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Big Banks Are Putting Rain Forests in Peril (nytimes.com)
192 points by azuajef on Dec 3, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments

The most shocking stats from this article that jumped out at me and made my heart sink:

"The world has lost 60 percent of its population of Bornean orangutans since 1950, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In July, the Bornean orangutan was listed as critically endangered."

"About 15 percent of the world’s historical forest cover remains intact, according to the World Resources Institute. The rest [85%] has been cleared or degraded or is in fragments."

"Climate concerns have been brought into sharp relief by the impending presidency of Donald J. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax. Mr. Trump has said he will pull the United States out of the Paris accord, a commitment by 95 countries to take concrete measures to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions."

The most shocking for me, from the section titled "The Deadly Haze":

>"Daily emissions from Indonesia’s forest fires last year at times exceeded emissions produced by all economic activity in the United States. A recent Harvard and Columbia study estimated that the fires caused at least 100,000 premature deaths across Southeast Asia. The World Bank estimates that the fires cost Indonesia’s economy $16 billion."

Otherwise known as "banks lend money to people". Pantomime villains sell newspapers, 2008 and all that.

Much like technology that can be used for good and bad, I prefer to live in a world where services are available to all without discrimination – knowing that some people will do things I disagree with using those services – than a world where some random person's morals are used to restrict those services to certain groups.

I find it pretty weird to see people gleeful that a far right party cannot get campaign funding, but those same people baulk at any criticism of democracy. The bank probably doesn't care about the party politics, but it does care about it's reputation. Trying to call the banks out for who they lend money to is probably effective but – IMO – chilling.

I don't think this has anything to do with morality.

Problems arise when negative externalities [1] are not accounted for. Sure, companies (and their banks) can make a fortune by burning rainforests for palm oil, but that leaves the costs (loss of habitat, CO2 release) to be borne by the rest of the world. Ideally, regulation puts those costs back to the companies causing them. If that doesn't happen, I have no problem with exposing and targeting the banks financing them.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality

Yes, but it's an interesting question as to how externalities should be evaluated and corrected for. Should it be legislated by the Indonesian government, or enforced by public pressure on the companies/their lenders and suppliers? I can imagine both good and bad outcomes occurring from a social welfare perspective in the latter case?

Otherwise known as "banks lend money to people".

Actually the point of the article is that banks lend money to corporations, some of which go and do awful things. Not that they simply lend money to "people".

Much like technology that can be used for good and bad, I prefer to live in a world where services are available to all without discrimination – knowing that some people will do things I disagree with using those services – than a world where some random person's morals are used to restrict those services to certain groups.

Well, that's fine for an ethos when applied to individuals... but its applicability to corporations is an entirely different matter, altogether.

If a corporation is caught doing something that either domestic or international legal structures -- not simply "some person's random morals" -- have determined to cause great harm to humanity (including, just as an example, blatant, open-air gang-rape of natural resources, as appears to be happening in certain parts of Indonesia) -- then no, they aren't entitled to "equal access" to resources and services. They're going to be prohibited from doing those things, using all legal means available -- including, one find day, let us hope, severe restrictions on access to financial resources; and if necessary, criminal prosecution of the corporation's registered officers.

Successfully implemented, the proper term for such measures it not "discrimination". It's called rule of law.

Whether or not legal structures currently exist to prohibit the kind of abuses described in the article is a separate, technical matter. But address your comment directly: the idea that we should not attempt to control (via legislation or moral opprobrium) the lending behavior of banks with regard to corporations because that would be a form of "discrimination", or somehow an infliction of "someone's random morals" on their individual choices -- is fundamentally flawed.

The banks are an attractive target because they are large household names with high profile offices in the cities. So much more convenient for protesting than actually going to Borneo to hit the real perpetrators.

The logical conclusion to this kind of targeting of banks that have a huge number of uncontroversial clients, and a handful of controversial (but legal) clients is that they will start turning away the business to protect their reputation, and someone else will set up a bank that specializes in shady clients, has an obscure and often changing name, anonymous offices, and generally doesn't care about its reputation.

Would that be better? Obviously not, but it's effectively what activists are ask for.

It's far from 'obvious' that it's not better, since shady banks are more easily targeted by national governments and raise the cost of capital for unscrupulous entrepreneurs, making such enterprises riskier and less profitable. At least, that's how capitalism is supposed to work.

Nice it's not practical for everyone to travel to a region to protest environmental degradation that indirectly affects many more people, perhaps you could could turn your abilities to coming up with a more effective scheme of action.

