And now the eco-jihadists

James Lee broke into the headquarters of the Discovery Channel just outside of Washington, D.C. yesterday, wearing bombs strapped to his body.  He took three hostages.  He was killed by police.  He was demanding that the nature channel change its programming.  Here are excerpts from his Manifesto:

2. All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs’ places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it. . . .

4. Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is. That, and all its disgusting religious-cultural roots and greed. Broadcast this message until the pollution in the planet is reversed and the human population goes down! . . .

5. Immigration: Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. Find solutions to stopping it. Call for people in the world to develop solutions to stop it completely and permanently. Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)

6. Find solutions for Global Warming, Automotive pollution, International Trade, factory pollution, and the whole blasted human economy. Find ways so that people don’t build more housing pollution which destroys the environment to make way for more human filth! Find solutions so that people stop breeding

as well as stopping using Oil in order to REVERSE Global warming and the destruction of the planet!

7. Develop shows that mention the Malthusian sciences about how food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race. Talk about Evolution. Talk about Malthus and Darwin until it sinks into the stupid people’s brains until they get it!!

8. Saving the Planet means saving what’s left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population. That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies! You’re the media, you can reach enough people. It’s your resposibility because you reach so many minds!!!

 

We don’t just have to worry about Islamic terrorism.  There are other kinds of fanatics who are totally possessed with an idea and whose self-righteousness is so exalted that they are willing to kill what they consider “human filth.”   This is just another kind of jihad–call it eco-jihad–a holy war that finds salvation in slaughtering non-believers.

In this case, notice the alliance between radical environmentalism and hostility to even legal immigration.  Notice the revulsion against children, which is surely at the essence of the pro-abortion, anti-life mentality.  Also the revulsion against civilization, human beings, and, doubtless, himself.

In the current spiritual and cultural climate, expect more of this.

MORE THOUGHTS:  I know that this man and his ideas will be dismissed as deranged.  Of course he was insane, lacking a normal sensibility.  But his insanity consisted largely in taking certain current ideas and being consistent in acting on them. 

It is possible to believe as an intellectual conviction that the earth is heading for a global warming catastrophe and that the world is overpopulated, while still having three children, driving them around in your SUV, and living a normal life.  Insanity would be acting consistently on those beliefs, to the point of trying to wipe out the human population.   It is also possible to be a devout Muslim without being so consistent as to become a suicide bomber.  Or to be a nihilist without killing yourself. 

Christians too are not immune from fanatic madness.  It is possible to believe that America is under God’s judgment without the mad and evil reaction of picketing the funerals of slain servicemen.  Or to believe that the majority of people are reprobate sinners without hating and mistreating your neighbors. 

At the same time, those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.

I do think Christians who believe in the doctrine of vocation tend to be immune from this syndrome, since vocation grounds one solidly in normal life.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, be sure to tune in this weekend for this blog’s celebration of Labor Day with a VOCATION EXTRAVAGANZA.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    I’m not holding my breath waiting for the media to ask NARAL or Greenpeace their take on how their inflammatory rhetoric may have led to this incident.

    As an aside – I was not happy to see armored cars and police officers in full combat gear. Disturbingly close to banana republic scenes.

  • SKPeterson

    I’m not holding my breath waiting for the media to ask NARAL or Greenpeace their take on how their inflammatory rhetoric may have led to this incident.

    As an aside – I was not happy to see armored cars and police officers in full combat gear. Disturbingly close to banana republic scenes.

  • Winston Smith

    SK Peterson, you’re right. The local news in the Washington, D.C. area focused exclusively on this story, and it looked like a three-hour infomercial for paramilitarized cops. One lunatic brings out hundreds of cops who take over the whole neighborhood with their helmets, automatic weapons and armored vehicles. The Department of Homeland Security was also said to be involved. It doesn’t exactly make me feel safer. (Quite the reverse, since the SWAT goons are known to go bursting into the wrong house on occasion.)

    The media also have a field day with this type of incident, and probably gave this poor lunatic more attention than he deserved. His rantings sound a lot like the Unabomber manifesto. And yes, his extreme environmental views reveal how essentially anti-human that philosophy is at its core.

