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Friday, October 30, 2009

Eight Meaty Facts About Animal Food

WHERE'S THE GRAIN? The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population.

HERBIVORES ON THE HOOF. Each year an estimated 41 million tons of plant protein is fed to U.S. livestock to produce an estimated 7 million tons of animal protein for human consumption. About 26 million tons of the livestock feed comes from grains and 15 million tons from forage crops. For every kilogram of high-quality animal protein produced, livestock are fed nearly 6 kg of plant protein.

FOSSIL FUEL TO FOOD FUEL. On average, animal protein production in the U.S. requires 28 kilocalories (kcal) for every kcal of protein produced for human consumption. Beef and lamb are the most costly, in terms of fossil fuel energy input to protein output at 54:1 and 50:1, respectively. Turkey and chicken meat production are the most efficient (13:1 and 4:1, respectively). Grain production, on average, requires 3.3 kcal of fossil fuel for every kcal of protein produced. The U.S. now imports about 54 percent of its oil; by the year 2015, that import figure is expected to rise to 100 percent.

THIRSTY PRODUCTION SYSTEMS. U.S. agriculture accounts for 87 percent of all the fresh water consumed each year. Livestock directly use only 1.3 percent of that water. But when the water required for forage and grain production is included, livestock's water usage rises dramatically. Every kilogram of beef produced takes 100,000 liters of water. Some 900 liters of water go into producing a kilogram of wheat. Potatoes are even less "thirsty," at 500 liters per kilogram.

HOME ON THE RANGE. More than 302 million hectares of land are devoted to producing feed for the U.S. livestock population -- about 272 million hectares in pasture and about 30 million hectares for cultivated feed grains.

DISAPPEARING SOIL. About 90 percent of U.S. cropland is losing soil -- to wind and water erosion -- at 13 times above the sustainable rate. Soil loss is most severe in some of the richest farming areas; Iowa loses topsoil at 30 times the rate of soil formation. Iowa has lost one-half its topsoil in only 150 years of farming -- soil that took thousands of years to form.

PLENTY OF PROTEIN: Nearly 7 million tons (metric) of animal protein is produced annually in the U.S. -- enough to supply every American man, woman and child with 75 grams of animal protein a day. With the addition of 34 grams of available plant protein, a total of 109 grams of protein is available per capita. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) per adult per day is 56 grams of protein for a mixed diet.

OUT TO PASTURE. If all the U.S. grain now fed to livestock were exported and if cattlemen switched to grass-fed production systems, less beef would be available and animal protein in the average American diet would drop from 75 grams to 29 grams per day. That, plus current levels of plant-protein consumption, would still yield more than the RDA for protein.

From "Livestock Production: Energy Inputs and the Environment"
By David Pimentel

source: Cornell University Science News

Cows, Environment, Food and People

U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, Cornell ecologist advises animal scientists. Future water and energy shortages predicted to change face of American agriculture.

Grain-fed livestock consumes resources far out of proportion to the yield, accelerates soil erosion, affects world food supply and will be changing in the future.

"If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million," David Pimentel, professor of ecology in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, reported at the July 24-26 meeting of the Canadian Society of Animal Science in Montreal. Or, if those grains were exported, it would boost the U.S. trade balance by $80 billion a year, Pimentel estimated.

With only grass-fed livestock, individual Americans would still get more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of meat and dairy protein, according to Pimentel's report, "Livestock Production: Energy Inputs and the Environment."

An environmental analyst and longtime critic of waste and inefficiency in agricultural practices, Pimentel depicted grain-fed livestock farming as a costly and nonsustainable way to produce animal protein. He distinguished grain-fed meat production from pasture-raised livestock, calling cattle-grazing a more reasonable use of marginal land.

Animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than production of plant protein while yielding animal protein that is only 1.4 times more nutritious for humans than the comparable amount of plant protein, according to the Cornell ecologist's analysis.