Money is the enabler & is within the control of our own government.

With money comes responsibility. The US should provide a good guiding example.

But ultimately it is the responsibility of governments to control these corporations that'll compete at every level.

The role of government should be a counterbalance to capitalism.

Capitalism allows people to self motivate to get everything done. It does not really need any helping. Human aspirations is enough.

Governments must protect the future resources our planet has. And do so in an even way which makes the playing field fair for companies.

It's an almost impossible task & I can start to understand why we don't detect any intelligent life anywhere in the universe. Life anywhere is probably similar to ours: took millions of years to develop, collected lots of stored energy underground, and all the organisms are naturally competitive making it impossible for modern life on the planet to co-exist.

Fortunately, capitalism is a fairly young system & requires a government to provide violence (police & military) to preserve it. Capitalists often ask government to step in and make capitalism viable long-term. That is, keep capitalists from destroying each other. And to keep the populace from trying alternatives. ("Revolution.")

Slavery was more stable: lasted millenia. We're in turbulent times, particularly since we're probably ending neoliberal capitalism: an unstable form of capitalism whose one advantage is to damage the imagination enough to stop seeing alternatives except a single bad one.

I would be surprised if the death knell for neoliberal capitalism is really sounding. And what, pray tell, is the replacement? Fascism? Plutocracy? Probably not Socialism or Communism...

Even the IMF's economists are starting to question neoliberalism's limitations: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/pdf/ostry...

Lenin (for all his faults) said that fascism is capitalism in decay, and far-right governments are gaining power all over the world, so...

I'm anticapitalist but your smug tone does nothing to advance the discussion or help people to find effective alternatives.

Capitalism, as free markets are anti-state.

>Slavery was more stable: lasted millenia.

And slavery required less violence, per capita, to maintain? I don't think so. Innumerable slave revolts. Wars of conquest to capture slaves. Slave raiding. The daily violence needed to enforce slavery. Sexual violence perpetrated on slaves.

Capitalism is a rock of stability, from a civil society perspective, in contrast. When was the last time a developed capitalist nation had a civil war, or even a major violent revolt?

When was the last time a developed capitalist nation had a civil war, or even a major violent revolt?

Reminder: Before those developed capitalist nations became what they are now, they also had their share of civil wars and major violent revolts.

Yes, and?

> When was the last time a developed capitalist nation had a civil war, or even a major violent revolt?

Ask again in a year or two.

Oh boy, are you in for a big surprise.

The things about banks is that they can be used by the west as a chokepoint for undesirable commerce in developing countries. If the West were to say that banks can not lend money to companies engaged in forest destruction and illegal burning it could have an effect.

I definitely agree that there should be as little discrimination as possible, but I don't think it has to be an anything goes mentality. I don't subscribe to"if it's legal, a company should do it." There are a lot of things a company can do within the bounds of the law that people find morally reprehensible.

In the article, the NYT is making an argument to say that this business behavior is morally reprehensible. Not that it should be illegal or not allowed. It's up to the individuals reading the articles to take any action, if they feel it's necessary. For instance, not using that company for their services.

It sounds like you're unfamiliar with the concept of negative externalities. You should probably read more history too.

What this annoyingly ignores is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation, animal agriculture.

80% of the deforestation in the Amazon has been for cattle and their food[1].

It makes sense, people eat a lot of animals, animals need a lot of food. Blaming banks is an easier group to blame then ourselves and our own choices, though.

[1] http://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/amazon/land-use/cattle-ran...

Animal agriculture is also a huge contributor to the global climate change problem. Again, basically swept under the rug.

My suspicion is that many powerful people feel (rightly or wrongly) that the subject of enforcing diet is simply too untenable for them to take up without all hell breaking loose. (What do you mean I can't eat my meat!?) ...And that's not to mention all the "standard issues" clouding their judgment and priorities.

It's funny because there are some easy changes governments could make which aren't even in telling people what to do.

We literally give billions to animal ag industries in subsidies, we could just stop that. Take it a step further and use that money to actually fund alternatives so they're substantially cheaper for the public. The fact that almond/coconut milk is more expensive than cow milk speaks volumes about how the system is set up.

Another step, which the FDA almost did this year, is advise people to eat less animals because it's awful for the environment. In general just making the message more visible would help.

The last one is kind of telling people what to do, but the FDA already does that anyway so it's not too much of a change.

Is almond milk really better than cow milk in terms of impact?

