure our survival, we must remain optimistic. As Jews, without optimism and hope we would not have survived the many tragedies that have befallen our people. But we are now confronted by the greatest test humanity has ever faced. Fortunately, there is one and ONLY ONE solution that could halt the catastrophe, and that is a major societal shift to a plant-based diet.

Please consider:

A 2006 UN FAO report indicated that livestock agriculture produces more damaging greenhouse gases than all the cars and other forms of transportation worldwide combined and that the number of farmed animals is projected to double by 2050. If that increase occurs, the increased greenhouse gases from these animals will be catastrophic.

As significant as that UN report is, it was eclipsed by a cover article “Livestock and Climate Change,” by environmentalists Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang in the November/December issue of World Watch magazine. The authors found sources of greenhouse gases from the livestock sector that were overlooked, underrepresented or placed in the wrong sectors in the UN report, and concluded that the livestock sector was responsible for at least 51 percent of human-induced greenhouse gases.

I urge you to help put these critical issues on the Jewish agenda and to promote a major shift to plant-based diets. Such a shift would be entirely consistent with Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and seek and pursue peace. It would also help to reduce the current epidemic of heart disease, cancer and other diseases that are afflicting the Jewish community and people worldwide.

I hope you will recognize the severe urgency of this matter and join us in our efforts to shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path. As you know, Judaism has many powerful teachings that can be applied to current crises. Applying them to avoid the impending climate crisis would be a Kiddush Hashem.

Please let us know if you would like any further information or if we might help in any other way. Supporting material for the issues can be found at and We would be happy to send you a complimentary DVD of the award-winning documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.” It can also be seen on YouTube and there are blurbs, reviews and questions and answers related to it at

Kol tuv.

Richard (Schwartz)

President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America

Lewis Regenstein,

Director, The Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature,

Nina Natelson Director, Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI)

Yossi Wolfson Director, Jewish Vegetarian Society (Israel)

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4. Editorial in Nature Magazine Urges Veg Diets In Response to Global Warming

Thanks to author, editor and JVNA advisor Syd Baumel for his comments below and for forwarding the very insightful Nature magazine editorial which echoes our basic message:

This is an editorial in Nature, one of the world's foremost academic science journals (the other being Science). A few weeks ago, The Lancet (a top medical journal - UK's equivalent of The New England Journal of Medicine) published a study arguing the same point, while pointing out the public health benefits of switching to a meat-lite diet. A couple months ago, the venerable WorldWatch Institute published a detailed paper (albeit outside of the scientific peer-review process) arguing that the world's livestock industry is actually responsible for over 50% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, not the 18% calculated by the FAO in Livestock's Long Shadow. All this on top of a steady stream of such articles over the past few years, as well as "go veg" or "eat less meat" pronouncements from the likes of Rajendra Pachauri (IPCC chief - and vegetarian), Lord Nicholas Stern (eminent economist and lead author of the landmark UK government-commissioned Stern Review on the cost/benefit of fighting global warming vs business-as-usual - going veg), James Hansen (head of NASA's Godard Institute for Space Studies and, arguably, the most respected climate scientist in the world) and finally - if only under extreme, squirmy duress - Al Gore (eating less meat and "more fruit and vegetables").

Can Joe and Jane Average Eaters resist much longer? Here's a seasonal wish that they can't.


Nature Geoscience 2:597, 2009 September 2009


The price of animal protein

Mass production of meat is on the rise, but it comes at a cost to both climate and environment. A radical change in our diets seems to be the easiest path to long-term sustainability.

Livestock production has undergone a massive transformation in the past few decades. As meat demand has increased around the globe, small holdings and independent farms have been replaced with colossal corporate facilities, where animals are crammed into excrement-filled cages, and injected with antibiotics and hormones to maintain health and maximize growth. And with the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization predicting that meat production will double by the middle of this century, conditions are set to worsen.

This is bad news for the planet. Animal manure is a rich source of nitrous oxide, the fourth most important greenhouse gas. An article on page 659 of this issue suggests that manure production has been a key driver of increasing nitrous oxide concentrations since 1860. What's more, making animal feed releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, and the animals themselves, particularly cows, emit startling quantities of yet another greenhouse gas - methane.