  • Winston Smith

    SK Peterson, you’re right. The local news in the Washington, D.C. area focused exclusively on this story, and it looked like a three-hour infomercial for paramilitarized cops. One lunatic brings out hundreds of cops who take over the whole neighborhood with their helmets, automatic weapons and armored vehicles. The Department of Homeland Security was also said to be involved. It doesn’t exactly make me feel safer. (Quite the reverse, since the SWAT goons are known to go bursting into the wrong house on occasion.)

    The media also have a field day with this type of incident, and probably gave this poor lunatic more attention than he deserved. His rantings sound a lot like the Unabomber manifesto. And yes, his extreme environmental views reveal how essentially anti-human that philosophy is at its core.

  • Mary

    “At the same time, those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.”

    These are the same words used to excoriate the pro life movement when Dr Tiller was killed in Kansas. It’s dangerous to paint with such a broad brush. Several pro life leaders came out and strongly opposed the idea of killing abortion doctors, but the media instead chose to focus on the “incendiary rhetoric” coming from them. For the media to be consistent they should be bringing up the things Mr. Lee has been reading and watching.

  • Mary

    “At the same time, those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.”

    These are the same words used to excoriate the pro life movement when Dr Tiller was killed in Kansas. It’s dangerous to paint with such a broad brush. Several pro life leaders came out and strongly opposed the idea of killing abortion doctors, but the media instead chose to focus on the “incendiary rhetoric” coming from them. For the media to be consistent they should be bringing up the things Mr. Lee has been reading and watching.

  • Kirk

    I certainly hope they don’t decide to construct any green buildings in the area. That would be insensitive.

  • Kirk

    I certainly hope they don’t decide to construct any green buildings in the area. That would be insensitive.

  • WebMonk

    There are two words that should put a BIG halt on people who try to say environmentalism or something like that in some way caused James Lee’s actions: James Kopp.

    Deranged people do deranged things because they’re deranged. They latch onto whatever happens to be in their lives. In Lee’s case it was environmentalism. In Kopp’s case it was the Bible.

    That doesn’t remove all culpability, particularly from those who promote extreme rhetoric and positions within movements, but we should still remember to not paint with too wide a brush and catch entire movements with our own declarations of how depraved they are based on the actions of a single, deranged nut.

  • WebMonk

    There are two words that should put a BIG halt on people who try to say environmentalism or something like that in some way caused James Lee’s actions: James Kopp.

    Deranged people do deranged things because they’re deranged. They latch onto whatever happens to be in their lives. In Lee’s case it was environmentalism. In Kopp’s case it was the Bible.

    That doesn’t remove all culpability, particularly from those who promote extreme rhetoric and positions within movements, but we should still remember to not paint with too wide a brush and catch entire movements with our own declarations of how depraved they are based on the actions of a single, deranged nut.

  • Winston Smith

    Where commitment turns into fanaticism is an indefinite boundary, and a tricky question for Christians and others.

    Most people don’t take their belief system and ride it like a hobbyhorse to its extreme application. In the case of Christians, the commandment that “thou shalt do no murder” ought to be enough to restrain a James Kopp from deadly violence, since violence was not the way of Christ. Quite the opposite, in fact:

    Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52.

    Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…” John 18:36

    In another sense, it’s hard to argue with Kopp’s logic: if you really believe that human beings are being systematically murdered, how can you not step in and try to stop it? What would you do if you lived near the rail line to Auschwitz? Would you sabotage the tracks? Would you be more guilty if you acted, or failed to act?

    Aside from abortion, the fact remains that most Christians could be more dedicated to Christian living and Christian service. When I was younger, I used to think that increased dedication meant fanatical preaching to passersby on the sidewalk, or giving up all my wordly possessions, or devoting all my free moments to Christian work, and it bothered me that I simply could not work up (or sustain) that level of intensity. It was only later that I understood that a life lived in quiet holiness (and vocation) could speak volumes about the nature of Christ, where fanatical intensity might only frighten people away. Glowing light can illuminate better than glaring light.

