Forty years have passed since the first Earth Day, and many people now realize that, if we’re serious about saving the planet, we have to do more than just recycle, carry cloth bags, take short showers, and use energy-efficient light bulbs. While these are all worthwhile measures, we must also work to control our population—and our appetite for flesh.
There are currently 6.8 billion people in the world and experts predict that there will be at least 9 billion humans by 2050. Global meat consumption is projected to double by 2050. With meat-eaters putting such an enormous carbon footprint on the Earth already, it’s frightening to think what things will be like if global meat (and cheese) consumption doubles within 40 years.
In fact, my head practically starts to spin when I think about all the water currently squandered on animal agriculture; all the forests that are being bulldozed to make more room for animals and the crops to feed them; all the manure that seeps into our waterways; and all the fossil fuels it takes to operate slaughterhouses and processing plants, and to transport meat from the plants to the stores.
We seem to have a knack for procreating and destroying. It’s pretty grim, and we really can’t expect to have a livable planet if we use even more resources to raise even more animals to satisfy even more people’s taste for flesh. Ultimately, there must be fewer humans, and fewer meat-eaters.
Fortunately, we are making progress. More and more people pledge to go vegan every day. Officials in places as diverse as San Francisco; Israel; and Ghent, Belgium, are encouraging people to choose plant-based meals, at least for one day a week. Schools in the U.K.; Helsinki, Finland; and Baltimore City are observing “Meatless Mondays,” and New York City schools are considering a similar initiative. Forward-thinking scientists are even working to grow “meat” in laboratories, so that people who don’t have the discipline to stop eating animals will have another humane, eco-friendly alternative.
Some groups have also found clever ways to remind people that our exploding population is wreaking havoc on wildlife, as well as farmed animals. Back around Valentine’s Day, the Center for Biological Diversity distributed 100,000 free Endangered Species Condoms with packages featuring edgy messages like “Wrap with care, save the polar bear,” “Cover your tweedle, save the burying beetle,” and “Hump smarter, save the snail darter.”
We just need to keep pressing on with our efforts to promote veganism and population control. It will make a difference. If people stop multiplying like crazy—and start eating their way to a smaller ecological footprint—we will eventually conserve resources, halt climate change, reduce pollution, preserve wildlife habitats, and lessen animal suffering. Someday perhaps, Earth Day will be commemorated simply as a tribute to our beautiful planet, rather than a frenzied rally to save it.
**More Care2 Earth Day Coverage**
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:
- Come Celebrate Earth Day with Care2! – Nicole Nuss
- Seven Ways to Get Involved for Earth Day – Beth Buczynski
- Get Out! For a Free Book Giveaway! – Judy Molland
- Now is the Time – Angel Flinn
- Don’t Toss that Plastic Bottle – Jennifer Mueller
- White House Initiative – Dave Rochlin
HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?
- Top Ten Endangered Species – Sharon Seltzer
- A Review of Disneynature’s Oceans – Beth Buczynski
- Eating as if the Earth Matters – Heather Moore
THINGS TO PONDER
- Four Rules To Save The Planet – Nancy Roberts
- Earth…Gay? Coming Out for Sustainability – Steve Williams
- Family Planning and Earth Day – JamieAlexis Fowler
- All My Sisters: Avoiding Breast Cancer – Angel Flinn
- Humans are the Earth’s Problem AND its Solution – Beth Buczynski
- Earth Day at 40: The Politics Erupt – Gillian Caldwell
- Gambling with Global Warming – Beth Buczynski
THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
- 2010 Goldman Environmental Awards – Nancy Roberts
- Climate Champion Dr. James Hansen – Nicole Nuss
- Boyd Cohen’s Quest to Offset Carbon – Suzi Parrasch
- 350.org’s Bill McKibben – Nicole Nuss
- Reverb’s Adam Gardner – Nicole Nuss