To the hope of many and the chagrin of the few, the pressing demands of our looming earthly environmental crisis are finally seeping like an inevitable flood into the mainstream of cultural thought across the world.
However, as my favorite quotemaster-prabhu Madhava Gosh says, while the rest of the world agrees that global warming is a genuine phenomenon and wonders if we are doing enough to curtail its frightening forecasts, here in the U.S we're still trying to deciding if global warming is real news or a mass Hollywood conspiracy.
And here in ISKCON, as we'll find out in one relevant workshop ("How the Styrofoam Plate Monster Ate The Hare Krsna Movement.") from Tapahpunja Prabhu at the upcoming 2007 Festival of Inspiration, we are missing the boat on institutionally being a lead example of how the world can practically sustain itself for the benefit of all those yet to come.
We can begin by urging all we meet to please stop consuming the flesh of Mother Cow and all her animal associates, for turning to vegetarianism is a real solution to global warming.
Indeed, it is animal agriculture and the cattle industry which is actually contributing far more harm to our environment than all the gas-guzzling automobiles put together.
Here are some relevant stats to spread about. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions measured in CO2, as opposed to 13.5% from all forms of transportation.
It produces 65% of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the global warming potential of CO2) and 37% of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2).
It also generates 64% of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.The Case Against Meat is staggering, and to put it plain, most people are just simply uninformed, rather than unwilling. I find it personally disturbing that in this current climate where the issue of environmental abuse becomes more and more mainstream, we still refuse en masse to consider that our own diets, rather than our cars or our smokestacks, are the root problem of a very frightening future.
As writer Dan Brook says in his article "Another Inconvenient Truth: Meat is a Global Warming Issue": "Vegetarianism is literally about life and death — for each of us individually and for all of us together. Eating animals simultaneously contributes to a multitude of tragedies: the animals’ suffering and death; the ill-health and early death of people; the unsustainable overuse of oil, water, land, topsoil, grain, labor and other vital resources; environmental destruction, including deforestation, species extinction, mono-cropping and global warming; the legitimacy of force and violence; the mis-allocation of capital, skills, land and other assets; vast inefficiencies in the economy; tremendous waste; massive inequalities in the world; the continuation of world hunger and mass starvation; the transmission and spread of dangerous diseases; and moral failure in so-called civilized societies. Vegetarianism is an antidote to all of these unnecessary tragedies."
As devotees of Krishna, our responsibilities should extend well beyond just giving out a little prasad and taking a little donation. In other words, we can't just make people comfortable. We have to exhibit true compassion by informing them of the proper ways of utilizing this body and utilizing this planet.Spreading the gospel of vegetarianism through our living devotional examples in temples and homes across this fragile world is a very potent way of allowing people a true gateway to spiritual life. There are already many wonderful examples within ISKCON of true environmental cutting-edge service. If we can make this a institutional priority, then we will be getting much more of an increasingly concerned world's attention in this time of great global change. Srila Prabhupada, with the incredible inspiration of his vision of self-sufficient and self-realized farm communities providing the framework for the return to varnasrama, is just the pure soul so many intelligent and responsible people of all stripes need to meet to be provided with the necessary vision to get us on the ark and over to the other side.