As part of the activities of the axis Ethics and environment, CRE is pleased to welcome Carter Dillard, director of litigation with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director with the Center for Biological Diversity.
There are more than 7 billion people in the world today and approximately 56 billion land animals raised and slaughtered for food each year. Both of those numbers are quickly rising. Population growth and meat consumption are some of the leading causes of the current mass extinction crisis, putting humans on the path to replacing other species with ourselves and the domesticated animals we eat, decimating what remains of our once biodiverse planet. And yet, environmentalists rarely mention either. Livestock are often bred in cruel factory farms, occupy more than 25 percent of the earth, use one-third of arable land for their feed, and are responsible for massive amounts of water use and greenhouse gas emissions, making meat production and consumption one of the most inhumane and devastating industries on the planet – not only for farm animals, but for the wildlife and environment they impact. As world population and globalization continue to grow, so will the demand for animal products.
Meanwhile, due in large part to our explosive growth and voracious appetites, wildlife species are going extinct at the fastest rate since the time of the dinosaurs and climate change is threatening life on this earth as we know it. Yet the topics of population growth and overconsumption – particularly of animal products – is usually left out of conversations in law schools and the legal academy and among environmental groups, activists, and the media. All of this raises crucial questions that are rarely asked: Why are we, and the animals we eat, replacing other species on earth? Is the animal rights movement really progressing given the ongoing mass extinction of other species? Has the environmental movement failed given the prospects for extinction, anthropogenic climate change, and other environmental crises? How do human rights play into these issues, if at all? Can we rethink our most basic moral and legal norms to prevent the degradation of our world? Why aren’t more people talking about population growth and animal agriculture, and can we really do anything about it?
The speakers will discuss the vital connections between animal agriculture, human population growth, environmental protection, and systems of rights – both human and animal. They will explain how to use this synergy – along with advocacy, creativity, and legal action – to get beyond the stigma and taboo that usually keep population growth and our diets out of conversations and they will suggest legal reforms and practical ways for each of us to create a better future for all species.
Carter Dillard is Director of Litigation with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Carter began his career as an Honors Program appointee to the U.S. Department of Justice and later served as a legal advisor to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in the National Security Law Division. He holds a B.A. from Boston College, a J.D., Order of the Coif and with honors, from Emory University, and an LL.M. from New York University. Carter has written over a dozen articles, including peer-reviewed pieces, on animal protection and human population ethics, founded the organization uncrowded.org which promotes smaller and more loving families, and he currently sits on the Steering Committee for the Population Ethics: Theory and Practice research project at the University of Oxford. You can learn more about ALDF’s work to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system at www.aldf.org.
Stephanie Feldstein is Population and Sustainability Director with the Center for Biological Diversity. Stephanie leads the Center’s work to highlight and address threats to endangered species and wild places from runaway human population growth and overconsumption. Previously Stephanie worked for Change.org, where she helped hundreds of people start and win online campaigns to save wildlife and other animals. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and has years of experience in organizing, outreach and communications, with a focus on animal and environmental protection. You can learn more about the Center’s population and sustainability program at www.biologicaldiversity.org/population_sustainability; www.endangeredspeciescondoms.com; and www.takeextinctionoffyourplate.com.
Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur