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Archive for November, 2009

Drop That Burger

Thought Leaders

Drop That Burger

Matthew Herper, 11.12.09, 12:20 PM EST
Forbes Magazine dated November 30, 2009

Biotech whiz Pat Brown makes the global-warming case against animal farming.



Pat Brown says animal farming is an ecological disaster.

Patrick O. Brown, a Stanford University biochemist, has changed science twice by giving stuff away. In the early 1990s Brown invented the DNA microarray, a tool that measures how cells make use of their DNA; he then showed researchers how to make their own, transforming genetic research. In 2000 he was one of three scientists who launched a free, online scientific journal called the Public Library of Science (PLOS); it has already broken the stranglehold of $200-a-year scientific publications like Science and Nature.

Now he is tackling an even bigger foe. Over the next 18 months Brown, 55, will take a break from his normal scientific work (finding out how a small number of genes are translated into a much larger number of proteins) in order to change the way the world farms and eats. He wants to put an end to animal farming, or at least put a significant dent in our global hunger for cows, pigs and chickens.

Brown, who has been a vegetarian for more than 30 years and a vegan for 5, notes that while livestock accounts for only 9% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, it accounts for 37% of human-caused methane (most of it emanating from the animals’ digestive systems) and 65% of human-caused nitrous oxide, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Both are far better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, meaning that cows, chickens and their ilk have a larger greenhouse effect than all the cars, trucks and planes in the world.

The green cognoscenti are choosing animal husbandry as their new enemy. Jonathan Safran Foer, the bestselling novelist, has published articles declaring that he is raising his kids vegetarian because of the environmental consequences of meat farming and that if people are going to eat meat, they should consider eating dogs. Lord Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics, told the Independent that the West would have to become more vegetarian in order to combat global warming; without change in present trends, meat and milk output will double by 2050.

Brown brings scientific clout to the debate–he’s a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute–and a realization that the arguments for change need to be economic, not just ethical. Growing crops to feed animals requires a lot more land, energy and fertilizer than growing them to feed people, he says: 70% of the land that was once Amazon rain forest is dedicated to grazing. Even if scientists figure out how to make milk with stem cells, it’s unlikely they will be able to create milk with the same efficiency as they can corn or wheat.

“There’s absolutely no possibility that 50 years from now this system will be operating as it does now,” says Brown. “One approach is to just wait, and either we’ll deal with it or we’ll be toast. I want to approach this as a solvable problem.” Solution: “Eliminate animal farming on planet Earth.”

Diets are malleable. Thirty years ago nobody drank high fructose corn syrup. Now it’s a dominant part of the American diet. As Western diets move into China, people there are eating more beef. Brown argues that the key to removing meat from diets is to give foodmakers an incentive to make yummy vegetable-based fare. If vendors push the new foods, palates will follow.

Incentive? Brown thinks if he can convince food manufacturers that the costs of selling meat are too high, and rising, they’ll come around. Seemingly tiny changes in economics could make animal farming a lot less affordable. At the moment farmers around the world are arguing they should be immune from taxes and ceilings on greenhouse gases; if they are not exempt, the cost of meat will go up. Raising the price of water would have the same effect. It takes 1,000 liters of water to produce a liter of milk.

Brown plans to spend the first six months of his project hammering out economic models with colleagues, illustrating ways that animal farming is likely to become onerously expensive. Then he’ll take a year off to work with famous chefs and food researchers on tastier vegetarian dishes, and to develop a strategy to tackle the political, economic, legal, behavioral and food-security issues he’s sure to face.

If Brown can work it so that McDonald‘s ( MCD news people ) puts less meat in each Big Mac, that could count as a win. Until now little research has gone into making foods friendly to the environment.

“If you’re a big food producer now, this is absolutely inevitable,” he says. “You’d better start thinking ahead. You’d better seriously start investing and trying to find alternatives in order to stay alive.”


Obama to vow greenhouse emissions cuts in Denmark


President Obama speaks during the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, AP – President Obama speaks during the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, Courage, in a ceremony …

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Putting his prestige on the line, President Barack Obama will personally commit the U.S. to a goal of substantially cutting greenhouse gases at next month’s Copenhagen climate summit. He will insist America is ready to tackle global warming despite resistance in Congress over higher costs for businesses and homeowners.

Obama will attend the start of the conference Dec. 9 before heading to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. He will “put on the table” a U.S. commitment to cut emissions by 17 percent over the next decade, on the way to reducing heat-trapping pollution by 80 percent by mid-century, the White House said.

Cutting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by one-sixth in just a decade would increase the cost of energy as electric utilities pay for capturing carbon dioxide at coal burning power plants or switch to more expensive alternatives. The price of gasoline likely would increase, and more fuel efficient automobiles — or hybrids that run on gasoline and electricity — likely would be more expensive.

Still, there is widespread disagreement over the cost to consumers.

Obama’s promise of greenhouse emissions cuts will require Congress to pass complex climate legislation that the administration says will include an array of measures to ease the price impact. The bills before Congress, for example, would have the government provide polluters free emissions allowances in the early years of the transition from fossil fuels, as well as direct payments to many consumers facing high costs.

And, supporters of emission reductions say, there would be clear long-term health and environmental benefits from shifting the a clean-energy economy.

Carol Browner, Obama’s assistant for energy and climate change, on Wednesday a cited a Congressional Budget Office study that said there would be $173-a-year estimated cost to the average household by 2020 if greenhouse gases were cut by 17 percent by then from 2005 levels. But the CBO analysis also said that if the cost-blunting measures in the legislation were not taken into account, the cost to households could jump to $890 per household.

Other studies conducted by pro-industry groups have put the average household costs at $900 to more than $3,000 a year, although many of those studies do not take into account new energy conservation efforts and assume a more pessimistic view of new technology development that could bring actual consumer costs down.

