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At the Netroots Nation convention in Austin on Saturday, Al Gore paid a surprise visit. While I appreciate his passion for educating the public about global warming, given the indisputable evidence that meat production is a major contributor to global warming I’ve been disappointed that he chooses to ignore this inconvenient truth. (See for example, this FAO Report.)

So I perked up when OrangeClouds asked Gore, if eating meat has an even more negative impact than driving, what gives? To his credit, Gore didn’t sidestep the question, which was quite refreshing after Nancy Pelosi’s pathetic performance. Instead he admitted that it would be better both for our own health and for that of the planet if we ate less meat.

As to why he doesn’t make that part of his ongoing message, he hemmed and hawed a bit and then suggested that his own meat eating might have something to do with it (you think?). Then he concluded with the excuse that you can’t take on everything all at once.

This is the same guy who minutes earlier was promoting his website to mobilize people to support the total conversion to renewable energy and other "clean sources" (that sounds suspicious) in 10 years. But I guess we can’t do it by making simple dietary changes like refusing to eat the one food group that causes the most environmental destruction, including global warming.

Earth to Al: What credibility can you expect to have in calling for others to take global warming seriously when you refuse to set a good example? Even best-selling author Michael Pollen (of NY Times fame), a staunch non-vegetarian (the guy hunted boar just for fun of it) promotes the idea of eating less meat both for environmental and health reasons. Are you really saying that your love of barbeque is more important than the potential destruction of the planet? Come on, Al, this is a no-brainer!

Gore’s refusal to talk about the connection between diet and global warming is part of a much bigger problem with his message: the insufficient finger pointing at the ultimate culprit, Corporate America. As much as I appreciated his documentary film, I was disappointed by the ending, when messages of individual behavior change such as how we can save energy by changing our light bulbs scrolled prior to the credits. Light bulbs? I think the melting of polar ice caps puts us a tad beyond the light-bulb-changing stage.

I would have preferred a list of corporations that have an economic stake in maintaining the status quo and how much money they donate to politicians, especially to those who sit on the House and Senate energy committees. This information isn’t hard to find, as I learned from the wonderful folks at MapLight in the Netroots Nation exhibit hall.  

In Gore’s speech in Austin, he didn’t make one mention of corporate influence. And there are so many mentions to choose from: like how the oil corporations for decades have been trying to distort the science on global warming; or how corporations got their way in the recently-passed energy bill, resulting in paltry subsidies for renewables; or how automobile corporations successfully lobby to keep CAFE standards low while they keep our tax dollars flowing to build more highways instead of mass transit. And so on.

Gore said that we all have a moral responsibility to future generations. But corporations don’t have to worry about future generations, only about their next quarterly earnings. In fact, corporations are bound by law to be concerned first and foremost with making profit for shareholders. Indeed, this is their very reason for existing. But we don’t hear too much about that from Gore, which is odd given Big Oil’s attack on him.

And that’s too bad, because he could have had a very different answer to the meat eating question. He could have explained how Big Agribusiness scored a major victory in the farm bill in May by maintaining massive subsidies on commodity crops such as corn, ensuring the continued cheap supply of animal feed, along with business as usual at McDonald’s and Burger King.

You see Al, if meat weren’t so darn cheap thanks to government subsidies, production would plunge, scores of destructive factory farms would shut down, and we’d go back to the days when meat eating was an occasional luxury instead of a daily habit. Problem solved both for the planet and public health.

Originally posted to Michele Simon on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:18 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One war at a time, gentlemen (22+ / 0-)

    Gore knows his history:

    "You may stand for this but damned if I will!" exploded Lord Palmerston, prime minister of Britain, in outrage over the seizing of two Confederate envoys from the British steamer Trent by a U.S. Navy warship commanded by Capt. Charles Wilkes. England quickly sent an ultimatum to the United States: surrender James Murray Mason and John Slidell, the two Confederate emissaries, and apologize for the kidnapping, or go to war.

    "One war at a time", President Abraham Lincoln cautioned Secretary of State William H. Seward. Seward was known to favor a war with England in order to reunite the divided United States, feeling that the South would forget the quarrel with the North and come to its aid to defeat a common foe. Seward was not the only person to favor that unlikely theory, but Lincoln didn't buy it. Lincoln knew that the United States had violated English rights. He said, "We must stick to American principles concerning the rights of neutrals. We fought Great Britain [in 1812] for insisting, by theory and practice, on the right to do precisely what Wilkes has done."

    Gore's taking on the carbon lobby.  That's a hell of a lot.

    What you're saying about meat is correct, but let someone else lead that fight.

    "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

    by mbayrob on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:23:44 PM PDT

    •  I like meat, and will continue to eat it thank u (12+ / 0-)

      If people don't like eating meat that is fine by me.. though I am going to wonder where they get their omega 3 and a few other things; it is a personal choice and I am all for that.

      But do not even dare think that you have the merest whiff of a right to dictate anything about my diet, my body, my conscience.  Because you don't.  You don't tell me what to eat, who to love, or how to think and I will return the favor.


      •  Huh? (8+ / 0-)

        Is that snark?

        Do you even have a clue what the impact of meat-eating alone is on the environment, food costs, and the climate?

        I eat meat a few times a week but I know there are parts of my lifestyle that I need to change.

        I hope to hell your comment was snark.

        •  Gore is absolutely right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rockhound, dotcommodity

          some else needs to take on dietary issues and global warming. Gore is ridiculed day in and day out on local and regional blogs for his stands on fossil fuels. Some one else needs to take the mantle on meat.

        •  nope not snark. And yes I have an idea of the (0+ / 0-)


          I have family that farms and ranches. I have family that work in meat packing.. I go a bit more extensively into it down thread.

          Do you have any idea the impact of shipping vegetables in from halfway across the globe is?  Or the impact of importing certain rare bits of produce for veggans to eat so that they can get vitally needed amino acids that humans normally get from meat is?

          I live in the Midwest, the meat I eat is grown within 400 miles of where I live, slaughtered, packed and sold in the same radius.  Some veggans are eating stuff that was grown 5000 miles away or more and has had to be FLOWN in or shipped in and then trucked to their store.

          Everything has an impact and cost.

      •  That sounds (3+ / 0-)

        exactly like the excuses made by Hummer drivers.

        We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

        by amRadioHed on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 03:05:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not telling you what to do (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You might want to think about how your actions impact the world (and yourself), though. I'm far from perfect, so it's a thought that I have occasionally. It's useful.

      •  Okay, Skippy (0+ / 0-)

        I won't even tell you how to spell 'you.'

        Right on, Dr. Dean.

        by Mikey on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:47:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  By eating meat (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RubDMC, davehouck

        (and I eat it too, so I'm not claiming to be "better" than you) we consume VAST amounts of grain and water and soil nutrients, and (in this country, with the factory farming) we perpetrate inhuman, horrible conditions on human meat processing workers and on animals.  We propagate diseases by overuse of antibiotics.  You can do what you want in the end, but don't deny the impacts, or deny that your choice takes up resources.

        Read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" sometime, or "Fast Food Nation".  Be aware of the impacts, and then be at least a little humble about your choice instead of huffily entitled.

        I was a vegetarian for a while, and while I couldn't sustain it completely nor did I go around preaching to everyone whose path I crossed (as I know some do) I was still surprised at the vitriolic, defensive reactions I would get even by simply not putting any meat on my plate while eating with other people.  First the absence would be questioned, which I answered honestly by saying I was vegetarian, and then the assault would begin, basically "how dare you judge us" -- the implication being by simply choosing a different lifestyle I was challenging them personally.  People I thought of as perfectly reasonable and liberal became angry and aggressive simply because of what I chose not to eat.

        This is going to be a lot more of a battle than lightbulbs or Hummers, and the only thing that will change it is when the price of meat starts following the actual costs.

