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CVA Weekly Newsletter
January 8, 2014

  1. Essay: Economic Incentives and the Knowledge of the Lord
  2. Answer to Last Week’s Quiz (and commentary)
  3. The 100th Issue of The Peaceable Table Is Now Online
  4. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Essay: Economic Incentives and the Knowledge of the Lord
Last week I suggested that one way to help fill the world with the knowledge of the Lord is to create incentives for people to act in a more loving, compassionate, and godly fashion. Encouraging people to do the right thing works for some of the people some of the time, but the human capacity for self-delusion and self-justification is so strong that people can often justify to themselves almost any activity, however heinous. To illustrate, the vast majority of people, in order to satisfy a taste preference, seem to have no qualms about having nonhuman beings submitted to unrelenting pain and misery.
Although I don’t think people are totally self-centered, I think appeals to self-interest are among the most effective motivators. Economic incentives can be particularly effective. Subsidies or taxes that lower or raise the cost of goods or services can have a huge impact on what people consume. An attribute of a tax is that it can account for what economists call externalities, which are costs of goods or services not contained in the normal cost of those goods or services. For example, if the production of something involves polluting the environment or sickening individuals, there is a cost that is not reflected in the purchase price of the product. The purchase cost of the item, then, would not reflect its actual cost. A tax on that item would help rectify this situation and, potentially, the generated income from the tax could be used to address the cost.
There are several externalities associated with animal agribusiness, including the health costs related to eating foods that contribute to diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and certain cancers; the loss of scarce land, water, and energy resources due to the inherent inefficiencies of raising animals for food; and the climate changes related to the extensive use of fossil fuels by animal agribusiness. What if any taxes would be appropriate to address these externalities? I’ll consider this question next week.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

2. Answer to Last Week’s Quiz (and commentary)
Last week - Januar
y 1, 2014 - I offered a prize to the first person who could relate how climate scientists account for the recent growth of the winter Antarctic sea ice. Congratulations to Daphne M., who offered the first correct answer. Scientists have noted several factors, including changes in sea currents, weather patterns, and precipitation. An important point is that sea ice is influenced by both the air temperature and other weather factors above the ice as well as the water temperature below it, whereas land ice is only influenced factors above the land, such as air temperature and cloud cover. It is noteworthy that Antarctic land ice has been melting at a rate of 70 billion tonnes (1 tonne = approx. 2200 lb) per year, which results in an increase in sea level of 0.19 millimeter per year. This translates to 1 inch in 132 years, which many would say doesn’t sound too threatening to humanity. However, climate scientists expect the rate of land ice melting to increase as global temperatures rise. In addition, other sources of melting land ice are contributing to sea level change, most notably Greenland, where land ice melting has been greater than that of Antarctica.
Planets without greenhouse gasses can be hot in the daytime and near the -270 degrees celseus temperature of outer space at night. Several potent greenhouse gasses are byproducts of raising animals for food, most notably CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide. Anhang and Gooding estimated that “livestock production” accounts for 51% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

(See Livestock and Climate Change - PDF.)

While some of their estimations can be challenged, it is reasonable to conclude that “livestock” production accounts for at least 1/3 of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. If, as the vast majority of climate scientists agree, climate change poses a major threat to human civilization, then moving toward plant-based diets will be essential if humanity is to mitigate the problem.

3. The 100th Issue of The Peaceable Table Is Now Online
Contents Include:
A Guest Essay by Will Tuttle deals discussing the stages many of us may go through in our vegan journey.
One of the NewsNotes notes that Desmond Tutu of South Africa, long a fearless voice on behalf of oppressed humans, is now speaking up for animals as well. He has written a strong foreword to a collection of essays entitled Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by Andrew Linzey, just now being published.
Two recipes: a Nut Casserole with Mushroom Gravy. Delectable!  
Victoria Moran has done it again! Her new book Main Street Vegan, co-authored with her daughter Adair, is both highly informative and enjoyable reading for people in all stages of their vegan journey. See Virginia Iris Holmes' helpful Review.
Peace and liberty to all beings.
Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor
You can read this issue at www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue100.html

4. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Striking Appearance of Jesus Christ

Your question and comments are welcome

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