The meat industry is also a catalyst for deforestation, particularly in South America. The film review on page 601 of this issue draws attention to the colossal speed at which the Amazon is being destroyed to make way for cattle and their feed. Making meat also requires huge quantities of antibiotics and hormones, which pollute the air and waterways. And intensive animal production units are hotbeds of disease transmission and viral evolution.

So what is the solution? One strategy is to regulate emissions. In Europe, the Gothenburg Protocol signed in 1999 - aimed at cutting harmful agricultural emissions - has proven to be a partial success (Nature Geosci. 1, 409-411; 2008). But regulating emissions from the meat industry on a global scale is an altogether different challenge; and cutting back on emissions would not necessarily help with deforestation, hormones, antibiotics or disease.

The real agent of change is the consumer, and tackling the problem from the bottom up, rather than from the top down, may prove to be the most effective remedy. If everyone were to eat less meat, emissions would go down, and the ecological damage wrought by this destructive industry would be lessened. This is the message championed by Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is worth taking heed of.

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5. Declaration on Meat Consumption and Climate Change Designed to Get Vegetarianism Onto Society’s Agenda

[This is still very much a work in progress. So, suggestions very welcome. I am working with several other activists on this. Thanks.]

Declaration on Meat Consumption and Climate Change

A call from people concerned about the future of humanity and the planet for a major shift to plant-based diets, in order to avoid an impending global climate catastrophe.

According to the cover article by two environmentalists in the November/December issue of World Watch magazine, the livestock sector is responsible for at least 51 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). A 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report indicated that animal-based agriculture is responsible for more GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, ships and other means of transportation worldwide combined. Making the situation worse, if current trends continue, global meat production is projected to double by 2050, with the associated increase in GHGs negating the effects of many positive changes, making it very difficult, if not impossible to reach the GHG reductions that climate experts believe are essential to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Technology-orientated solutions will not be sufficient to sufficiently mitigate global warming. A major societal shift to plant-based diets is essential.

To avoid a global climate catastrophe, it is urgent that governments, inter-governmental agencies, international donors and the development community, professional organizations, educators, religious, spiritual and political leaders and individuals, including artists and celebrities, promote effective steps to slow and ultimately reverse the growth of meat consumption by supporting the recommendations indicated below and by providing the resources and political and economic backing necessary to achieve them. Nothing less than the fate of humanity and all of creation is at stake and there is no time to spare.


• Ban all direct and indirect government subsidies for meat production, including support for animal feed crops, grazing lands and water for irrigation.

• Convert some of the areas currently used to grow food crops into forests to increase the absorption of CO2.

• Initiate a protocol under UNFCCC to reduce methane and nitrous oxide produced by livestock.

• Introduce a significant tax on all meat sold to create an incentive for people to shift toward plant-based diets and thereby providing an incentive for companies to produce more plant-based foods. The funds raised could be used to lower taxes/VAT on healthier and more climate-friendly foods (i.e. veg foods), educate people about shifting to plant-based diets, retrain people previously employed in the livestock industry, subsidize meat-producing companies willing to start producing plant-based alternatives, and establish sustainable food security programmes in developing countries, etc.

• Increase awareness about the devastating impacts of meat consumption on climate, other environmental concerns, public health, hunger, water and energy scarcities, and animal welfare.

• Implement carbon footprint labeling on meat products.

• Provide accurate information about plant-based diets and their many benefits.

• Provide increased access to healthy and affordable plant-based foods.

• Subsidize locally grown, organic plant-food production.

• Provide a variety of plant-based options at schools and other feeding programs.

• Encourage food producers to expand the number of healthy, nutritious meat substitutes and create financial and other incentives to do so.

• Use videos, the internet and other modern communication methods to educate people about the nature of the threats, the importance of actions to reduce them, and the health, environmental and other benefits of plant-based diets.

• Stress that a major shift to plant-based diets is essential to help meet the GHG emissions reduction targets that scientists claim are essential to avoid major climate upheavals.

• Encourage sustainable technologies and green, climate-friendly lifestyles.

