Few will have missed the recent news reports about the awful spate of fires burning down vast areas of the Amazon rainforest, the generator of 20% of the world’s oxygen and home to 10% of the world’s known biodiversity. However, the media were less willing to attribute the cause to anything more than the Trumpian antics of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro. What they rarely reported was that 91% of Amazonian land deforested since 1970 has been used for livestock (sic) pasture or that Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter.
Brazil is also the world’s second largest producer of soybeans on land that has previously been used for cattle ranching. 90% of that crop is exported worldwide as animal feed for cattle, pigs and chickens and a third of all British soy imports are for that purpose. Your tofu and tempeh are not blameless in the Brazilian fires but meat and dairy consumption is many times worse, especially due to the inefficiency in feeding the soy to animals rather than to humans directly. More at Vegan Sustainability.
Even though few media outlets linked the Amazon fires to meat and dairy consumption, a recent YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people showed that over half of the British public believe that reducing meat consumption should be prioritised as a key way to slow down climate change. Reduction doesn’t mean elimination but at least this poll shows that people are making the link between meat and climate change even if Government ministers are less willing to advocate dietary change for the climate. Sadly, the poll also found that 37% of the population is unwilling to cut their meat intake at all. More from Edie.
Image: Amazon Fires seen from space. Credit: NASA Worldview.