In terms of global warming, almond milk seems to be about 4.6 times better than cow milk. On page 8 of [1], they claim that CO2-equivalent emissions are

0.36 kg/L almond milk, and 1.67 kg/L cow milk.

(Note: This is somebody's class report, not a peer-reviewed publication.)

There is some uncertainty in these numbers, of course. If you care more about water usage, then 1L of almond milk uses on the order of 1600 gallons of water, compared to under 100 gallons of water per liter of cow milk. Again, there is some uncertainty. And I think CO2-equivalent emissions is far more important.

[1] http://www.environment.ucla.edu/perch/resources/images/cow-v...

Does the cow milk water usage compare the water used in the crops to feed the cows? It seems staggering to me that water used would be so much less.

Although trees generally conserve water much better than animals, you need to support the entire almond tree for a few almonds whereas the cow's entire body will be used for a variety of products. The water usage of the agricultural infrastructure supporting the cow may be higher in absolute numbers but a single cow is literally hundreds or thousands of pounds of useful meat and bone after it is no longer useful as a milking cow.

Why was this (ant6n's) post downvoted? It's a legitimate question


I was about to rebut you, but the facts remain: The largest supplier (by far) of almonds in the world is California. So yeah, if you drink almond milk it's likely sourced from CA using up precious water that is causing the CA central valley to literally sink [1], as much as several inches a month (ie, several feet so far).

However, almonds pale in comparison to cows or other livestock in terms of water usage (esp when used as meat) - while consuming large quantities of almonds may not be sustainable, it's a lot better than eating meat... just may be as water-unsustainable as drinking local milk (if you live in CA).

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/28/california-c...

But meat cows and milk cows are not the same thing. You need to grow a whole cow to have the meat of one cow, but if you grow one milk-cow you have the life-time supply of one cow. The water to meat (weight) ratio may be in the thousands or ten thousands, but the water to milk ratio may be in the oughts or tens.

Milk cows carry a baby every year which puts more pressure on metabolism needs. Milk is more energy and water inefficient than meat ( same scale comparison).

>We literally give billions to animal ag industries in subsidies, we could just stop that.

I'm in agreeance with your suggestions, but note that Indonesia has large protests over small increases in meat costs. There's a political reality to dramatically raising food prices in a democracy.

In an other article, I just did some hasty estimates of diet vs commuting.

If you drive for more than 5 minutes, you will cause a higher climate effect than any diet choice. Eat just the nicest climate friendly food, and drive for more than 5 minutes in one direction and you end up doing more harm than an meat eating cyclist.

Which also mean that working from home would be the biggest cultural change to fix the environment, and much more effective than any cultural change in diet.

As would modifying land use regulations to enable people to live closer to their workplaces (by allowing mixed-use neighborhoods full of multifamily buildings without mandatory auto parking, and building the mass transit network to support such land use).

Maybe in terms of climate change but not in terms of forest habitat loss. If you get your meat from South America. Or palm oil from Indonesia.

Agree, which is why buying from whoever is cheapest are rarely the best choice.

Take Sweden. The loss of farming is causing a significant decrease in open fields, endangering several species who need that kind of habitat. Beef produce in Sweden is also about twice as expensive than the cheapest imported beef, so it becomes a price issue. This where certification can do a good job in guiding consumers to choose producers that in a local context has a net positive on the environment.

Interesting. I think what would be so hard about doing such an estimation is that most of the damage is just so far removed from us end consumers. It seems to me, very hard to extrapolate what one gallon of gas burned or one hamburger of meat eaten actually equates to on the production end of the spectrum. Care to share any more details?

For estimates, I used https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-u... for meat vs vegetarian, and carbon-footprint for 5m commute was provided by a comment here on HN, but I remade them this time.

Using https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=307&t=11 we get us co2 per gallon, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_automobiles#Fu... gives average miles per gallon, which with units (gnu tool) translated it to about 8.6 miles for 3kg co2. 8.6 miles is, depending on driving speed, a reasonable estimated of 10m driving. So if a person commute time to work is 5m, and 5m back, the co2 should be similar to a person who eat meat-rich diet but who work from home.

Giving the meat vs vegetarian study authors the benefit of the doubt with respect to their calculations of greenhouse gas emissions from "production, transport, storage, cooking and wastage of food", and considering that on the commuting side of the equation you're only considering the emissions from burning gasoline (ignoring drilling/extraction, refining, and all the transportation that happens in the middle), the disparity must be even worse than you suggest. Perhaps a little ironically, the headline of the Guardian article says exactly the opposite.

