Fire in the Rainforest: How Changing our Diets can Contribute to Reducing Climate Change

Rainforests, Earth’s luminous jewels of positive energy, are essential to maintaining the harmony of the planet.

Due to their ability to absorb greenhouse gases, rainforests have enormous potential to fight climate change. They are home to millions of species of trees, plants, birds, animals and insects, as well as hundreds of indigenous human tribes. Half of the world’s terrestrial mammals live in rainforests (such as Bengal tigers, mountain gorillas, orangutans, and jaguars).1 They also play an essential role in adding to the Earth’s supply of freshwater--through the process of transpiration, rainforests add water to the atmosphere and increase rainfall. Many important life-saving medicines for humans are also sourced from rainforests.2

Global attention is now on the link between agricultural practices and deforestation of rainforests. The record number fires in the Amazon this year (more than 74,000) has been cause for great public concern, especially when it was learned that most of the fires were set deliberately by farmers to prepare the land for agriculture—mainly cattle. According to the World Bank, 80 percent of all converted lands in the Amazon rainforest is devoted to cattle ranching.3

Because cattle require open spaces to feed and grow, ranchers clear vast lands by burning forests, says Cameron Ellis, a Senior Geographer at The Rainforest Foundation.4 According to the Foundation, one person avoiding eating beef for a year saves approximately 3,432 trees—which presumably would have been cut from the dense forest for cattle rearing.5 While many parts of the Amazon rainforest are protected from deforestation, illegal activity is still widely practiced and seems to be increasing.6

 

Forest, Agriculture and the Global Energy Balance

Forests and rainforests are positive energy (white-matter) dominated and essential to maintaining the global energy balance, says the GEP Founder Swami Isa, author of the I-Theory. One of I-Theory’s main premises is that energy can be observed not just in its quantity but also in its quality. The interaction between the main qualities (positive, neutral and negative) contribute significantly to balance or imbalance on Earth and in the Universe. 

At the 7th GEP session in Colombo on “Habitat Harmony” in 2016, Swami Isa provided I-Theory-based guidelines for maintaining a sustainable state. Every state / nation should have a minimum of 50% wild forest covering its land, with 30% agriculture and 20% of land use for human development. GEP’s international team of researchers applied this concept in the ‘Remoulding Kerala Sustainable State Model’, which was accepted by the Government of Kerala in 2019.

Untouched forest land is positive-energy/ white matter dominated, so the more forest, the more positive energy. Agricultural land, on the other hand, is neutral energy—red matter according to the I-Theory. Human living and infrastructure is black matter dominated, and human living land use should be restricted to no more than 20%.

Therefore when forests decrease to make way for agriculture, an energy shift happens. Drought, floods, and human conflict are some of the effects that can be easily observed within a short span of time. 

 

Effects of the Meat Industry

Besides loss of forests, agriculture also contributes to higher greenhouse gas emissions (beef alone is also responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emission), higher water usage and water pollution.

In 2018 and 2019, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released reports stating that changing our diets (namely, eating less meat) would contribute 20% of the effort needed to keep global temperatures from rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels.7

Interestingly, new research published last year showed that if people eliminated meat and dairy from their diets, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% and still feed the world.8

Agriculture lands are so greatly required not only for the animals but also to grow their feed. Today Brazil has 24-25 million hectares devoted to soy, and is currently the second largest producer of soybeans in the world. But it’s not for human consumption--80% of the soy produced in the Amazon is grown to be cattle feed.9

Palm oil, used in many common processed foods, cosmetics and biofuels, is also causing concern to environmentalists in Brazil, but as of yet is not a major crop there.10 But unchecked expansion has pushed palm oil plantations into the heart of some of the world’s most culturally and biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. “Palm oil requires tropical climates and it has already displaced massive areas of tropical rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia,” says Yale University’s Global Forest Atlas.11

 

What Can We Do?

If we cannot directly change the conditions in the Amazon, choices we make in our daily lives do indirectly affect what happens there. Making an impact can be easy. Here are our suggestions:

* Lower your meat consumption. Reducing meat consumption is a good way to start impacting global agriculture and climate change. Many resources exist to help guide people from a more meat-based diet to a more plant-based one (search online for “vegetarian/vegan starter kit”). And we have pointed out before12, plants have more vital energy than meat, and more white matter in general, which contribute to greater positive energy in you! 

* Plant Fruit Trees. Everywhere that humans live, we need to increase the white matter (i.e., positive energy), not just the Amazon. One easy way to do this is to plant fruit trees in urban areas13. Fruit trees also contribute to food security, healthy ecosystems, clean air, reducing global warming, and more beautiful cities. We recommend planting in home gardens, terraces, parks and along highways and railways. Contact us and we will help you work with your local government to get permission to plant in public places.

* Be Kind. Being kind to all humans, animals and plants is also one way to contribute to more white matter in the world. GEP has an International Kindness Club spreading more love in the world, and you can join it today! 

 

References

1. https://www.businessinsider.in/unknown-facts-about-amazon-rainforest/articleshow/70800825.cms

2. https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/pictures/9-rainforest-facts-everyone-should-know

3. https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/bjwzk4/feeling-sad-about-the-amazon-fires-stop-eating-meat

4. As above

5. https://rainforestfoundation.org/agriculture/

6. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-why-amazon-rainforest-is-on-fire/)

7. https://www.ipcc.ch/2019/08/08/land-is-a-critical-resource_srccl/

8. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

9. https://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/amazon/land-use/soy

10. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jun/29/brazil-palm-oil-amazon-rainforest-deforestation-temer-farming-para-cerrado

11. https://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/amazon/land-use-and-agriculture/biofuels)

12. https://www.global-energy-parliament.net/vegetarianism-jimenez 

13. https://www.global-energy-parliament.net/one-house-one-fruit-tree

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