Global warming poses a number of grave threats to agriculture, including the loss of pollen viability for some crop species at higher temperatures, more extreme unpredictable weather, and coastal flooding. Any serious efforts to address climate change will necessitate the adoption of organic farming and the rejection of commercial agricultural systems that foster and serve the global meat culture. However, rather than undertaking constructive and fundamental changes aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, many in the scientific community have counseled an approach known as geoengineering, which is often described as technological interventions in the earth’s climate systems to manipulate our weather and our oceans. Unfortunately, this depiction of geoengineering is misleading, or at best incomplete. Although global warming has been utilized as an argument for increased support and funding for environmental modification technologies, geoengineering is rooted to a large extent in its potential for military applications, which include creating weather disturbances that are destructive to enemy combatant nations.
The United States and the Soviet Union conducted some of the earliest geo-scale experiments and engineering efforts between 1958 and 1962. These two Cold War combatants were attempting to modify the global environment for military purposes by detonating nuclear bombs in space – the goal of combating global warming played absolutely no role. The 1958 U.S. Argus project, for instance, involved the use of A-bomb explosions in the Van Allen Belt (magnetic belts protecting the earth from the destructive solar wind’s charged particles) to create an artificial radiation belt, disrupt the near-space environment, and possibly intercept enemy missiles. Project Argus, and later high altitude nuclear tests by the U.S. and the Soviet Union that followed, culminated in the 1962 Starfish Prime H-bomb space detonations that created an artificial electromagnetic radiation belt that remained for 10 years. Project Starfish had a substantially disruptive impact on the Van Allen belt, altering its shape and intensity for approximately 100 years to come. Geo-weaponry projects also included the 1962 U.S. military use of electronic beams to ionize and de-ionize areas of the atmosphere to generate artificial lightening, as well as a Canadian project that entailed launching satellites into the earth’s ionosphere to chemically simulate plasma (an example of which is lightening).
In response to the destructive impacts of these activities, the United Nations General Assembly approved the 1976 Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques. However, the United Nations left a debilitating loophole – the convention did not prohibit peaceful projects such as pure research, solar energy projects, or industrial resource development. This omission allowed countries to simply re-label or restate the objectives of their geo-warfare projects as, for instance, weather research aimed at increasing food production in the North American plains or in Russia.
Governments have been conducting atmospheric modification experiments for decades by adding chemicals to the earth’s atmosphere such as barium azide, barium chlorate, barium nitrate, barium perchlorate and barium peroxide. These combustible substances are harmful to the ozone layer, as is the atmospheric nuclear bomb testing by the U.S., U.K. and the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1963. There are no enforcement mechanisms for requiring the dissemination of research / information on the environmental impacts of geo-weaponry experiments, and there is no legal framework for requiring the informed consent of the public. Given that the rule of law is reticent in this area, officials were free to blame ozone depletion on underarm deodorant and cologne, atomizers and asthma medicine dispensers. In this way, governments could sidestep issues associated with the military’s goal of controlling the weather as a weapon and its harmful impact on the ozone layer.
Geoengineering methods that seek to prevent or restrain temperature increases often have harmful side effects or are counterproductive. For example, one method that has thus far not been effective in small trials is ocean fertilization, achieved by depositing large quantities of iron filings into the ocean to increase the growth of phytoplankton, which then absorb carbon from the air. Two particularly costly methods involve dimming the sunlight by using rockets to launch mirrors into space between the sun and the earth, and pumping sea salt into the sky to generate increased cloud cover. These techniques could substantially alter rain and snow patterns, thereby causing droughts in large parts of Africa and India. Ocean fertilization could kill fish and other sea life on a large scale, and lead to increased emissions of other greenhouse gases such as methane. Pumping sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere (in imitation of volcanoes) is yet another harmful geoengineering technique. In this case, the objective is to create a haze of sulfur particles that remain temporarily suspended in the stratosphere, where they reflect and scatter sunlight away from the earth. This technique could lead to enlarged ozone holes as well as recurring droughts affecting some of the world’s poorest in Africa and Asia. Moreover, the use of sky-borne sulfates is not a “one-time solution” – the sulfur haze would dissipate as the particles wash out, suggesting that humanity would be trapped in a cycle of repeatedly spraying aerosols into the stratosphere.
Environmental modification techniques have become increasingly sophisticated, possibly allowing the military to steer the jet stream, cause droughts or floods, and change the direction or alter the intensity of hurricanes, monsoons, and tornadoes. The U.S. Army and Navy deployed a massive array of transmitters known as the High Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP) in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near Gacona, Alaska. This weapon of mass destruction, capable of selectively destabilizing agricultural and ecological systems of entire regions, is estimated to contain 180 transmission towers in grid formation, although it may be undergoing expansion.