The Declaration is supported by Danish Vegetarian Society, VegClimateAlliance, CopenVegan, Global Vegetarians Against Climate Change (GVACC), Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation, Jewish Vegetarians of North America, Brazilian Vegetarian Society, Coalition for Plant-Based Solutions to Feed All, Centro Vegetariano, Wam Kat and others (list in formation)

For further information:

If you would like to support the declaration and the campaign, please contact:

Press Contacts:


- Denmark: Sune Borkfelt:, 0045-40 58 64 18, Danish Vegetarian Society,

- Geneva, Switzerland: Wayne Kao:, 0041-78 629 8963, Global Vegetarians Against Climate Change (GVACC)

- Portugal: Centro Vegetariano,

North America:

Richard Schwartz,, 001-718 7615876, Veg Climate Alliance,


Philip Otieno, , 00254-724 857 647, Ecological Sustainability Programme Kenya Young Greens

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6. Judaism and Vegetarianism Book Now Can Be Read on Kindle

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7. Study: Israel Must Make Energy Efficiency a Priority

Study: Israel must take energy conservation steps

December 22, 2009

(JTA) -- Israel must make energy efficiency a priority to avoid potential disruptions in its power supply, a new study said.

Facing an acute shortage of energy sources to meet surging demand for electricity, Israel must take significant conservation measures and invest in renewable energies, according to the study produced by the RAND Corp.

"The single most important factor to having a successful energy policy is for Israel to slow the growth in demand for electricity and use its energy more efficiently,” said Steven Popper, the study's lead author, told JTA. "The higher the demand for electricity, the fewer choices you have, and the more likely it is that you'll pay some pretty severe penalties -- higher costs, more pollution, a coastline filled with power plants, or Israel might be much more vulnerability to supply cutoffs."

The RAND study, commissioned by the Nazarian family of Los Angeles, set out to analyze the risks and benefits of increasing Israel's reliance on natural gas. Israel opened its first natural gas field off the coast of Ashkelon a few years ago, and the discovery of a larger natural gas field last year off the coast of Haifa has raised hopes that Israel will be able to tap a local source to supply its energy needs.

Without steps to reduce energy consumption, however, even the new resources will not be enough to meet Israel's long-term energy needs, the study found.

Israel's main source of energy is imported coal, which powers up to 70 percent of the country. Israel also gets natural gas from Egypt via a pipeline.

Renewable sources of energy constitute a fraction of 1 percent of Israel's energy supply. Overall, Israel imports 85 percent of its power supply.

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8. A Basic Message In Response to Articles and Blogs

There are many opportunities to get our messages out through posting messages after articles and blogs online. Please consider taking advantage of these opportunities. Thanks. Below is a message that I have posted several times:

At a time when the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe, I think we can best respond by increasing awareness of the inconvenient truth that even Al Gore has been generally ignoring: the major impact that animal-based agriculture has on global warming, A UN FAO 2006 report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes and other means of transportation worldwide combined. And a recent cover article by two environmentalists in World Watch magazine argues that the livestock' sector is responsible at least 51% of the human-caused greenhouse gases. Hence to avoid the impending climate disaster and shift our imperiled world to a sustainable path, a major societal shift to plant-based diets is essential.

Such a shift would reduce the many other negative effects of animal-based diets: disease, increased hunger, water pollution, deforestation, soil erosion, rapid species extinction, desertification and many others.

As to global climate change naysayers, we should ask them to please explain why the glaciers and polar ice caps are melting faster than climate scientists' worst scenarios, why so many areas are experiencing such severe droughts, why there are more and larger wild fires, why this decade is the warmest on record and much more.

In summary, by promoting plant-based diets we can do the most to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

For further information, please visit, where I have over 140 articles and 25 podcasts of my talks and interviews and, to see our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

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9. Response to NY Times Op-Ed Article

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Prof. Dan Brook for his insightful letter below in response to a NY Times op-ed article:

NY Times: Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too

Dan’s letter to ther editor (

While it's true that plants are amazing and too often underestimated, they are not animals and everyone knows the difference. Author Natalie Angier, in "Sorry, Vegans: Brussel Sprouts Like to Live, Too" (12/21), claims she's not trying to be trite or silly, but she ignores two important points, one patently clear and the other just as vital: (1) even if plants have skills to survive, they are not sentient, neither have brains nor nervous systems, and do not feel pain, unlike animals, and (2) livestock animals feed on plants - indeed, about three-quarters of some major crops, including corn, wheat, and soy, are fed to animals being raiseed for meat - so if one cares about saving plants, it's far better to directly eat plants than to inefficiently eat animals that eat way more plants. Additionally, scientific studies continue to demonstrate that the production and consumption of meat is a personal, public, and planetary health disaster. Sorry, carnivores: you can't soothe your consciences that easily.

Dan Brook, Ph.D.


