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A Journey Backwards : School year challenge: eat less meat

【明報專訊】The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is now burning at an unprecedented rate. If you happen to be a fan of breathing, this unfortunately affects you. Amazon alone accounts for 20% of oxygen supply of the whole planet. Since oxygen circulates around the planet, nobody is spared from the fires' hazardous effect.

Needless to say, rainforests are crucial for fighting global warming by regulating the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. With Amazon burning at this rate, the glacier melting will inevitably accelerate, threatening low‑lying coastal areas.

At this very moment, 10% of the total species on Earth are mercilessly burning in the once lush rainforest. A random video search on Google will point you to the unsightly massacre of beautiful flora and fauna.

If you had a chance, would you try to help the situation? Surprisingly, you can, even from a continent half a planet away. The trick is, cut down on meat — beef to be specific in this case.

The heavy fires were allegedly caused by slashing and burning, a form of deforestation to meet the spiking global demand for cheap beef. The Amazon basin is the largest exporter of beef in the world, with about 200 million head of cattle and still counting. To breed cattle, large areas of forest have to be cleared to plant grass which then supplies proteins for growth. Such growth is pathetically inefficient — it takes 10 times the amount of land to produce an equal amount of beef than grain. If the global demand for beef stays high, deforestation is only inevitable.

Can we shrug off responsibilities? No. Hong Kong accounts for almost 25% of global beef export. By building a diet habit that encourages deforestation, we contribute to the burning of the Amazon basin.

Changing such habit is hard. It is harder than donating money to curb the fires, or sharing news about the ecological disaster on social media. It requires us to rethink our role as customers.

Capitalism tells you that anything within your buying power is justly your right — true only if we believe that sustainability is someone else's issue. Turning a blind eye to unsustainable production pattern is a false right that money has deceptively given us. Ironically, customers have a crucial role to play in this, not by spending, but by spending less.

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Mona C. has a strong appetite for stories. Feed her enough.

Email: monafpchu@gmail.com

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