Perspectives On Global Warming

At the Juice Fast to Stop Global Warming hosted by Agape International Spiritual Center in L.A, 90% of the fasters committed to being vegan. The key thing to understand is that we are really in severe imbalance with the planet, and there is one main cause.  It is called animal agriculture. This main cause is the big cow in the middle of the living room of the environmentalists.

If you look very closely, the environmentalists in the US are all talking about carbon dioxide as the big problem.  No one mentions animal agriculture.  Now there are reasons for that, which are actually stated, and that is: “We do not want to go against the animal/ dairy industry and hunters.”  So people are willing to sacrifice the planet for this reason. The real inconvenient truth is that carbon dioxide is not the main cause of global warming. The main cause of global warming is animal agriculture.

The fact that animal agriculture is the main cause of global warming has been scientifically proven by Dr. James Hansen, who is head of the global warming research for NASA, and is the grandfather of global warming research. According to him, carbon dioxide is 9% of the problem— at best. According to Dr. Hansen, the aerosols (which are cooling) that are released with some of the sources of carbon dioxide help to nullify even that 9%. That is an impressive statement.

The truth is you can do all your improvements with electricity, use as many Prius cars as possible and go as green as you want (which is a good thing), but you really aren’t going to make much difference in terms of global warming (weather instability), because carbon dioxide isn’t really the big problem. The big problem is methane.

Methane accounts for about 50% of global warming. The research varies. We have to be clear. Whether it’s 25 times or
100 times more warming isn’t really the point. The point is that methane is at least 25 times more potent a global warmer than carbon dioxide.

What’s really important here is that carbon dioxide takes between 100 and 10,000 years to get out of the atmosphere. The research varies, but even if it’s as little as 100 years, we’ve got to stop it now—not 100 years from now.  Methane takes 9 to 15 years to get out of the atmosphere. That means that if everyone went vegan now, we’d have the opportunity to bring global warming to a halt—almost immediately.

Methane comes 85% from cows burping and farting; this is a problem because there’s a lot of cows on the planet. The cows take up 70 percent of the arable land (that means agricultural land) and 30 % of the land  mass that is being used on the planet. That’s huge. The excretion of the cows is 130 times more than the human excretion on the planet.

The cows produce a billion pounds of manure a year in the United States. That manure gives off not only methane, but nitrous oxide, which has about 300 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. This billion pounds of manure produces 65% of the nitrous oxide in the US.

Methane and nitrous oxide are the major global warming gases. There is one more; it’s called ammonia.  Ammonia is given off a lot by the manure and also by the animal sewage lagoons. Ammonia has more to do with what we’ll call acid rain, which causes another set of global problems. They all work together to toxify the planet.

When you start to put it all together, it becomes very clear that the cow is the elephant in the living room of the environmentalists.  It is just amazing to see everyone focusing almost entirely on carbon dioxide, when it is such a minimal part.  No one is talking about the main cause, which is something that could make a difference immediately. This is a major contradiction.

The UN report, led by Pachauri called it the Long Shadow of the Meat Industry.  It  speaks very specifically to the fact that animal agriculture is the main cause of global warming.  He was attacked when he gave this report, because people don’t want to hear the truth.    As Winston Churchill said, “the truth is something you stumble over in time, but we manage to get up and brush ourselves off and keep going our merry way.” What we are looking at is somewhere between 1 or 2 years, as the more dire estimate, or more conservatively as Prince Charles says, 100 months, or 10 years before we hit a no return point.

It’s a very short time and this is why we are out there, going around the country, doing these fasts that help people go vegan. What we saw at Agape, which is really great, was that 90% of the people—and these were not vegan people—after the fast, were able to go vegan. This is because while fasting you lose your cellular memory for meat and dairy cravings.  Dairy has caseomorphines which are one tenth as strong as morphine, so it really is addicting. Meat activates opiods in the human brain which makes it addicting. In the fast you lose your caseomorphine and meat opiod addiction. This is how green juice fasts make it easier to go vegan.

What we like is that everybody is really ready to go vegan after this.  So that is why we are doing these fasts.  The next one will be in Portland at the end of August. Then we are looking at New York and Toronto, and then the cycle of L.A., Portland and Vancouver.  So we hope to not only get a number of people to go vegan, but to really make enough noise about this that people are actually willing to look at the cow in the living room.