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10. Action Alert: Provide Input on Regulating Factory Farms

Forwarded message from Mitch Cohen and the letter he submitted:

[Because of the many abuses on factory farms and the very negatives effects of animal-based agriculture on the environment and on the use of resources, I signed the petition and urge you to do so as well. If you have the time, please use Mitch’s letter as a basis for your own additional letter. It must be received however by December 31, Thanks.]

My attached link had background, with more available via links there. This is the overview:

The US Dept of Justice and USDA have convened meetings, and are seeking citizen input through 12/31/2009, about competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Individuals can find more info at and send email to I encourage you to second my comments herein, or feel free to send your own letter.

If you click on letter at that location, potential signers can see the entire letter. For your convenience in printing it, I'll attach essentially the same letter which I sent individually, yesterday. Mine is 1st person singular (I'm writing...), whereas the peetition is 1st person plural (We the undersigned...).

I took a lot of time editing it, and I think I turned a few nice phrases. Perhaps, my use of the phrase cancer in the opening paragraph is strong enough to deter some people from signing. We all know what happened to Van Jones. So, feel free to use my material liberally but edit it to something with which you're comfortable!


= = = = = = =

On Dec 24, 2009, at 5:57 PM, Mitch Cohen wrote:

I have just composed and signed the petition: "Agribusiness AntiTrust Input Comment". As you may know, the US DOJ/USDA comment period closes 12/31.

Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. I am trying to reach 1000 signatures - please sign here:

Once you have signed, you can help even more by asking your friends and family to sign as well.

If you want to make a briefer, or longer, point please consider cutting & pasting my petition-letter as a starting point for your own letter. Let our opinions be heard! The above link has info about the narrow & specific issues for which opinions are being solicited. I tried to stay close to these parameters.

Thank you! Best Wishes for 2010!


To: , Subject: Comment

Dear Sirs and/or Madams:

I write to express my concerns about the harmful impact of increased agricultural industry concentration and vertical integration. These huge companies and their partners have too much influence with lawmakers and governmental agencies, even adversely impacting adequate water policies, nutrition guidelines and healthcare expense. Not only can one say this concentrated power correlates with high personal cancer rates in America, but one must also conclude the concentrated industry is a cancer upon American’s society and infrastructure. The industry lacks proper regulation, oversight and transparency.

(1) Concentrated, non-transparent agribusiness successfully hides its practices from the American public, who would be appalled by the way animals are abused by huge companies cruelly squeezing every ounce of profitability from these animals. Americans are a people of faith, and the Bible has many passages admonishing against harsh animal treatment. States have started objecting to crowding animals into tiny cages. Confined Animal Feeding Operations’ (CAFO’s) excessive growth-hormone-use (eg BGH) strains cows’ bodies and causes residual pus in milk. The controlling companies’ demand for the CAFO’s practice of clipping tails, wings & beaks must be halted. But, the few companies which dominate agribusiness want a high volume of uniform-sized product for their rapid slaughter­house assembly lines. They deter adequate inspection at the slaughterhouse, and they deter retail chains from inspecting the products sold to American consumers. The dominating oligopolies’ slaughterhouses maximize profit rather than eliminate fecal matter. Instead, they plea for irradiation, effectively telling Americans “EAT S _ _ _ !”. Thanks to lobbyists, the regulatory & Congressional choruses echo to economically-strapped Americans: ”Tough s _ _ _! CHEW HARDER!”

(2) Concentrated, non-transparent agribusiness successfully hides its subsidies from the American taxpayers, who would be appalled by the amount of our deficit due to these subsidies. Even with vast taxpayer-subsidies and water allocations, the unprofitable industry can barely survive and seeks more government subsidies, such as via the recent Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Payment program. The legislation was designed to help the smaller dairy farmers, yet the concentrated CAFO BGH-users are trying to usurp these funds and gain more dominance. There is no way fast food franchises could retail and export so many cheap burgers & nuggets without subsidies that put sustainable, grass-fed farmers at a huge price disadvantage. The government must limit companies' market control and price supports to level the playing field for more sustainable family farms and cooperatives.

