Year Zero is the future date when all wild animals are gone.
Words by Dr. Sailesh Rao
In 2015, I was visiting India on a project field trip when the main news in New Delhi was the spate of farmer suicides occurring on a daily basis. And I was shocked to discover that the farmers were committing suicide because they had harvested a bumper crop of potatoes! The price of potatoes plummeted and many farmers were dumping their potatoes by the side of the road instead of taking them to market in New Delhi. They were then drinking pesticides and killing themselves because they couldn’t repay their debts.
We live in a socioeconomic system that depends on scarcity and it tries its best to turn natural abundance into artificial scarcity. Globally, 7.5 billion human beings consume about 1.5 billion tons of food annually. However, we procure almost 9 billion tons of food, six times as much food as we really need. But we turn this natural abundance into an artificial scarcity through Animal Agriculture. We feed nearly 7.5 billion tons of food to our animals and in return, they give us less than 190 million tons, a nearly 40 fold reduction in dry weight. Since animal foods are scarce, we compete over them and in fact, around 9 million people actually die of starvation each year, despite the fact that we are procuring 6 times as much food as we really need!
Since Animal Agriculture uses 83% of the food that we extract from Nature, it is the #1 cause of global deforestation, rainforest depletion, soil degradation, water pollution, desertification, ocean dead zones, ocean acidification, water scarcity, chronic diseases, premature deaths, food insecurity and yes, even climate change. And yet, Animal Agriculture is one of the most heavily subsidized industries patronized by governments of every stripe, throughout the world. Processed meat, which has been labeled a Group 1 carcinogen by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) alongside asbestos, cigarette smoke and plutonium, is still served to children in school lunches throughout the world, subsidized by our governments.
What is going on? Why would our governments deliberately subsidize an industry that is killing us, killing innocent animals and killing all wildlife?