But slashing carbon dioxide emissions also could save millions of lives, mostly by reducing preventable deaths from heart and lung diseases, according to studies published this week in the British medical journal The Lancet. None of the studies — either those cited by the administration or those singled out by critics — attempt to gauge a “no-action” scenario that many scientists say will have significant economic costs as well.

The White House said Obama’s decision to attend the international conference in Denmark was “a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change.”

But Obama’s stopover on the conference’s second day — instead of later when negotiations will be most intense and when most other national leaders will take part — disappointed some European and U.N. climate officials, as well as some environmentalists.

Others said Obama’s personal appeal will resonate with the delegates from more than 75 countries and help reset the U.S. image on the climate issue after eight years in which the Bush administration staunchly opposed mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

Yvo de Boer, the United Nations climate chief, said it is important for the United States to establish emissions reduction targets and a financial commitment to helping developing countries address climate change.

“If he comes in the first week to announce that, it would be a major boost to the conference,” de Boer told The Associated Press. He said Obama’s participation was critical because delegates “are looking to the United States to come forward.”

The president’s first trip to Copenhagen — just last month — was less than fruitful. He made an unsuccessful pitch for the 2016 Summer Olympics to be held in Chicago.

Obama’s participation had been in doubt since it became clear that the Dec. 7-18 conference was unlikely to produce a binding agreement, The original goal of the conference was to produce a new global climate change treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. But in recent weeks it became clear that delegates were likely to produce at best an outline for an agreement to be considered late next year.

The White House said Obama’s commitment to a 17 percent emissions cut from 2005 levels by 2020 would be the first step toward an 80 percent reduction outlined in legislation before Congress. It said Obama is expecting “robust mitigation contributions” from China and other emerging nations as part of any final agreement.

Obama pressed for cooperation on climate change in meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing last week, and with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during a state visit at the White House Tuesday.

China’s top climate envoy said Wednesday his nation would seek binding pollution targets for developed countries but reject similar requirements for itself at the summit.

Yu Qingtai said it would be unfair for all countries to be required to combat global warming since most of the environmental damage has been caused by developed nations during their industrialization over the past 100 to 200 years.

The White House said it will send a half-dozen Cabinet secretaries to the talks, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, as well as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is preparing regulations to cut greenhouse gases.

The high-profile delegation is intended to reinforce Obama’s stance, despite the bitter debate in Congress. The House narrowly passed legislation requiring a cap on greenhouse gases from power plants and industry, but it’s still unclear whether Senate Democrats will be able to muster the 60 votes needed to approve a similar bill.

Action in the Senate has been put off until next spring.

Administration officials don’t want to repeat the mistake of Kyoto, when the U.S. agreed to emission reductions but never implemented them because of strong political opposition at home. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto agreement.

Most environmentalists hailed Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen, even if it’s early in the conference. They said it will help set the tone of the talks and reverse America’s image internationally on climate change.

Said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University: “The U.S. has stood as the bad guy for so long that it’s critically important for the U.S. president to set the tone for the meeting.”


Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein and Julie Pace in Washington, and Jan Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.



Burung-Burung dalam Hidupku (The Birds in My Life)

Jika Anda memiliki hewan peliharaan, cobalah untuk “mendengar”; mereka akan membawa Anda masuk ke dalam dunia mereka, yang dijaga secara rahasia sejak awal penciptaan!

Saya harap kita semua bisa memahami makhluk lain seperti burung, dan memperlakukan mereka seperti diri kita sendiri…

Mereka sangat peka dalam hubungan emosional, dan pada suasana di sekeliling mereka. Pasangan dan sahabat sangat berarti bagi mereka, terkadang seperti hidup mereka sendiri, kesetiaan mereka sungguh mengagumkan! Mereka menderita karena kehilangan dan bersedih sama seperti kita.

Semua orang yang memelihara burung harus mempertimbangkan perasaan mereka dan memiliki rasa hormat terhadap kasih dan martabat mereka. —Maha Guru Ching Hai

Puisi: Suara hati dari seorang Anak

Ini adalah contoh atas apa yang seharusnya terjadi,
Bagi kehidupan dari teman-teman hewan kita yang manis.
Baik di darat, udara, atau lautan.
Mereka seharusnya disayangi, dilindungi, dan dihargai,
Seperti kehidupan yang sangat kita dambakan

Surga yang Terkasih, Raja Karma yang Terhormat,
Mohon kasihi dan lindungi semua makhluk hidup
Karena hatiku sakit saat melihat mereka menderita.
Aku tak tahan melihat penderitaan mereka.

Ada banyak tempat di atas Surga
Bawalah mereka semua, dan berilah mereka kasih.
Itulah doa kecilku untuk semua makhluk:

Sedikit saja Cinta dan Belas Kasihmu.
Semoga semuanya baik, hidup dan bebas.
Dalam kasih, perlindungan, dan pengampunan.

~Maha Guru Ching Hai

Libra “Saat hening bagi Tuhan di Surga. Hatiku tak pernah kekurangan kasih-Nya. Aku bermeditasi kepada berkah-Nya. Yang selamanya dicurahkan kepada seluruh makhluk.” p.137, Burung-Burung dalam Hidupku, SMCH (Libra: “A quiet moment on God above. My heart has never lacked Hiers love. I meditate on Hiers blessing. Forever showers on all beings.” p.137, The Birds in My Life, SMCH)

Indonesia WebSite:
Fan Club: The Birds in My Life
Watch the Birds in My Life on YouTube:
The Birds in My Life released in Formosa:

Tersedia di toko-toko buku Gramedia dan toko-toko buku lainnya.

Bisa dipesan melalui toko-toko buku online:;%2020401090141

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for English version and other languages, please visit

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