Everybody’s life is at stake on the planet. We’ve got to get to understand what we’re talking about. Are we willing to go out of our comfort zone of our economic and dietary excesses to do this?

We have to look at the fact that since the 1950’s, in the U.S., meat-eating has increased by 54 pounds pounds per person. The average person in the United States eats 230 pounds of meat per year.  In Africa it’s 30 pounds per year.  The average around the world is 90 pounds per year.  China has increased its meat consumption since 1950 by 15 times. And what is the impact of that? The result of this increase is that China has become a grain importer since 1970, rather than an exporter.

How this happens is very simple. The grain to feed 100 cows is enough to feed 2,000 people. The cows in the United States eat five times the amount of grain than the US population does. Cows eat double the calories of the whole world’s population. The cows’ appetite for grain is a tremendous drain. All the data is a little variable, but these are generally accurate statistics. There is something like two billion tons of grain that are produced each year.  700 million of those go to feed the cows. So humans get a lot less than that, maybe 10 or 20%.

As has already been stated, the main cause of global warming is methane. What is interesting is that since the pre-industrial revolution, carbon dioxide has only increased 37% and methane has increased 150%.  Our problem lies with the non-carbon dioxide global warming gases.  Methane—number one, then nitrous oxide—number two.  The United States produces about 65 % of the nitrous oxide going out there.  Carbon dioxide—if at all, according to James Hansen—is less than 9%.

As we look at the issue of animal agriculture in an expanded way, the whole picture is much bigger than global warming, because when you move away from the hoarding mentality of animal agriculture, you do several really important things:

(I) You save lives and feed the hungry.

There is somewhere between an estimated 40 and 60 million people who starve to death each year and close to one billion suffering from malnutrition. The estimates are that if meat eaters cut down their meat consumption by 10%, it wouldn’t stop global warming, but there would be enough grain released to feed all those 40 to 60 million people.

There’s 29,500 children who die each day, according to the United Nations, of malnutrition and 25% of the children on the planet are seriously malnourished.  So what we’re looking at is we would release enough grain to feed all these kids. Think of them as your children and grandchildren.

Well, if you are a live foodist you may say, well, grain isn’t the best food. Well, it doesn’t matter; it’s better than dying. We have to kind of put a perspective on it.  If we don’t have that perspective and we are only seeing in absolutes, then we’re not seeing practical life saving reality.

Someone is making a choice that they’d rather feed the animals than feed the human population, because they’re making more money off this choice. There is no other way to talk about it. Animal agriculture is a powerful lobby. The Germans have the same problem as the U.S. population, but they are more honest about the problem.  Animal agriculture gets a lot of tax breaks. They want to take away all the tax breaks subsidizing all animal agriculture, which is a very reasonable thing to do, if you’re going to encourage a move to a plant based cuisine to end global warming. This would raise the cost of hamburger to around $70.00 per pound.

Thich Nhat Hahn said, in a speech in New York “when you eat meat, you are eating the flesh of all those children who have starved to death because there wasn’t enough food, grain to feed them.” This is not so esoteric.  If Thich Nhat Hahn is talking about it publicly, then this isn’t some kind of hiddeninformation. The math is really clear:  decreasing human deaths and feeding the hungry are two major effects of a plant-source- only diet.

The cow is an ecological time bomb in the living room.  Okay, and how soon are our politicians ready to deal with this?  Let’s say somebody like Obama.  He’s very smart.  His wife is very smart.  Gabriel will guarantee you they know some of this. They know that there’s a problem here.  Guaranteed.  How soon are they going to be ready to move on it and take the political heat for that?  How soon is the European Union—which is a lot further ahead than the United States—going to move on this and take the political heat for the preservation of the planet and its’ people, versus the preservation of some people’s economic interests? We hope the answer is one of mature social responsibility and planetary survival verses political expediency.

(II) Another good deed is to preserve the ecology.

We lose 20 million acres to deforestation each year. We have about 50 million acres going into desert per year.  That’s the state of the planet—turning into desert.  It’s big. And the planet can’t take too much more before she’s going to rebel.

