02 Jan Good News for All Creation – the effect of human consumption
On the 16th of December 2018, I had the pleasure of being asked to speak at Bookham Baptist Church as part of their ‘Good News’ series; I was giving the bad news side.
I spent a long time trying to work out what the best thing was to do and in the end I decided that statistics and the truth spoke for itself. This isn’t about my opinion or about lecturing anyone, it is about informing people and allowing them to make their own conclusions. I then live in hope that changes will be made, however big or small, and this will contribute to healing our precious planet.
Below is the text I drafted to speak from, but you can also listen to it via Sound Cloud:
Please note that all statistics now relate to previous years.
The human population has increased by 130% over the last 50 years.
Whilst in recent years, 80% of freshwater fish species have declined. Over 50 % of other land species have declined. 40% of the natural forests have ‘disappeared’ by being repurposed for agricultural land; 15 million trees are lost each year just for soy production alone.
The planets biodiversity is in quick decline. There are 91,520 species on The International Union for Conservation of Nature, Red List. More than 25,820 of these species are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 34% of forest dwelling animals, 33% of reef building corals, 25% of mammals and 13% of birds.
On average, each person in the western world uses 57kg/125lbs of newly mined resources every day. In the next 10 years, the production, ‘extraction’, of commodities is expected to increase by up to 250 times the current level to keep up with demand. Over 38 billion tonnes of resources have been mined so far this year alone.
Plastic is one of the products produced from these commodities. In 1950, the worlds then population of 2.5 billion people produced 1.5 million tons of plastic. In 2016, the population now in excess of 7 billion, produced over 320 million tons of plastic, in that single year.
It is estimated that only 9% of all plastic ever made has actually been ‘recycled’ – the rest still exists.
There are five recognised ‘garbage patches’ in our oceans. The largest known today, is the great pacific garbage patch, it is currently three times the size of France and it is predicted that in the next 10 years alone, it will double in size. Even if we sent 67 large ships and spent a year cleaning up, it would only reduce the patches size by 1%.
Plastic doesn’t just float in the oceans, it has found its way into the creatures that inhabit it and those that rely on it for their sustenance. It has been found in all marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species which have been examined. It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, and 1 million sea birds are killed annually because of plastic pollution alone.
The way we eat has caused further damage to our planet as ‘manufacturers’ try to keep up with demand.
One of the most precious resources we have on the planet is our water. When you consider it takes 660 gallons/2500 litres of water to produce a single hamburger. This would equate to someone having a shower every day for two months. More than 2/3 of all fresh water is used in animal agriculture alone. Yet we have numerous reports of water shortages and villages and towns without access to water and we get told not to use our hosepipes.
After water, livestock farming currently occupies 45% of all the land on this planet – and it is ever increasing as the demand continues to increase. More than 80% of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has been attributed to the animal agriculture industry. Every minute, 36 football fields worth of land are cleared in the Amazon to make space for cattle and at least 100 innocent animals are killed and plant species are destroyed every day.
To make things worse all this animal agriculture is not being properly managed and the waste products are going into land water and seeping into the oceans. There are more than 500 low oxygen zones in our oceans and more in rivers. They lack enough oxygen to allow for life to survive – the largest dead zone is in the Mississippi river and covers an 8,500 square mile area. If this activity alone continues, by 2048 we will see fishless oceans.
Animal agriculture is also responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gases emitted each year – more than all the transportation in the world combined; which only amounts for 13%. One dairy cow produces the same amount of waste in one day as 20-40 humans. Livestock methane gas is nearly 25 times more dangerous than Co2 to the planet.
Where is the good news for all creation in these truths?
I personally have made choices based on my new-found knowledge of the ways of industry and damage being caused by my consumption. These choices were easy to be made based on my Christian upbringing.
I remember the commandments quite clearly from my Sunday school lessons and, the words like any others can be interpreted differently by us all. Main ones which helped me.
‘You shall not murder’ – Although I am not personally standing in the abattoir, I am not in the Amazon rainforest with the tree felling equipment or a tractor, if I chose to eat meat or unsustainable palm oil for example, I would be enabling those who are taking lives of defenceless animals.
‘You shall not steal’ – it is complicated, but I feel as though I if I choose to do nothing, I am stealing time away from future generations. It can’t be seen or quantified but I know that it is happening.
The only good news for creation can be if we wake up to the reality of all of the consequences, of all of our choices.
You may make different choices to me, and I will respect that, but I hope you make just small changes which can give us hope for the future.