Ten Square Miles

An Environmental Activism Resource

Month: March 2016

Cowspiracy Response

This is an interesting look at the effect of animal agriculture on the environment and its massive impact on how we live. Cowspiracy followed Kip Andersun as he investigates the lack of discussion around animal agriculture as a detrimental cause of climate change. He tries to interview many people from major environmental groups such as Greenpeace, but many downplay the topic or in the case of Greenpeace, refuse to talk to him at all. He learns that the amount of costs and land it takes to run the current industrial livestock model will not sustain itself and there will not be enough room for cattle farming in the future. The amount of food that goes towards feeding livestock also contributes to the starvation of so many people across the globe. Throughout the film, as he learns that even grass fed beef and so called “sustainable” farming practices are not really sustainable, he embarks on a decision to become vegan.

It was really intriguing to see so many of the main environmental organizations not considering animal agriculture as a big contributor to climate change. The documentary seemed to show that irresponsible corporations and their donations could control even these groups. There were a few problems I had with this film however. The director of the film becomes very involved in the narrative in the film, and while that has worked for films like Gasland, in this film it comes across as a tad self-involved. There are multiple shots of just him contemplating in front of a beautiful natural background. I want to see more about the issue and less about how this director feels. I also don’t feel very connected to him as an individual because him even sharing his personal story felt artificial. The film also ignores the classism surrounding vegan discourse, and especially the ability to become vegan. One of the people interviewed in the film even said that cutting out meat comes at no cost, but that is not true. For people from low-income backgrounds who do not have access to fresh food, it is very difficult to maintain a vegan lifestyle, especially if they’re just trying to find just a bit of food to feed their children.

The style of the documentary was interesting. It was mostly intense depth of field interviews with typical wide shots in documentary style. The editing sometimes felt a bit bumpy in order to create a feeling that the people being interviewed were guilty in their secrecy towards the issue. There would be a cut in the interview that would cut quickly to black at an awkward moment in the interview when the interviewee would become flummoxed. This was an interesting tool but it could also come off as bit unprofessional at certain times, as if the editor accidentally left space in between shots.

Overall this was really a great introspective look at the animal agriculture industry and how much it is destroying the planet. I wish it took more consideration into the cost of veganism for the average person, especially people below the poverty line. I also feel like if it focused more on the issues and less on the filmmaker, I would appreciate it more. However, this brings up a really important issue that should be addressed within the environmental community.

Ecovillages Are Not Universal

In theory, ecovillages are a great concept – conserving energy through community. In reality, ecovillages are not feasible. When the guest speaker was speaking on the costs and such of ecovillages, it is just not possible for most people. Yes, in Ithaca, it may be possible to live green. However, most of the American population does not live in Ithaca; they mostly live in urban cities (New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, etc…). This type of village is also a community only white people could achieve peacefully. If a person of color attempted to have a village like this, the police would constantly have a suspicious eye on the community. Not only is there a constant police in communities filled with people of color, but the act of slaughtering animals and creating greenhouses will seem suspicious. This type of living would not end well for most people. Plus, most people cannot just drop everything they know to essentially start over. Not everyone is privileged in that fashion. I think when environmental activism is addressed, people of color, low-income people, and those that are indirectly affected by environmental activism (migrant workers, people who create environmentally safe objects, etc…) are largely ignored.

Connection Between Terrorism and Climate Change – As Told by Bill Nye

According to the U.S. State Department, there has been a 35 percent increase in terrorist attacks. This data is relative to what exactly is considered a terrorist attack and if domestic terrorism is considered, but I digress. Recently, there has been many debates regarding the longevity of resources such as oil and water. Because a water and oil shortage is upon us, many have become desperate to obtain these resources resulting in violence. As Bill Nye states, “The more we let [climate change] go on, the more trouble there’s going to be.”

If you’d like to see the entire interview, please click here.

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