The weather imbalances are a strong message of the existence of global warming. The sea water level, at least according to Prince Charles, is going up one meter per year. That means, and Gabriel has already seen this, that there are islands that are going under water. There are places in England on the coast line that are just literally going into the sea. The English government says… “What are we going to do?” This is what’s happening. We can’t guarantee you that your home is going to be there. We’re not going to build dykes because it’s against what’s going on. Mother Nature is saying “You’re not listening, so we are just going to up what’s going on.”

Some people have estimated that the water could rise 70 meters—that’s 210 feet.  Do you know what that is?  It’s a 10 story building.  Right now we’re saying one meter. That’s already happening.  On a lot of issues Mother Nature is speaking relatively gently right now.

The severity of hurricanes has increased significantly. There are more level 5 hurricanes than ever before.  Is anybody listening? Does anyone even want to pay attention?  Or are we going to keep responding to it as if, oh, we had a bad day.  Katrina happened. These aren’t accidents.

Global warming is part of the ecology imbalance. The typical American diet, carried out throughout the year uses approximately 11,000 gallons of oil per year. The typical American car will use about 9,000 gallons of oil per year. What we just said is that in eating your food, the typical American diet is going to basically use up more oil than driving your car.  Now if you’ve got a Prius, that would be 5,000 gallons.  If you’re eating basically your typical American diet, then you’re using up twice as much oil as your Prius.

Buying a Prius thinking really doesn’t solve the problem because carbon dioxide isn’t the main thing, but we’re getting a perspective. A meat eater will use approximately 440 gallons of oil per year. If you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian you are going to use up 330 gallons a year (this is a different mathematical calculation system).  Okay, so that’s not too bad.  If you’re a vegan you’re using about 200 gallons a year. This is wonderful. If you’re an organic vegan, you’re using about 117 gallons of oil per year. This is one fourth the oil of that of a meat eater. Although the mathematical calculations are different, an organic vegan will use approximately one fourth the petrol energy of a meat eater. This is a major ecological shift.

Eating a plant-source-only organic diet supports organic farming which decreases global warming/weather instability.  Organic soil has organisms in it that pull carbon dioxide out of the air. It’s one thing to stop global warming, it is even better to heal the imbalance.  Organic farming actually pulls carbon dioxide out of the air into the soil. You’re actually repairing the situation. 3,700 pounds per acre of carbon dioxide per year are pulled out of the atmosphere and put back into the soil with organic farming.  Organic farming takes approximately 63% less energy.

Even worse is that meat-based agriculture and a meat-based diet uses 22 to 27 times more energy for its production versus a plant-based diet for an equal amount of protein.

Animal agriculture uses excessive amounts of water.  In my book Conscious Eating it said 50%, but now the statistics are saying that animal agriculture takes 70% of the water. This has immediate relevance.  In the last two years California has cut back 850,000 acres of plant producing agriculture related to water shortages, so there could be a famine coming soon. California is expecting severe drought, and also where they are allocating the water, isn’t away, necessarily away from the animal agriculture.  Farmers are saying they don’t have enough water to grow their crops.  If you’re looking at California, which produces 50% of all the crops for the United States, guess what? If they don’t have enough water and there is a drought due to what some people call global warming (some people think global cooling is going on as well), Gabriel is going to call it global weather instability. We have droughts here, and rain there.  Everything is out of balance. All this adds to famine potential.

This decrease in food production will be worldwide.  It is projected that China will have a 10% drop in its ability to feed its people before 2050.  It’s already having all kinds of trouble, and there isn’t enough food to go around because they are eating 15 times more meat than 50 years ago.

So that being said, what we are saying is that 70 % of the water is being used up by animal agriculture, and a significant part of the rest of the water is polluted from animal agriculture.  50% of the antibiotics goes to animals to try to ameliorate the fact that they are raised in such cruel ways that they’re sick more often. Those antibiotics pollute the water, as do pesticides and herbicides, tanning acids, and a variety of different things; as does the incredible amount of defecation that comes from the animals.  One pig farm causes as much defecation by-products as the entire population of New York City.  Just one big pig farm causes this much pollution.

At one pig farm, they had a break in one of the dykes, and some of the stuff from this pig farm leaked into the local river, and all the fish died in the river from the toxic pollution. They ruined all the water. They are ruining a lot of the water and as it stands we already have inadequate clean water worldwide.

