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Mother Land

According to the 2022 IPCC reports (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Humanity has now less than 2 years to drastically decrease greenhouse gas emissions in order to have a habitable world tomorrow. This requires nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution. For the same reasons we must urgently transition from fossil fuel to renewable energies, we must urgently transition from animal agriculture to a sustainable plant-based agriculture, as well as changing our vision of what a modern society should looks like to inspire the masses.


According to the UN, the global consumption of meat, fish, dairy, and eggs emits far more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, boats and airplanes in the world, each year. In addition animal agriculture is also the leading cause of:


  • Land deforestation


The equivalent of a football pitch is set on fire every 6 seconds mainly to grow crops like soy, to then feed billions of cows, pigs or chickens (instead of starving humans) for global meat, dairy and eggs consumption, releasing even more C02 in the atmosphere, and therefore dangerously accelerating global warming.


The Amazon rainforest now emits more C02 than it absorbs, and at this rate, scientists are warning us that the rainforest should turn into a savannah by 2030, which is the same fate for African rainforest if nothing changes going forward.


  • Methane emissions


Meat and dairy consumption is the leading cause of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas released through the animal’s digestive system, that has more than 80 times the warming power of CO2 over the first 20 years, which again dangerously accelerates global warming and amplify it's consequences.

  • Species extinctions


Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, which also accelerates species extinctions. With about 70% of all species who became extinct in the past 40 years, we are now facing the 6th Mass Extinction event in History.


With up to 200 plants and animal species going extinct every day, our ability to breathe, eat and drink properly will become significantly compromised since our wellbeing depends on other species wellbeing, who are key to the ecosystem.

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What about smaller farms ?


The issue with small local farms is that they cannot feed a growing human population, since even more animals will be required to feed that growing population, which will require to use even more land, even more deforestation, and even more water to feed these animals, accelerating even more global warming, species extinctions and pandemic risks.


That is why animal agriculture, small or large farms, is not sustainable for the future, since none of these models can feed a growing population and meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.



So what can we do about it ?


A global switch to a sustainable plant-based system could reduce our food emissions by up to 73% and free up 75% of all the farm land in the world, which is the equivalent of the size of the USA, China, the EU and Australia combined. (The size of the entire African continent)


Instead, these vast amounts of land could be used to grow affordable sustainable plant based food, feed an additional 4 billion humans (instead of billions of animals), solving world hunger, plant trillions of trees, create jobs, rewild our world, restore forests and therefore capture gigatons of C02 from the atmosphere in the long term, reducing significantly global warming, species extinctions and pandemic risks.


That is why the most comprehensive study ever, conducted by Oxford University who studied over 40 000 farms across 112 countries to understand the relation between our food and the environment, has concluded the following:


"A plant-based diet is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact."

While Africa only represents 3% of total greenhouse gas emissions, Africa is by far, the most affected continent, which is a social justice issue that should be a concern for all of us.


Droughts and water scarcity, crop failure, desertification, increased flooding etc.. all of these consequences already have a significant impact on Africa's economy, environment, and people. Tomorrow, all these consequences will be amplify, which is why most scientists expect that between 100 millions to 1 billion humans beings will be forced to leave their native land by 2050, most of them from the global South.


When we look at the way Western countries are dealing with the current number of refugees today, it is not an emotional overstatement to expect that such a migration will have consequences of unimaginable proportions.


However, in order to understand the solutions, it is important to understand the causes.


While the causes are multiples and complex, it is important to realise that there is one single industry that has a significantly higher impact on the planet than the rest, yet this industry is often ignored in conversation around climate change: animal agriculture.

  • Marine deforestation


3/4 of the world 's fisheries are already overexploited, fully exploited or significantly depleted due to over fishing. Humans destroy nearly 4 billion acres of sea beds every year to feed humans but also cows for meat and dairy consumption. In comparison with land deforestation, humans destroy about 15 times more acres of sea bed each year. The oceans are under siege like never before although they are key to capture CO2 and provide us with oxygen. If nothing is done, according to most scientists we will see fishless oceans by 2048, yet if the oceans dies, so do we.


  • Zoonotic diseases


Deforestation, which is mainly caused by animal agriculture, also accelerates natural habitat destruction, and therefore increase pandemic risks. According to the WHO, 75% of all emerging diseases are transmitted from animals to humans and scientists estimate that nearly 1 million unknown viruses living within wild animals have the potential to jump into humans the more we destroy their natural habitats, increasing the risk of new pandemics, potentially much more deadly and contagious than COVID 19.


Factory farms, the leading farming system for meat, dairy and eggs (including in Africa) where animals only see the sunlight on their way to the slaughterhouse, is also increasing the risk of new deadly pandemics due to the highly crowded conditions they live in, which create the perfect environment to spread viruses. If nothing changes, at this rate, the next pandemic is not a question of “if” but “when”.


  • Land, food & water waste


Finally, meat and dairy consumption is responsible for over 30% of all freshwater consumption mainly to grow crops to feed billions of animals each year, yet over 2 billion people don’t have access to fresh drinking water, again mainly in Africa.


It also uses over 80% of all the farmlands in the world, to feed billion of animals, while almost a billion human beings are starving on a daily basis, and that is is why animal agriculture is the leading cause of land, water and food waste, which is a social justice issue.


Shouldn't Africa prioritise industrialisation over fighting climate change ?



While it is important to recognise that basic needs must be met in the most vulnerable places in the continent, fighting climate change in Africa should not only become a top priority but also be perceived an opportunity to grow and take the lead.


However to do so Africa needs to be in a position where we can be able to make our own decisions, for the interest of African people, which require to set ourselves free from neo-colonialism, since no man is free who is not master of himself.


While efforts to move towards sustainable practices must be encouraged and generalised, it is important to realise that it is mathematically impossible to have limitless economic growth on a finite planet, which place Africa in a unique position since for the first time since colonisation, Africa is in position to inspire the West, who is still lost in this infinite growth mindset.


A new vision of success ?


More than eco-friendly products made in Africa for African people, which is needed, what is even more needed is a new vision of what modernity and success should looks like in Africa, from an individual, business and country point of view. The problem is that at an individual level we still envy and idolize Westerners who fly around the world in private jets, drive luxury cars, wear designer clothes, eat fancy steaks, and who turn a blind eye to the negative impact of their behaviours.


Since how we want to be perceived by others often dictate our behaviours, what if we decide that these predatory behaviours became lame, corny and has-been instead ?

For example what if instead of trying to achieve this Western vision of modernity and success, we imagine another vision, based on our own African ancestral values, idealizing people who value the protection of their land, the animals, and the wellbeing of their community, with humility, responsibility and decency ?


However it is important to recognise that decolonising our mind would be key to have such aspirations, since most of us still believe that the West infinite growth is the way to success and modernisation.


Ultimately, set aside the consequences, it is important to see climate change as a great opportunity for Africa to become the civilisation that offer the world a new vision, aspiration and definition of success. It will not solve everything since the issue is complex, but at least it will give us a chance.

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