        I can see why Gore doesn't want to take it on.

        •  I am more aware of the impacts then you are (0+ / 0-)

          most likely.

          I have family that farms.  I know how to slaughter a hog, cow, chicken and a few other of Gods creatures (though thank the maker that I have not had to actually do it...yet, oops forgot fish and I have done that), from being told how to do it by my relatives that used to work in meat packing.  I have a cousin who lost his arm to a yorkshire sow because his idiot sister liked to play with the piglets and dress them up like dolls (she grabbed a couple from the one sow that you REALLY did not want to piss off when they were just a wee bit to young and she was being hyper protective).  And I also have friends that are commercial fishermen from back when I lived in Ballard WA... ever watch "Deadliest catch" on cable?  Yeah Sig on that show is guy I used to party with, he was pretty good friends with the older brother of another friend of mine named Jim; Jim' whole family was lost along with both of their boats one crabbing season.

          And I also know that a lot of the people that ranch are doing it on land that isn't good for raising a row crop as the land is only really good for growing grass.  Take Southwestern Minnesota as an example around the Luverne area... beautiful country with the occasional lovely bit of bottom land that you can grow a row crop on.. but the majority of the place is littered with so much pink granite that you can't plow it!  

          You farm row crops on land that will support it and you ranch on land that won't support row crops.. farmers have been doing this for millennia.  Though I am not in favor of factory farming (live to close to Iowa and have seen large scale factory farming of hogs and what comes out..ugh), unless and until you can get people to stop popping out babies that is what you are left with, until such point as it either is to expensive to eat meat (getting there) or they perfect lab growing the stuff (also getting there).

          We should also examine carefully the amount of fuel that goes into transporting vegetables halfway across the globe so that people always have access to stuff that is out of season; or in the case of some veggans stuff that allows them to get some of the amino acids that they are missing by not eating meat.  

          Everything has an impact.

  •  I really could have lived without (11+ / 0-)

    the whole lecture about meat eating.  I personally am quite sick of being told how I'm supposed to live to make everyone else feel better who seems to think they are my brother or judge or executioner.  I'm not a lemming, I don't want to be a lemming, and I'm tired of everyone who thinks they have to force everyone else to be a lemming.  And if you don't know what a lemming is, try driving around new subdivisions and seeing how all the houses look JUST alike, the cars in the driveways, the whole nine yards.

    The rest is quite good, about corporate America.  It was one of the few messages I got really strongly in Wall-E, and I thought that was a very good dose of reality that might sink in with my kids someday.

    Oh, and just for the record, I'm lucky if I eat red meat once every two weeks.  Meat is just like any other food, overconsumption isn't good for anyone or anything.

  •  and there may be other solutions (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pattyp, craigkg, blueoasis, TurkeyCreek, MD

    Cow and sheep flatulence is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but apparently the amount can be greatly reduced by a change in diet, and a vaccine against the microbes that cause the flatulence may be possible.


    •  Yeah. If we stop feeding them corn. (5+ / 0-)

      But then we take on the farm lobby, again.  Just a different part of it.

    •  Cows that (13+ / 0-)

      live like cows on pasture and not feedlots do not have the same issues as industrial raised animals.  I get my meat/poultry from small local farmers who offer grassfed beef and lamb (from one of the farmers Pollan mentions in his book actually), pigs who forage for acorns, etc. in the forest, and pastured organic chicken.  I pay a very high price for this high quality protein - so don't accuse me of  being a Walmart grocery fan. I generally am paying 20+ bucks for a 5 lb roaster.  I eat meat as responsibly as I can.  I tried vegetarian life for a while, but I honestly get very fatigued if not eating high quality animal proteins.  And two twin pregnancies I would not have been able to eat the quantity of veg proteins to have a healthy pregnancy.  I think we can sustain meat eating if we go back to farming it naturally without forcing artificial methods of bulking up and making the animals sick in the process.  

      •  agreed (4+ / 0-)

        I have a friend who tried a vegetarian diet and would continually feel exhausted.  Maybe she wasn't doing it right, but she had to give it up.

        oops. I hope the gate wasn't too expensive.

        My blog. Come visit.

        by Dante Atkins on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:58:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Uh, most of the low-energy people I know ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... aren't vegans.

          Just sayin'. :)

          A liberal is a conservative who's been hugged.

          by raatz on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 12:04:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  low energy (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hekebolos, prgsvmama26

            can be caused by anemia, which is often a side-effect of a vegetarian diet.  I've tried vegetarianism a few times, but with a predisposition to anemia I end up exhausted, sleeping 10-12 hours a night, and constantly getting every cold that comes through my school.  Even with the help of a nutritionist, this doesn't get better.  I now eat a very small amount of local, grass-fed beef (and occasional organic non-local meat).  I also try to limit my dairy intake and when I can I confirm that the sources of those products are also grass-fed (and hormone and anti-biotic free).
             That said, many people thrive on a vegetarian diet, and most people eat far more meat than they need for health reasons.  Cutting down is absolutely helpful.  Think of it as you think of electricity or gas-- most of us aren't going cold-turkey on either, but we are becoming more conscious consumers, and limiting use where we can.  
             To the diarist-- you have hit the sad reality that people are all gung-ho about reform until you actually ask them to change their own behavior.  

        •  doing it right lol (7+ / 0-)

          humans have a natural inclination to eat meat.  Many vegetarians get over by eating a lot of cheese.  That cheese comes from farting cows too.  I have an idea, let's solve their flatulence and stop telling people what they can and can't eat?  I mean, we made it to the moon, we can certainly improve bovine gastrointestinal disorder.

      •  Right. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        resa, historys mysteries, blueoasis

        I didn't accuse you of anything.  I can't go vegan for the sorts of reasons you talk about; my blood sugar goes awry.

        If we all ate meat the way you did, and more generally, were conscious about global warming emissions in the way you are, the planet would be much better off.

      •  Dr. Terry Shintani has another view on protein (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, blueoasis, davehouck

        Dr. Shintani refers to the "protein myth." He thinks a plant-based diet can and usually does provide more than enough protein. Most Americans actually get way more than enough protein, he says. And because it usually comes from meat, it brings with it a lot of bad things.

        His blog has a lot of great resources about healthy eating, including podcasts and recipes:

        There are many other experts who feel the same way. He just happens to be the one I follow most closely because he's in my home state.

        A liberal is a conservative who's been hugged.

        by raatz on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 12:03:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah. Well. (5+ / 0-)

          I've tried vegan, and I just can't function.  And believe me, I tried.  I have all sorts of reasons why I'd prefer to be vegan.

        •  Protein myth is just that, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          we actually need about 40% percent of the recommended daily allowances.  It's classic how a nation of obese fatasses are crying about how they are not getting enough of something.  The problem is too much.  And don't give me that blood type O bullshit.  People who can't eat vegan or veg don't know how to eat right.

        •  Love that sig line ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...but also always liked A liberal is a conservative who's been frisked.

          I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

          by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 02:01:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Vegan myth (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If you look at traditional cultures all over the world  there are no natural vegans.  There are those who eat only fish or grubs or dairy, but I can find no evidence of true veganism being more than a 20-21st century fad.  Meat or animal proteins in moderation is quite common around the world, but veganism not so much.  I have no problem with those who feel best on it doing it, but I do have a problem with them blaming the global crisis on those who eat responsibly raised animal proteins.  

      •  everyone's chemistry is different (3+ / 0-)

        I've been mostly vegetarian (I eat fish occasionally) for decades, including through a healthy pregnancy. I felt better immediately after I stopped eating meat. My husband, OTOH, lost a lot of weight and simply could not continue to eat a strictly veg diet.  

      •  Ditto. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I mostly eat chicken if I eat meat but every now and then, I need something more and when I do, I pay out of the nose for my locally grown grass fed red meat.