Tracking food animal production from the feed trough to the dinner table, Pimentel found broiler chickens to be the most efficient use of fossil energy, and beef, the least. Chicken meat production consumes energy in a 4:1 ratio to protein output; beef cattle production requires an energy input to protein output ratio of 54:1. (Lamb meat production is nearly as inefficient at 50:1, according to the ecologist's analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Other ratios range from 13:1 for turkey meat and 14:1 for milk protein to 17:1 for pork and 26:1 for eggs.)

Animal agriculture is a leading consumer of water resources in the United States, Pimentel noted. Grain-fed beef production takes 100,000 liters of water for every kilogram of food. Raising broiler chickens takes 3,500 liters of water to make a kilogram of meat. In comparison, soybean production uses 2,000 liters for kilogram of food produced; rice, 1,912; wheat, 900; and potatoes, 500 liters. "Water shortages already are severe in the Western and Southern United States and the situation is quickly becoming worse because of a rapidly growing U.S. population that requires more water for all of its needs, especially agriculture," Pimentel observed.

Livestock are directly or indirectly responsible for much of the soil erosion in the United States, the ecologist determined. On lands where feed grain is produced, soil loss averages 13 tons per hectare per year. Pasture lands are eroding at a slower pace, at an average of 6 tons per hectare per year. But erosion may exceed 100 tons on severely overgrazed pastures, and 54 percent of U.S. pasture land is being overgrazed.

"More than half the U.S. grain and nearly 40 percent of world grain is being fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans," Pimentel said. "Although grain production is increasing in total, the per capita supply has been decreasing for more than a decade. Clearly, there is reason for concern in the future."

source: Cornell University Science News

The Low-Carbon Diet

Change your lightbulbs? Or your car? If you want to fight global warming, it’s time to consider a different diet.

Full disclosure: I love to eat meat. I was born in Memphis, the barbecue capital of the Milky Way Galaxy. I worship slow-cooked, hickory-smoked pig meat served on a bun with extra sauce and coleslaw spooned on top.

My carnivore’s lust goes beyond the DNA level. It’s in my soul. Even the cruelty of factory farming doesn’t temper my desire, I’ll admit. Like most Americans, I can somehow keep at bay all thoughts of what happened to the meat prior to the plate.

So why in the world am I a dedicated vegetarian? Why is meat, including sumptuous pork, a complete stranger to my fork at home and away? The answer is simple: I have an 11-year-old son whose future—like yours and mine—is rapidly unraveling due to global warming. And what we put on our plates can directly accelerate or decelerate the heating trend.

That giant chunk of an Antarctic ice sheet, the one that disintegrated in a matter of hours, the one the size of seven Manhattans—did you hear about it? It shattered barely a year ago “like a hammer on glass,” scientists say, and is now melting away in the Southern Ocean. This is just a preview, of course, of the sort of ecological collapse coming everywhere on earth, experts say, unless we hit the brakes soon on climate change. If the entire West Antarctic ice sheet melts, for example, global sea-level rise could reach 20 feet.

Since the twin phenomena of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gore, most Americans have a basic literacy on the issue of climate change. It’s getting worse, we know, and greenhouse gases—emitted when we burn fossil fuels—are driving it. Less accepted, it seems, is the role food—specifically our consumption of meat—is playing in this matter. The typical American diet now weighs in at more than 3,700 calories per day, reports the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and is dominated by meat and animal products. As a result, what we put in our mouths now ranks up there with our driving habits and our use of coal-fired electricity in terms of how it affects climate change.

Simply put, raising beef, pigs, sheep, chicken, and eggs is very, very energy intensive. More than half of all the grains grown in America actually go to feed animals, not people, says the World Resources Institute. That means a huge fraction of the petroleum-based herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers applied to grains, plus staggering percentages of all agricultural land and water use, are put in the service of livestock. Stop eating animals and you use dramatically less fossil fuels, as much as 250 gallons less oil per year for vegans, says Cornell University’s David Pimentel, and 160 gallons less for egg-and-cheese-eating vegetarians.

But fossil fuel combustion is just part of the climate–diet equation. Ruminants—cows and sheep—generate a powerful greenhouse gas through their normal digestive processes (think burping and emissions at the other end). What comes out is methane (23 times more powerful at trapping heat than CO2) and nitrous oxide (296 times more powerful).

Indeed, accounting for all factors, livestock production worldwide is responsible for a whopping 18 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gases, reports the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s more than the emissions of all the world’s cars, buses, planes, and trains combined.

So why do we so rarely talk about meat consumption when discussing global warming in America? Compact fluorescent bulbs? Biking to work? Buying wind power? We hear it nonstop. But even the super-liberal, Prius-driving, Green Party activist in America typically eats chicken wings and morning bacon like everyone else. While the climate impacts of meat consumption might be new to many people, the knowledge of meat’s general ecological harm is not at all novel. So what gives?

Roughly three percent of all Americans are vegetarians, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit that educates people on the benefits of a meat-free diet. Part of the reason, I know, is the unfortunate belief that vegetarianism is a really tough lifestyle change, much harder than simply changing bulbs or buying a better car. But as a meat lover at heart, I’ve been a vegetarian (no fish, minimal eggs and cheese) for seven years, and trust me: It’s easy, satisfying, and of course super healthy. With the advent of savory tofu, faux meats, and the explosion of local farmers’ markets, a life without meat is many times easier today than when Ovid and Thoreau and Gandhi and Einstein did it. True, many meat substitutes are made from soybeans, a monocrop with its own environmental issues. But most soy production today is actually devoted to livestock feed. Only 1 percent of U.S. soybeans become tofu, for example.

One day I get carryout veggie Pad Thai. The next I cook stir-fried veggies at home with soy-based sausage patties so good they fool even the most discriminating meat connoisseurs. Bottom line: Of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life, vegetarianism doesn’t even make the chart.

Some folks, I realize, have a deep-down, gut-level (so to speak) reaction to vegetarianism as “unnatural.” We humans have canine teeth, after all. We evolved to include meat in our diets. To abandon such food is to break thousands of years of tradition and, in some cases, ritual behavior bordering on the sacred.

All true. But we also evolved as people who defecated indiscriminately in the woods and who didn’t brush our teeth. Somehow we’ve moved to a higher level on those counts. Now, with potentially catastrophic climate change hovering around the corner and with our briskets and London broil helping to drive the process, it’s time to evolve some more.

A compromise in recent years, of course, has been the idea of animals raised locally and organically. Becoming a “locavore” who eats regional fruits and vegetables in season as much as possible makes abundant sense, of course. And animals from your area can lower the environmental impacts of your diet in many ways while simultaneously saving cherished local farmland and progressive farm families.

But with global warming, here’s the inconvenient truth about meat and dairy products: If you eat them, regardless of their origin and how they were produced, you significantly contribute to climate change. Period. If your beef is from New Zealand or your own backyard, if your lamb is organic free-range or factory farmed, it still has a negative impact on global warming.

This is true for several reasons. Again, the biological reality of ruminant digestion is that methane is released. The feed can be local and organic, but the methane is the same, escaping into the atmosphere and trapping heat with impressive efficiency. Second, no matter the farming method, livestock makes manure that produces nitrous oxide, an even more awesomely impressive heat trapper. Livestock in the United States generates a billion tons of manure per year, accounting for 65 percent of the planet’s anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions.

Even poultry, while less harmful, also contributes. Ironically, data released in 2007 by Adrian Williams of Cranfield University in England show that when all factors are considered, organic, free-range chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming than conventionally raised broiler birds. That’s because “sustainable” chickens take longer to raise, and eat more feed. Worse, organic eggs have a 14 percent higher impact on the climate than eggs from caged chickens, according to Williams.

“If we want to fight global warming through the food we buy, then one thing’s clear: We have to drastically reduce the meat we consume,” says Tara Garnett of London’s Food Climate Research Network.

