Paul and Shawn discuss their viewing of Cowspiracy.
They are about 90% finished with the chapter on carbon footprint but felt that it was important to get the vegan's argument for decreasing the carbon footprint by being a vegan. A lot of places argue that the best way to decrease the carbon footprint is by becoming a vegan. They decided to watch the movie Cowspiracy as most vegans site this movie as offering the explanation of that view point. Neither Paul nor Shawn had seen it before and both were frankly dreading it because they thought that it would be a lot about militant veganism.
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Ivan Bjorkavag - He was also the navigator on Paul's recent West Coast speaking tour.
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Shawn gets the first whack at Cowspiracy and says that it was difficult to watch because of all the poor logic and reason that was used. He says that it would have been a great case study for his high school logic and reason class.
Paul thought that prior to watching it, the highest ranking he would have been able to give it would have been a 1.5 on a scale of 1-10. After seeing it though, he gave it a 5.5 and said that he actually enjoyed it a lot. The movie is about 1 man's journey into the subject of carbon footprint. The guy in the movie did a really good job of gathering information but they took a hard left with is conclusions and solutions. His math was also way off throughout the movie and would have taken several weeks to really research it and find out the true numbers. But they didn't have that kind of time to put into the movie review because they are trying to stay focused on the book and finishing it.
Paul thought that the movie was well done and made a lot of really good points. Like the fact that the organizations that are supposed to be looking out for us, really aren't. The organizations are about harvesting coin and not about making a difference. However, Paul thought that showing the organizations spokespersons being unable to answer his questions was being a little unfair since that is not really the person that would have a lot of technical knowledge about the issues.
Although Paul feels that the conclusions were wrong, he felt the man in the movie decided to make hard choices to not be a part of the problem.
Paul also says that this entire topic will be covered in 1-2 paragraphs in the book.
Paul wishes that he could give the movie guy 100 copies of the book and ask him to try and bash it. He feels that his and Shawn's book is rock solid on it's facts.
Shawn says the movie guy watched Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" and was so moved by it that he decided to do everything in movie that Al Gore recommended. But the things that he listed as doing were sort of sacrificial and not very good. The movie guy says that he become an OCE, an obsessive-compulsive environmentalist.
Paul likes that term but although he is doing permaculture education and promotion from 5 in the morning until he can't think at night, he doesn't know that he would want to use the term "environmentalist". He also says that he is trying to bring more balance to his life still in that respect.
Paul's remembrance of Al Gore's list from this movie was recycling, composting, light bulbs, short showers and using a bike instead of a car.
Shawn's point is not that the things on the list are bad, just that they are ineffective.
Paul wonders what the movie guy was doing before Cowspiracy if recycling was new to him. He also points out that composting, while good, does release more carbon into the atmosphere. They both groan about the belief that fluorescent light bulbs will be a help. The short showers seem to be a sacrifice and Paul's point is also about living a more luxuriant life. And then Paul discusses the concern about riding a bike in a city and the amount of car exhaust that you will inhale doing that and mentions that for many people, riding a bike is a sacrifice.
Paul's next point was that the movie guy says that the FAO report said that cows produce more green house gases than cars.
Paul says that Allen Savory has said that cutting down and burning trees (deforestation) to make cattleland makes more carbon than anything else.
Shawn researched Allen's point and found that deforestation accounts for about 1/6th of the total greenhouse gases.
Paul points out that the movie guy quoted and wore a T-shirt that said that animal agriculture produced 51% of the total greenhouse gases.
Shawn says that a better (more accurate) study showed that it was 14.5% but that the movie was based on the 51%.
Paul thought that it sounded like the movie guy went around asking a lot of important people to be in his movie but that a lot of them declined. Paul thinks that this may be due to them not wanting to be associated with militant type vegans where they are mad at you if you don't do it the way that they say is right. Paul points out that he really respects people who choose the vegan path, just not when they tell you that you also have to be that way.
After the movie came out the guy in it was challenged about his numbers and came back with that it was really closer to 18% more than transportation. Then it got corrected to 14% but they movie guy had said that it depended on how you looked at it and he looked at it as 18%.
Shawn says that he has found animal agriculture to be reported as 18% of the total greenhouse gases and transportation as 13% of the total.
Paul mentions that methane was described and 86 times worse than CO2 in the movie but Paul didn't feel that was correct.
Shawn agrees and says that he remembers methane as lasting 12 years in the atmosphere whereas CO2 lasts 200 years in the atmosphere.
Paul brings up that there was lots and lots of talk throughout the movie about how much poop cows make. He feels the movie guy was overly anxious about the cow poop.
Shawn points out that it is lots of great fertilizer.
One of the movie guy's quotes was that 10,000 years ago, 99% of the biomass was "free living animals". Which makes Paul and Shawn wonder what was there to eat if they only had 1% of the biomass left for that. It seemed like a bad statistic.
Also the movie guy focused a lot on water consumption. Paul thought the guy was from California and possibly a water restricted area like Los Angeles because of his fixation on the water consumption aspect. The guy said that 1 hamburger with a bun was equal to 2 months of showering, or 660 gallons of water. Shawn remembers him also saying that 1 pound of hamburger was worth 2,500 gallons of water. Both of them say that his math is bad again and point out that the water does not disappear into a cow black hole. It is part of the water cycle where goes from cow to river to ocean to rain. And it's not just the water that the cow drinks, it is also the water used to raise the food for the cow.
Paul points out that irrigation is usually used for raising plants for vegans as well so it is not just exclusive to cows.
Paul felt that the water thing really got harped on in the movie and seemed like a nutty thing so maybe the guy should move to a less water restricted area.
Shawn suggested or get into greening the desert stuff. Shawn also pointed out that when on pasture, a cow's pee goes back to feed the growies. On a feedlot is where there is a problem instead of a benefit.
Paul takes a short food break for himself and Shawn shares some statistics that he looked up. Animal agriculture uses 45% of the land, 1/3 the fresh water and is responsible for 91% of the Amazon destruction. He points out that animal agriculture is not just the space for cows, it is also the growing of feed for them.
Paul mentions that his diet is nearly vegan. Like him, many vegans never eat tofu (soy bean product). Lots of people in the world only eat 10-20% meat in their diet. He says that the movie guy brought up lots of amazing info about the problems although it was very political. He talked about many of the environmental disasters over and over again. How there are lots of seafood subsidies now.
Paul asks Shawn what the number 1 thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is. Shawn replies, "Grown your own food."
The movie guy showed some people growing their own food but it was awful conditions and included the butchering. The movie guy also complained that people didn't want to talk to him about it.
There were lots of mathematical errors throughout the movie. The movie guy said that to raise enough grass fed beef to feed the USA, you would have to cover the entire country and part of the next in grass.
Shawn points out the the total number of cows now is equal to the total number of bison that used to be here and that didn't include the deer or antelope that used to live here to.
Paul learned from the movie that it takes 8 more months to raise a steer to harvest weight on grass than on grain. But he points out that he never would have considered feeding an animal a food that it was never designed to eat. Paul also points out that the bison model is a paddock shift model where they were moving all the time and not overgrazing. A paddock shift model increases growies by 5 times and vegans would benefit from including animals in their gardens for this reason.
Paul points out that the movie guy said that desertification was caused by overgrazing and that Allen Savory says that we should graze more animals (but he doesn't really say that) and then he points out that Allen had killed 40,000 elephants so the movie guy didn't feel that he was someone to listen to.
Both Paul and Shawn feel like that was a very dirty shot since Allen has admitted that he feels terrible about having done that when he was first operating under the assumption that desertification was caused by over grazing.
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