The article title is a bit ironical, but then the article title is just derived from the quote and don't provide any arguments.

I can only speculate, but I suspect there are a few reason how one could interpret data that I have seen elsewhere. One is that while CO2 from cows are higher than from cars, those numbers don't take into consideration that people can choose to stop driving but not stop eating. If you replace cows with vegetarian option, that is still 2.9kg CO2 being released per day per person. A stop to driving is 0kg CO2.

The second aspect is that there is likely more people who don't drive cars than people who don't eat meat. If we are talking about what individual people can do, stop driving is still the best way to reduce ones environmental impact, and I suspect that the average amount of car owners on HN is a bit higher than the global average. Once that box is ticked off, discussion of meat vs non-meat options is a bit more relevant.

Could you link to or repost those estimations?

It's a tradeoff. Maybe most people just don't think slowing climate change is worth reducing meat consumption.

It's not even meat. All we have to do is cut beef. Pork, lamb, chicken, rabbit and fish (in that order) have exponentially less environmental impact.

Downvoters tell me why you disagree?

It's not even beef. It's industrial beef catering.

Around my place, cows are still in the meadows, then for a few winter months they are in the stable but they are fed mostly with grass cut in the same meadows earlier, plus a bit of straw, leftover of other cultures. The pressure on the local environment is basically nil, and it has no effect on remote locations either.

But if you drive just a few dozen miles away, all catering is industrial (even at small scale): cows live their whole life under a shed, over a concrete slab, behind galvanised steel bars, and are fed silage and soja sprayed from a tractor. They do not ever go in the meadows.

It was not like that 25 years ago, it changed quickly. It is unneeded (production was already excessive with the (not so) old way) and it is unsustainable: it costs lots of investments, it costs lots of food buying, it destroys landscapes which are either turned into farm land or abandoned to the forest, this farm land uses more water and pollutes more, the farmer does not any more produce a wide range of crops and animals, it is specialised in a single (or 2 at most) production and has to stick to it and is thus highly sensitive and fragile with respect to market price variations. In fact he's not a farmer any more, he's just a small industrialist, a meat manufacturer. A very small one who doesn't even have any power to control anything. He's perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy and sometimes commits suicide. So really none, nothing, nowhere benefits of this system (except a few go-between that didn't exist before or existed but increased their margins).

You make a valid point that there are varying degrees of offense. There's this thing called the "feed conversion ratio"[0] that measures how much input it takes to get the desired output. But for all meats, even fish, the ratio is above 1 (it takes more food than is produced). I would be curious to see where insects fall on the spectrum; I've heard they're very efficient protein producers for the physical space they take up, but I'm having trouble locating any specific data to back that up.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed_conversion_ratio

That's true, however, the bigger issue with beef is the methods used to raise cattle in tropical countries. Farming cattle involves clear-cutting large swaths of forest to create fields that have 2-3 years of use for cattle before the soil is completely degraded. Then new land must be cleared. Cattle methane is another huge problem. Neither of those issues are factored in to the "feed conversion ratio".

> for all meats, even fish, the ratio is above 1 (it takes more food than is produced)

That seems like basic physics(?) How could it possibly be below 1 for anything that doesn't photosynthesize?

Yea. The reason I called out fish is that they have the advantage of more-or-less not needing to support their own body weight to move around, unlike land-based animals, and therefore they have the closest ratio to 1.


It's hardly just men. There are plenty of women with the "meal (and certainly dinner) = meat" notion in their heads.

I am personally very defensive about eating animal products, which is funny since I used to be vegan. With current developments it seems like the endgame will be that only extremely rich people will be able to afford meat and other animal products.

I find it dishonest to compare animal product eating to very unhealthy things such as smoking and alcohol, with standard SJW angles of 'toxic masculinity' thrown in and what not. The myth of 'low fat = healthy, fat=bad', pushed for decades starting with Ancel Keys, is slowly disintegrating, and suddenly there's another convenient bogeyman to keep animal products stuck with negative image - climate change.

My life has become so much better since I've turned from vegan to a keto diet based on animal products. I don't eat more meat than a regular person, but most of my calories are animal and milk fats - butter, heavy cream etc. This made all my health issues, some of them pretty severe and incurable autoimmune issues, pretty much disappear.

That's why I would hate to see animal products banned/highly taxed as result of vegan zealots' lobbying, hidden behind the guise of 'helping the planet'.

