Well, it’s finally here: December 21st, 2012, the so-called “end of the world”. I can’t help but wonder, what if it was true? What if today really is the last day of your life? Looking back, do you have any regrets? Is there anything in your life left unfinished? Anything you wish you’d said to someone, but didn’t? Any act of kindness or generosity you could have done to make someone’s life a little brighter but never had the time? Do you wish you could have lived a life of purpose? If we survive the day, what will you resolve to do with the rest of your life? What changes will you make to make sure that your children and grandchildren will be able to live a long, healthy life?
The world most likely won’t end today, but it’s definitely headed in that direction unless we take a long hard look in the mirror and wake up from our stupor. Ultimately, whether the apocalypse comes is completely up to us because it is completely determined by our own actions.
The real end of the world isn’t something determined by the position of the stars, alignment of planets or shift of magnetic poles — it is something determined by the choices we make today and every day after.
Our planet, Earth, is only one of billions of planets in our galaxy. It is over 4 billion years old and weighs 6 septillion tons. Throughout its existence, billions of species of animal, plant, microbial and fungal life have lived and died in its forests, oceans, deserts, grasslands, and arctics. Earth has withstood asteroid strikes, ice ages and nuclear bombs and overall has fared pretty well. This is what many people fail to understand about the end of the world:
The planet isn’t going anywhere — we are.
Certain species of life will more than likely still find a way to exist on our planet, as has always been the case no matter what historical catastrophe, but the human species will likely become extinct unless we take swift action to right our wrongs.
Do you really want to usher in the age of the cockroach?
We, as a species, need to consider December 21st the end of an era of arrogance, waste and cruelty, and we need to consider December 22nd, 2012 the beginning of an era of humility, community and kindness. Let’s make it the first day we stop paying lip service to the world’s problems and start actually doing something to solve them, because if we don’t, the world will end for our species and we will be the only ones to blame.
It won’t end in a giant explosion like you see in the movies. The real end of the world will creep up on us, but only because so many choose to ignore its cries for help by denying that a problem exists and that our actions — no matter how small — have any influence on its solution.
How have your actions and lifestyle influenced the destruction of our planet’s ecosystems so far?
Facts about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions — that’s more than all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined [Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, a 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization]
- More than 1/3 of all raw materials and fossil fuels consumed in the US are used in animal production [Ecological Cooking by Joanne Stepaniak and Kathy Hecker]
- Nearly 50% of all water used in the US goes to raising animals for food [The Food Revolution by John Robbins]
- 70% of the crops grown in the US are grown to feed animals on feedlots [Plants, Genes, and Agriculture by Jones and Bartlet]
- 80% of all agricultural land in the US is used to raise animals for food and grow grain to feed them — that’s almost 50% of the total land mass of the continental US [Major Uses of Land in the United States by Marlow Vesterby and Kenneth S. Krupa]
- 70% of land that was once occupied by the Amazon rainforest is now occupied by pasture for livestock, with a large part of the rest used for feed crops. Furthermore, 30% of the Earth’s total land mass is now used to raise animals for food [Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, a 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization]
- A single dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of wet manure per day, which is equivalent to the waste produced by 20–40 people. That means California’s 1.4 million dairy cows produce as much waste as 28–56 million people [Notes from Underground — The United States Environmental Protection Agency]
- 7 football fields worth of land is bulldozed every 60 seconds to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them [The Smithsonian Institution]
- Animals raised for food produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population and animal farms pollute our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. Run-offs of animal waste, pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics are contributing to dead zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs and health problems in humans and other animals [The United States Environmental Protection Agency]
We cannot wait until it’s too late. The fate of this planet and the millions of species of life that inhabit the planet we all share is in our hands. If we really are the ‘top species’, as so many like to believe, let’s stop using this as an excuse to abuse power, but rather as a reason to govern with respect, compassion and stewardship. We are not the Earth’s rulers, we are the Earth’s caretakers. After all, isn’t that how we would like to be treated?
Check out these sites for more information on ways you can reduce your ecological footprint (and don’t forget to live vegan, because it’s simply the right thing to do):
(Here’s a picture of my score. There’s always plenty of room for improvement.)
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ~Aldous Huxley
Just imagine if everyone lived by those words…