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I. Introduction (6 pts)

Watch the video “What if Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef (3:32)? (Links to an external site.)“, then write responses to the following questions:  

  1. What are your initial thoughts on the video above and on the topic of the impact of Animal Agriculture on Climate Change?  Note that other alternatives could be used instead of beans. (50-100 words minimum)                                                                         
  2. There is a population crisis – but probably not the one you think (Monbiot, G. 2015). To help you develop a deeper understanding of the topic, perform a quick search of the internet for answers to A, B, and C (numbers may vary depending on which source you use). Use approximate numbers for B and C.  
    1. Where does the country you are from rank in consumption of beef?  
    2. How many people are there in the world? What does the average person weigh? Multiply the two numbers and get the total weight of people in the world ?
    3. How many cows are there in the world?  What does the average cow weigh? Multiply the two numbers and get the total weight of cows in the world?
    4. Compare the total weight of cows in the world to the total weight of people in the world.   Additionally, to meet a growing demand of dairy and beef, the cow population is predicted to grow significantly faster than the human population is growing (Monbiot, G. 2015).  Discuss your thoughts on the comparison and how a growing cow population would impact the Earth.                                                                                                                                                                                  
  3. Paul Hawkins’ “Project Drawdown” is a leading Climate Change resource with 100 Solutions to draw down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Read and consider the #4 most significant solution titled “Plant-Rich Diet” at DrawDown.org (Links to an external site.). In 50-100 words, describe two things that you found most interesting about this solution.                                                                                 
  4. Factory food production has become large scale beyond our comprehension. Below is a short and impactful 6-minute “Samsara” food sequence video that gives a glimpse into the current scale of factory food production.  Discuss two things that struck you most.  (Note “Samsara” can be described as the “Cycle from Beginning to End”.)

Although the filming is an artistic representation of mass food production in our culture, the video contains filming of animals in factory food production and may be uncomfortable viewing, therefore it is not required. (2 pts Extra Credit)

Samsara: Food Sequence

II. “Cowspiracy – The Sustainability Secret” Movie (12 pts)

Note: There is ongoing research into the percentage of Climate Change caused by Animal Agriculture.  The Cowspiracy documentary refers to a non-peer-reviewed article that claims 51% of climate change is caused by animal agriculture (Goodland and AnHang 2009).  A review of current  peer -reviewed  research shows the impact to range from 14.5% (FAO 2013) to 20%  noted in “Project Drawdown.”  

Movie Questions:

  1. Environmental Organizations:  List three different organizations in the documentary that were not interested in discussing the impact of Animal Agriculture on Climate Change. Do you think there was a conspiracy when they wouldn’t discuss this topic, or do you think there might have been other reasons? (Note that many of these organizations are now discussing this topic since the movie was released.)
  2. Destruction of Rainforests:  Rainforests are critical to removing carbon from the atmosphere. The burning of Amazon Rainforests by slash and burn agriculture to raise cattle and grow feed crops for cattle also add carbon to the atmosphere and is one of the most challenging issues of our time.  What are your thoughts on this?  (50-100 words minimum)
  3. Consumption of Animal Products:  Howard Lyman was one of the biggest cattle ranchers in the country. After surviving major health issues and changing his diet, he wrote a book titled “Mad Cowboy: The Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Beef”.  In the movie, he states “You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products”.  This is one of the most challenging statements of the movie.  Discuss your thoughts on this, it is a very complex subject and there are no wrong answers.  (50-100 words minimum)
  4. Movie Review:  After watching the movie COWspiracy, what are your thoughts on Animal Agriculture and the related impacts on Climate Change? Do you think this subject is too personal to discuss? What are your thoughts on if or how our culture could make changes as a result of this information? There are no wrong answers. (100-200 words minimum)

III. What Are “Blue Zones”? (4 pts)

IV. Discussion with a friend or family member (4 pts)

Many people have heard about the impacts of animal agriculture on climate change, but few people know the details. This is one of the most challenging topics to discuss with others, but it is also a very important to raise awareness of this critical issue as we move forward to solve Climate Change. Part of this assignment is to practice discussing this topic with others. Note that it is important to be sensitive and open to the viewpoints of others on this topic!

Discuss what you have learned about the impact of animal agriculture on climate change with a friend or family member who is not familiar with the topic. Document how the conversation went. What was the person’s reaction? How did you feel bringing this up to the person you chose? Would you do anything differently? (50-100 words minimum) 

V. Extra Credit (4 pts)

Regenerative Agriculture is a growing approach to food and farming. It is also a significant part of the climate change solution as healthy soil stores large amounts of carbon. Find a recent article related to the topic. Share a link or title and a short in-depth report with others on the discussion board. Search under “Regenerative Agriculture” or check out this article: Reversing Climate Change with Regenerative Agriculture (Links to an external site.). (100 words minimum) 

For those interested in more information on this topic, see recent movies on the subject including “Kiss the Ground”, “Biggest Little Farm”, and “Farmer’s Footprint”.

This part of the assignment provides a short introduction that eating a plant-based diet and reducing the consumption of animal products, while being healthy for the planet, can also be a healthy option for people. Also note the health care system in the US is responsible for about 10% of the carbon emissions in the US and could be substantially reduced with a healthy lifestyle. In 2005, National Geographic published an article  The Secrets of a Long Life (Links to an external site.)”.  Skim through this article and provide responses for the following: 

  1. What is a “Blue Zone” referenced in the article? (also search the internet for “Blue Zones” to find the answer.) 
  2. What are the “longevity diets” in the Blue Zones? (also search the internet for “Blue Zones longevity diets” to find the answer.) 
  3. Discuss how changing to a Blue Zone longevity diet focusing on local foods could impact climate change? (50-100 words minimum)