(apologize in advance for any grammatical/formatting errors and lack of references, will review when I have more time)
One of the central themes of our SM’s preaching is to be a vegan. The assumption is that by having everyone not eating meat, the demand for meat will be lowered, resulting in fewer livestock raised for meat, using fewer resources and emitting fewer greenhouse gases.
The logic of this line of thinking I will not debate, as I believe it is plausible. What I have an issue with is the practicality of this approach. The morality portion of this I will not address here; that will be the topic of another post.
First let us state the problem. Global warming from greenhouse gases.
The fact is, humans have always been omnivores. Why is it that only now is it imperative to remove a portion of the diet artificially? Why has mankind been ok up until recently with an omnivorous diet?
I contend that the main problem is insufficient resources. Due to scientific and medical advances, the average life expectancy has increased significantly. The population has grown to a point where the available resources are being depleted and causing undesired effect.
There are a few things that are hardwired into our system. Chief among them are survival and propagation. After that would be secondary goals such as enjoyment, fulfillment, success, etc. The fact is, as developing countries are growing more prosperous, their population will go from survival (eating anything) to eating well (more meat based diet). This will only increase the demand for meat and the greenhouse gases associated with it.
A decrease in population would reduce the pressure, however that is unlikely as there is not a large scale event (like war or disease) immediately foreseeable, and it is impossible to tell people not to reproduce (hardwired). Increasing resources are unlikely as well as there are few obvious additional resources to acquire, and efficiency increases are incremental.
The solution being proposed by SM is telling everyone to change their lifestyle. I believe that although in theory it could work, in reality it is next to impossible to have a large enough population significantly change their behaviors enough to make a difference. It is as likely as asking people to not reproduce because it’s bad for the earth. It is an idealistic but impractical solution, as it is asking people to give up something very basic and enjoyable for a cause intangible to the majority of people in developing/underdeveloped countries. It is also morally questionable as it is imposing a burden on people for a problem that they contributed very little to.
I think that there is an alternate solution. There is a universal language in the world, and that is called money. When resources become scarce, the prices go up. When people cannot afford a certain item, they turn to what they can afford. Most people don’t eat caviar all day, not because it doesn’t taste good, but because it’s too expensive. The solution I propose is a greenhouse tax for certain types of meat, similar to the gas guzzler tax imposed on automobiles. Certain types of meat are produced at a higher cost to the environment, and they should be taxed accordingly. People are still free to choose what to eat, just as they can choose what they drive, as long as they are willing to pay the price to offset the consequences. Simple economics, supply and demand. In evolutionary terms, selective pressure. Is it fair? Not necessarily, but when resources are limited, difficult choices have to be made. At least I believe this approach has a higher likelihood of actually making a difference.