With 70% of water sources is going to raise cows, what it comes down to is the average meat eater uses 4,500 gallons per day, and the average vegan uses 300 gallons per day. The average vegan saves 1.5 million gallons per year of water—a whole olympic swimming pool, not bad. Animal agriculture pollutes and uses up most of our water.

Literally, discussing animal agriculture isn’t even part of the global warming dialogue. That’s how inauthentic the discussion is. The head of the European Union has admitted this is ridiculous because this is the main cause.  People know it’s the main cause but they are afraid to talk about it because the animal agriculture lobby is so strong.  But at least the Europeans are saying that it is part of the global warming picture.    At least we consider them to be a part. Animal agriculture should be taxed for the amount of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia they’re creating and they need not to be getting tax breaks for adding to global warming. This is pretty simple, because what it’s going to do is have people actually pay for the real value and cost of meat and dairy.

So the price of meat and dairy will go up, which is very appropriate.  Has anyone seen anything like that happening in the United States?  Has anyone seen any discussion like that happening in the United States?  Did Al Gore get a Nobel Prize for this—for telling the big lie? Yeah, global warming is happening. The big lie is why is it happening. And the big lie is so big that no one is even addressing it. It would be nice if the U.S. would deal with global warming causal realities. At least the European Union is talking about it. They may not succeed right away.    The good news on this whole thing is that the reality of going into extinction may take precedence over the reality of a few people continuing to make money over this.  It just may.  People are finally going to get – “Gosh, I have children…  I have grandchildren…What’s going to happen to them?”  Let’s at least slant it in favor of humanity by just taking away the tax advantages of animal agriculture.

Let’s tax people for their production of global warming gases and planetary pollution.

We’ve talked about energy and air pollution.  Part of the problem with air pollution is the decrease of oxygen in the air. We’ve talked about all the ammonia that’s going into the air, the nitrous oxide going into the air, the carbon dioxide—the little bit that’s there—all decreases the amount of oxygen in the air.
When we go below 19% oxygen, then we start to increase rates of cancer and poor health.  Some cities are already below. The way we are living—a meat centered, culture of death lifestyle that is polluting the air, earth, and water—is causing global warming. A meat centered diet is a disaster for the ecology.

Not only are we losing our whole rainforest, but because of the deforestation of the rainforest, about a thousand species die each year.  For every burger eaten, we lose 55 square feet of rainforest.  For every two billion fast-food burgers, another 100 species go extinct. Where does this stop?  It stops with us. Because the more we are informed, the more we can share.  It creates a wave of understanding that goes out into the world, so people can wake up.

(III) A plant based diet brings personal health to people.

We’ve talked about preventing starvation and misery and protecting the ecology with a vegan diet, but what about its effects on health?  Diabetes, for example, is four times higher in meat eaters. The A.M.A., in a moment of scientific clarity, in 1961 said 97% of heart disease is connected to eating a meat and dairy centered diet.  Cancer averages two to four times higher for most types on a meat and dairy centered diet.  Breast cancer is four times higher for meat eaters.  Now you have doctors in the USA they are saying that the way to prevent breast cancer is for women to have bilateral mastectomies.  I mean there are actually people saying this, in papers. Well, that’s an interesting solution.  How about stop eating meat?  Make it simple.

Analogues to this ridiculous approach to preventing breast cancer through bilateral mastectomies is the recent suggestion of President Obama’s new science advisor, John Holden, who has actually suggested the idea of geo-engineering the climate by shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays away from the earth. The National Academy of Science, The American Meteorological Society, and Princeton scientist Robert Socolow affirm that it should be an available option if things get worse.  But even John Holden said that shooting particles into the air (making an artificial volcano) could have grave side effects and would not solve all the problems of green house gases. Why is no one suggesting the simply obvious and truest solution to global warming—go vegan.

But nobody wants to talk about, again, the cow in the middle of the living room. That has to happen. The U.N. says that
diabetes is an international problem, but we do not hear the U.N. say go vegan even though diabetes is four times higher in meat eaters.

The real conflict of interest is: do you want your children and your grandchildren to be able to survive on the planet? Those are the real conflicts of interest versus the wealth of the few. As we begin to look at the issue, the whole health/disease system is very compromised by a meat and dairy centered diet.

(IV) A plant based diet ends animal cruelty, misery, and death.

