Keywords: Transportation – clean, Water, Sustainable economies, Carbon-neutrality
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Living in Singapore, an island nation already facing an existential threat from rising seas, Ambaree Majumder (photo below) has written a paper for ESRAG documenting the enormous impact of human-raise
Her essay, “Our Plate and the Planet,“ (this is an MS Word document) is packed with riveting images, every one of them backed by a reference:
• A single egg takes 53 gallons of water
• A pound of chicken takes 468 gallons of water
• One gallon of cow’s milk takes 880 gallons of water
Pointing out that most industrial-scale livestock farms are not required to provide sewage treatment for manure, she adds:
• A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
It will be hard to forget those images the next time you crack an egg or buy a gallon of milk. Ambaree also cites scientific reports that livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Livestock farming is the largest driver of Amazon-region deforestation.
She urges Rotarians around the world to take the following actions:
• Sign a contract that all club meals – or at least half – will be plant-based.
• Promote plant-based meals in schools to raise students’ awareness and protect their health.
• Make plant-based meals an option at district and international conferences.
“I gave a talk in my club, Marina City in Singaport, regarding how what we put on our plate has a direct impact on the planet,” she wrote. “I also had spoken about how chronic diseases, including certain cancers that are claiming human lives everyday in Singapore – with so many of our members suffering as well – could be prevented from occurring and often reversed by choosing to eat an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet. I am certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell and also successfully completed The Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center Starch Solution Certification Course.
“The talks had gone quite well till that point where I suggested that my fellow club members eat less animal products. It seemed to me that a few of the members did not really care all of a sudden, and told me that they would probably cross the bridge when they get to it. That did not surprise me at all, though. It is tough to peacefully intrude into people’s plates and suggest a change. What I felt at that time was that maybe I should get more people to start talking about how animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. Maybe when more people spoke of it, or when I spoke of it repeatedly, it would make a difference. That is when I decided to write a comprehensive document for ESRAG to consider.
“We are living at a time when actions that might please a handful of elites, but gradually destroy the planet and her billions of inhabitants, need to be re-evaluated,” she wrote. “We need to be aware that every choice we make on a daily basis has an impact on the planet. What we do today to the planet decides the future of the global citizens of tomorrow, and we are 100% accountable for them.”
Ambaree shared links to recent articles in the Singapore newspaper Today reporting the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally speech in August 2019 calling on the country to take action. Singapore’s climate is already warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and faces costs of at least S$100 billion to manage flooding.
The newspaper listed several concrete steps that Singapore can take to reduce its carbon footprint:
• Mandating that office and shopping mall thermostats be set at a minimum of 25 to immediately improve the island’s energy efficiency.
• Banning or taxing single-use plastic.
• Converting its bus fleet to electric vehicles and improving the infrastructure for electric bicycles as an alternative to cars.