04 Feb The Monstrosity of Mainstream Media MeatSplaining
When the Biodiversity and Climate Crises are looming over all Life on Earth
At first glance, it seems like a huge step in the right direction. The New York Times, in an opinion piece entitled, “Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet,” with the byline, “American agriculture is ravaging the air, soil and water. But a powerful lobby has cleverly concealed its damage,” goes on to drop a number of truth bombs on the public for the first time ever.
It shows video footage of factory farms and feedlots and explicitly calls out Big Meat companies like JBS and Tyson. It shows manure lagoons and talks about poop in the water and methane from cows. It mocks U.S. senators talking about “Cow Tax” and highlights the only openly vegan senator, Cory Booker.
Therefore, what’s not to like?
Well, this opinion piece is arriving a few weeks after a bombshell scientific paper in the Journal, Biological Reviews, pointed out that we have been systematically misled on the biodiversity crisis. Contrary to the IUCN Red list estimate of merely 882 (0.04%) species extinct since 1500 A.D., the paper estimated between 150,000- 260,000 (8 – 13%) of all known 2 million species to be extinct since 1500 A.D.
The authors write in the concluding section:
“The prognosis for the survival of a large proportion of extant species is not good. Our review lays out arguments clearly demonstrating that there is a biodiversity crisis… Denying the crisis, accepting it and doing nothing about it, or embracing it and manipulating it for the fickle benefit of people, defined no doubt by politicians and business interests, is an abrogation of moral responsibility.”
To my recollection, I have never seen such a statement about moral responsibility in a scientific paper before.
Now, if someone told you that 8-13% of your organs are non functional and even have simply vanished, would you be sanguine about your continued health and well being?
Would you not be alarmed and expect a certain level of alarm and a high standard of truth telling on part of the doctor who is informing you about your life-threatening condition?
Should we not hold the mainstream news media that is reporting about the biodiversity and climate crises to the same exacting standard?
Unfortunately, a closer look at the New York Times opinion piece reveals the same rhetorical devices at play, which Prof. Jason Hanan of the University of Winnipeg, Canada labeled as “MeatSplaining,” along the lines of Rebecca Solnit’s pioneering investigative work on “ManSplaining“.
- Firstly, it talks about Big Ag a lot, but doesn’t pinpoint that down to Big Meat and Big Dairy. Since most people consider agriculture to be a necessity, they would feel disempowered to do anything about the problem.
- Secondly, it places the blame squarely on Big Ag lobbyists, a tiny bunch of people who are just doing their jobs. Once again, this disempowers the viewers from doing anything about the problem.
- Thirdly, in the short article accompanying the video, it warns readers that the third video will talk about “dietary modifications that may gross you out,” a rhetorical framing that is guaranteed to minimize any dietary changes among the viewers.
- Fourthly, while the article admits that agriculture is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions – a big concession, considering the UN FAO is still stubbornly stuck at 14% – it still doesn’t include the land use opportunity cost of animal agriculture, which would add another 56%, making the grand total at least 87%.This normalizes the convention that we can continue to ignore the land use opportunity cost of animal agriculture and the aerosol cooling opportunity benefit of fossil fuel combustion, while making important decisions in a life-and-death situation. In all the systems engineering teams that I have worked in, such gross negligence would have been grounds for dismissal. I can’t believe that we are dealing with planetary scale issues with such utter incompetence.
This just shows that the privileged class will cling to its privileges even if it means all life on Earth dies around them, as in the Netflix movie, “Don’t Look Up“.
In an economic system that steals from the poor to enrich the rich in a perverse, reverse Robin Hood global ecological Ponzi scheme, without MeatSplaining, how else can you make money off of death, disease and destruction – death for the animals, diseases for humans and destruction for the planet, without the human victims noticing and putting an end to it?
Currently, the economic system is siphoning an estimated $2-3 Trillion from the global South to the global North every year in this perverse, reverse Robin Hood Ponzi scheme.
It is high time we reboot it and create an economic system fundamentally based on health, happiness and harmony with Nature.
Therefore, please, enough with the MeatSplaining, already! It is time to get real…