What Difference Can One Individual Possibly Make?

Dear all,

While driving  on the freeway away from our secluded mountain retreat in Austria towards Munich, Germany, I was connected again to the world by listening to the news on the radio. One segment in particular caught my attention “Austria will be the only country among the old EU states that will not be able to fulfill the climate goals agreed upon in the Kyoto protocol”.

Die Sonne geht hinter Windkraftanlagen im Flaemig in Brandenburg unter (Foto vom 11.08.03). Das Land Brandenburg trotzt dem allgemeinen Abwaertstrend in der Windkraftbranche. In der Mark seien in den ersten neun Monaten diesen Jahres 182 Anlagen mit einer Leistung von 299 Megawatt ans Netz gegangen, sagte der Praesident des Bundesverbandes Windenergie (BWE), Peter Ahmels, der "Maerkischen Allgemeinen Zeitung" (Donnerstagausgabe vom 27.11.03). Die installierte Leistung liege damit um 48 Prozent hoeher als im gleichen Zeitraum des Vorjahres. Bundesweit sei dagegen ein Rueckgang um 25,8 Prozent zu verzeichnen. (zu ddp-Text) Foto: Michael Urban/ddp

What really caught my attention was not so much the message itself, but the way it was presented. It sounded like we, the citizens, are not really the ones being able to contribute on a large scale- and we are not even asked to make major changes except to reduce/ reuse and recycle (which obviously isn´t anough if we can´t obtain our climate goals).

But is there really nothing else we as individuals can do? Maybe we have to take responsibility in our own hands and not wait for others to tell s what to do. It´s no secret that our political parties promise what WE WANT to hear and not what´s necessarily important. And if we wait for the industry to make major changes, we can wait for a very long time because their profits are just too big.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases world-wide (this is more than the whole transportation sector). Cattle-breeding is taking a major factor for these greenhouse gas emissions according to FAO. Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”


Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. For the price of one acre of land, we get a yield of about 250 pounds of beef- that sounds like a lot. When you consider that the same amount of land can produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, up to 53,000 pounds of potatoes or 30,000 pounds of carrots it doesn´t seem like such a great use of space anymore.


And what about PROTEIN? We can produce more plant protein per acre than animal protein. An acre of land is able to produce about 36 pounds of meat protein. One acre is also capable of producing 224 pounds of protein from rice or 94 pounds from legumes.

The WATER alone that it takes to produce just one pound of meat is about 881 gallons (3335 litres), To put this into perspective, it only takes about 119 (450 litres) gallons of water to produce one pound of potatoes.


During one of the most serious droughts the State of California has ever faced, cutting down on water consumption seems to be one of the most pressing issues at this very moment. Water shortages already exist in many other regions, with more than one billion people without adequate drinking water.

But why is it so hard for people to cut down on their meat consumption?

It means we have to sacrifice something we enjoy, something we believe we are entitled to. And most of us simply aren’t willing to compromise that entitlement, so we pretend that the idea of a worldwide shift to a plant-based diet is simply too ridiculous to contemplate. That’s if we even acknowledge the crisis at all. So we sign petitions and attend demonstrations. Some of us even drive less, take shorter showers, and use eco light bulbs. But nothing it seems, not even the looming threat of environmental catastrophe, could compel a significant number of us to simply change our diet.

But let´s not forget that a large number of people are still not aware of the massive impact the meat industry is having on our environmen- so let´s get these facts out (see more details on http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/).

Every single individual can make a big difference. It´s not about big corporations, it´s about you and me. Let´s do it…



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