Tag Archives: China

China is leading the way on climate change, and the U.S. should be ashamed

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Rosalie’s kitchen table this a.m.: More corn please! pic:R.T.

By Jennifer Bates

China will soon surpass the U.S. to become the world’s largest economy.

And now it is poised to overtake this country by yet another metric: environmental protection.

In an unexpected development, China – known for its choking urban pollution and notorious Three Gorges Dam – has introduced new dietary guidelines that seek to cut its meat consumption in half.

If this sounds familiar, it might be because you remember similar guidelines proposed in the U.S. in 2015 — which were promptly rejected by officials on the grounds that dietary guidelines aren’t an “appropriate vehicle” for addressing sustainability concerns.

But what we eat is directly tied to the environment, and large-scale animal agriculture is destroying our planet. You probably know that this industry spews climate-changing greenhouse gases into the air, but animal agriculture’s adverse effects don’t end there. Because the industry relies on water-intensive crops and uses enormous amounts of water to clean out filthy enclosures, provide animals with drinking water and more, the average meat-eater indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day more than someone who just eats plant-based foods.

One pig produces as much fecal matter as 10 humans, and that waste has to go somewhere. Often, the toxic stew finds its way into our rivers and oceans, poisoning aquatic life. Meanwhile, countless acres of rainforest are cut down every day to create more grazing lands or to plant crops intended solely to feed farmed animals.

This industry is also hell on the animals raised for human consumption, who are violently abused and traumatized from birth to death. Male pigs and cattle are castrated without painkillers. Farmed fish are kept in crowded, filthy enclosures full of their own waste. And each year, nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are still alive and conscious when they’re immersed in the scalding-hot water of feather-removal tanks.

The average Chinese citizen consumes about 128 pounds of animal flesh each year. But the average American? Two hundred and sixty-four pounds, more than twice the amount of our Eastern competitors.

By cutting its meat consumption, China will spare billions of sentient beings a terrifying death. Cutting back on meat will also be a tremendous boon to public health, because it will reduce not only air pollution but also diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. China seems to understand what the U.S. refuses to acknowledge — that the health of our planet and the health of our citizens are irrevocably linked.

Fifteen years ago, the U.S. dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol — the world’s first concerted effort to tackle climate change — with the argument that it was unfair to expect Western nations to curb emissions while exempting China. But now that China has fully signed on to the new Paris Agreement and has taken this important first step toward reducing its meat consumption, what’s holding back the U.S.?

It is a travesty that China acts while we sit on the sidelines refusing to address the most pressing issue of our time. Rather than bickering over “appropriate vehicles” while the planet melts and burns around us, we must respond. The only way to reclaim our status as world leader is by going beyond China’s measures.

First, the U.S. should drop federal subsidies for the animal-agriculture industry in favor of subsidies for plant-based foods. Next, we must lead on the development of in vitro meat, which generates 96 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions and whose production requires up to 99 percent less land, 96 percent less water and 45 percent less energy than “traditional” meat. Finally, we must all do our part as Americans by curbing our crippling addiction to animal flesh.

Go vegan, and the health of our environment — not to mention our status as a world leader — will follow.

Fall’s hottest trend? Hint: it’s not fur

By Paula Moore

Folks in West Hollywood, California, are well known for their support of forward-looking legislation, so it didn’t come as any surprise when the WeHo City Council unanimously voted to ban sales of apparel made from animal fur last month. If the ordinance gets final approval, West Hollywood will become the first city in the U.S. that’s officially fur-free.

WeHo’s decision is just another nail in the fur industry’s coffin. Kind people around the world are recognizing that there’s nothing glamorous about the way animals suffer and die for fur. “The fur trend in the U.S. is toward fake,” says Amy Lechner, an analyst with Pell Research, which estimates that sales of faux fur will increase by 30 percent over the next two years.

Lawmakers and trendmakers alike are responding to this growing anti-fur sentiment.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament approved a new regulation requiring that all clothing containing fur or leather be clearly marked with labels stating, “Non-textile parts of animal origin.” Explains EP member Eva-Britt Svensson of Sweden, “Consumers must have the information to be able to ethically opt out of fur products and the cruel conditions in which they are often produced.”

Fashion icons as diverse as Michele Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Lady Gaga have all publicly sworn off fur. So has Oprah Winfrey. In the October issue of O magazine, editor in chief Susan Casey describes the “aha moment” that led Winfrey to stop wearing fur 20 years ago. While looking at a sable cape in her closet, Winfrey had “a visceral sense of how many four-leggeds had been used in its creation, bred specifically to be killed.” Like Oprah, O magazine is fur-free.

Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Ralph Lauren are just a few of the top designers who refuse to use real fur in their collections. High-end design houses such as Prada and Chanel are increasingly offering faux-fur options—Karl Lagerfeld even based Chanel’s Fall 2010 collection around fake fur. Faux-fur vests and other accessories are bestsellers on HSN.

While previous generations may have worn real fur without considering its impact on animals and the environment, today’s consumers can’t claim not to know what happens before animals are turned into capes and coats. Just this month, newspapers around the world ran shocking stories about raccoon dogs—a canine species native to Asia—who are being skinned alive in China to create knock-off versions of Uggs.

PETA’s affiliate PETA Asia-Pacific investigated fur farms and markets in China and found that raccoon dogs are beaten with steel pipes and left to die slowly as they writhe in agony in full view of other animals. Rabbits’ necks are broken while the animals are still conscious and able to feel pain. On fur farms, animals live in barren wire cages—exposed to all weather extremes—as frozen piles of waste accumulate below them. Many animals frantically pace and turn in circles in their cages.

West Hollywood councilmember John D’Amico, who sponsored WeHo’s fur ban, predicts that “the impact will be heard from here to Fifth Avenue. People will talk about what a fur ban means in a new way.” While we wait to see if other progressive cities will follow WeHo’s lead, we can all take a stand against an industry that confines animals to cramped cages, violently beats them and rips the skin off their bodies—by banning fur from our closets.

Paula Moore is a senior writer for The PETA Foundation.

This winter give fur the cold shoulder!

By Paula Moore

Old Man Winter is here—and he’s packing a punch. The wintry weather has snarled traffic, forced airlines to cancel flights, burst water mains and shut down schools and businesses. You’d better bundle up: According to the National Weather Service, 47 states currently have snow on the ground, and meteorologists warn that more arctic air is on the way.

The frightful weather might have you shivering, but unless you want to look as cold as you feel, don’t reach for a fur to keep you warm. As fashion guru Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame puts it, “Wearing fur is like wearing a big sign reading, ‘I’m in favor of inflicting cruelty and pain on animals as a fashion statement.'” Surely the frigid temperatures haven’t left you that frosty. Continue reading This winter give fur the cold shoulder!