  • Winston Smith

    Where commitment turns into fanaticism is an indefinite boundary, and a tricky question for Christians and others.

    Most people don’t take their belief system and ride it like a hobbyhorse to its extreme application. In the case of Christians, the commandment that “thou shalt do no murder” ought to be enough to restrain a James Kopp from deadly violence, since violence was not the way of Christ. Quite the opposite, in fact:

    Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52.

    Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…” John 18:36

    In another sense, it’s hard to argue with Kopp’s logic: if you really believe that human beings are being systematically murdered, how can you not step in and try to stop it? What would you do if you lived near the rail line to Auschwitz? Would you sabotage the tracks? Would you be more guilty if you acted, or failed to act?

    Aside from abortion, the fact remains that most Christians could be more dedicated to Christian living and Christian service. When I was younger, I used to think that increased dedication meant fanatical preaching to passersby on the sidewalk, or giving up all my wordly possessions, or devoting all my free moments to Christian work, and it bothered me that I simply could not work up (or sustain) that level of intensity. It was only later that I understood that a life lived in quiet holiness (and vocation) could speak volumes about the nature of Christ, where fanatical intensity might only frighten people away. Glowing light can illuminate better than glaring light.

  • Winston Smith

    Another thought is that fanaticism or extremism is tied to ego. The proper term is conceited supererogation, i.e., going above and beyond what is required or demanded.

    Beware of the person who says “I am more dedicated than others,” because he may really mean (even if he does not realize it himself) “I am better than others.”

  • Winston Smith

    Another thought is that fanaticism or extremism is tied to ego. The proper term is conceited supererogation, i.e., going above and beyond what is required or demanded.

    Beware of the person who says “I am more dedicated than others,” because he may really mean (even if he does not realize it himself) “I am better than others.”

  • Booklover

    “That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!”
    –James Lee

    “. . . the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
    –the Lord Jesus Christ

  • Booklover

    “That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!”
    –James Lee

    “. . . the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
    –the Lord Jesus Christ

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I do think Christians who believe in the doctrine of vocation tend to be immune from this syndrome, since vocation grounds one solidly in normal life.”

    This reminds me of Dr. Veith’s post on motherhood as vocation in normal life.

    http://www.geneveith.com/motherhood-as-vocation/_6132/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I do think Christians who believe in the doctrine of vocation tend to be immune from this syndrome, since vocation grounds one solidly in normal life.”

    This reminds me of Dr. Veith’s post on motherhood as vocation in normal life.

    http://www.geneveith.com/motherhood-as-vocation/_6132/

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “This is just another kind of jihad–call it eco-jihad–a holy war that finds salvation in slaughtering non-believers.” Care to back that statement up, Dr. Veith? Lee’s goal wasn’t to slaughter people, it was to convince a cable channel to disseminate propaganda that would convince people not to reproduce. But you’ve chosen, instead, to equate his rather questionable (and obviously unsuccessful) crusade with Islam. Is the point to discuss what Lee actually believed (which would be interesting), or is it just to lump him in with the other bête noire du jour?

    And if, as you yourself concede, he was “insane”, then why are you trying to enforce a logical consistency on him in attaching him to a particular ideology? If he was truly “insane”, then his ideology is hardly relevant, as it only gives a pretext to the actions of a disordered mind. The Washington Post notes that Lee “once threw money to bystanders as a protest along a Silver Spring street”. Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that he thought the Discovery Channel headquarters was the best venue for his action. As the Post notes one county official saying, Lee “wanted a TV show. He wanted to go on TV and air his grievances about Discovery.” Oh, well, we can see how rational this guy was. Just your average environmentalist, yup.

    “Those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.” Does that mean that any time someone bombs an abortion clinic or murders an abortion provider, Carl Vehse (among others) “bears responsibility”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “This is just another kind of jihad–call it eco-jihad–a holy war that finds salvation in slaughtering non-believers.” Care to back that statement up, Dr. Veith? Lee’s goal wasn’t to slaughter people, it was to convince a cable channel to disseminate propaganda that would convince people not to reproduce. But you’ve chosen, instead, to equate his rather questionable (and obviously unsuccessful) crusade with Islam. Is the point to discuss what Lee actually believed (which would be interesting), or is it just to lump him in with the other bête noire du jour?