        "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

        by resa on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 02:35:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I too was very disappointed by his answer. (3+ / 0-)

    It was really shocking.  "All of you must radically change the way you live.  We must solve the climate crisis.  I'll be over at the rib shack if you want to talk more about this issue."

    I took his call to reduce my emissions seriously and cut out meat from my diet.  It would be nice if he'd do the same.  I suspect that he offsets the carbon from his meat eating.  But he himself talked yesterday about getting solar panels and using geothermal power--presumably this is, in part, to set an example; he could offset all of his home emissions if he chose to.

    Thanks for this diary.  The sooner we start yelling about how we subsidize the meat industry and cause massive global warming (and other) pollution in doing so, the sooner we clean up the planet.  

    •  actually, that's a straw man (11+ / 0-)

      Gore never talked about drastically changing our lifestyle.  In fact, that's a setup the right wing usually likes to use to retort to Gore.

      What Gore did discuss is how smart government policy can make the right choice the easy choice with regard to global warming.  For instance, getting CFL bulbs or even LED's is not a radical change in lifestyle.  Improving CAFE standards isn't a radical change for anyone.  Funding transportation projects so people don't need to take their cars as much certain isn't--it's expanding possibilities.  Looking at ways to increase the percentage of renewables in the power mix is no inconvenience to anyone.

      On the other hand, forcing people to swear off meat actually would require a drastic lifestyle change that would be hard for many Americans.

      Now, if we want to talk about government policy changes so as to reduce food miles, I'm all for that.  But the charge of hypocrisy you've leveled is disingenuous.

      oops. I hope the gate wasn't too expensive.

      My blog. Come visit.

      by Dante Atkins on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:53:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He talked about both, and has talked about both. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raatz, history geek

        You're right, though, largely.  He said that he had focused perhaps too much on personal responsibility in the past and said, correctly, that that wouldn't be enough.

        Part of the reason why I was disappointed is because if you're going to put yourself in the position of being the spokesperson for such an important movement, it's important to walk the walk.  Otherwise, as you say, the anti-science/oil crowd attacks him for being a hypocrite.

        •  Actually (12+ / 0-)

          you're doing a pretty good job of attacking him on your own.

          Sorry but it gets my blood boiling when a guy who is doing more than any human on the planet to make a difference on the Global Warming issue gets slammed on a website that should be in his corner for "not doing more".

          For all you know Al may eat only grass fed beef if and when he eats it and he may only eat it twice  a month.

          I don't eat red meat but I'm not going to attack the guy who has done the most to bring the global warming issue to the public consciousness because he isn't perfect.

          Rock throwers are so holier than thou.

          Republicans 2 things to offer What to FEAR and Who to BLAME

          by aurabass on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:30:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  On not being perfect (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Don't you think if he ate meat only occasionally he would have said so, or would have mentioned the grass-fed issue? Not being perfect is not the same as neglecting the number one cause of greenhouse gasses!

            I don't know why we can't criticize our leaders for not going far enough. How effective has he really been in the decades he has been talking about the problem? Raising awareness is fine, but we need political change, and that's not going to happen if he ignores the hard issues because he's afraid of them.

      •  Does Smart Government Policy Begin at Home? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raatz, RubDMC

        Thanks to everyone for having this discussion. (For the record, this is my first diary, so am still learning the ropes here, I was a speaker at the conference.)

        I agree that Gore was not calling for individual change in his speech, but rather for smart government policies. But implicit in his message (and he does use these words) is that we all must work together to solve this crisis.

        My point is two-fold: one, that it's hypocritical to expect people to do their part to reduce greenhouse gasses, through for example, light bulb changes (which he promotes in his film), while not even mentioning the top ranked contributor to the problem - meat production (as opposed to meat eating, but obviously if people ate less meat, demand goes down.)  

        Also, I never ever said that Gore or anyone else for that matter should become vegetarian, or "swear off meat" as you put it, and I am not advocating that. All I am saying is that part of his message could be to reduce meat consumption, NOT a radical idea! As to the idea that other people should take that up, his issue is global warming, how can he ignore this?

        My second point is that in calling for smart government policies, he neglected the most important policy that contributes to the excessive American meat diet. Now, if we are going to call on government to increase CAFE standards, doesn't it stand to reason that we expect people to change their car-buying habits, or maybe even reduce their driving where they can?

        Why is it OK to ask people to drive less, and have smart government policies to support that, but not OK to ask people to eat less meat, and at the same time, have government policies to support that?

        Or in other words, change begins at home.

  •  I'm proud to be a vegan freak :) (9+ / 0-)

    And I thought Al's statement was actually a milestone. It was the first time that a political figure with such prestige acknowledged the environmental costs of meat.

    A liberal is a conservative who's been hugged.

    by raatz on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:40:58 PM PDT

    •  Clarification (10+ / 0-)

      I'm happy to be a vegan. It works for me. And I think it can work for other people. Plus, I think it is good for the environment. But eating is such an intimate thing, and food choices are necessarily personal. I don't try to impose my personal decisions on others or to imply that my decisions are better than anybody else's. So, I don't usually say that I'm necessarily "proud" to be vegan; I'm just glad to be one.

      A liberal is a conservative who's been hugged.

      by raatz on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:49:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I said above (0+ / 0-)

        if it were just a personal decision, that'd be fine.  But just like the sort of car you drive isn't just a personal decision, what you eat isn't just a personal decision.  It has environmental consequences.  So do the purchases we make.  Very little is purely personal.

        •  to you maybe (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, khereva

          but to many Americans, you are are wrong.  Discussing how we all should live in a coffee house is one thing, but implementing it is something very different.  Americans historically do not take well to be told what to do.

          •  Although I have some problems with ... (6+ / 0-)

            ...this Diary, let me point out that if strong action is not taken now regarding global warming/energy, the kinds of things so far being talked about that Americans don't take kindly to are going to be replaced by draconian measures that make what's being suggested today seem like a paradise of individual choice.

            I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

            by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:59:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  At the same time, insisting that *only*... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Meteor Blades

              ...the most draconian measures are legitimate, as the most avid of the anti-meat crowd could be argued to be doing, might be counterproductive, deterring people from participating.  It's not just a question of individual tastes.  One look at our teeth, or at the orientation of our eyes, would prove to any biologist that we are a species that is designed to eat meat, whose metabolism is geared to that diet.  You don't have to do that, of course, but to criticise others for doing so seems extreme.

              I hate the "Perfect is the enemy of the good" meme, but it seems appropriate here.

              Suffice it to say that there are better ways to produce meat.  Let's work on those first.  Let's not divide ourselves before we even get into the battle.

              •  Frontal oriented binocular vision is pretty handy (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                when reaching out to the next tree branch.  Those without it might take a nasty fall.  Kind of a selection thing going on there.  Just saying.

                moderation in everything ... including moderation

                by C Barr on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:01:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  As I understand it (18+ / 0-)

    It's not a well-framed question. If we raise livestock in sustainable and organic ways, then meat consumption has no negative impact on the climate.

    The issue here isn't meat - it's instead bad farming practices that are done for many veggies too. I live in Monterey County, and know folks who work in the ag industry in the Salinas Valley, known as the "salad bowl of the world" for all the veggies grown there. If you think their practices are sustainable or carbon neutral you're insane.

    So there is no connection between diet and global warming - the connection is instead between food source and global warming.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
    Neither is California High Speed Rail

    by eugene on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:49:24 PM PDT

    •  Check that (12+ / 0-)

      Even "food source" isn't precise enough a term. Forgive my Netroots Nation-addled brain.

