Steve Best On The Ecological Crisis and Veganism, IARC 2013 Luxembourg
At the 2013 International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg, Steve Best — Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at El Paso argues that we are deep in the throes of a social, natural and planetary crisis, the likes we have never seen before. Caused by explosive and out-of-control population growth; diminishing food, water and natural resources; massive consumer consumption driven by aggressive capitalism; relentless fossil fuel consumption; accelerating carbon and greenhouse gas emissions; environmental degradation and massive species extinction; resource scarcity and finite limits to resources; and developing countries like China and India quickly becoming consuming nations. With only one planet Earth and population growth that has accelerated from 2 billion in 1945 to 7 billion in 2012, in a short 67 years — he argues for radical change, with no time to wait. Best says we’re running out of time. Our capitalist system of power has worked by oppression, elitism, and inequality in order for multi-national corporations to gain control and dominate the world’s resources, people and environment.
Community and Social Resistance Movements Against Multinationals
Best posits that the only way out of this mess we’re in is by getting people out of power that only have their own vested interests in mind, “who don’t care about animals, future generations, natural resources, climate change, the repressed and the poor.” He warns these powers will use up everything, all of the Earth’s resources, destroy all of our land, our environment, the oceans, use up the last fresh water—until there is absolutely nothing left. He affirms it’s a race to get the last of what’s left.” It’s a race down to the bottom.
When starting to look at what is working, and movements that have and can make a positive impact and create constructive change, Best asserts the “vegan and animal rights movement has had a profound role in changing situations and has the power to make a difference in the way we need one. Veganism is very important for the environment and for the conservation of resources that are remaining. Veganism and animal rights are very important for the new ethic, the new world view, the new mentality, the new spirit – of aligning ourselves on this planet away from the “Dominator Paradigm” or rampant capitalism that has prevailed for the last 10,000 years. Veganism and animal rights is very important for environmental change, economic change, technological change and spiritual change.”
At the conclusion of his speech, he concludes, “Resistance is the oxygen of the future. The only chance that we have left of averting runaway climate change, of averting global chaos around the struggle of scarce resources, are through social resistance movements against multinational powers and against the prevailing paradigms of energy, morality and society.”
What can we as individuals do?
- Accelerate awareness and interest – wake up and get involved
- Connect the dots – see the links between social and environmental problems, what’s happening to animals and food, etc.
- Join community resistance movements – that fight against factory farming, gas and oil drilling, fracking, factory farming, etc.
- Join the vegan-animal rights movement; go vegan and support animal rights
- Support radical change from a fossil fuel society
- Initiate and support social resistance movements
- Support indigenous people who have sustainable lifestyles – they are battling against multi-national corporations
- Become more politically savvy, better educated, read more news, understand the issues and causes of entrenched problems
Quotes from the Speech
“Our capitalist system of endless growth got us here, the system is responsible for resource depletion and complete domination of the environment. We must get people out of power that have only their own vested interests in mind — who don’t care about animals, future generations, natural resources, the environment — they will use it all up. Until there is nothing left. They are all competing to kill “the last whale” so to speak. It’s a race to get what’s left. People are being trampled by multinational super powers.”
“A capitalist system of growth that has no end, there’s no end to resource depletion and domination of the environment.”
“There is a race to consume everything till there is nothing left.”
“The developing world is rapidly developing, China has 1.6 billion and India has 1.3 billion, and they are fast becoming consuming nations. This is an enormous problem. All are consuming more resources, greater markets, and consuming more and more.”
“Science, technology and capitalism – traditions mean nothing, it’s about creating and destroying.”
“The people who have contributed the least to climate change will suffer the most.”
“Resource scarcity is complicated by a global spike in meat production even though meat consumption has declined in Western nations.”
“What we do, or what we fail to do—will determine everything else in the future. We need radical change in this world. Reform won’t cut it. We need a new response, and we need it now, we need to move beyond the fossil fuel paradigm, it’s so primitive. We need a totally different energy paradigm. We need to put the question of overpopulation back on the table. It’s just the sheer number of people on the planet right now that’s driving so much resource depletion and environmental destruction.”
“The changes that we need to make are nowhere in sight. We have this incredible challenge ahead of us that we can barely wrap our minds around.”
“We know the production of meat and dairy are accelerating climate change and carbon and greenhouse gas production.”
“We need to move out of this dominator, fossil fuel paradigm.”
“NAFTA, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank – all work toward maintaining a centralized command post. They completely override local and regional laws, as barriers to free trade designed for centralized control. A capitalist system of growth that has no end, it’s about resource depletion and domination of the environment.”
“We have a rising population and diminishing resources, you outstrip resources and the system will crash. It’s a Malthusian nightmare of famine, hunger, disease, constant war, and social collapse. The two options are choosing to reduce our population and consumption, or we will have the Malthusian nightmare.”
The full speech was recorded at the International Animal Rights Conference 2013 in Luxembourg.
Video Length: 49 Minutes
Published: September 2013