So while some of us Americans fashionably fret over our food’s travel budget and organic content, Garnett says the real question is, “Did it come from an animal or did it not come from an animal?”

Which brings us back to vegetarianism and why I live a meat-free life. The facts speak for themselves. If we really want to fight climate change, we should change our lightbulbs and purchase hybrid cars and, above all, vote for politicians committed to a clean energy future. But we should also eat less meat, a lot less, or none at all.

I believe consumer habits are starting to change similarly to the way they’ve shifted with compact fluorescent bulbs. Ten years ago people complained about the harsh quality of light from fluorescents and the hassle of switching them out. But the bulbs are now made to produce a much warmer quality of light and the price has come down. What’s more, in seven years of using only CFLs at my home, I’ve never had a guest make a single comment.

In the near future, as we increasingly discuss the climate “facts” of meat consumption, and as veggie cuisine gets still easier at home and at restaurants, we’ll see more and more people changing their diets in the same way they’re switching to CFLs in droves now. Of this I’m sure.

But when it comes to food, the facts are not enough for many people. Of this I’m also sure. A holistic nutritionist in my neighborhood says one’s ideas about food reside in the same part of the brain that houses our ideas and beliefs about religion. It’s not all rational, in other words. Facts abound about the harm of fatty, sugary foods, yet the obesity epidemic grows. And I can’t count the number of environmental conferences I’ve attended where meat was served in abundance. Even Michael Pollan’s 2006 bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma, wherein he dissects with encyclopedic thoroughness the eco-hazards and animal cruelty issues surrounding meat and egg production—even this book astonishingly mentions the words global warming only two times and climate change not at all. In 464 pages. That’s highly unreasonable, in my view.

All of which is to say that for people to care, the climate–food discussion must be about more than just facts, more than pounds of greenhouse gases per units of food. It’s got to be about morality, about right versus wrong. And I don’t mean the usual morality of environmental “stewardship.” Or even the issue of cruelty to farm animals. I’m talking here about cruelty to people, about the explicit harm to humans that results from meat consumption and its role as a driving force in climate change. Knowingly eating food that makes you fat or harms your local fish and birds is one thing. Knowingly eating food that makes children across much of the world hungry is another.

I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the mid-1980s, living in a tiny rural village where the staple crop was hand-tilled corn. It was harvested twice a year, in May and December. This meant the two annual “rainy seasons” had to begin right on time, in January and September, and continue for several months afterward. Any deviation from this rainfall pattern virtually guaranteed a lower corn harvest. And given the total absence of grocery stores, community granaries, or the money to buy extra food even if it existed, this meant hunger.

A signature impact of global warming, of course, is a dramatic shift in precipitation patterns worldwide, including longer and more severe droughts as well as extreme rainstorms and flooding in non-drought areas. Many scientists believe these impacts are already being felt by farmers worldwide and could spell future disaster, especially for subsistence farmers like those I lived with in Africa. Global wheat prices have jumped about 100 percent in the past year in part because a record drought in Australia—made worse by global warming—has devastated farmers across the continent. Food production in China alone could drop 10 percent as early as 2030, United Nations scientists warn.

The people I lived with in Africa contribute almost nothing to the problem of global warming, through their diet or otherwise. Coal-fired electricity versus wind power? They don’t have electricity. SUVs versus hybrid cars? They don’t have cars—none at all, or roads for that matter. And meat consumption? Tiny, tiny portions maybe twice a week.

If we in the West don’t alter course in the coming years, if we allow extreme global warming to become reality, an impact on the U.S. diet could very well be a great reduction in the amount of meat on our tables—a reduction imposed on us by nature instead of achieved by us through enlightened lifestyle changes. The wide and guaranteed availability of agriculturally productive land may simply cease. The crop yields we see now could shrink significantly, thanks to everything from weird weather to pest invasions. But it’s a safe guess to say we’ll have space for a national diet of plant-based foods (some crops are expected to benefit from global warming), just not the option of consuming all those animals.