If the true objective is indeed to counteract global warming, then it is important to undertake a fundamental reordering of agricultural production systems, based on the correct understanding of cow protection. As long as the meat culture remains a driving force within human society, it will be exceedingly difficult to counter climate change, as expanding livestock production leads to higher emissions of greenhouse gases, as well as deforestation and hence a reduced ability to absorb greenhouse gases. Livestock is a key contributor to global environmental problems such as land and water degradation. Moreover, livestock generates more greenhouse gas emissions than even petroleum-based transportation systems. Livestock consumes approximately 30% of the planet’s land surface, a figure that includes both permanent pastureland as well as the global arable land used for producing animal feed. The global livestock sector is expanding more rapidly than any other component of agriculture, and reliable projections indicate that substantial future growth in meat production lies ahead. Rising meat production is a major driver of deforestation, as forests are cleared in order to create new pastures for expanding cattle herds.
Forests perform a vital function by absorbing carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), implying that the destruction of forests tends to accelerate global warming.
An important step towards reversing climate change is the principle of cow protection, which will automatically control the growth of the cattle population. The key to this principle is to engage and employ bulls to work the land, implying that cows are bred only to the point where the bovine population meets the demand for draft power, rather than the demand for the byproducts, e.g., milk. In sharp contrast, raising cows for the purpose of producing milk is an egregious error—the cow will not produce milk unless it has calves, and since half will be male, the result is an excess bovine population that is costly to support. Farming practices that do not engage the bulls will essentially condemn them to the slaughterhouse, since they will have no economic value other than their meat. If cows are bred only to the point where the bovine population meets the demand for draft power rather than the demand for meat, the result will be a substantially smaller cattle population and net reductions in greenhouse gas.
Organically cultivated farmland functions as a carbon sink by removing the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere and fixing it as beneficial organic matter in the soil. Organic farming relies on composting and cover crops, which have the advantage of increasing the quantity of carbon-rich organic matter in the soil. Increases in organic matter are associated with increases in the sequestration of atmospheric carbon. The planet’s soils hold more than twice as much carbon as its vegetation. The soil’s carbon content can be further increased through reduced tillage, as well as greater use of cover crops and crop residues. Conventional agriculture depletes the soil’s organic matter, tending to worsen climate change.
Compared to conventional agriculture, organic farming produces less greenhouse gas, in part because of its lower energy intensity. Industrialized agriculture, in which vast amounts of land are plowed, planted, and harvested using diesel or gasoline powered farm machinery in place of human and animal labor, is not a sustainable substitute for cow protection. Intensive animal agriculture, a production model that is being steadily adopted throughout the world, is a vast user of fossil fuel, mainly for the production of feed. For example, in the U.S., one ton of oil (2000 pounds or 6.75 barrels) is required to produce one steer weighing 1250 pounds. One acre of corn production in the U.S. requires approximately 140 gallons of oil, and if the corn goes to livestock, only about one-fifth of the protein is returned as food, and four-fifths of it is lost. The adoption of new seed varieties has intensified the dependence on petroleum-based chemical inputs. Natural gas is an ingredient for manufacturing the chemical fertilizers that support high crop yields in modern agriculture, while oil is a raw material for producing pesticides. Heavy reliance on these inputs increases the carbon footprint of conventional agriculture.
Geoengineering is attractive to individuals that have no understanding of spiritual science, and yet at the same time do not trust human institutions to cope with global warming. Edward Teller, the godfather of modern geoengineering and self-proclaimed father of the H-bomb, was pessimistic about human nature and optimistic about technology. In his view, geoengineering is a technological solution to global warming that does not necessitate reforms in human institutions or changes in human nature. However, advocates of technological ‘solutions’, such as Edward Teller, fail to consider that human nature and human institutions actually govern the development and application of technology. Spiritual science is not the governing factor. Despite his distrust of human nature, Teller contributed to the invention of the H-bomb, and he placed this weapon of mass destruction in the hands of humans. These activities are contradictory and demonic. Lord Krishna stated that “the demonic engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world…” (Bhagavad-gita, 16.9); thereby, anticipating the development of nuclear weapons, according to Srila Prabhupada.
Global warming and geoengineering represent a convergence of demonic characteristics—(a) the tendency toward animal killing / meat eating, which is very prominent amongst the demonic while also being an important contributor to climate change (b) the tendency toward unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world, e.g. geoengineering, which is a weapon of mass destruction that has been advertised as a solution to global warming / the meat culture.
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