"Veg Climate Alliance" Asserts: Major Shift To Plant-Based Diets Essential To Avert Water Catastrophe

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According to Richard Schwartz, director of "Veg Climate Alliance":The world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming, widening water shortages, severe droughts and other environmental threats.It is essential that there be a major societal shift to plant-based diets because animal-based agriculture, involving over 60 billion farmed animals worldwide contributes significantly to global climate change, water scarcities and water pollution. A 2006 UN report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases in CO2 equivalents than all the cars, planes and other means of transportation combined. Hence, a shift to plant-based diet is essential to help move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict.

In support of World Water Week, August 16-22, 2009, and the corresponding major conference in Stockholm, Sweden, the Veg Climate Alliance, an umbrella group of environmental, vegetarian, health, animal rights and other groups and activists, is urging a major societal shift toward plant-based diets to avoid a major water catastrophe.

On behalf of Veg Climate Alliance, director Richard Schwartz issued the following statement:

The water situation is already dire and must be addressed right away. The World Bank reported that 80 countries have water shortages that threaten health and economies, and over 2 billion people lack any access to sanitation or clean water.

In what some climate experts are calling the '"Century of Drought," many world regions are suffering from severe droughts, and they are causing widespread wildfires and serious food shortages. Aquifers are drying up in many areas and many rivers are not flowing to the sea during part of the year. Global warming, by reducing rain in some areas and causing severe storms in others, and by causing the rapid melting of glaciers that have been a major source of spring irrigation water, threatens to further deteriorate the situations.

In view of the above facts and more, it is scandalous that about half of the world's fresh water supply is used to raise animals, largely to irrigate lands growing feed crops. Animal-based diets require up to 14 times the water per person than vegan (completely plant-based) diets require. While estimates vary, according to UNESCO, the production of one pound of beef uses 15,500 liters of water, one pound of apples 700 liters and one pound of potatoes 900 liters.

Making matters worse, animal-based agriculture is a major polluter of water. Farmed animals in the U.S. alone produce over 1.3 billion tons of waste per year, or over 4 tons for every resident. Manure, laden with dangerous chemicals, is the most common pollutant in U.S. waters.

Growing water scarcity poses major threats. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said "water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict."

In addition to its very significant roles in consuming and polluting water, modern intensive 'livestock' agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. A UN Food and Agriculture Organization 2006 report (Livestock's Long Shadow') indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, trains and other means of transportation worldwide combined (13.5 percent). Making matters still worse is that the UN report projects that, if present trends continue, the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years, adding to global warming and the consumption and pollution of water.

Based on the above alarming facts, it is essential that here be a major societal shift toward plant-based diets. Such a shift would have additional benefits, including improved human health, a reduction in deforestation, desertification, rapid species extinction, soil erosion and depletion and other environmental problems and a reduction in the current massive mistreatment of animals on factory farms.

In view of the above realities, we urge the organizers of the Stockholm World Water Week to put dietary changes on its agenda. It is essential that they and other world leaders help increase awareness that a major societal shift toward plant-based diets is essential to avoid catastrophes from water shortages and other threats to humanity.

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