You know, I'm not the biggest capitalist in the world, far from it, but this is a situation where I'd say...let the market do its job.

I'd say, let's stop subsidizing the meat industry. Let the prices rise to whatever their market cost without government intervention would be. Let people decide when they're not paying a hidden cost to make meat cheap at the market.

Why not, eh?

Yes, I am fine with that idea. I do not like the subsidies either.

However I think that the subsidies game is even deeper, and that it's responsible for many more negative things than just making for cheap meat - most processed food today is just high fructose corn syrup in disguise.

So yeah, I would like to see prices of low-quality food stop being artificially low, because I believe that would affect the prices of higher quality food (quality meat and quality vegetables) in a positive way.

I absolutely agree with you whenever I can I like to stay in a Paleo Diet because it makes me feel a lot better than any other diet I have tried. However, whenever I read comments about the environment on HN I always get this Malthusian feeling from them. Their story always revolves around the fact that we are consuming resources today that future generations won't get and that we are essentially dooming the future of humanity by polluting with CO2 and consuming meat. It's essentially Malthus' argument in disguise. I always approach these kinds of arguments with extreme caution because you are essentially betting against humanity's ability to innovate. And before anyone jumps at me yes, global warming is real and it will have a real cost on society. But before you advocate for one radical policy or another consider whether the actual cost of global warming from that activity actually justifies it economically.

Yes, that's why I mention dishonesty in my original post. Most people who argue hard for not eating meat because of climate change actually have deeper motives (animal welfare/not causing animals suffering), and will use whichever argument, no matter how flawed, to push their agenda. I know this because I used to belong to these circles.

By methane production (a comon bogeyman for animal rights activists to push for banning meat use), all of agriculture together makes for only 1/4 of total methane production, the rest is transportation, manufacture and such. Of that 1/4, cows are responsible for cca 1/3-1/2 of it.

As an interesting side note, rice production also generates large amounts of methane (because of anaerobic conditions in rice paddies): cows generated 189 tons of it from 1996 to 2001, while rice production has generated 112 tons in the same period. So rice productions generates 2/3 as much methane as cows:


I agree with you about the Malthusian argument, it's similar to how gloomy people were about our ability to feed ourselves before we invented artificial fertilizer - I believe that the best improvement for future of our planet will be some clean energy revolution - most likely working fusion. Once we'll have that, most of problematic emissions will be taken care of.

Also, considering the rapid progress in genetic science, I wouldn't be surprised if we will be able to create biological machines such as a standalone chicken's digestive and reproductive tract - you would have it in your kitchen, and feed it scraps; from them it would produce eggs. And you could optimize your nutrition by adding specific nutrients to scraps, such as omega3 fat acids.

Big oil drives development in emerging economies, that's a better justification than eating animals than some blind progress one.

I think the best argument for veganism is simply what right do we have to take another creatures life purely for our matter of taste. I wasn't directly talking abkut veganism though in the parent.

I am mostly vegan. I think the solution is to make it easier to consume plants. I don't think taxes or bans are necessary.

I also think you can decide you want to be a rich person who eats a 10x share of meat while the poorest get a 0.1x share. I'm not being facetious, I don't think you're really harming anyone by choosing that.

But I do think you need to admit that you are taking that choice away from future generations. You believe you are more important than future generations, so you want to use a 10x share of resources.

Again, I don't think that's immoral, but I think you have a moral duty to be honest about your values and that you don't place value on future generations' use of those resources.

I do not want to be a rich person, nor live a rich lifestyle. I lead a simple life, have simple and inexpensive hobies, and don't really spend money on things. Eating animal products is one of rare things where I cannot accept a compromise, simply because I believe it is very unhealthy to do so.

'You are taking choice away from future generations' is a very meaningless statement that can be applied to everyone, and comes off simply as a concern troll. Most of us Westerners can improve the future in many more significant ways than not eating meat. You are taking choice away from future generations simply by existing and spending resources; by living a cushy western urbanite life and participating in online forums instead of living an isolated rural subsistence life without modern life comforts.

Another poster here wrote that just 5 minutes of driving daily is worse for environment/climate than any possible diet style one might be following. So a vegan that drives 5 min daily affects the environment and climate worse than a meat eater who cycles to work.

As for me, no, I do not have a moral duty to be honest about my values, and your concern troll did not work. I feel I have a moral value to take care of myself and my health primarily, and that's why I switched from ideology I followed (veganism based on ethical issues - resource use and animal abuse/suffering) when the ideology proved to be supported by lies about how veganism is healthy and meat-eating is unhealthy. Instead of an ideology, I went with what proved itself to be correct. And I am glad I did.