    And if, as you yourself concede, he was “insane”, then why are you trying to enforce a logical consistency on him in attaching him to a particular ideology? If he was truly “insane”, then his ideology is hardly relevant, as it only gives a pretext to the actions of a disordered mind. The Washington Post notes that Lee “once threw money to bystanders as a protest along a Silver Spring street”. Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that he thought the Discovery Channel headquarters was the best venue for his action. As the Post notes one county official saying, Lee “wanted a TV show. He wanted to go on TV and air his grievances about Discovery.” Oh, well, we can see how rational this guy was. Just your average environmentalist, yup.

    “Those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.” Does that mean that any time someone bombs an abortion clinic or murders an abortion provider, Carl Vehse (among others) “bears responsibility”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@5), I agree with you, but can’t figure out why you limited yourself to the two words of “James Kopp”.

    Scott Philip Roeder? Michael Frederic Griffin? Eric Robert Rudolph? Paul Jennings Hill? John C. Salvi III? Rachelle Ranae “Shelley” Shannon? The Army of God? I could go on.

    Who “bears responsibility” for these acts?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@5), I agree with you, but can’t figure out why you limited yourself to the two words of “James Kopp”.

    Scott Philip Roeder? Michael Frederic Griffin? Eric Robert Rudolph? Paul Jennings Hill? John C. Salvi III? Rachelle Ranae “Shelley” Shannon? The Army of God? I could go on.

    Who “bears responsibility” for these acts?

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    I definitely agree with Todd @10. This event reminds me of one of Alister McGrath’s arguments in his 2007 debate with Christopher Hitchens. Basically, he stresses the importance of recognizing that in every ideological stance (religious, political, etc), there is the possibility that some people will migrate to fringe positions. But we cannot judge the ideology itself solely on the basis of its extremists. We need to look at the center of the ideology to make a right decision. Just as it is unjust to associate all Christians with the fringe Westboro Baptist Church, so too it’s a bit much to suggest that one extremist environmentalist’s actions demonstrate that environmentalism in general leads naturally to eco-jihad.

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    I definitely agree with Todd @10. This event reminds me of one of Alister McGrath’s arguments in his 2007 debate with Christopher Hitchens. Basically, he stresses the importance of recognizing that in every ideological stance (religious, political, etc), there is the possibility that some people will migrate to fringe positions. But we cannot judge the ideology itself solely on the basis of its extremists. We need to look at the center of the ideology to make a right decision. Just as it is unjust to associate all Christians with the fringe Westboro Baptist Church, so too it’s a bit much to suggest that one extremist environmentalist’s actions demonstrate that environmentalism in general leads naturally to eco-jihad.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “At the same time, those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.”

    Even so, each person is responsible for himself. Even those who teach others to thwart God’s blessing of children, wrong as they are, are only responsible for their own actions, not those of crazies who go ballistic trying to force others to uh, see it their way.

    Reminds me of Obi wan Kenobi in Star Wars, “Who is more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?”

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “At the same time, those who formulate the foolish ideologies and the twisted theologies do bear responsibility for setting off their followers who take them too seriously.”

    Even so, each person is responsible for himself. Even those who teach others to thwart God’s blessing of children, wrong as they are, are only responsible for their own actions, not those of crazies who go ballistic trying to force others to uh, see it their way.

    Reminds me of Obi wan Kenobi in Star Wars, “Who is more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?”

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Understood that there are a dozen or so pro-lifers who have been convicted of felonies related to anti-abortion action; there are also a couple dozen abortionists who have been so convicted for their part. For what it’s worth, the criminality ratio is about 2-3 orders of magnitude higher among abortionists than among pro-life activists.