But in the Congo and other poor countries, in places like Bangladesh and Peru and Vietnam, where meat consumption is already low, severe climate change means food off the table. It means hungry children. It means the rains don’t come on time or at all in tiny villages like the one I lived in. It means, in the end, cruelty to people.

Are we clear now on the raw facts and urgent morality of our present meat consumption in America?

We need much more than just a few magazine readers to voluntarily stop eating meat, of course. It’s a good start, but what we really need are national policies that encourage lower meat consumption by everyone. This could be achieved using fees or other market mechanisms that properly price greenhouse-gas emissions according to the harm they cause. The bad news, I suppose, is that the cost of meat could rise. The good news is we would finally have a fair and honest way to judge its danger, and thus more incentives to do the right thing, more incentives to switch to a healthy and convenient vegetarian diet of the sort I’ve joyfully embraced for years, despite my great appreciation for the taste of meat.

We could also, as a nation, just eat a lot less meat as an alternative to full vegetarianism. Anthony McMichael, a leading Australia-based expert on climate change and health issues, has crunched the numbers. He estimates that per capita daily meat consumption would need to drop from about 12 ounces per day in America to 3.1 ounces (with less than half of it red meat) in order to protect the climate.

I suppose I could measure out 3.1 ounces of meat per day, cook it, eat it, and still feel morally okay. But frankly I’d rather just go without. I’d rather be a vegetarian. It’s easier to explain. It’s easier to defend. And I just plain like it.
source: Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, is the author of The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America's Coastal Cities (Free Press).

Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars

Meet the world's top destroyer of the environment. It is not the car, or the plane,or even George Bush: it is the cow.

A United Nations report has identified the world's rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs.

The 400-page report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, entitled Livestock's Long Shadow, also surveys the damage done by sheep, chickens, pigs and goats. But in almost every case, the world's 1.5 billion cattle are most to blame. Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

Burning fuel to produce fertiliser to grow feed, to produce meat and to transport it - and clearing vegetation for grazing - produces 9 per cent of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. And their wind and manure emit more than one third of emissions of another, methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.

Livestock also produces more than 100 other polluting gases, including more than two-thirds of the world's emissions of ammonia, one of the main causes of acid rain.

Ranching, the report adds, is "the major driver of deforestation" worldwide, and overgrazing is turning a fifth of all pastures and ranges into desert.Cows also soak up vast amounts of water: it takes a staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.

Wastes from feedlots and fertilisers used to grow their feed overnourish water, causing weeds to choke all other life. And the pesticides, antibiotics and hormones used to treat them get into drinking water and endanger human health.

The pollution washes down to the sea, killing coral reefs and creating "dead zones" devoid of life. One is up to 21,000sqkm, in the Gulf of Mexico, where much of the waste from US beef production is carried down the Mississippi.

The report concludes that, unless drastic changes are made, the massive damage done by livestock will more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases.

source: The Independent

Beef Industry Fact Sheet

The U.S. beef industry is worth an estimated $175 billion with cattlemen conducting business in all 50 states and operating 800,000 individual farms and ranches.

In July 2003, there were 104.3 million cattle in the United States.

35.7 million cattle were harvested in 2003.

2002 data shows there were 805,080 cow/calf operations and 95,189 feedlots in the United States according to CattleFax.

While the United States has less than 10 percent of the world's cattle inventory, it produces nearly 25 percent of the world's beef supply according to 2002 USDA data.

The U.S. produced 27.1 billion pounds of beef in 2002.

There are 1.4 million jobs attributed to the beef industry.

The cattle industry is a family business. Eighty percent of the cattle businesses have been in the same families for more than 25 years; 10 percent fore more than 100 years.

Cattle are produced in all 50 states and their economic impact contributes to nearly every county in the nation and they are a significant economic driver in rural communities.

America’s demand for beef has increased more than 15 percent since 1998.

