Cowspiracy: Bending the Arc of the Moral Universe

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

In response to a question from a follower on how long the oppressed minority should wait for civil rights to be realized in the country, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., said,

“How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever. . . . How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” is a documentary that did a lot last night to help the arc of the moral universe bend towards justice. Cowspiracy premiered last night in San Francisco to a rousing, cheering, standing ovation for the intrepid filmmakers, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. This documentary is the story of the miseducation of Kip’s environmental being, and how through sheer persistence, that being breaks through the smoke and fog of obfuscation generated by the Animal Agriculture industry, Big Ag and the large environmental organizations, Big Green.

Kip’s journey resonated with me, for I too was miseducated on the environment by former Vice President Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth“. It is not that Mr. Gore did not tell the truth, but that he did not tell the whole truth. And the part that was missing was actually the most important part, the 51% that contained the nugget of truth that would have set us all free in 2006! But it was too inconvenient for “An Inconvenient Truth” and its then conflicted protagonist, Mr. Gore. He has since given up his beef-eating ways, but he and his organization, The Climate Reality Project, still remain silent on the number one cause of climate change and environmental destruction, viz., animal agriculture. And it is this nugget of truth that Cowspiracy shone a bright light on last night!

While I can sympathize with Big Ag’s desire to hide the enormity of the impact of livestock production on the environment, I’m finding it difficult to be so sympathetic with the Big Green environmental organizations. They were supposed to be protecting the environment, but they were protecting their political and financial capital, instead. They deliberately chose to betray their supporters and members’ trust in favor of such expediency. Cowspiracy named Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, World Wildlife Fund(WWF), The Climate Reality Project,, OceanaSurfrider Foundation and Greenpeace as the organizations that were obfuscating on this issue.

It was nearly ten years ago that my good friend, Jim Bixby, then CEO of Brooktree Corporation, proved to me that the most important body part that is the repository of our human intelligence is not our brain, but our two upper front teeth. I was incredulous when Jim advanced this proposition regarding the prime importance of our two upper front teeth. But he went on to explain that if I were to stand in front of an audience and orate without my two upper front teeth, I could be saying the most profound things ever, but no one would ever pay any attention to them. Instead, they would be staring at the gap in my teeth, fascinated by the saliva spraying out of my mouth. Therefore, without my two upper front teeth, all my intelligence might as well be non-existent.

While Big Ag and Big Green were collectively holding the arc of the moral universe back preventing it from bending towards justice, last night, Cowspiracy showed us that they were each missing their two upper front teeth. And it’s about time that the Big Green environmental organizations rush to get some dentures put in.

Meanwhile, if you get a chance to attend any of the upcoming premieres of Cowspiracy, please rush to reserve your tickets right now!

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  • madhu
    Posted at 18:10h, 04 November Reply

    great blog ! Being a vegan for many years now,it is heartening to note that, finally the tide may be turning towards a sustainable and healthier way of eating.If we want to leave behind a better world for our children, opting for a predominantly plant based diet is the only way..

    Dr.Madhu Nagesh

  • Carbon Rich Mollisol
    Posted at 05:54h, 18 April Reply

    Modelling of the budget of the atmospheric methane and its isotopic composition allowed us to reconstruct the dynamics of all main methane sources. For the late Pleistocene, the largest methane source was megaherbivores, whose total biomass is estimated to have exceeded that of present-day humans and domestic animals. This corresponds with our independent estimates of herbivore density on the pastures of the late Pleistocene based on herbivore skeleton density in the permafrost. During deglaciation, the largest methane emissions originated from degrading frozen soils of the mammoth steppe biome. Methane from this source is unique, as it is depleted of all isotopes.
    Role of Megafauna and Frozen Soil in the Atmospheric CH4 Dynamics
    Sergey Zimov , Nikita Zimov PLOS Published: April 2, 2014

    The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America
    W.R. Teague, S. Apfelbaum, R. Lal, U.P. Kreuter, J. Rowntree, C.A. Davies, R. Conser, M. Rasmussen, J. Hatfield, T. Wang, F. Wang and P. Byck
    Owing to the methane (CH4) produced by rumen fermentation, ruminants are a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) and are perceived as a problem. We propose that with appropriate regenerative crop and grazing management, ruminants not only reduce overall GHG emissions, but also facilitate provision of essential ecosystem services, increase soil carbon (C) sequestration, and reduce environmental damage. We tested our hypothesis by examining biophysical impacts and the magnitude of all GHG emissions from key agricultural production activities, including comparisons of arable- and pastoral-based agroecosystems. Our assessment shows that globally, GHG emissions from domestic ruminants represent 11.6% (1.58 Gt C y−1) of total anthropogenic emissions, while cropping and soil-associated emissions contribute 13.7% (1.86 Gt C y−1). The primary source is soil erosion (1 Gt C y−1), which in the United States alone is estimated at 1.72 Gt of soil y−1. Permanent cover of forage plants is highly effective in reducing soil erosion, and ruminants consuming only grazed forages under appropriate management result in more C sequestration than emissions. Incorporating forages and ruminants into regeneratively managed agroecosystems can elevate soil organic C, improve soil ecological function by minimizing the damage of tillage and inorganic fertilizers and biocides, and enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat. We conclude that to ensure long-term sustainability and ecological resilience of agroecosystems, agricultural production should be guided by policies and regenerative management protocols that include ruminant grazing. Collectively, conservation agriculture supports ecologically healthy, resilient agroecosystems and simultaneously mitigates large quantities of anthropogenic GHG emissions.

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