(3) Concentrated, non-transparent agribusiness successfully hides its wasteful energy intensiveness, carbon footprint and pollution footprint from Americans, who would be appalled by the amount of our foreign energy dependence, military budget, healthcare budget and adverse Global Warming / Green House Gas (GHG) impact due to CAFO practices, industry-influenced nutrition misinformation and American’s meat addiction. Worldwatch Institute reassessed the UN’s GHG study, looking at indirect GHG impact due to livestock, and concluded the CAFO-livestock paradigm accounts for 51% of GHG! Of course, the huge agribusiness conglomerates contribute generously to universities, and many of their patrons would feel compelled to dispute the 51% figure. This is yet another argument for antitrust action to limit the extent of influence unduly exerted by agribusiness profits. Even if 51% is too high, it certainly deserves more unbiased analysis, transparency and publicity! Americans may be able to reduce our carbon footprint significantly, and support the international spirit of the UN’s Copenhagen Conference, simply with a voluntary portion of our population shifting our diet! Heavily concentrated agribusiness, with its free-market-distorting subsidies, have too much power over politicians, so Americans are unlikely to hear this message. Also, excessive manure-runoff kills fish populations (one of its retail competitors) and spreads e-coli contamination to vegetable fields.

(4) Concentrated, non-transparent agribusiness successfully hides from the American public the highly concentrated pharmaceutical companies’ essentially free, massive infusion of BGH and antibiotics into livestock, for which BigPharma reaps a massive profit via treating humans for animal-consumption-based illness. If one animal “sneezes”, an entire tightly-packed CAFO herd gets sick. Evolution is a fact of nature! Insects, viruses and herds have relatively short lifespans, and the diseases mutate and evolve. CAFO’s excessive antibiotic-use is correlated to swine & Asian bird flu out­breaks. While biased agribusiness-funded research has cast doubt on whether animal-based diets “cause” massive amounts of severe and fatal human illness (including cancer, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction, et al., for which there are “strong correlations” if not “causation”), there is absolutely no doubt in the highly concentrated pharmaceutical companies’ boardrooms that animal-consumption causes them massive profitability! Even if this does not technically qualify as vertical integration, these collusive and potentially-fatal practices should be halted.

(5) Concentrated, non-transparent agribusiness successfully hides from the American public its stipulation that its subcontractors feed their CAFO herds uniform, expensive Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) grains to produce a uniform product for the fast slaughterhouse assembly line. There is significant risk to so much farm acreage being devoted to monoculture grains with terminator-seed technology. Grain farmers cannot save seeds for future crops, and they are forced into massive debt to the unregulated seed & GMO oligopolies. Their financial future is bleak at best, yet if harsh weather wipes out a portion of their crop, they will never climb out of their powerless servitude to their suppliers.

(6) Concentrated, non-transparent agribusiness successfully hides from the American public its mani­pulation of nutrition education. The Food Pyramids and guidelines have been distorted by agribusiness lobbyists. 70 years ago, for example, nutrition education recommended Americans have ample weekly portions of Calcium-rich dark leafy green vegetables. Now, Americans are convinced milk is the only real source of calcium. High dairy consumption is actually correlated with osteoporosis; people drinking much milk also eat much meat, and excess animal protein leaches calcium from bones. The Food Pyramid has been distorted so much that people don’t realize the small area of animal protein compared to the Pyramid’s total area means the proportion of animal protein in their diet should be that small, or smaller! If one eats more, cut back! No one hears this due to the undue influence of concentrated wealth and power. Instead people think the placement of meat at the top means meat is the most important element, and they should consume as much as possible. As I wrote above, the concentrated pharmaceutical companies have no doubt that their small investment to enable CAFOs and cheap & excessive animal-consumption generate massive profits!

Agribusiness can barely survive with its enormous government subsidies & water allocations, a few corporations dominate, and lobbyists dictate government policy. Even if AgriBiz and BigPharma companies aren’t vertically integrated, collusive and predatory practices shift costs to taxpayer Farm & Medicare subsidies and the healthcare industry. 2009 has had several excellent documentary movies (like Food, Inc. and Fresh) showing the cruel and unsustainable practices demanded by the few companies which dominate the livestock industry and hurt our environment. The government needs to crack down on antitrust violations, revise Farm Policy, and cull the lobbyists out of government’s own ranks. Undue concentration, policy-influence and nutrition-miseducation needs to end, and food-related enterprises need to be subject to free-market forces. American consumers should make informed choices based on a transparent industry and a truly free market.

I thank you for conducting these hearings and reading my letter, and ask to be notified about your findings, recommendations and actions.