      The real connection to global warming is whether your food is grown sustainably and carbon neutrally. Plenty of meat falls under that category. To link vegetarianism to action on climate change is to fundamentally miss the point.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
      Neither is California High Speed Rail

      by eugene on Sun Jul 20, 2008 at 11:51:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, it would still have some. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBNathan85, craigkg, blueoasis, lineatus

      But, yes, it is largely about factory farming.  If we farmed in "sustainable" ways, meat would be much more expensive, we would eat much less of it, and we'd all be healthier.  Some meat is/can be good for you, but we eat entirely too much because it's cheap (and it's cheap because it's subsidized--our economic incentives are all wrong here).

    •  One other thing. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raatz, craigkg, blueoasis

      This is similar to saying, "It's not cars that are the problem vis a' vis global warming.  There are electric cars, after all."

      The fact that it's possible to get an electric car (in some sense of "possible") doesn't imply that there isn't a problem with cars when it comes to global warming emissions.  There is.  Likewise, there's a problem with meat production in this country.  There need not be, but right now there is, and there will be for the foreseeable future.

    •  There is a relationship to supply (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amRadioHed, blueoasis

      If we raise beef sustainably, we are going to have less of it.  There's only so much pasture for grazing grass fed beef.  So factory farming does allow you to raise more beef.  Were we to switch to grass fed, unless beef consumption fell very substantially, you'd see deforestation to meet the excess demand.  Since we are already seeing this in the Amazon Basin, this is not idle speculation.

      So you do need to deal with diet.  Demand needs to go down as well.

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:10:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gore is not stupid. (8+ / 0-)

    Scheming to control the diets of Americans is a great way to get shut out.  As someone who eats at least one meat every night for dinner, this is a non starter and would get my family members to ignore the whole platform as a leftest whack job pipedream.

    Its one thing to talk about alternative energy, it another and obviously a political mine field to attempt by force to alter what Americans do and do not eat.

    If you don't like meat, don't eat it, I will continue, you have zero standing to stop me.

    •  I think this is right. (0+ / 0-)

      On the other hand, I don't think that his own eating meat sets a good example, nor does the having to admit that it might influence his policy decisions (or whatever excuse he would have to give for eating meat).

      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

        your meat eating sets a bad example given how you're criticizing Gore's. You said somewhere above "my blood sugar goes awry" as a justification (or excuse) for your continued meat eating practice; how do you know Gore doesn't have a physical reason of his own as well?

        If meat consumption (by other people) is really such a problem for you, you ought to try harder to quit it. There are billions of vegetarians out there whose blood sugar is doing just fine. If meat were sold at $100/lb, wouldn't you try to figure out (by say meeting with a nutritionist, eg) how to overcome those blood sugar issues with going vegetarian?

        Just say NO to BAYH (for VP)! Here's why!

        by NeuvoLiberal on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:46:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nope. (0+ / 0-)

          First, I don't eat meat.  I'm a vegetarian, not a vegan.  

          Second, the mere fact that there are many vegetarians doesn't imply that every single one of them lives well as a vegetarian.  

          Third, I haven't taken up the torch to save the human race from itself.  Gore has.  I admire him hugely for what he's done; he's one of my favorite people.  But the fact of the matter is that having done what he's done, he will be judged by a different standard (which is why, e.g., he would get much more criticism for driving a Hummer than I would).  Because of this, he ought to try to do what he can to immunize himself from criticism so that his message isn't diluted by people who don't want to hear what he's saying.  (Witness the attacks on John Edwards' sincerity about taking on poverty when Edwards himself lives pretty lavishly.)

    •  Exactly-- it's tough enough (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dar Nirron, ArtSchmart

      to have people squawking about their cars, but people want Gore to poke the bear when it comes to others' food too?  Hell, I'm liberal, but grew up with (mostly grass-fed, but admittedly fattened w/grain before slaughter) cows pastured behind the house, and I get irritated by the pieties of the carnivore-haters.  Yes, I've reduced consumption a bit via reducing portion size more than by changing the menu per se, and primarily for economic and weight-reduction reasons, but the bottom line is that I do like meat and don't like a grain-based diet (which of course is what fattens livestock, so go figure).  Basically, I don't like the textures, smells, or the greater use of seasoning required to make a low- or no-meat diet palatable, and I despise tofu in 90% of its disguises.  Usually I do best on lean meat, preferably of the organic or at least natural variety (wrt organic foods, pesticide-free produce may be safer, but the animal products are really where the difference in quality is evident) and actual colored vegetables, not starches.  And decent fresh produce isn't always easy to obtain locally, unless one just adores a steady diet of root vegetables for months at a time.

      Personally, I think Gore would do well to take his farm property and start moving it towards producing organic/sustainable food... if nothing else, at least he could then say that most of his meat only traveled fifty miles to his table.  There are several sources for locally grown meat in middle TN, after all.  But people are really not getting Gore's MO here-- he's interested in policies that will allow us to avoid having drastic and unpleasant changes forced upon us, and his interest in individual actions is more to create both markets and political pressure to implement those policies.  He is not, has never been, and really shouldn't be an eco-fanatic who lives a lifestyle that people don't want to emulate; even though he's been vilified for living in a regular house and traveling to do his work, the mockery would be worse if he lived a more obviously restricted life.

      "Conservative principles" are marketing props used by the Conservative Movement to achieve political power, not actual beliefs. -Glenn Greenwald

      by latts on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 03:11:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You say (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        he's interested in policies that will allow us to avoid having drastic and unpleasant changes forced upon us

        He knows as well as you and I know that we're all going to have to change radically the way we live.  This can't be had on the cheap.  We don't need to become tent-dwelling hippies, but we'll need to eat less meat (among many other changes).

        •  We need to eat less, period. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And for health reasons, we need to eat less crappy, processed, overly-refined food.  I don't have a problem with meat being more appropriately priced, if it can be done in such a way as to avoid even more low-quality product being offered as a substitute, but I can guarantee you that nattering about how meat is Teh Evil is a nonstarter.  Scale back corn subsidies, maybe also balancing them with some means of promoting local farming, greater poultry consumption (and better FDA inspections!), sustainable sources of fish, etc., try to make fresh produce and (if you must, lol) whole grains more widely available even if doing so isn't strictly environmentally friendly, and so on.  Hell, I wouldn't mind some sort of grants for restaurants and/or markets that are committed to selling fresh, high-quality food, especially in underserved areas.  But do it all in the context of improving public health and promoting small farmers' interests, not hectoring people about liking bacon & steaks.  Trust me, that won't work, and it wouldn't do environmentalism any PR favors either.

          "Conservative principles" are marketing props used by the Conservative Movement to achieve political power, not actual beliefs. -Glenn Greenwald

          by latts on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 04:26:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  This goes back to subsidies (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raatz, pattyp

      and financial incentives.  If we raised the price of meat, people would eat less.  And if we dropped the price of fruits and vegetables, people would eat more of those.  Gore or Obama wouldn't have to tell Americans not to eat meat.  Let the marketplace do it with a better farm bill.  If we cut out many of the subsidies that make meat so cheap, the price would go up, consumption down, and we'd significantly reduce greenhouse emissions.

  •  how does subsidizing corn (for ethanol) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    make meat cheaper?  My econ 101 says that if the government subsidizes corn, that means they are paying an above market price, so corn will cost more.  Cattle ranches use corn to feed their stock, so subsidized corn prices only increase rancher prices, and increase the price of meat.  

    •  We subsidize corn for everything. (0+ / 0-)

      Ethanol, sweetener, animal feed.  We encourage its growth.  Right now food prices are high in part because corn prices are up because corn demand is up and supply down as a result of ethanol.  But, in general, farmers get cheap corn that, together with several factors, allows them to produce massive quantities of meat.  This keeps prices low, or lower than they would be if the cows and chickens were raised "naturally" (on grass and bugs and the like).

      •  this is getting boring (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        khereva, MD

        hey i am a lib arts major too, but i did take econ.  ranchers do NOT get cheap corn because of subsidies, they get EXPENSIVE corn, subsidies INCREASE the cost of corn, that is what a subsidy means.