Consumer beef spending has grown $14 billion compared to the 1990s according to CattleFax.

Beef is the number one protein in America according to USDA consumption data. In 2002, the average per capita consumption of beef was 64.4 pounds according to USDA consumption data.

Steak is the single most popular beef dish in-home, eaten more than once a month by the average person. Hamburger is the second most popular in-home item (8.9 percent of all eating occasions) - NPD/National Eating Trends, 2002.

Beef exports, during 2003, were worth approximately $2.664 billion, variety meat exports were worth $601 million and tallow exports were worth $325 million.

During 2002, beef exports represented 9 percent of U.S. domestic beef production (2.45 billion pounds vs. 27.1 billion pounds).

source: Beef USA - Beef Industry Fact Sheet

The Greenhouse Hamburger

Pound for pound, beef production generates greenhouse gases that contribute more than 13 times as much to global warming as do the gases emitted from producing chicken. For potatoes, the multiplier is 57

Beef consumption is rising rapidly, both as population increases and as people eat more meat.

Producing the annual beef diet of the average American emits as much greenhouse gas as a car driven more than 1,800 miles.

Most of us are aware that our cars, our coal-generated electric power and even our cement factories adversely affect the environment. Until recently, however, the foods we eat had gotten a pass in the discussion. Yet according to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), our diets and, specifically, the meat in them cause more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and the like to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. (Greenhouse gases trap solar energy, thereby warming the earth's surface. Because gases vary in greenhouse potency, every greenhouse gas is usually expressed as an amount of CO2 with the same global-warming potential.)

The FAO report found that current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of "CO2-equivalent" greenhouse gases the world produces every year. It turns out that producing half a pound of hamburger for someone's lunch a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.

In truth, every food we consume, vegetables and fruits included, incurs hidden environmental costs: transportation, refrigeration and fuel for farming, as well as methane emissions from plants and animals, all lead to a buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Take asparagus: in a report prepared for the city of Seattle, Daniel J. Morgan of the University of Washington and his co-workers found that growing just half a pound of the vegetable in Peru emits greenhouse gases equivalent to 1.2 ounces of CO2 as a result of applying insecticide and fertilizer, pumping water and running heavy, gas-guzzling farm equipment. To refrigerate and transport the vegetable to an American dinner table generates another two ounces of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases, for a total CO2 equivalent of 3.2 ounces.

But that is nothing compared to beef. In 1999 Susan Subak, an ecological economist then at the University of East Anglia in England, found that, depending on the production method, cows emit between 2.5 and 4.7 ounces of methane for each pound of beef they produce. Because methane has roughly 23 times the global-warming potential of CO2, those emissions are the equivalent of releasing between 3.6 and 6.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for each pound of beef produced.

Raising animals also requires a large amount of feed per unit of body weight. In 2003 Lucas Reijnders of the University of Amsterdam and Sam Soret of Loma Linda University estimated that producing a pound of beef protein for the table requires more than 10 pounds of plant protein with all the emissions of greenhouse gases that grain farming entails. Finally, farms for raising animals produce numerous wastes that give rise to greenhouse gases.

Taking such factors into account, Subak calculated that producing a pound of beef in a feedlot, or concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) system, generates the equivalent of 14.8 pounds of CO2 pound for pound, more than 36 times the CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emitted by producing asparagus. Even other common meats cannot match the impact of beef; I estimate that producing a pound of pork generates the equivalent of 3.8 pounds of CO2; a pound of chicken generates 1.1 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases. And the economically efficient CAFO system, though certainly not the cleanest production method in terms of CO2-equivalent greenhouse emissions, is far better than most: the FAO data I noted earlier imply that the world average emissions from producing a pound of beef are several times the CAFO amount.
Solutions?What can be done? Improving waste management and farming practices would certainly reduce the "carbon footprint" of beef production. Methane-capturing systems, for instance, can put cows' waste to use in generating electricity. But those systems remain too costly to be commercially viable.

source: Scientific American

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I am confused?