    Back to the original subject, it’s interesting that Lee, thinking that humanity is a cancer on the planet (much like Boulder CO abortionist Warren Hern), chose to confront the Discovery Channel instead of becoming an abortionist or mass murderer–or, quite frankly, why didn’t he simply choose to commit suicide to excise his own part of the cancer?

    It’s also worth noting that, for all his talk about humanity killing the planet, the pictures available suggest that he wasn’t preventing that damage by missing a meal or two. Just sayin’.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Understood that there are a dozen or so pro-lifers who have been convicted of felonies related to anti-abortion action; there are also a couple dozen abortionists who have been so convicted for their part. For what it’s worth, the criminality ratio is about 2-3 orders of magnitude higher among abortionists than among pro-life activists.

    Back to the original subject, it’s interesting that Lee, thinking that humanity is a cancer on the planet (much like Boulder CO abortionist Warren Hern), chose to confront the Discovery Channel instead of becoming an abortionist or mass murderer–or, quite frankly, why didn’t he simply choose to commit suicide to excise his own part of the cancer?

    It’s also worth noting that, for all his talk about humanity killing the planet, the pictures available suggest that he wasn’t preventing that damage by missing a meal or two. Just sayin’.

  • WebMonk

    Bike, your statement made me curious – criminality being 2-3 orders of magnitude greater among abortionists than pro-life advocates. So abortionists have done 100 to a 1000 times more felony attacks against pro-life advocates. The wikipedia page mentioned over 1750 assaults, murders, attempted murders, bombings, arsons, attempted bombings, attempted arsons, and vandalism since 1977 by pro-life people against abortion places and abortionists.

    Are you seriously saying there have been 175,000 to 1,750,000 similar attacks by pro-abortion people against pro-life people?!?!

    Surely you have some sort of back up for such a fantastic claim as that. I’m involved with a couple pro-life organizations and I’ve NEVER heard anything like that. That sort of figure would be trumpeted all over the pro-life movement. Whether or not something like that would be mentioned by mainstream media is another story, but within the pro-life movement I know that would get passed around like wildfire.

    I’ve never heard anything even remotely like that, though. Do you have some backup for what you claim?

  • WebMonk

    Bike, your statement made me curious – criminality being 2-3 orders of magnitude greater among abortionists than pro-life advocates. So abortionists have done 100 to a 1000 times more felony attacks against pro-life advocates. The wikipedia page mentioned over 1750 assaults, murders, attempted murders, bombings, arsons, attempted bombings, attempted arsons, and vandalism since 1977 by pro-life people against abortion places and abortionists.

    Are you seriously saying there have been 175,000 to 1,750,000 similar attacks by pro-abortion people against pro-life people?!?!

    Surely you have some sort of back up for such a fantastic claim as that. I’m involved with a couple pro-life organizations and I’ve NEVER heard anything like that. That sort of figure would be trumpeted all over the pro-life movement. Whether or not something like that would be mentioned by mainstream media is another story, but within the pro-life movement I know that would get passed around like wildfire.

    I’ve never heard anything even remotely like that, though. Do you have some backup for what you claim?

  • http://www.drunkenkoudou.com/ Stewart Lundy

    Anyone here heard of the book Cool It or the film of it coming out countering Al Gore’s piece? Here.

    There is plenty to worry about, but violence only makes for a more violent world, which is the point of departure for eco-terrorists. They are violent to stop violence against Nature, but all life is part of “Nature.” Humans cannot be excluded.

    If humans were to be exterminated, countless species would die out. After millenia of adaptation, these species need us as much as we need them. If we die, they die.

    If we all became vegetarians, as some environmentally-conscious persons wish, we would have to tear down natural habitats of inedible forests in order to create enough for a global vegetarian diet. This would destroy the planet.

    There is certainly a possibility for coexistence with Nature, rather than against Nature. But violence (either that of pollution or terrorism) is wrong.

  • http://www.drunkenkoudou.com/ Stewart Lundy

    Anyone here heard of the book Cool It or the film of it coming out countering Al Gore’s piece? Here.

    There is plenty to worry about, but violence only makes for a more violent world, which is the point of departure for eco-terrorists. They are violent to stop violence against Nature, but all life is part of “Nature.” Humans cannot be excluded.

    If humans were to be exterminated, countless species would die out. After millenia of adaptation, these species need us as much as we need them. If we die, they die.

    If we all became vegetarians, as some environmentally-conscious persons wish, we would have to tear down natural habitats of inedible forests in order to create enough for a global vegetarian diet. This would destroy the planet.

    There is certainly a possibility for coexistence with Nature, rather than against Nature. But violence (either that of pollution or terrorism) is wrong.

  • Louis

    This is one of those rare moments in which I can say I agree with most posters here – including sg(!) :) We simply have to recognise the existence of a lunatic fringe in every group / nationality / ideology etc. Except of course Lutherans, we are all sane and … ;)

  • Louis

    This is one of those rare moments in which I can say I agree with most posters here – including sg(!) :) We simply have to recognise the existence of a lunatic fringe in every group / nationality / ideology etc. Except of course Lutherans, we are all sane and … ;)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If we all became vegetarians, as some environmentally-conscious persons wish, we would have to tear down natural habitats of inedible forests in order to create enough for a global vegetarian diet. This would destroy the planet.”

    This is not true. Animals eat the food which in grown in fields. Then humans eat the animals. This requires more land than just growing food for people.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If we all became vegetarians, as some environmentally-conscious persons wish, we would have to tear down natural habitats of inedible forests in order to create enough for a global vegetarian diet. This would destroy the planet.”

    This is not true. Animals eat the food which in grown in fields. Then humans eat the animals. This requires more land than just growing food for people.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’ll one-up you, Louis (@17) and double agree with SG. Once for her first comment (@13), and again for her reply (@18) to Stewart.

    Actually, Stewart’s claim that eating vegetables would “destroy the planet” by forcing us to “tear down natural habitats of inedible forests” seems to ignore — rather ironically — that this is exactly what is happening in places like Brazil, not due to the demand for more vegetables, but due to the demand for more (cheaper) meat!

    Cows are many things (including tasty, assuming they’re raised right), but one thing they are not is an efficient conveyor of calories and nutrients from the plants they consume.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’ll one-up you, Louis (@17) and double agree with SG. Once for her first comment (@13), and again for her reply (@18) to Stewart.

    Actually, Stewart’s claim that eating vegetables would “destroy the planet” by forcing us to “tear down natural habitats of inedible forests” seems to ignore — rather ironically — that this is exactly what is happening in places like Brazil, not due to the demand for more vegetables, but due to the demand for more (cheaper) meat!

    Cows are many things (including tasty, assuming they’re raised right), but one thing they are not is an efficient conveyor of calories and nutrients from the plants they consume.

  • Louis

    I’m sorry Todd, but now I have to partly disagree with you both (not that either of you are vegetarian, but the argument often leads that way). On different grounds though: Recently we had the same discussion at the BHT, in context of vegetarianism as the better environemtal option. I’ll quote my comment there, here, but before that, let me mention a mjaor reason for Brazil’s expansion of agricultural lands – biofuels, which make very little sense, as this fellow points out – http://metalutheran.blogspot.com/2010/08/why-agri-fuels-are-dumb.html .

    Now to the vegetarian/vegan thing – and once again, I’m not ssying you are a ny of the dreaded v-words. But the arguments can be seen as related:

    Vegetarianism will drastically reduce the land available for agriculture. For instance, my friends about 50km outside the city generally manage/rent/own about 10 – 12 000 acres a season. More than half of that is not suitable for crop production – and they use that for grazing. This is an even bigger issue in other regions – for instance, in South Africa, very, very large parts of the country is not suitable for crop production, and there is only so much irrigation possible. Those areas are used for extensive agriculture – mostly sheep, but also beef. Same goes for Australia etc.

    Some modern farming methods are cruel. But, as with my comments to FT, yesterday, one should never argue from the extreme. It is perfectly possible to raise meat, and lots of it, without resorting to cruelty. Babies, bathwater and all that.

    From an organic standpoint, and more important, from a biological farming perspective (ie with nature, but not necessairly organic), it is bad pracitce to farm without animals. Detailed studies have been done by people like the Biological farming Institute in SA – and they have had very clear results – where soil fertility, food production, food quality AND profitability reached an optimum, sustainably – and thus for a wide variety of commodities, from grain to vegetables to sugar cane – and even fruit.

    A study of human evolution, especially recent evolution, from the paleolithic, through the neolithic and into antiquity have shown that humans have always followed an omnivorous diet. This is actually part of our success as a species.

    Once again, I find the arguments for vegetarianism, more of a baby and bathwater situation than anything else – if things are done badly, lets do them better. The vegetarian / vegan argument has much in common, at least in its logic and sociological pattern, with arguments for alcohol prohibition for instance. But its ecological impact is actually much, much more dangerous, for the agricultural reasons outline above. As a thinking man, and one who has practical farming experience, I view vegetarianism as a very dangerous phenomenon, not only from an economic perspective, but also from an ecological and evolutionary / survival of our species perspective.

  • Louis

    I’m sorry Todd, but now I have to partly disagree with you both (not that either of you are vegetarian, but the argument often leads that way). On different grounds though: Recently we had the same discussion at the BHT, in context of vegetarianism as the better environemtal option. I’ll quote my comment there, here, but before that, let me mention a mjaor reason for Brazil’s expansion of agricultural lands – biofuels, which make very little sense, as this fellow points out – http://metalutheran.blogspot.com/2010/08/why-agri-fuels-are-dumb.html .

    Now to the vegetarian/vegan thing – and once again, I’m not ssying you are a ny of the dreaded v-words. But the arguments can be seen as related:

    Vegetarianism will drastically reduce the land available for agriculture. For instance, my friends about 50km outside the city generally manage/rent/own about 10 – 12 000 acres a season. More than half of that is not suitable for crop production – and they use that for grazing. This is an even bigger issue in other regions – for instance, in South Africa, very, very large parts of the country is not suitable for crop production, and there is only so much irrigation possible. Those areas are used for extensive agriculture – mostly sheep, but also beef. Same goes for Australia etc.

    Some modern farming methods are cruel. But, as with my comments to FT, yesterday, one should never argue from the extreme. It is perfectly possible to raise meat, and lots of it, without resorting to cruelty. Babies, bathwater and all that.

    From an organic standpoint, and more important, from a biological farming perspective (ie with nature, but not necessairly organic), it is bad pracitce to farm without animals. Detailed studies have been done by people like the Biological farming Institute in SA – and they have had very clear results – where soil fertility, food production, food quality AND profitability reached an optimum, sustainably – and thus for a wide variety of commodities, from grain to vegetables to sugar cane – and even fruit.

    A study of human evolution, especially recent evolution, from the paleolithic, through the neolithic and into antiquity have shown that humans have always followed an omnivorous diet. This is actually part of our success as a species.

    Once again, I find the arguments for vegetarianism, more of a baby and bathwater situation than anything else – if things are done badly, lets do them better. The vegetarian / vegan argument has much in common, at least in its logic and sociological pattern, with arguments for alcohol prohibition for instance. But its ecological impact is actually much, much more dangerous, for the agricultural reasons outline above. As a thinking man, and one who has practical farming experience, I view vegetarianism as a very dangerous phenomenon, not only from an economic perspective, but also from an ecological and evolutionary / survival of our species perspective.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Louis (@20), not sure how you’re disagreeing with me, really. Nor am I sure what “the BHT” is. Butylated hydroxytoluene? And while I’ll agree that biofuels don’t make sense, it does seem to me that Brazil is destroying rainforest in vast amounts for the explicit purpose of creating more grazing land (as backed up by this hastily-Googled article, for instance).

    Nor was I even arguing for “farm[ing] without animals” (I wasn’t really arguing for anything, just replying to a statement). Remember, the claim was that “If we all became vegetarians … This would destroy the planet.” We could still farm with animals without eating them — they do it in India all the time! Anyhow, if the stuff you’re talking about is in any way similar to what’s going on at Polyface Farm (via The Omnivore’s Dilemma), I agree with you.

    Ultimately, the question of whether Stewart’s claim (@16) is correct comes down to numbers I’m not interested enough to investigate right now. The question would have to be: what percentage of lands now dedicated to cattle-raising (including crops raised to be made into cattle feed) is arable? We seem to be merely comparing our own national experiences. I don’t doubt what you say about SA is true. But my impression is that most of the land in the US dedicated to meat production is, in fact arable. I don’t know how that plays out world-wide, though.

    But from a “survival of our species” point of view, I think it would be hard to argue that meat production and consumption as they currently stand are a good thing, for all sorts of reasons (for which I’ll merely point to Michael Pollan).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Louis (@20), not sure how you’re disagreeing with me, really. Nor am I sure what “the BHT” is. Butylated hydroxytoluene? And while I’ll agree that biofuels don’t make sense, it does seem to me that Brazil is destroying rainforest in vast amounts for the explicit purpose of creating more grazing land (as backed up by this hastily-Googled article, for instance).

    Nor was I even arguing for “farm[ing] without animals” (I wasn’t really arguing for anything, just replying to a statement). Remember, the claim was that “If we all became vegetarians … This would destroy the planet.” We could still farm with animals without eating them — they do it in India all the time! Anyhow, if the stuff you’re talking about is in any way similar to what’s going on at Polyface Farm (via The Omnivore’s Dilemma), I agree with you.

    Ultimately, the question of whether Stewart’s claim (@16) is correct comes down to numbers I’m not interested enough to investigate right now. The question would have to be: what percentage of lands now dedicated to cattle-raising (including crops raised to be made into cattle feed) is arable? We seem to be merely comparing our own national experiences. I don’t doubt what you say about SA is true. But my impression is that most of the land in the US dedicated to meat production is, in fact arable. I don’t know how that plays out world-wide, though.

    But from a “survival of our species” point of view, I think it would be hard to argue that meat production and consumption as they currently stand are a good thing, for all sorts of reasons (for which I’ll merely point to Michael Pollan).

  • Louis

    And India can’t feed itself. They import lot’s of food – like lentils from Saskatchewan. also, not all Indians are vegetarian – ever heard of lamb curry, chicken curry…..? That aside, the point is that there are variable amounts of arable vs grazing land, world wide. Furthermore, and this is the point of my remarks about proper farming, is that the land need animals grazing on it, from time to time. It boosts production, and quality, and profits of both crops and stock. This has been conclusively shown. Land without animqals need progessively more chemical input, and the profitability declines – or you get roped into Monsanto-style frankencrops.

    I would agree that some of the meat production practices, such as factory farms, massive stockyards etc etc are not sustainable. but neither is vegetarian practices. We need proper balance – babies in batheater and all that.

    Of course, you probably agree 80%+ with me. But these are one of my sensitive issues, and I sometimes think that vegetarianism is the next Prohibition experiment, although this time, the ecological side effects could be catastrophic.

  • Louis

    And India can’t feed itself. They import lot’s of food – like lentils from Saskatchewan. also, not all Indians are vegetarian – ever heard of lamb curry, chicken curry…..? That aside, the point is that there are variable amounts of arable vs grazing land, world wide. Furthermore, and this is the point of my remarks about proper farming, is that the land need animals grazing on it, from time to time. It boosts production, and quality, and profits of both crops and stock. This has been conclusively shown. Land without animqals need progessively more chemical input, and the profitability declines – or you get roped into Monsanto-style frankencrops.

    I would agree that some of the meat production practices, such as factory farms, massive stockyards etc etc are not sustainable. but neither is vegetarian practices. We need proper balance – babies in batheater and all that.

    Of course, you probably agree 80%+ with me. But these are one of my sensitive issues, and I sometimes think that vegetarianism is the next Prohibition experiment, although this time, the ecological side effects could be catastrophic.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I agree with Louis’ points on variable productive land quality, methods etc. Mostly I felt Stewart was overstating the case.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I agree with Louis’ points on variable productive land quality, methods etc. Mostly I felt Stewart was overstating the case.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X