Why I Challenge Dr. Gail Bradbrook To A Debate


“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum”

— Noam Chomsky

The animal agriculture industry kills an estimated 1.04 – 2.77 Trillion animals each year, most of them wild animals. This frenzied killing is the LEADING cause of the Sixth Great Mass Extinction that is ongoing today. An estimated 60% of all wild animals were killed between 10K years ago and 1970 and 60% of the remaining wild animals were killed between 1970 and 2014. That is, 84% of the total biomass of wild animals had been wiped out by 2014, mainly to support animal agriculture. Yet strangely, Dr. Gail Bradbrook, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, continues to promote animal agriculture interests in her public talks. The leadership and membership of Extinction Rebellion clearly view stopping animal agriculture as a fringe demand. While Extinction Rebellion has over 200K members on its Facebook page, its Animal Rebellion Facebook page has just over 1300 members. Therefore, what exactly do the other 198.7K members of Extinction Rebellion think is the leading cause of mass extinction? While browsing through the media images of Extinction Rebellion events in order to answer this question, I felt a sense of deja vu all over again.

I had seen this framing story play out before with respect to climate change. Vice President Al Gore and the scientists and government officials at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had been framing climate change as a fossil fuel problem for decades before I became aware of it. I joined Mr. Gore and got “trained” by him in November of 2006. During that training, I asked him a simple question,

If the land that is currently being used for animal agriculture is returned to forests, can we not reverse climate change?

In response, he turned to Roy Neel, his chief of staff, and asked,

How did this guy get in here?

Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project is singularly focused on fossil fuels and omits any mention of animal agriculture. Of the 541 slides that Al Gore provides the trainees at the Climate Reality Project, there are ZERO slides on animal agriculture. At the UN Climate Change meetings, the vast majority of the delegates consume animal products. At the American Geophysical Union annual meeting, which hosts the largest gathering of climate scientists in the world, the main course at the banquet dinner I attended in 2015 was a steak dish. Therefore, is it any wonder they wont admit that animal agriculture is the LEADING cause of climate change and going Vegan is the most effective response to address it?

Framing climate change and mass extinction as a fossil fuel problem discourages the public from taking effective grassroots action by going Vegan en masse. It is a weapon of mass distraction. If Extinction Rebellion is truly sincere about halting mass extinction, it is time for its leadership to join a public debate on whether Animal Agriculture is the LEADING cause of mass extinction as well as climate change.

A debate is not infighting. It is clarifying matters for all of us who have the same objective: halting biodiversity loss, reversing climate change and achieving total Human, Earth and Animal Liberation. An animal exploiting economy is fundamentally Speciesist, Colonialist, Racist and Patriarchal and I respectfully decline to go along with Dr. Bradbrook’s version of such an economy, no matter how much she humane washes it. Humane Speciesism is just as unacceptable as humane Colonialism, humane Racism or humane Patriarchy, and even embodies all of them. A system change that continues to enslave and exploit “others” is no system change at all.

Jane Velez-Mitchell has kindly agreed to moderate the debate on Saturday, Oct 26 at 9am Pacific Time. I am actively preparing for the debate. From Dr. Gail Bradbrook, so far, we have heard crickets.

In any case, if Dr. Bradbrook fails to turn up for the debate, I will be making a webinar presentation and Jane will moderate a Q&A with the public on this topic at the same time on Oct 26. Please stay tuned!

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  • Renée King Sonnen
    Posted at 04:10h, 25 July Reply

    This is extraordinary and necessary. Thank you for calling them out on this!! I’ll be tuning in and will share.

  • mary
    Posted at 11:57h, 25 July Reply

    Bang on .while there may well be a biodiversity benefit from SOME grazing, the easy win is to first ban outright factory farms and feedlots as these are the most damaging to the environment and animal welfare.

  • Kate Gard Cooke
    Posted at 19:38h, 25 July Reply

    I haven’t eaten animal meat for 40 years or dairy for 5 and I’m in support of your arguments that animal agriculture is key in climate emergency, and also a shameful ‘blind spot’ and stain in most people’s worldview. But I’m afraid your insistence on one thing not another being THE MOST important factor just splits a radical movement and again plays into the hands of the majority outside it who see business as usual as inevitable and even desirable. It’s my hope that eventually a radical turnaround about abusing animal life will be inevitable as a folow-on to the wholesale revision of how we live, but not if that never gets off the ground because of in-fighting.