      •  you are skewing things and too few economists (0+ / 0-)

        are in this thread.  Your first sentence is right, we subsidize corn for many reasons.  We do not subsidize corn to lower the cost of beef.  This is not about feelings, this is a simple fact.  We may subsidize beef too for all I know, but I only responded to the argument in the diary.  

        The diarist made the argument that corn subsidies=increased meat consumption.  This statement is false, no one has shown that I am wrong, moving along now.

        •  Turkey creek have you read "Fast food nation," (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raatz, radarlady, ksingh, blueoasis, judith2007, MD

          "Diet for a new America?"

          or kept up do date on this issue?  We may have not initially subsidized corn specifically to feed cattle, but they found out they would eat that shit and it's way cheaper than anything else.  Thus there is a direct  correlation between corn subsidies and meat production, end of story.  BTW, cows digestive systems are specialized to eat grass, not corn.

          •  It's also addressed in "The Ominivores Dilema." (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radarlady, ksingh, blueoasis, judith2007


          •  this is absurd (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I can not believe I am reading some of this.  wait 'til tomorrow when the grownups get here :)

            corn grain is much more expensive than hay (that is dry grass to you city slickers).  Animals much prefer corn to grass.  btw, grass aka hay prices are through the roof because of corn subsidies, which i oppose.  I just also oppose false arguments.

            •  "wait 'til ...the grownups get here..." (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ksingh, TurkeyCreek, MD

              Ag Policy Perspectives:
              Free market for corn kicks in: Tyson exec sounds warning
              Corn producers who feared the end of subsidies in global trade talks face charge of making consumers choose "fuel or food."

              By Daryll E. Ray, Director of the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center

              Posted December 14, 2006: Crop farmers must have that "danged if you do" and "danged if you don’t" feeling right about now. But, really, it is not what they have done, it is what a low-farm-price policy and a surge in ethanol-driven corn demand have wrought. Nonetheless, the blame game continues and crop farmers have been hit with a double whammy of late.

              The first hit comes from WTO trade talk discussions and the argument that US farmers, supported by what are described as generous subsidies, are dumping corn on the world market at prices below the true cost of production. International development NGOs argue that US subsidies have stimulated US producers to grow more corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, and cotton than they would have in the absence of subsidies. As late as August 11, 2006, the cash price of a bushel of corn on the CBOT was $2.06. As a result they call for the end of US farm subsidies. At the same time, various groups argue for the reallocation of budgeted funds from commodity programs to rural development, conservation, subsidized insurance, decoupled payments or whatever is in the interest of the person speaking.

              The second hit is typified by the comments from Richard Bond, Tyson Foods chief executive, who is quoted by Philip Brasher in a Des Moines Register article as saying "Quite frankly, the American consumer is making a choice here. This is either corn for feed or corn for fuel - that's what's causing this."

              Brasher writes, "Tyson Foods Inc., the world's No. 1 meat processor and poultry producer, warned Tuesday that consumers would have to pay more for beef, pork and chicken next year because of the rising price of corn." Tyson Foods is reacting to the high animal feed prices brought about by the current demand for corn to be used to make ethanol. On November 22, 2006, cash corn prices hit $3.59 per bushel.

              Let’s get this straight. When the prices of corn and cotton are low, US farmers are blamed for depending on subsidies to cover their cost of production and hurting farmers in less developed countries around the world. And when these same US farmers invest in ethanol plants to sop up the surplus production, consumers are told that the resulting higher prices will force them to make a choice between food and fuel.

              Seldom does anyone mention that meat producers have benefited from commodity prices that are below the cost of production. Some of the benefits of subsidized crop production have been enjoyed by integrated meat animal producers like Tyson Foods who have benefited from low cost feed inputs.

              This double whammy confronts us with a policy challenge. Policies that result in low commodity prices harm some people (farmers in less developed countries) and benefit others (integrated livestock producers, processors of grains and seeds, and bulk farm commodity importers). Likewise, high crop prices benefit some people (farmers in the US and countries around the world) while increasing the costs for those who have benefited from the earlier low prices.

              Lost in all of this is any discussion of corn farmers and what it takes to produce a bushel of corn. No one wants to talk about the characteristics of crop markets that result in long periods of low prices. Policymakers run away from discussions of the type of policy instruments it would take to provide farmers with a fair remuneration for their investment and labor while at the same time providing consumers stable prices and a secure supply of farm commodities to meet their needs for both food and fuel.

              To our way of thinking, what is needed is a "policy for all seasons" that enables commodity farmers to receive the bulk of their income from the marketplace while, at the same time, ensuring consumers of the long-term stability of their supply of farm products to meet their needs for food AND fuel.

            •  No, it's cheaper to feed corn than it is to feed (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Meteor Blades, resa, blueoasis

              hay--at least cheaper for a given yield of beef.

              I'm not a city slicker; I'm a farm boy.

              And I teach this stuff.  At a university.  I'm not pulling stuff out of my ass.

              •  you are if you think (0+ / 0-)

                corn subsidies decrease the cost of cattle.  My sister is a farmer, ask her about the cost of feed.  You have to feed most animals hay and corn.  Hay prices are through the roof BECAUSE of government interference through corn subsidies.

                You claim a blade of grass costs more than corn, that is beyond illogical.  If you are saying grass is inefficient as a means to feed livestock, I agree, corn is more effective.  The diarist and greenies in here are saying they should all just eat grass.

                You are talking about yields, I said corn is more effective.  but a bushel of corn and a bushel of hay, what costs more?  This entire debate seems like a circle jerk.  Either corn subsidies lower the cost of beef, artificially increasing demand or they do not.  We can talk ancillary points later when I am more cognizant. :)

                •  Translation (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ksingh, blueoasis

                  To get a pound of beef, it is cheaper to feed corn than it is to feed hay.

                  That's what I meant when I said that it is cheaper for a particular yield.

                  •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

                    I totally agree.  But I wish you would come out and clearly state to the diarist and others that corn subsidies do not lower the cost of beef.  In fact, any check of google will show that US beef production has been falling for years, again, exploding the diarists point.

                    let's see what the New York Times has to say on the issue of grain subsidies and meat production


                    •  But they do. (0+ / 0-)

                      It's not only corn.  There are all sorts of subsidies that do.  But corn is part of it.

                      •  maybe it is the word subsidy that is causing the (0+ / 0-)

                        mix up here.  The biggest government project regardign corn is the ethanol mandate.  That may not technically be calleda  subsidy, it is an indirect subsidy but it could also be called an artificial demand increase.  Either way the government actions are increasing the price of corn, hence beef, not reducing it as the diarist states.  Now if you can not at least agree with that, then we are done talking.

            •  They don't "prefer" it (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              resa, radarlady, pattyp, blueoasis, MD

              They're ruminants; it's not natural for them to live off grain.  They're evolved to eat and digest grass, and develop a variety of illnesses if fed corn instead.

              It's not that they prefer it.  It's because they gain weight faster if fed with grain, and they are ready for market earlier.  This saves the producer (I'm not going to say "farmer" -- corporations don't "farm" in the traditional sense) a great deal of money.

              The fact that grass is cheaper has nothing to do with it, since by feeding with grain, the producer saves on everything else need to raise the beef.

              "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

              by mbayrob on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:27:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  go to any farm (0+ / 0-)

                find a horse, and goat, whatever, throw hay on one side and corn grain on the other and see where the animals go.  Again, they need both, they graze on grass but still need grain, try feeding a horse on grass alone and see how he does.

                •  They may prefer it on the farm (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  judith2007, MD

                  But their digestive tract is not set up to handle it well.

                  People eat all kinds of things to excess if it's available, even if it damages their health. Don't be surprised if farm animals do the same.