> You are taking choice away from future generations simply by existing and spending resources; by living a cushy western urbanite life and participating in online forums instead of living an isolated rural subsistence life without modern life comforts.

You are right that by existing we are consuming precious resources. In fact, life (i believe) feeds off of some other death, somewhere, in the grand scheme of things. That said, i don't think we'll convince many people to stop existing for environmentalist causes. We'll have to find a compromise. One of those, i believe, is living a life with a small footprint (cycle don't drive, avoid air travel, go veggie where possible, eat local produce as much as possible). However, and i can't go into as much detail here as i'd like, it's not always practical to convince people to become vegos, only cycle, etc. I suggest interested people read the 98% Environmentalist [1], an essay i thought quite insightful.

However, regarding your second point, i think it is a misconception that an urbanite lifestyle is more wasteful of resources than a rural one. In fact, if we as a species are to become less environmentally impactful, i believe (perhaps mistakenly) that we should live in cities as much as possible: this allows us to use public transport (as opposed to wasteful single occupancy ICE cars), work from home or cycle to work, live more densely (= easier to centralise recycling, insulation and heating of buildings is more efficient in apartment buildings, etc.). As opposed to the rural existence where one is probably forced to drive to a nearby city for supplies one cannot grow (building materials perhaps).

Of course, i may be completely wrong. I encourage everyone to live as mindfully of the environment as possible, in their own way, without claiming to have a one-size-fits-all answer. I hope we don't, however, stick our heads into the sand and hammer the final nail into the climate's coffin during our lifetimes – i worry it may already be a lost battle [2].

1. still looking for the link :( help me HN?

2. https://xkcd.com/1732/

I made a slight mistake in the post, in "I feel I have a moral value to take care of myself and my health primarily" It should be 'moral obligation' instead of 'moral value'.

I also feel deeply about helping to preserve our planet - I don't drive, I don't buy useless stuff that has traveled thousands of km on a container ship burning terribly dirty bunker oil, I don't support wasteful services. Like I said before, the only thing where I won't compromise is eating animal fats, because of health reasons. I also felt very, very cheated after realizing I've been lied to about how veganism is healthier than 'meat eating', when it was making me ill instead.

I'd like to clarify that I wrote 'rural subsistence lifestyle', not 'rural lifestyle', so I don't mean what is considered a typical rural lifestyle these days - commute to work for an hour or more, have a large farm operated with gas-powered machinery and such. That is equally wasteful as urban life.

What I meant was a simple rural life - having a small home that is optimally designed to need a minimum amount of heating and cooling, raising your own food on a couple acres without help of machinery (vegetables, chicken/ducks and a small flock of sheep or goats, possibly also fish with recently popular aquaponics). And with the rest of necessary income coming from working online, remotely. Not easy to pull off, but I know a couple people that managed to do it, and I hope that I'll manage to do it soon too.

PCs have come a long way, and a modern ultrabook spends so little power that it can easily be recharged from a solar panel/battery combo, and won't need to be replaced for quite a few years because the CPU development mostly stagnated these days. So an internet router + an ultrabook is the extent of 'modern luxuries' in the 'rural life' I talked about.

I do not know what SJW is nor that the toxic masculinity angle is standard. I never thought about it much until I wrote about it here. I cannot help it is not very original; it is what I see around me ( I own a meat serving restaurant for instance ).

A lot of people believe 1-2 glasses of alcohol a day save your life while there is more and more proof it is actually very bad (which is what you call it outright); I see the same kind of thing happening for meat. That was what I was commenting on.

Well, a meat serving restaurant would teach you more about people's obsession with status than with meat, in my opinion (which fits in line with the rest of your observations), so it might not give you 100% correct insight on this. I do not eat out if I can help it.

As for the alcohol, it puts a significant workload on liver, without any benefits I know of; however, funny thing is that metabolization pathway in liver for sugar is very similar to that of alcohol, so I consider sugar to be as unhealthy as alcohol is.

I do not have much of a particular opinion on meat itself tho - it's animal and dairy fats that I consider important. However, I feel that most of arguments about meat being unhealthy should be targeting unhealthy meat raising practices instead - loading the animals full of antibiotics, having them on an unvaried grain-only diet and such.