Mitch Cohen

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11. Why Are Climate Warnings Ignored?/A Very Important, Challenging Article

Ian T.Dunlop Opinion Piece

21st September 2009

Climate Change – Why Are The Warnings Ignored?

This week in New York the [Australian] Prime Minister is honoured with co-chairmanship of a global leaders roundtable, seeking to revitalize negotiations on a climate change agreement to be finalized at Copenhagen in December. If he brings to this task the Government’s prevailing climate policy mindset, it will further diminish the already shaky prospects for any realistic agreement.

The weak, inconsistent, compromises represented by the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and the Renewable Energy Targets, built around out-dated science, are wholly inadequate responses to escalating climate risk and certainly not exemplar policies for the world community. Ironically, a dysfunctional Opposition allows the Government to claim the high ground as a ”climate saviour” when nothing could be further from the truth.

The hypocrisy of both Government and Opposition policy is laid bare in the light of the scientific warnings which are now coming in thick and fast. (see Box)

Big changes are happening even at the 0.8oC warming we have already experienced relative to pre-industrial levels, let alone the further 0.6oC or more to which we are committed as a result of historic emissions.

While there remains much uncertainty over climate science, there is a high degree of certainty on key issues, strongly indicating that human emissions are a major factor creating current warming, Other explanations advanced by sceptics are, on the balance of probabilities, highly unlikely and none explain the evidence all around us.

Government and Opposition, along with major corporations, are well aware, from their scientific advisers, of this rapidly deteriorating picture, and the need for far more aggressive policy and action.

Why then are these warnings ignored?:

First, established vested interests are intent on maintaining the status quo. The economic system developed over decades, built around conventional growth and incremental change. Power and influence evolved accordingly. The changes now required are transformative, not incremental, in

which established players will lose and new players gain. Inevitably there is reluctance to break with the past, as the old players continue to exercise power and adopt defensive rather than leadership roles.

Second, political and corporate mindsets today are overwhelmingly short-term, driven by all-pervasive short-term incentives, to the exclusion of long-term considerations such as climate change.

Third, free market ideology still dominates. Markets are important, but to be effective they must operate within realistic rules; those rules have been progressively dismantled over the last decade. Despite vehement protestations by corporate leaders that markets are the preferred solution, there is great reluctance to include the true costs of externalities, such as carbon pollution.

Fourth, corporate and political culture, whilst lauding leadership, rapidly retreats into managerialism -

the incremental improvement of the status quo, oblivious to the fact that the status quo is unsustainable.

Fifth, the assumption that technology will save the day. Technology is essential, but not sufficient. It must be accompanied by different values, moving away from growth and consumption to an emphasis on long-term sustainability.

So it is not surprising than any skeptical view of the mainstream science is seized upon with alacrity to justify further procrastination. Despite twenty years of global negotiations, virtually nothing has been done so far to address climate change. Having weighed the latest evidence of the risks we run, scepticism now has to give way to decision and real action.

The continuing reluctance of our leaders to honestly acknowledge these realities raises fundamental concerns over both national and corporate governance.

The first priority of responsible government is to address major threats to national security. Climate change, and the related issues of peak oil and energy security, are arguably the greatest threats Australia will face in the next decade, with potentially catastrophic implications. The legitimacy of any government now depends on its preparedness to acknowledge these threats and take appropriate action. That is not happening.

To implement policy in the full knowledge that it is inadequate, as proposed with the CPRS, is a serious breach of fiduciary responsibility to the electorate. We need effective emissions trading. Overseas experience demonstrates that the concept only works if emission reduction targets are aggressive, with minimal escape clauses and compensation. The CPRS fails on all counts; implementation in its current form will do little to reduce emissions, it will slow innovation, in the process undermining the credibility of emissions trading and destroying investment confidence.

Corporately, directors have a fiduciary duty to act honestly, in good faith and to the best of their ability in the interests of the company in perpetuity – the last two words have been conveniently forgotten in recent years. Climate change is likely to be the most material issue affecting companies in the coming decade. Yet there is little acknowledgment of this by corporate Australia; quite the reverse. The image projected is one of delay, denial and special pleading for unwarranted compensation. Any sense of urgency to alert shareholders to the real climate risk is absent. Again, a serious breach of fiduciary responsibility.

Current attitudes have all the hallmarks of a rerun of the tobacco and asbestos sagas; this time the consequences will be far worse. “Knowledge is Responsibility” – directors, and government, should think carefully not just about the legal implications, but particularly about the moral and ethical dimensions of their inaction – not least, what will you tell your grandchildren?