                  Also: rather than watch the horse, you might talk to the farmer.  They understand the economics of their own crops.  Maybe better than the horse.  Or the steer.

                  "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

                  by mbayrob on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:44:09 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Different animals have different digestive system (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Hardhat Democrat

                  Horses are not ruminants.  Cattle, sheep,and goats are ruminants.  Different digestive systems means different reactions to grain and grass.

                  And even with their digestive system, the reason horses often do better with some grain now, rather than grass alone, is because of centuries of breeding to get high-performance characteristics.  

                  Help protect independent farmers! Go to

                  by judith2007 on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:35:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

              Which Animals prefer corn to grass? This is the first time that I've heard someone make this statement.

              Do you have some sources to back this up?

              "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

              by resa on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 02:39:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  We do subsidize it to lower the price of beef (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and to lower the price of sweet foods, and corn itself, and ethanol.  In some ways the lowering of the price is the indirect effect of the subsidy; more corn allows us to produce more meat, and more meat, ceteris paribus, means lower prices.  But of course one of the goals of the overproduction of corn is to keep meat prices low.

          •  wrong wrong wrong (0+ / 0-)

            could I be more clear?  You teach classes to humans?  Governments subsidies INCREASE the price of the product, corn is an input to beef production.  The corn input to beef production is INCREASED because of the subsidy.  It is also increased by huge world demand, how does Al Gore stop Indians and Chinese from wanting to eat more beef?

            And if we did somehow punish the evil US cattle industry, would that not just put Americans out of work and help the huge Australian, Argentinian, and Brazilian cattle industries?  Do you think they will not fill the supply gap?

            Yes, lets make everyone a vegan and turn econ 101 upside down.  Can I get some mojo now?

            •  am I the only one here that knows what a subsidy (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Is?  a subsidy is a government payment to support an artificial price.  The government pays above market prices to increase production.  They do not do this to lower prices, they pay HIGHER prices even with increased supply.  

              This has become the most ponderous thread I have ever been a part of.  I am against corn subidies.  I would not mind talking about cattle methane etc. but I know people here will not back up my obvious claims just because they are being obstinate or don't like "inconvenient truths".

              we are on the same side, except when it comes to lies.  capiche?

              •  No, there are others who know what subsidies are (0+ / 0-)

                Subsidies are paid to the feed producer (I'll join you in not saying "farmer"), separately from the price charged by the feed producer to the feed purchaser (i.e. the middlemen corporations who take their profits by handling the grain and raising the price eventually charged the end consumer, or, us). The purchase price is paid by the purchaser; the subsidy by the government. It's two separate checks.

                Does that help?


                •  let me cover my tail here (0+ / 0-)

                  there are many types of subsidies, this wikipedia entry gives a decent overview

                  Many here have argued corn subsidies have lowered corn prices as well as cattle prices, increasing cattle methane and perceived global warming.  I have said from post one, that this is a false claim.  

                  here are the recent historic corn prices


                  here are the recent historic cattle prices


                  these are the prices paid, they are not up for debate.  Now, the specific corn subsidies, along with increased world demand, and ethanol mandates have caused huge increases in the price of corn and cattle.

                  I have asked over and over for someone to back me up that the diarist has his/her argument wrong, but to little avail.  

                  For future armchair economists, I have not argued that subsidies can not lower prices, as the wikipedia article shows, there are many different types of subsidies.  For example, if the government just cut checks to corn farmers to increase production, that alone would lower the price of corn.  On the other hand, if the government bought corn on the open market to keep the price up, that would cause the price to artificially increase.

                  The fact of the matter is the corn subsidies that have gone on the last decade have NOT lowered corn prices, and have NOT lowered beef prices.  That ends the argument that corn subsidies are encouraging beef production, lowering beef costs, and increasing consumption.  

                  •  No. (0+ / 0-)

                    The lowering of the beef prices via lower corn prices started a long time ago.  You need to back much further in your analysis.

                    And you're right in this much:  It's not just the deflated corn prices that make beef cheaper than it otherwise would be.

                    •  well you are talking theory (0+ / 0-)

                      like the guy that said a hamburger "should" cost $35.  That reminds me of the guy (James Glassman) that said the Dow "should" be at 36,000.  I am talking what is happening, corn prices are gowing up, beef prices are going up.  

                      this is NOT a USA problem, this is not a "problem" Al Gore can fix with a powerful speech.  The Corn subsidies have increased the price of ALL soft commodities.  There are major shortages of everything from hops to hay because all the farmers are planting corn for the free ride.

                      I am incredulous that you personally and so few others will not simply tell the diarist we are not lowering the price of beef through our present corn subsidies.  In fact, we import a lot of beef, and there are many beef exporters out there that would just love the USA to price itself out of the market.

                    •  how far back should I go? (0+ / 0-)

                      until your point is made that prices are falling?  well show me your charts sir.

        •  I've had enough econ to answer your question. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, MD

          I do the analysis above, but the short answers are:

          1. The corn subsidy lowers price and increases the amount of corn sold.
          1. Because corn is a portion of the cost of producing beef, the drop in corn price shifts out the supply curve for beef, and again, you get more beef sold at a lower price.

          You're getting a little confused with your micro economics.  Draw the curves, you'll see it easier.

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:21:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •   this is absolutely my last post in this thread (0+ / 0-)

            the corn subsidy INCREASES price.  I suspect many here know that but are just trying to be "nice".  falsehoods are not nice.  You are simply mistaken sir.  

            •  Get yourself a micro economics text book (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Nope.  Draw the curves.  This is a standard example in first year econ courses.

              The subsidy shifts the supply curve out.  Because of the slope of the curves, price falls and the point along the x axis where supply and demand meet shift out as well, to a larger number.

              Draw the curves and you'll see.  Or talk to someone who's fresher on their micro than you are.

              "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

              by mbayrob on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:40:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  nice try, but again, and amazingly, wrong (0+ / 0-)

                I feel like I am speaking Chinese here.  Is this really Daily Kos?  A subsidy is a guaranteed price above market prices.  It is a price increase paid for by the government.

                Of course production will increase, who does not want $2 for a $1 worth of work?  But the subsidies have not stopped, they have increased to support increased supply.  Also, there is tremendous market demand for corn that governments can not control.

                Sometimes you need to drop the theory, particularly when people are unteachable or just being obstinate.  At that point you just look at the results.  We can see if corn prices are rising or falling.  That should tell us if government subidies are lowering the price of grain to cattlemen or increasing the price.

                here is a six year chart of spot corn prices


    •  You're confusing your supply curve with price (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, ksingh, blueoasis, MD

      You're not thinking this through right.

      Here's what a subsidy does: for every price level that the consumer sees, the producer gets a little extra money from the government.  So at every price level, more is produced.

      The supply curve for corn shifts out.

      So price falls.

      You're confusing a change in the supply curve for a change in price.  Wrong.  Supply increases, so price falls.

      Also, because the supply curve has a positive slope (and the demand curve a negative slope), the level of demand at which the market clears is higher.

      So more corn is consumed, but at a lower cost per unit.

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:18:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no (0+ / 0-)

        the producer does not just get an extra few bucks handed to him under the table, the cost of the produced product increases because the government artifically increases demand for said product,by buying it up.  in fact, some government subsidy programs go as far as to pay farmers not to plant anything, so as to lower supply and increase price.

        Again, and for the last time, because I now know you can not learn (sorry, but i am frustrated), look at the price of corn, it has been skyrocketing like net stocks in 1999.  Also, the corn subsidies are complimented with government mandates for use of 10 percent ethanol in gas, this guarantees the farmer a huge artificial (actually draconian) demand.

    •  Subsidies allow corps to buy corn below cost (0+ / 0-)

      The subsidies pay farmers the difference between their cost of growing the corn and the price they get from buyers.  So the subsidies allow feed companies to buy corn and other commodity crops for less than it cost to grow it!  That's one of the main things that has enabled the feedlots to make a profit.