    • Sailesh Rao
      Posted at 20:05h, 25 July Reply

      A debate is not infighting. It is clarifying matters for all of us who have the same objective: halting biodiversity loss, reversing climate change and achieving total Human, Earth and Animal Liberation. An animal exploiting economy is fundamentally Colonialist, Racist and Patriarchal and I respectfully decline to go along with Dr. Bradbrook’s version of such an economy, no matter how much she humane washes it.

      • Rajani
        Posted at 14:48h, 04 November Reply

        Respectfully disagree with youthat debate is not infighting simply because 1.T he title of your article creates data for climate deniers to put down Dr Gail – words like challenge and debate have taken a new meaning thanks to the highly noise television debates ( I know your debate would not be like that ) especially in India but I have seen the same level of shouting in Good morning Britian show too!.. I have always maintained that as a novice civic activist that we do not need an enemy since within the movement of pro- Climate Action we have so many divisions we may never unite to see daylight on even one policy change. This brings on the few climate crisis acitivists/ supported to make sure we unite inspite of Our differences and then sort out differences by not a public debate but a more inclusive, reflective and quiet serene discussion, compare notes & research and then come up with the "correct" aspect. I have viewed the youtube video of Gail addressing farmers including Pastoral farmers welcoming them to the rebellion. This is probably the only movement where everyone unites to demand the truth without defining the truth themselves instead allowing for each person to contribute to the truth. This movement hence welcomes one and all to enter and participate and make the shared vision for change possible and hence demand for system change. We at XR India are focusing on making the entire climate science localised. India is yet to beleive the the effect of animal agriculture since we do not have large farms and the small ones where animals provide basic livelihood means to those farmers. Getting data on this aspect itself is difficult!

  • Chrys
    Posted at 16:43h, 31 July Reply

    Thank you. I have been saying the same for a while. Just finished forwarding the vegan society mag and FotE and national Trust etc etc seem to get it. Let’s grow this group please.
    If not Gail then any other member should suffice.

  • Sonit Nangia
    Posted at 16:17h, 07 August Reply

    Thank you for raising awareness. Animal Agriculture is the biggest industry creating climate crisis.

  • Angela Lander
    Posted at 08:56h, 24 September Reply

    I wait with bated breath. Thank you for pushing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

  • Penny
    Posted at 23:30h, 24 September Reply

    Great article. I have no trust in someone who can’t be bothered implementing personal change whilst demanding system change and political change. Here in Australia a climate-denying conservative politician has publicly mocked climate change activists for refusing to stop eating hamburgers and ice-cream.
    Gail has demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the science and politics behind so-called regenerative grazing. Independent research has found that soil carbon capture from ruminant pasture grazing systems captures only 11% of the greenhouse gas emissions from enteric fermentation. Furthermore, regenerative grazing systems are elitist; the end products are not affordable for the majority of consumers.
    Climate change activists who call for an end to factory farming are ignorant of the fact that factory farming is MORE sustainable in terms of land use, water use and productivity. It is less sustainable in terms of eutrophying emissions, the emergence of zoonotic diseases and antibiotic use. If people want to continue eating animals, as Gail clearly does, they will have to embrace larger scale factory farming in order to feed an expanding population.

  • Rajani
    Posted at 14:36h, 04 November Reply

    Has this debate happenned on Oct 26th With Dr Gail? Do share an update pls . Sorry if I missed the update in the article!

  • Fred Pewstem
    Posted at 11:22h, 08 December Reply

    Interesting and useful comments regarding “Animal agriculture”, BUT, all of us,;- humanity, and all species as long as we do not realise what is the ROOT OF THE PROBLEM, ie, FOREVER EXPANDING HUMAN POPULATION ! It may be hard, but Gail Bradbrook, and everyone else reading and commenting, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, examine your own lives;- HOW MANY CHILDREN HAVE YOU ?.

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