I usually do a blog at this time of year – it’s an apt time to reflect on the changes that have taken place and a chance to evaluate the slow but steady progress that we’re making towards a vegan world. However this year I found my thoughts being drawn in an altogether different direction from usual; something has irrevocably changed since I last sat down to write my New Year thoughts.
Humans – facing up to what we do
In 2012, I became vegan in recognition of the brutal injustice that we are inflicting on every species on the planet by the unending ways that we ignore their vital interests in favour of our own trivial and frivolous preferences. Today, as 2018 slips away, I have a new and excruciating awareness of the climate catastrophe that is breaking like a wave in slow motion over this beautiful world, and we are running out of time to fix it. Let’s face it, our causative role in the atrocity, and our resulting peril as a species, are not even being acknowledged yet, at a time when we ALL need to be working on – and close to – the solution.
We hack and butcher our vicious way through the gentle and innocent creatures whose world this also is, ‘farming’ and mutilating them, violating, impregnating, breaking up their families and pumping out their breast milk, genetically altering them to increase egg production, slaughtering, sawing, dismembering and flaying the sweet individuals who face our slavering appetite for gore in uncomprehending bewilderment while we kill them by the trillions each year. We devour, excrete, wear, experiment on, and are ‘entertained’ by the pitiful ways that our despairing victims try to please us, their desperate attempts to make us stop hurting them. None of it works, despite the fact that none of what we do is necessary.
We are a species drunk on delusions of grandeur.
It’s real. We’re in big trouble
Be assured, there are charlatans who will say otherwise because the status quo of nonhuman exploitation is making vast sums of money for them, but as the old year slips away, the environmental and health related science against our use of others is continuing to pile up and the clamour for action to save the world grows louder. This year we all must surely be beginning to realise that humanity, and humanity alone, has brought our beloved planet, and all who travel through the black depths of space on this irreplaceable blue green orb, to the very brink of disaster. We are teetering now on the edge of the abyss.
It’s too late to complain about corporations and industries. It’s too late to carry on as before and blame everyone but ourselves for the disasters that afflict our world with increasing severity. We are consumers and it is our cash that is creating the demand that continues to drive vast agricultural industries; it is our cash that funds all the industries and practices that are wrecking our global home and depriving our children and grandchildren of a future. We are depriving them of a habitable world on which to even have a future. It’s time to take responsibility as individuals because if we don’t, we are condemning our loved ones to a world from our nightmares. We may be dead and gone, but our legacy of senseless corruption will remain as long as our species lasts – which isn’t likely to be very long at all as things are.
Global warming – the cosy myth of climate change
I know when I was younger, the term ‘global warming’ was occasionally mentioned, and here in the bitter cold of a Scottish winter, people smiled and nodded and agreed that a wee bit of warmth wouldn’t be a bad thing. How little I understood the mechanisms behind the idea of the ‘warmth’ that we all crave here.
I had no idea about the man-made build-up of greenhouse gases that in turn was heating the planet, changing climates, bringing extreme weather events with increasing frequency and severity. I didn’t think about indigenous crops and species no longer being able to survive as their environment becomes increasingly hostile; the land, oceans and waterways clogged with effluent and assorted and non-biodegradable waste. I had no concept of melting icecaps raising sea levels and releasing even more greenhouses gas into an already seething atmosphere. To my younger self, the world seemed so unchanging, so unaffected by the life forms who swarm its surface. Earth seemed unbreakable.
Climate catastrophe – the consequences
Yet here we are as the year 2019 looms, well on our way to quite literally eating, using, and poisoning our planet to death. We are in it up to our necks, persisting in our brutal use of all other species while the very survival of our own is on the line as a direct result. New scientific reports support this view almost every week. All this devastation has been created in the recent past by a species whose technological burgeoning, enslaving, modifying, despoiling and displacing every other species and every environment to our own ends, has disregarded the tragic consequences of our indulgence.
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, we sanctimoniously delude ourselves 1) that we care about other animals and ‘nature’, and 2) that we can claim superiority amongst the millions of other species in the world; millions whose number falls daily as a result of our actions in what is known and recognised as the 6th Mass Extinction event. Google it.
I recently wrote a blog that highlighted a recent report that we had 12 years left to change our ways. Oh, I know humanity won’t disappear in 12 years; our doomed species is likely to struggle on for a considerable while after that point is reached. But the science is clear that by then – or even earlier according to some – it will be too late for us to avoid the consequences of our desecration of our fellow creatures and the planet we all share. And the effective word that our children and grandchildren will get to know too well for any of us to feel good about, is ‘struggle’. Life will become an increasingly hard struggle for them in ways we find difficult to imagine, and it won’t be just in terms of the occasional storm or flood that they’ll get used to dealing with.
