An Afternoon with Jeremy Rifkin; [www.worldtrans.org]
"So. What do I mean by this? There were some snickers when we dealt with the hamburger, why would Jeremy Rifkin be dealing with beef? The guy's, I don't know, kind of a loose cannon, but ... cold evil. The next time your child has a quarter-pounder. About two percent of our beef comes from Central America, not much, but when they get that beef, that cattle, grazing on that Central American plain, they have to raze fifty-five square feet of tropical rain forest, and they burn it, and carbon goes into the heavens. 500 pounds of carbon for every quarter-pounder. And when they burn the trees, for that cow to graze, the rich diversity of biological life, of eons of history, are destroyed. And so that's why we're losing a species every sixty seconds. And when the beautiful songbirds of North America come down for the winter life on the tree canopies, there's no trees, and they die. That's why you don't hear the Baltimore Oriole anymore. And when you don't hear the Baltimore Oriole, you've got another problem: all the pests that it checked, they proliferate, we've got to use more pesticides, we contaminate the drinking water. Cattle ... cattle? There's 1.28 billion cows out there, that's cold evil. Not the cattle themselves, the industry. These cows are taking up 24 percent of the land mass of this Earth, and they weigh more than the human race. And we're raising cattle primarily so Europeans and Americans can live high up on a protein chain and literally consume the Earth into our bodies. That's the personal reality of using the Earth's resources. Let me tell you the figures. Cattle are the major source of deforestation in Central and South America. Not the only one, the major one. They're the major source of spreading desertification in the sub-Sahara. Goats and sheep play a part, but cattle are number one. They're the major source of environmental loss in the western range, twelve percent of the United States, and in Australia. They not only emit methane into the heavens, but, every time the trees burn for the pastures, CO2. The groundwater is contaminated by twice as much organic pollutants as industrial pollutants: run-off from the factory feedlots. And cattle, and other livestock, now consume seventy percent of all the grain produced in America, and one third of all the grain in the world. How can we continue ... if you want to talk about the great anthropological inequity of the 20th century, it hasn't even been discussed much in development circles. In fact, I've raised it a few times and people are nervous about it. How can we continue to grow feed, displace millions of people in Central and South America off the land where they used to grow corn, and beans, and now we're growing soy and sorghum for the European and American livestock market, so we can eat grain-fed meat. How many are willing to give up the hamburger? (applause) Okay, well, join the Beyond Beef campaign, we're going to launch this April, and we're going to go after the National Cattlemen's Association, we're going after Cargill, we're going to tie them up in the courts and the legislatures of this world. (more applause) Alright. "