Approximately 50 billion mammals and fish are killed each year. The negative effects of a meat centered diet is profound for the health and survival of the planet, the people, and the plants and animals living on it. Animal agriculture is a profound source of animal cruelty, misery, and pain—and meat eaters eat this pain and suffer their misery.

(V) A plant-based diet contributes to peace on the planet Meat eating activates the energy of death, aggression, and pain on the planet.

“…for cruelty expands in a man’s soul, as is well-known with respect to cattle slaughters.”
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachmen.  11th Century

“As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”

It is no accident the word for war in Sanskrit is gavya which is translated as: the desire to fight for more cattle.
As food and water resources drain and more people are desperately starving, it is projected that people will be fighting over these resources. This will make world peace even more difficult to create.


We’ve got a little bit of time left. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing and taking the time to educate people.  Act on what you understand.  Potentially, it is a wonderful time for the planet. The life threatening chaos that we’re in helps us wake up and change our ways.  It’s good if we actually act on it.  It’s good because it’s forcing us to actually talk about the temporal reality instead of illusion.  It’s good that we can actually share these things.

And we can urge our politicians to act on what they kind of know in truth in their hearts. To tell you the truth, Al Gore does know this, he’s not stupid.  Someone who had a direct interview with him said that yes, he does know this, but he didn’t want to go against the meat and dairy industry. That’s a summary of what he said privately.

We kind of look at this and say, yeah, they do know, but people are not sharing what they know. There was an hour-long show on global warming on the politically savvy KPFA and it was all carbon dioxide.  No one even mentioned animal agriculture. How is it that the grandfather of global warming, Dr. James Hansen, has explicitly said that animal agriculture is the main cause. And no one’s responding? What is going on? That is why we’re talking about it.  Hopefully that will get out there and onto the planet, in more and more ways, as people here share and as more people in the Culture of Life begin to share and speak on this issue.

So our role in the Culture of Life is to shift the consciousness toward life, love, compassion, and our fundamental interconnectedness as the core of our existence and the consequent deep soul connection and love of  human, animal, and plant life on the planet, as well as the planet itself.

The deeper reality is that “The earth is the Lord’s and all it holds, the world and its inhabitants. -Psalm 24:1” and within
that, we humans are one soul with the animal and plant kingdom and the living planet. We have no right to take the life of any animal for our personal food lusts or rape and pollute the planet for our personal greed issues. We neither own the planet or the humans or animals on the planet. The shift from the predatory culture of death lifestyle where all humans, animals, plants and the living planet itself are seen as economic units to exploit, to the life-affirming Culture of  Life is the shift which will put us back into harmony with the living planet and all its creatures. This life affirming shift for all the inhabitants on the living planet takes us back to:  Genesis 1:29  God said very clearly “I have given you every seed bearing herb which is upon the face of the earth and every tree on which there is a fruit yielding seed. For you it shall be for food.” The solutions there were given 3,400 years ago and we don’t want to even listen. We don’t want to pay attention to what was already prescribed for us.

And some of the teachings, which include the coming of the messianic times is preceded by more and more people going vegan.  Because through a plant-based cuisine we will have corrected many of the major imbalances happening on the planet.

This is very good if we listen.  So may we all be blessed that not only do we listen, but the politicians around the world begin to listen and make decisions that have to do with the overt survival of the planet, the healing and feeding of the poor, the prevention of death on the planet, the building of health on the planet, the prevention of cruelty on the planet, the creating of peace on the planet, and the protection of the ecology on the planet.

That’s the big picture. Global warming/weather instability is part of that big picture. As we expand to a little bigger vision, we begin to see that what we eat literally affects who lives and dies on the planet, literally affects the survival of the planet, and literally affects the health of the people on the planet and their consciousness. We have choices. The choices begin with us and what we put in our mouth.  It really doesn’t depend on the politicians.

If everyone decides to go vegan then the global warming game is over. We have the power.  It would be nice if the politicians decided to help out a little bit and made the appropriate governmental adjustments to this, but we have the power to do it without them. The question is, are we willing to go out of our comfort zone?

May we all be blessed to be willing to go out of our comfort zones to heal ourselves and to heal the planet.  Blessings to your children and your grandchildren’s health and the health of all creatures, and the health of the planet. Amen.

Rabbi Gabriel Cousens M.D.