Climate risk cannot be managed by incrementalism and the “art-of-the-politically-possible”: it is not just another item on the political and corporate agendas. It is bigger than any political party, corporation or ideology It has the potential to destroy companies and countries unless we act quickly. We need transformative, bipartisan leadership and cooperation - honestly acknowledging the challenge, setting out the solutions however unpalatable, building support for, and implementing rapid change.

Above all, climate policy must be re-structured, built upon the latest science. As Winston Churchill put it: “It is no use saying “We are doing our best”. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary”.


Ian Dunlop was formerly an international oil, gas and coal industry executive. He chaired the Australian Coal

Association in 1987-88, chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading from

1998-2000 and was CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors from 1997-2001. He is Deputy

Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil. Email:

Ian T.Dunlop Opinion Piece

21st September 2009


The International Panel on Climate Change flagged in 2007 that global warming was unequivocal, with over 90% certainty that it was due to human greenhouse gas emissions (i) . The Copenhagen Climate Science Congress in March 2009 stated that we now face an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible

climatic shifts (ii). Chief Scientist Penny Sackett, addressing parliamentarians in March, warned that if we do not act quickly and decisively the effect will be devastating (iii).

Professor Will Steffen’s report, released by Penny Wong in July 2009 states that the majority of indicators point toward more rapid and severe climate change and more costly and dangerous impacts (iv). The Global Health Commission

view climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century. (v)

Recent US research indicates faster warming ahead than previously predicted (vi), with ocean temperatures at record high levels (vii) and unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice (viii). Evidence of CO2 and methane emissions from the Arctic permafrost and seabed continues to unfold (ix), along with evidence that human emissions have reversed a long-term Arctic cooling trend (x). Recent warnings from Victorian and NSW fire authorities indicate a severe bushfire season ahead after record winter warmth.

The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009 states that the overall outlook for the Reef is poor and that catastrophic damage may not be averted (xi). The World Bank urges rapid action (xii).

How many reports are needed before our leaders wake up?.



“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal ---- most of the increase is very likely (over 90% certainty) due to the increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.” – IPCC 4th Assessment Report, 2007


“Many key climate indicators are already moving beyond the patterns of variability within which contemporary society and economy have developed and thrived. --- With unabated emissions, many trends in climate will likely accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.” - Climate Scientists Congress in Copenhagen in March 2009, updating the IPCC work:


“The newest (climate change) science is crucial because some elements of the global climate are now changing at a rate considerably faster than previously thought. --- When world leaders meet in Copenhagen in December (2009) --- if they do not act, and we do not act, and act quickly and decisively, the effects will be devastating” - Chief Scientist for Australia, Professor Penny Sackett, “Science Meets Parliament” dinner Parliament House, Canberra, 17th March 2009.


“The climate system appears to be changing faster than earlier thought. --- Uncertainties still surround some important aspects ----. However, the majority operate in one direction – toward more rapid and severe climate change and thus toward more costly and more dangerous impacts.” - Professror Will Steffen, “Climate Change 2009 – Faster and More Serious” report, released by Penny Wong on 9th July:


“Climate Change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century” “Managing the health effects of climate change”, The Lancet / University College London for the GHC, May 2009


“The world will warm faster than predicted in next five years ----- due to increasing human emissions, the upturn in the solar cycle and re-emergence of the El Nino Southern Oscillation.” - NASA/US Naval Research Laboratory Study in July 2009:


“The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June 2009 ----. The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was second-warmest on record. (records began in 1880)”. - US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2009:



“It’s been predicted for years, and now it’s happening. Deep in the Arctic Ocean, water warmed by climate change is forcing the release of methane from beneath the sea floor – (Svalbard Archipelago, north of Norway).” - New Scientist 17th August 2009 – National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton University


“Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling”, Science, September 2009:


“However, even with the recent management initiatives to improve resilience, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor and catastrophic damage to the ecosystem may not be averted. Ultimately if changes to the world’s climate system become too severe, no management actions will be able to climate-proof the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.” – Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, July 2009


We must act now --- We must act together ---- We must act differently ---- We need a new momentum. It is crucial that countries reach a climate agreement in Copenhagen in December that integrates development needs with climate action.”

World Bank 2010 Development Report, 15th September 2009

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