The campaign to expose the harmful, violent, and destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

Brian Kateman: Optimistic ‘longtermism’ is terrible for animals

0

Mostly ignored in longtermist circles is our systematic, commercialized cruelty against animals raised as livestock. In the U.S. alone, billions of animals are confined in factory farms and killed for food each year.

BRIAN KATEMAN: Oxford philosopher William MacAskill’s new book, What We Owe the Future, caused quite a stir this month… MacAskill’s new tome makes the case for a growing flank of thought called “longtermism.” Longtermists argue that our actions today can improve the lives of humans way, way, way down the line — we’re talking billions, trillions of years — and that in fact it’s our moral responsibility to do so. In many ways, longtermism is a straightforward, uncontroversially good idea.

Humankind has long been concerned with providing for future generations: not just our children or grandchildren, but even those we will never have the chance to meet… Nearly two decades ago, Oxford philosophy professor Nick Bostrom kicked off this wave of longtermism with the concept of “astronomical waste.” He argues that even people of the unfathomably distant future deserve our ethical consideration, and that if humans manage to colonize space, there could be many, many more of us than there are now…

But MacAskill’s optimism could be disastrous for non-human animals, members of the millions of species who, for better or worse, share this planet with us… The infinite growth of humanity means infinite growth of humanity’s problems, and one that is mostly ignored in longtermist circles is our systematic, commercialized cruelty against animals raised as livestock. In the U.S. alone, billions of animals are confined in factory farms and killed for food each year.

Things are trending downwards, not upwards, morally speaking: meat consumption in the U.S. is at an all-time high. Developing countries are adopting American-style factory farms to support their growing populations. And even if global society did resolve to end concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), we definitely do not yet have the technology to make that transition possible at current consumption levels. We simply don’t have enough land to replace all CAFOs with small, sustainable farms that implement more humane practices.

Plant-based meat alternatives still occupy a precarious place in our economy. And it’s too soon to tell if cell-cultured meat will be broadly and commercially viable at all. Right now, there’s little reason to be sure that mankind will ever put an end to factory farming. Even beyond manmade atrocities, trillions upon trillions of animals inhabit the earth currently, and most, if not all of them, suffer to some degree. Prey animals live in fear of their predators, whose very nature leads them to tear their prey limb from limb in a killing that’s anything but merciful.

For many species, reproduction is a traumatic experience beginning with forced, painful sex. And animals of all species are subject to disease, starvation, and injury with no aid in sight. There’s no reason that ethicists shouldn’t consider animal suffering as well, even the naturally occurring kind. Truth be told, we don’t even know the full scope of animal suffering, both human-inflicted and not. A recent study suggests that bees and other insects are sentient. Other species could be next. SOURCE…

RELATED VIDEOS: