In case you haven’t heard, Australia is considering proposals to kill all the wild camels that roam the outback as part of its contribution to fighting global warming. The 1.2 million camels, considered pests by ranchers and some conservationists, each produce a methane equivalent of one ton of carbon dioxide a year. That makes them collectively one of Australia's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, and now it seems there’s a good chance they will all be murdered to fight global warming.
To many observers, this is just a ruse put forward by Australia’s powerful animal agribusiness to get rid of what it considers potential nuisances, and have the government take financial and moral responsibility for the mass slaughter as well. It is something they have been pushing for in recent years as the camel population has grown. This is nothing new. For example, the U.S. government’s Wildlife Services Department of the USDA has been spending tens of millions of dollars annually for decades killing millions of wild animals—coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, bears, blackbirds, foxes, badgers, prairie dogs, cormorants, lynx, and other “varmints”—at the behest of ranchers and farmers. Similarly, the free-living horses inhabiting the American West are being ruthlessly and tragically terrorized, captured, and removed from public lands by federal agencies serving ranchers who see them as pests competing for range that should be reserved only for their cattle.
Globally, 70 percent of all agricultural land is devoted to animal agriculture. In many places, like North America and Australia, the percentage is even higher. In the U.S., for example, besides the millions of acres of grazing land devastated by livestock, there are millions of acres—80 percent of all grains—devoted to growing feed grains for hyperconfined pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, and factory-farmed fish. These vast monocropped fields are toxic killing fields where farmers try to kill all species of plants, animals, and insects other than the GMO corn, soy, or other feed stock they are growing. On top of this, the oceans are being decimated by toxic runoff from the pesticides and chemical fertilizers required by this monocropping, and by overfishing because now over half of all caught fish are ground into fishmeal to feed livestock and farmed fish. Animal agriculture is a human war against nature and wildlife, and it is a war that we humans are decisively winning.
The driving force behind all of it is the massive culturally imposed demand for meat and dairy products. While I (and many others), for example, have eaten exactly zero pounds (or ounces) of animal foods over the past 30-plus years, and enjoy fine health on every level, the average American is consuming over 300 pounds of solid animal foods (meet, cheese, and eggs) annually, and devastating not just their own health, but destroying ecosystems and the lives of workers, animals, wildlife, and future generations.
Now let’s look at the Australian camels again. The ranchers in Australia, like ranchers everywhere, wage a war against free animals who in their minds pose a threat to their profits. “Kill the varmints” is their war-cry, whether it’s camels in Australia, horses, wolves, and coyotes in the U.S., elephants and lions in Africa, or bears, tigers, and wild cattle in Eurasia. According to the United Nations F.A.O. study, Livestock’s Long Shadow, the meat and dairy industries worldwide are producing over 7,000 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent every year. The 1.2 million tons supposedly produced by Australia’s camels are a microscopic fraction of this amount caused by human meat and dairy eating, and the 50 billion or so land animals we raise, feed, and kill annually for food. According to World Watch Institute scientists, the F.A.O.’s 7,000 million tons is a gross underestimate, and a more accurate figure is that animal agriculture produces over 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.
Obviously, if the Australian government were sincerely and intelligently interested in fighting global warming, it would spend the millions of dollars required to slaughter these innocent camels instead on public education programs that would help people transition to more healthy and environmentally-benign plant-based diets. This would not only be far more effective in permanently reducing carbon dioxide equivalents and mitigating climate disruption, but would also slash water usage and pollution, ocean devastation, drug use, disease, cultural violence, and a whole host of related disasters and unnecessary suffering.
There is nothing stopping us from living harmoniously on this beautiful Earth, other than the mentality of disconnectedness, cruelty, elitism, and foolishness required by our mandated food choices that murder and maim billions of sentient beings. We are called to educate each other at the grass roots level, raise consciousness, and stop allowing a tiny wealthy elite to brainwash us and dictate the suicidal and ecocidal policies destroying our world any longer.
Instead of attempting to solve the problems we create through violence and killing, we can solve them through compassion, inclusiveness, and respecting the sacred interconnectedness of all life. Moving toward vegan living and loving-kindness in all our relations is the only wise and lasting solution to our problems.