I would agree with what you say here. The problem is that it is quite hard for most people to get animal product without all the chemicals right? I live on a mountain far from cities so for me it is far easier but for most people it would be hard. Another positive about the meat from the mountain is that the animals basically do not suffer (much) but that is not the unhealthy for human factor we were talking about anyway.

I agree with you as well. I dream of living a rural life and raising my own food, both because then I would know that my animals weren't injected/fed with anything unhealthy, and because I could make sure they lived a nice life and died a quick, painless death.

"Perceived meat entitlement"? Can't imagine why you find people getting defensive.


What would you call it though? This thread is about killing life because rich folks want meat?

Define "life". Because last I heard, plants count as "alive" too?

One of the possible alternatives I'm aware of is ground up insects. Those are the same kind of "alive" as other animals, and yet AFAICT the "don't kill anything" people seem to things it's at least less bad. Even tho it takes a lot more of them to get the same amount of nutrition.

Are you aware of things called "obligate carnivores"? How do they fit in to your moral framework?

Have you played with evolutionary algorithms? Systems that have appropriate sensors / feedback loops to avoid harm to themselves (could even be as simple as a speed governor on an engine)? It can really be... odd to try to think of "life" (or even whatever term we're currently using to assign moral weight to anything capable of feeling pain) in general as being all that unique and special, when I can build something that meets most parts of most definitions in an afternoon.


Humans are omnivores, and I have the teeth to prove it. Stop demanding that I forsake my heritage, especially over some half-baked philosophy that isn't even compatible with my experiences.

We should all embrace nihilarianism. To save life, let's all starve to death :-)

It's easier to empathize with mammals, but you're right, at this point, humans cannot survive without destroying (some) life.

Edit: I'm fine with the ecologic/economic argument for minimizing meat consumption, though.

I think this comes from vastly underestimating the value humans bring to other life. I would argue that without humans there is no life. We are the only species in the planet that has, in the next couple million years, the ability to allow life to expand throughout the universe. We are literally the only species alive that can do this. Without us life is frail and subject to the whims of cosmic events on our planet that could whipe it out. Humans bring a lot of value to the world and I think we play a critical role in the history of life. I find that people who argue against humans using earths resources forget that we have a very important role in the ecosystem. So important in fact, that a the extinction of a couple thousand of species and habitats is probably a small price to pay for us to learn how to use our incredible ability to control the environment.

I think you're overly optimistic. Our technology does and will explore space at large.

Humans in space (beside the few scientific missions and maybe a Mars trip) make about as much sense as motorized fishbowls on highways. Humans won't leave the solar system, and we may destroy the ecosystem that feeds us before we can start a serious space expansion program.

Beside the CO2 problems (warming and ocean acidification), we've also destroyed a third of arable land in the last 40 years. The presence of biodiversity is needed for resilient ecosystems too.

I have said almost nothing of the things you attribute to me. I am not against eating meat nor would I try to tell someone to do that or not do that.

So take it more as the general "you" that goes with the "meat is evil" position you appeared to be supporting, rather than the personal "you".

But I am not; I think I used a word wrong somehow that means something stronger than I meant to say. I serve meat in my restaurant (as much as possible and allowed actual free range and with limited chemicals as allowed) and I think a lot about it but I am not of that school you put me in.

I just do not get the obsession with having to have meat every day multiple times or the 'entitlement' (that might be the wrong word I used?) for people feeling they can demand it like that. But that was more of a discussion topic attempt than getting people angry or something like it.

But I am not; I think I used a word wrong somehow that means something stronger than I meant to say. I serve meat in my restaurant (as much as possible and allowed actual free range and with limited chemicals as allowed) and I think a lot about it but I am not of that school you put me in.

Cool. And given the general tone-deafness of plain text I should probably note that I wasn't trying to go off on you either. I was more going for putting out a variety of thoughts on what seemed to be the topic to see if any interesting discussions might come out of it.

I just do not get the obsession with having to have meat every day multiple times or the 'entitlement' (that might be the wrong word I used?) for people feeling they can demand it like that.

That's probably it, yes. Not sure what the right word would be, tho...

Is it that strong a word? I looked up the meaning and it seems to mean what I intented but seeing the reactions to it, it carries much more weight than I meant.

Yeah, it's actually quite charged -- saying someone is behaving "entitled" is suggesting that they are being extremely childish and bullying on the subject. That word has been used as a weapon by far-left political pundits as well to dismiss people's objections instead of debating them.

I suspect the problem is people are unhappy with your assumption of the entitlement to tell them what they ought to be eating.