Why is it difficult to follow the one Supreme Authority Personality of Godhead?

Why “all paths lead to the same goal” or “follow the religion of your heart” etc attractive. In my head, it does not even make common sense?

I venture to think are people even serious to know God or is it just another superficial politically correct stand to take to be accepted by many?

Hare Krishna

7 questions

Seven questions that keep physicists up at night

1. Why this universe?
2. What is everything made of?
3. How does complexity happen?
4. Will string theory ever be proved correct?
5. What is the singularity?
6. What is reality really?
7. How far can physics take us?

Source: newscientist.com

with their speculative background...I guess the physicists will never sleep unfortunately!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Truth or Lie

Truth or lie is a relative phenomenon depending on the source. However, it is our own false-ego that accepts or rejects it.

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If I am honest...

I have had my fair share of moments over the years. Some good and some bad. In my bad times, I have lost money, time and friends. I used to get angry, upset and emotional. I tried to find solutions by brooding over the incident. After coming to Krishna consciousness, I still do these things.

So what is the difference between the before and after of Krishna consciousness, before, I did not know the real solutions to the problem, and after Krishna consciousness I know.

If I am honest, I will apply the solution, I will dig deeper and change the faults within me. The world is what it is…a good student will learn from it and not find fault! Easier said than done…but at least we can try.

Hare Krishna

Monday, October 26, 2009

Illusion of man and mind

There is a tendency to think that I have worked hard for my job, house, family and money. If I have a problem, I have the wherewithal to seek help from appropriate government or non-profit agencies. Deep within, there is a sense that we (mankind) have worked hard on our own to get where we are now…so why is there a need for God in this picture.

Therefore, ultimately, the topic of God does not seem very urgent as opposed to other immediate concerns facing me, my family, my community, state, country and the world. In other words, the hand of God in my daily practical life and the life of others seems invisible and hence there seems to be no need for God beyond religious or sentimental or educational (academia) purposes. Due to this apparent lack of urgency, to understand God in the real way is being postponed to another day by the masses.

One of the biggest obstacles to spread God consciousness is this illusion of the independent self-made man and the lethargy of mind.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gita Wordle

click image for larger view

BG 2.14-30

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quantum physics Vs Bhagavad Gita

What do we mean by materialist science? Materialist science takes it as its basic axiom that everything is matter. We have literally managed to train a whole generation of students on the idea that everything is material, but this Newtonian world view that has shaped our understanding for centuries is now giving way to the revelations of quantum physics which goes beyond materialism; to show that consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being.

- Quantum physicist Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph.D

yathā prakāśayaty ekaḥ
kṛtsnaḿ lokam imaḿ raviḥ
kṣetraḿ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaḿ
prakāśayati bhārata

- BG 13.34, spoken by Krishna 5000 years ago

O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Krishna knows

As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (10.10), the Lord gives intelligence to the pure devotees so that they may be elevated to the highest perfectional stage. It is confirmed herein that a pure devotee, who constantly engages in the loving service of the Lord, is awarded all knowledge necessary to reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For such a devotee there is nothing valuable to be achieved but the Lord's service. If one serves faithfully, there is no possibility of frustration because the Lord Himself takes charge of the devotee's advancement. The Lord is seated in everyone's heart, and He knows the devotee's motive and arranges everything achievable. In other words, the pseudo devotee, who is anxious to achieve material gains, cannot attain the highest perfectional stage because the Lord is in knowledge of his motive. One merely has to become sincere in his purpose, and then the Lord is there to help in every way.

- SB 3.13.49

Thursday, October 8, 2009

NASA Set to Dive Bomb the Moon

A NASA spacecraft and its trusty rocket stage are drawing ever closer to the moon to intentionally crash to their doom Friday, all in the name of science.


Its not enough bombing planet earth in the name of science...now the bombing culture is going cosmic...God knows where this will end!

Hare Krishna