A new short film created in partnership with Greta Thunberg reveals the tight link between our abuse of nature, the pandemic which has paralyzed the world, and the climate crisis which we have allowed to destroy the planet.
The video, produced by the animal rights nonprofit organization Mercy for Animals, pulls together the chilling story of how gross exploitation of animals as a source for food, abuse of the planet as we have allowed fossil fuels to fill the air unchecked for now over 60 years despite knowing what it would lead to, and the pandemic are all interconnected.
“The climate crisis, the ecological crisis, and health crisis are all linked,” Thunberg says at the introduction to the video.
Yet despite the obviousness of that, she goes on, “We no longer see the link between them.”
Holding her hand to her face, she says, “We only see this far.”
She outlines how some 25% of all fossil fuel emissions derive from agriculture and land use, filled with what she refers to as “very, very cruel intensive factory farms.” She explains how 83% of the land set aside for agriculture grows soy, corn and wheat is used to feed poultry, cattle, and other livestock. That 83% of the land could be used to grow food for people. It is instead used to create a variety of meat and poultry products which supply only 18% of calories for the billions of people living on this planet.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Thunberg continues. “The land requirements of meat and dairy production are equivalent to North and South America combined… We have industrialized life on Earth.”
Those calories also come with a high price for the planet and all living creatures living on it.
Part of that cost is paid via intensive farming processes with high amounts of fertilizers and pesticides dumped onto the soil to force it to give up higher yields of crops. Those poisons kill off the rich soil microbiome in ways unimaginable to farmers from 150 years ago, with runoff which pollutes our lakes, rivers, and streams, and is a major contributor to the mass die-off of biodiversity worldwide over the last 50 years. It also contributes to widespread chemical pollution, which is weakening our immune systems, making us more vulnerable to the rapidly evolving disease bacteria and viruses which are spreading across the Earth.
Another way the planet “pays” is via high carbon emissions from modern intensive livestock production itself. That further serves to trap more solar energy close to the planet, driving our temperatures higher at increasingly accelerating rates.
A third cost is the destruction of habitat at the hands of humans, which in turn brings species closer to other animals. As Thunberg notes in the video, this makes the chances far higher that diseases will “spill over from one animal to another and to us.” It is no wonder that, she explains, some 75% of our immune diseases “come from other animals because of the way we farm and treat nature.”
What Mercy for Animals and Thunberg say is a must part of the solution to save as much of the Earth as possible is to halt farming of “unhealthy and destructive animal products,” with government and industry policy makers driving the change. Those in leadership positions must “help farmers transition to a plant-based farming model that is better for their livelihoods, local communities, the environment, and the animals.”
That message came after nature advocate Jane Goodall issued a similar message during a press interview last week. She said we humans must call an end to “very, very cruel intensive factory farms.” She called for governments everywhere to leverage the opportunity of recovering from the global pandemic to put in place “a new mindset for our survival,” rather than just revert to business as usual.
The warning comes at a time when new strains of avian flu are breaking out around the world, providing yet another opportunity for a deadly virus to jump from animals to humans and kill millions.
“If we don’t change, we are f***d,” Thunberg declares bluntly in the video. “But we can change. We can change the way we farm, we can change what we eat, we can change how we treat nature.”
Thunberg is right that in all that. What it will take is both for “those with the most power” to take responsibility to lead the change, she explains. What it will also take is for each of us to demand those leaders drive that change, plus something else perhaps even more powerful.
We each must shift to vegetarian diets for ourselves. We also must reconnect the dots between how we personally engage with nature in all we do, and take a conscious hold on what it means to be stewards of the planet we live on and all living things which reside upon it.
If only we had the will and determination to follow through on this.