I am not telling anyone what to eat or not... I was just commenting that guys get very wound up by touching on the subject. This thread does not point the other way now does it?

That's pretty disingenuous. "Touching the subject" of restricting what other people eat naturally will make them angry. Particularly the way you do it.

English is not my first language; what did I exactly say 'that way'? As I am not sure: by people (guys) getting angry I mean things like blokes shouting at a Thai waiter because they wanted "f*cking serious meat" and there was hardly any in the soup.

Yah, it's interesting how people who believe they are entitled to things get offended when someone describes them has having entitlement.

The argument is something like "don't call me entitled I'm entitled to eat as much meat as I want"

... which makes no sense to me.

Well, you're entitled to eat whatever you can afford to eat. If that's meat, it's meat.

Yah, that's called entitlement. I don't understand why people get so upset by that word.

Are sure you arent confusing culture and gender? I have many japanese friends who love meat(steak) but cant afford it in japan, and so go a little overboard when they visit me in america.

Swept under the rug because there hasn't been a proven viable alternative that creates enough food to support modern human organization. Growth is the be all, end all of capitalism and agriculture is the 10,000 year old basis for it's existence. Until society rewrites the social contract, we're stuck with it and there are going to be articles like this one written that continually cast it into doubt.

Agriculture and meat aren't the same thing.

This article references deforestation whose root cause is a desire to to create land for grazing, so in this case it seems to be.

> It makes sense, people eat a lot of animals, animals need a lot of food. Blaming banks is an easier group to blame then ourselves and our own choices, though.

In Indonesia forests are being burned to make space for palm oil plantations not cattle ranches. Your comment and propaganda of an alternative agenda is rather off-base I think.

What I took from the article is that there is maybe a chink in the bank's armor for a creative environmentalist legal group to go after. They have published documents saying how green they are. And they are not sticking to it.

Banks operate with other peoples money. Many of those people would not be happy to learn that their money was invested in things the banks said they would not support.

Maybe banks could be held liable.

I hope they will soon figure out how to lab grow meat.

I do too, but at the same time, meat isn't particularly healthy for you anyways?[1] At least red meat is awful for you. Plenty of alternatives exist* at the moment though they're not always cheap.

We have the opportunity for a two-for-one here by replacing more harmful products with plant based alternatives. Things like the impossible burger people already rave about.

It could be more of a marketing challenge, just making faux meats seem sexy and attractive to people. Luckily it's a growing industry so we'll see more investments in them, along with faux meats.

* if you live near a somewhat alternative food store like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc. Kind of a big if.

[1] http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/cutting-red-me...

taco bell bean burrito! lived on that for 3 years through university. :)


Asking for a source is good! Claiming something is made up without any evidence to support it, less so.

I honestly figured it was so well known of a fact it didn't need support. Below is one, though.


I'm vegan but I'd never make stuff up. Notion of food being unhealthy or healthy is borderline orthorexic. Saying that red meat is unhealthy is vague. There's no concept in science that categorizes food as either healthy or unhealthy. There has been no strong evidence that diets containing meat are unhealthy.

As much as I'd like everyone to severely decrease their meat consumption and eventually stop using all animal products I won't scare them with shaky facts.

Would USA population benefit from eating less food, definitely. Are epidemiological studies strong enough evidence for diet related health benefits? No.

HN is full of orthorexic hivemind demonizing ingredients like sugar, cholesterol, fat, meat or whatever.

There are plenty of valid, rational reasons to stop eating meat. If one is in good health then health is not a valid reason.

I don't either, perhaps I spoke too broadly but red meat is generally agreed to be bad for someone, especially in the quantities normally eaten in the western world. I really should have specified "most American's can improve their health by eating less red meat."

We shouldn't generally speak in absolutes, I agree. But what I was contending was simple, staying away from lab and normal animal flesh would be good in general for the US population.

That's not to say you can't eat red meat and be healthy if you do it in moderation. There's countless ways to achieve a healthy diet with h vegan and non vegan options.

People have good reason to doubt food science "experts", the current obesity epidemic is thought to be from bad recommendations of the food pyramid.


People are absolutely right to doubt the legitmacy of nutrition research in 2016, and the replication crisis and obesity crisis, and failure of experts just adds fuel to the fire.

This. It also annoyingly ignores the problems created by increasing human population which is already very huge now. The huge and increasing human population is a very big problem the humanity is facing as it puts an enormous pressure on environment.

This is not to say that banks are innocent but the article puts a skewed view that is misleading.

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