November 1, 2010

Four years of drought turns Iraqi and Syrian villages into abandoned ghost towns

The New York Times newspaper in the US recently reported that a combination of resource mismanagement, livestock grazing and climate change have combined to create inhospitable conditions for farming in the area once known as the Fertile Crescent in Syria and Iraq.

The region has become hotter and dryer, with more sand storms and intense but erratic rainfall. More than 100,000 people left their villages as their former homes became buried in sand and are now living in tents near other cities. Syrian farmer Ahmed Abdullah, who moved with his wife and 12 children to live in a burlap and plastic tent outside Damascus, stated, “I had 400 acres of wheat, and now it’s all desert. We were forced to flee. Now we are at less than zero – no money, no job, no hope.” Moreover, these conditions have affected national food security, as Syria, which mainly used to export grain, has been forced to buy from other countries instead.

We thank The New York Times for this alert to the climate-related disasters facing a growing number of our brethren. May our understanding of the plight of these and so many other climate refugees worldwide galvanize our actions to stop global warming and protect food security, including a shift to organic vegan farming.

During a November 2009 videoconference in Mexico, Supreme Master Ching Hai explained why animal agriculture is where we must focus to prevent further escalation of unlivable conditions.

Supreme Master Ching Hai: Climate change is not an abstract concept at all. It is here and now, affecting our neighbors, affecting us, and more and more. Next, children will suffer. Mothers and fathers will suffer upon suddenly losing their livelihoods, losing their loved ones, losing their dignity and happiness, and all might vanish overnight. And please remember, the number 1 cause behind it all is animal agriculture.

“How is livestock production connected to these damaging effects?” you will ask. There are so many ways that I’m sure I don’t have enough time to tell all of them. These include deforestation; soil erosion and desertification; excessive use of precious resources; land and water waste and pollution; and animal, plant and human disease or disappearance.

But you see, we are not just victims. We are also the rescuers and part of the solution. If we stop the meat eating, we stop the animal consumption. The main thing is: switch away from meat, eggs, dairy, fish, meal by meal, day by day, and we will be living in a vegan paradise in no time.

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