How would I know about this ‘struggle’?
In what feels increasingly like a past life, I worked in the related areas of ‘Disaster Planning’ and ‘Business Continuity’ in local government. Because effective planning made it essential for me to understand the realities of what might be faced, I am only too well aware of the speed with which the veneer of ‘civilisation’ falls away in the event of even a relatively localised catastrophe such as a disease pandemic, or extreme climatic event such as an earthquake or flood.
For the most part, we live in a world where our every daily requirement relies on a largely unrecognised network of interdependent services; people going to work to create supplies, transporting these supplies to where they need to be to keep the population fed, clothed and moving. Supporting the population we have health and emergency services, schools, refuse collection, and such unrecognised essentials as crematoria – all with staff who need transport to get to work. All these services work in an equilibrium.
These systems are more fragile than we suppose and here in the UK we can see just how little it takes to upset that balance. In Scotland, all shops close on New Year’s Day and many on 2 January, and in the days leading up to this planned closure, we see panic buying that strips the shelves of vast supermarkets. That’s for a planned and short-term closure – imagine an unplanned one.
All it takes is an interruption in any part of the service network and it’s like a house of cards. Once transport links fail, fuel supplies fail and food supplies fail because whatever is available cannot be distributed. Without transport, power stations, hospitals and schools can’t be staffed. Any available medical provision starts to be overwhelmed. Roads and infrastructure are impaired, but there’s no fuel at the filling stations anyway, people have to stay home to look after their children and no one can get to work to earn money. With nothing to eat and no way to feed their families, desperation takes hold. Public services are prioritised in increasingly futile efforts to cover the bare essentials. I could go on.
I have been employed to plan for eventualities such as these but even I can scarcely imagine this sort of scenario on a planetary scale. However I am convinced that our children – that’s yours and mine – may well become aware of it as an everyday reality. Disaster Planning will become a new and vital career choice. My heart breaks to realise that this is the world that my generation is bequeathing to our children; those children we love more than anyone else may find themselves living hand to mouth as they fight for survival on a dying planet.
Plant based consumption – it’s a start
Along with so many self-interested and scathing dismissals of the scientifically proven need for plant based consumption, are the same old calls for yet more laws, yet more regulations, yet more support for small-scale ‘farmers’ of animal-derived substances, the same old calls to penalise large-scale animal substance producers and so on. Now apart from the fact that the concept of penalising large-scale producers for meeting large-scale demand (see the obvious problem there?) demonstrates a woeful lack of a grasp on the basic mechanics of supply and demand, basically here we have a call for the same old, same old. These tired, worn, and desperately weary suggestions have shown no sign of working in the decades that they have been buzzing around, but making a big thing about calling for them to be implemented/enforced seeks to give the appearance of concern while indicating that the individual does not intend to take personal responsibility for their own actions. All the problems arising from those actions are conveniently the fault of ‘someone else’ who now apparently has responsibility for putting things right using the same tried and tested measures that have spectacularly failed animals for hundreds of years.
Without a widespread commitment to action, such pie-in-the-sky measures to regulate animal substance use are now physically impossible to achieve while the human population (currently 7.7 billion) spirals upwards, carrying with it the increased consumer demand for our fellow species to be used as inappropriate ‘food’ on a planet with dwindling resources.
We are out of time. Really.
What do we need? Action! When do we need it? Now!
As pointed out so eloquently by climate activist Greta Thunberg, the climate crisis should be the emergency first priority of every government and every one of us. Despite this, many are still in denial and in this world of sensationalised gossip-mongering that masquerades as journalism, denialists continue to find a ready platform for their anti-science opinions. However any one of us who has lived more than a decade or two can see clearly evidenced in the changing landscape, the disappearance of insect life, and the terrifyingly increasing incidence of extreme events, the torment of a planet entering its death throes.
Some appear to be sitting on the metaphorical fence. Waiting to be convinced. Thinking that ‘there’s time’; thinking it’s all bullshit but hell, if it is real, we can always take steps in the future if we’re absolutely forced into it. Sadly that is not the case. The time to act is now. By the time the doubters and deniers are beginning to wake from their torpor and believe what the scientists have been trying to tell us about for decades, it will be well beyond too late. We couldn’t backtrack, any more than we could stuff a bullet back in a gun once the trigger has been pulled.
Start with veganism
So this year, because it’s all I know, I’m just going to keep on writing about veganism, keep on defending our trillions of annual victims, and keep on pleading with my species to wake up and realise what’s happening. I don’t know what it will take to make humanity sit up and take notice, but I have to keep trying.
But now, as the bells of 2019 begin, the thing we need most is the thing that every single one of us should be working for, day and night, with every fibre of our being. A miracle.