      Help protect independent farmers! Go to

      by judith2007 on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:31:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nailing Descartes to the wall (0+ / 0-)

    I speak outside what is recognized as the border between "reason" and "insanity".
    But I consider it a measure of my humanity to be written off
    by the living graves of a billion murdered lives.
    And I'm not ashamed of my recurring dreams about me and a gun and a different species
    (hint: starts with "h" and rhymes with "Neuman's")
    of carnage strewn about the stockyards, the factories and farms.
    Still I know as well as anyone that it does less good
    than harm to be this honest with a conscience eased by lies.
    But you cannot deny that meat is still murder.
    Dairy is still rape.
    And I'm still as stupid as anyone, but I know my mistakes.
    I have recognized one form of oppression, now I recognize the rest.
    And life's too short to make another's shorter- (animal liberation now!).

  •  Gore is complicit in Clintons corporate sluttery. (0+ / 0-)

    He is no hero of people.  I remember his sidekick Lieberman.  And people get mad at Nader...

  •  Rice? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are alternative farming techniques being developed for cattle production. I believe administering antibiotics (Rumesin) to cattle can diminish the production of methane by the microflora in a cow's digestive system. Also, there are better feeds & grasses under development that would reduce methane production.

    Also, since you're going after meat in this diary, the same problem exists with Rice. Methane producing bacteria thrive in flooded Rice patties (as well as most any swamp or wetland). Since Asia is home to the most populous continent on the planet, and shown no signs of slowing down, that means more & more rice patties. There are similar farming alternatives (like those with meat production) that would alleviate the problem without removing one of the crops most of Asia depends on for existence.

  •  Do we have to parse every word? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drbloodaxe, Tomsank

    He's done more to promote education on climate change than anyone...

    I'm growing weary of this demand for perfection from everyone. And yes, I eat meat too, and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

    I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere ~ Thomas Jefferson

    by valadon on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 12:41:14 AM PDT

  •  You bring up many good points (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ksingh, TurkeyCreek

    this probably isn't one

    if meat weren’t so darn cheap

    Love that "power of the purse!" It looks so nice up there on the mantle (and not the table) next to the "subpoena power."

    by Sacramento Dem on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 12:44:59 AM PDT

    •  How so? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, MD

      One report almost 10 years ago said that hamburgers would be $35 without government subsidies:

      A liberal is a conservative who's been hugged.

      by raatz on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 12:47:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Less than exorbitant isn't always cheap (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We subsidize mortgages and health insurance in this country, but I wouldn't say that means they are 'cheap'.

        When I cut the meat out of my diet my costs typically drop by over 50%. My thinking on the semantics would be more along the lines of "high meat costs would be much higher without massive subsidies"

        Love that "power of the purse!" It looks so nice up there on the mantle (and not the table) next to the "subpoena power."

        by Sacramento Dem on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:22:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dollar menu meals are cheap (4+ / 0-)

          I was referring to the likes of the dollar hamburgers and cheeseburgers at fast food places, which is what's causing a large part of the problem of eating too much meat, and normalizing meat in the diet. You may be buying higher quality meats.

          •  I've stopped eating from the dollar menu (0+ / 0-)

            I always felt like I was playing Russian roulette with 'Mad Cow' disease when I did. I'm sure you are correct that if meat was priced at its true costs to produce, consumption would decline. However I think this points out a flaw in allowing the 'free market' to regulate supply and demand. Literally billions of people survive on a few dollar a day or less, any change to our food system needs to take them into account. Perhaps not feeding a third of our corn to cows would be beneficial to the nutrition of all of us, but with so many on the edge of starvation, simply allowing the market to work may result in devastating consequences.

            Personally I am very greatful to Al for raising the awareness of global warming. I know some will probably give you a hard time for attacking our 'sacred cow' (pun intended). I appreciate this diary since it has exposed me to some truths I had been unaware of.

            Love that "power of the purse!" It looks so nice up there on the mantle (and not the table) next to the "subpoena power."

            by Sacramento Dem on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 11:26:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree the market is limited (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sacramento Dem

              I am no fan of the free market system either, but since what we have now is far from that, I am advocating for saner economic policies that protect our earth and our health. I am not saying of course, that all food should be too expensive, but if some food were more expensive than others (ie, if meat and processed foods cost more than organic vegetables), which would sure help.

              This too is overly simplistic, and elsewhere I have argued for a social justice approach to food, so that everyone has access and can afford truly healthy food.

              Thanks for the discussion and exchange of ideas.

  •  There's a strange dichotomy ... (6+ / 0-) your piece. First you blast Gore not only for not mentioning the eating of meat but also for eating meat himself and setting a bad example. Then you complain because he suggested changing individual behavior around energy consumption, e.g. light-bulb switching.

    I'm a vegetarian, so you can dispense with that lecture. And I have been criticizing corporatism for 40+ years. But individual behavior, over-consumption of everything, not just meat, is, at root, the problem. Now, of course, Americans (and much of the rest of the world) are conditioned by corporate advertising to consume. And the manner in which they feed our habits are often out of our control, but it's still our habits, whether it's what we put on our table or how many and what kind of lights we use to illuminate our plates.

    I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:44:12 AM PDT

    •  Individual behavior is the problem (0+ / 0-)

      But that of course doesn't mean that government action to create incentives for individuals to change their behavior isn't crucial in solving the problem.

      I do agree that one can't expect Gore to do a sequel to his movie at NN, and a long discussion of the impact of corporations would have been out of place.

      I still think that Gore is held to a different standard.  Maybe eating meat is justifiable for Gore the way all his flying is; but if he thinks it is, he needs to be able to defend it the way he defends his frequent flier miles.

    •  Connecting individual behavior with policy change (0+ / 0-)

      Firstly, you're right that it's somewhat inconsistent to criticize Gore regarding the light bulbs while I point to his own behavior of meat eating. To me the difference is that it's safe to point to light bulbs, since there won't be much backlash there. But it's also relatively ineffective. In contrast, if his message was to take public transit instead of drive, I have no problem with that, but only coupled with the policy changes to promote more public transit, etc.

      My message is two-fold: our leaders need to set good examples, or else they lose credibility. Then, they need to call for government policies so that EVERYONE can make those same choices, regardless of income, etc.

  •  I Am a Carnivore (4+ / 0-)

    I spent the last 4 million years clawing my way to near the top of the food chain, I have a carnivore's binocular vision, evolution supplied me with an opposable thumb specifically so I could grasp a weapon.

    I am helping to solve the bovine flatulence problem by eating the cows. What more do you want??

    We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

    by The Baculum King on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:50:53 AM PDT

  •  Have you quit driving 100% yet? (7+ / 0-)

    If not, what right do you have to demand Gore to quit eating meat?

    It's funny how Gore has to withstand body blows from assholes  from the rightwing and MSM smear artists (like David Gregory on Sunday) with little help from the likes of you, and at the same time meet every Tom, Dick and Harry's individual demands of what he ought to do.

    How about thanking him for what he does and pitching in, instead of joining the MSM/RWNM brigade to undermine his efforts. He doesn't really have to do ANYTHING for anyone or any cause; he was rich enough as of a  few years ago to live the rest of his life in great comfort without lifting a finger.

    Just say NO to BAYH (for VP)! Here's why!

    by NeuvoLiberal on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:59:25 AM PDT

  •  Vegans trying to hitch a ride on global warming (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    khereva, 0wn, Pragmaticus, sam storm


  •  And where will we get the rest.... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm always amused when vegetarians get apoplectic over the fact that homo sapiens sapiens evolved as an omnivore rather than a herbivore.  And that fact cannot reasonably be disputed.  From our forward-looking eyes trading off peripheral vision (what herbivores need) for depth perception (what predators need), to our multi-function teeth that include both tearing and chewing instruments, to our higher percentage of slow-twitch fibers in our thigh muscles and lack of fur so that we can shed heat through perspiration - both of which give us the stamina to pursue speedier prey until it is exhausted - homo sapiens sapiens clearly evolved as a predatory omnivore.

    But even assuming we had not, that we were not meant to eat meat, or that our evolution were now irrelevant in light of present climate challenges, I ask this....

    ... where would we get the many other products we derive from animal byproducts?  From paint to plywood, stabilized rubber to shaving cream, makeup to medicines, we use products made from animal byproducts every day.  How would we synthesize their replacements, and how much energy would we spend doing so?

    As a hint, most of the synthetic replacements that we've found are plastic polymers made from ... oil.

  •  I'm a vegetarian, but (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pattyp, kkjohnson, ksingh, drbloodaxe, 0wn

    I understand why Gore doesn't talk about this.  I think Gore is doing a wonderful job of making environmentalism mainstream.  I think a lot of his success would be undone if he were to begin to be perceived as an extremist, and I think telling Americans to give up meat--while I do not personally consider it an extreme position--would be considered extremism by many Americans.

    •  Me too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      vegetarian for 40+ years.
      I don't give a shit what people eat. It's up to each of us to figure that out.

      But (many of us veggies still have a big "but"...) mostly that's because when people tell me what I "should" do, it ALWAYS pisses me off. And then tends to make me a polarity responder. I'll go off in the opposite direction. See how you like THIS nose-bite, Face!

      Love is the source, substance and future of all being. --St. Francis

      by ksingh on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:33:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like meat (0+ / 0-)

    And I can't stand the small number of vegans who are holier than thou.  Let people eat what they want to eat.

    Pragmatic progressivism is the future.

    by Pragmaticus on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 04:38:39 AM PDT

    •  We Are Lagging Behind (0+ / 0-)

      We haven't really added a single animal to the stable in 8,000 years or so, for some reason we just quit when we got the Holstein tamed. There are some antelopes that would be excellent candidates for meat production with minimal impact, notably the eland (better than beef) and the blackbuck.

      We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.

      by The Baculum King on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 06:42:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The science on sustainable agriculture (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pattyp, kkjohnson

    A lot of commentors have already noted that not all meat production is the same.  Some sites to check out that have looked at the science on this issue:

    Eat Wild

    Rodale Institute

    Union of Concerned Scientists

    Help protect independent farmers! Go to

    by judith2007 on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:50:45 AM PDT

  •  Here is more info re corn production (0+ / 0-)

    It is an excellent documentary call King Corn. It's well done and even entertaining

    I have been a vegetarian most of my life because as a child I associated what was on my dinner plate with the animals I had learned to love. I am healthy beyond belief. As I also have been an environmentalist almost all my life,when I learned about the environmental costs of eating meat I was glad that my earlier choices had not contributed to the problem. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do and invites to my home for dinner are in high demand by veggies and non-veggies alike. It is quite possible to eat very well without eating meat and when people realize that they are more open to considering a veggie lifestyle. To clarify I am a vegetarian I eat no meat, poultry but I do eat and cook with diary.

  •  Time to rent Demolition Man again: (0+ / 0-)

    Edgar Friendly: You got that right. You see, according to Cockteau's plan, I'm the enemy because I like to think. I like to read, I'm into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I'm the kind of guy that could sit in a greasy spoon and wonder gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecue ribs or the side order of gravy fries. I want high cholesterol. I would eat bacon and butter and buckets of cheese. OK. I want to smoke Cuban cigars the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green Jell-O all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why, because I might suddenly feel the need to. OK? Pal, I've seen the future. Know what it is? It's a 47-year-old virgin sitting around in his pajamas, sipping a banana-broccoli shake, singing 'I'm the Oscar Meyer wiener'. You live up top, you live how he wants. Your other choice: come down here and maybe starve to death.

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 06:20:19 AM PDT

  •  I am so glad you posted this diary... (0+ / 0-)

    and given his response some attention. I was really disappointed in his feeble answer. And keep in mind, I am a HUGE Gore fan, he deserves the accolades he has received.

    But the data to support the effects of meat-eating on global warming should not be blown off just because he has a preference for meat. He talks about sacrifices and making changes - here's a big step toward that.

  •  my vegetarian husband says (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raatz, pattyp, Melody Townsel

    that he personally wishes Al Gore would emphasize the need for limiting family size. Of course, eating less meat or no meat would make  a difference, but so would fewer children.

    Al's strength is showing people that it is possible to make personal changes, and I hope that he will bring in more ideas as time goes on. Still, his success has been that he makes the problem serious but gives hopeful answers that do not involve "go live on nuts and berries in the forest in the cold and dark."

    The pump don't work 'cause a vandal took the handle.

    by Chun Yang on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 07:29:23 AM PDT

  •  I have to agree with mbayrob. (0+ / 0-)

    While it is important to shift our eating habits down the scale, I don't know that Gore is the right person to champion that message.

    Yes, he's got tons of clout, but to get his message out to the masses, it has to stay focused.  If he starts going into all the other ways we should be helping the environment (and ourselves) it dilutes the thrust of his work.

    Personally, I would love to see someone else with media attention take up the 'less meat' message, and a third such person go after plastic production and use.  We should be using non-biodegradable plastics (almost all of them) far more sparingly, if at all.

    Got a problem with my posts? Quit reading them. They're usually opinions, and I don't come here to get in arguments.

    by drbloodaxe on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 07:37:10 AM PDT

  •  Focus (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you want to control climate change, you have to convince a majority of Americans that it's important. If you start to tie global warming concerns to other liberal causes, most people wil simply write the issue off as "just another whacko liberal idea". Most Americans do not hate corporations, don't want to give up meat, don't plan on growing a significant amount of food in their back yard, and certainly do not want to give up their automobiles. If you start to tie global warming to these things, then people will basically say "What the hell, it's all probably just a bunch of malarcky anyway".

  •  Michele, looks like you're a natural blogger! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Any chance you'd be willing to cross post this over to La Vida Locavore?

  •  This is the crux, right here: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Michele Simon

    Gore’s refusal to talk about the connection between diet and global warming is part of a much bigger problem with his message: the insufficient finger pointing at the ultimate culprit, Corporate America. As much as I appreciated his documentary film, I was disappointed by the ending, when messages of individual behavior change such as how we can save energy by changing our light bulbs scrolled prior to the credits. Light bulbs? I think the melting of polar ice caps puts us a tad beyond the light-bulb-changing stage.

    I was at a talk Derrick Jensen was giving back in March and his disgust for An Inconvenient Truth was unmistakable, and for the reason Ms. Simon states above. His stuff can be hard to read (I read The Culture of Make Believe several summers ago and it was so upsetting I'd have to put the book down, go commune with my children or nature, etc, and then go back to it), but old Al should give it a try - I suggest this.

    There are too many of us who have withdrawn into our private lives because we think public life has nothing to offer. That has to change. -- BHO, 2004

    by LBK on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 01:56:49 PM PDT

  •  maybe he remembered Oprahs' experience (0+ / 0-)

    of having to go to court in Texas for having disparaged hamburger?

    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 02:16:09 PM PDT

  •  Meat or no Meat (0+ / 0-)

    Meat or no meat - I wonder what Al was thinking when his SUVs (non hybrid) were ideling for 20 minutes while making this speech?

    Or what he is thinking when he travels in Jets (using fossil fuel) to make all these speeches around the world? Or his many HUGE homes...

    Don't get me wrong us Humans need to take better care of our world but should AL Gore follow what he preaches?  

    Also - if this Carbon tax ever gets passed - will our politicians be taxed or exempt???

    Sorry - I think AL Gore is a BIG Hypocrite

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