The substantial environmental impacts of agriculture are increasingly entering public discourse. They are major contributors to climate change, land use change, pollution and resource use. According to the UN, animals are often the largest contributors to this problem. Further, rising consumption and growth of the livestock sector exacerbate these trends. Proposed solutions include a return to local agriculture, rejection of industrial forms of agriculture, and changes in lifestyle.
This conversational panel will discuss the current state of empirical research on agriculture and the environment, with a special focus on the role of animals in this conversation. Topics include the natural resource and ethical implications of these recent trends and the state of policy and public dialogue. Proposed solutions that rely on local and nonindustrial production have their own downsides. This panel will discuss the impacts, viability, and ethical concerns that arise with these solutions.
is the the Executive Director of Brighter Green, a New York-based public policy action tank works to raise awareness and encourage dialogue on and policy attention to issues that span the environment, animals, and sustainable development globally, with a particular focus on equity and rights. Brighter Green's food policy and equity program is documenting the intersections among changing food systems, shifting dietary patterns, and climate change, particularly in countries of the global South. MacDonald is also a Senior Fellow of the Worldwatch Institute, worked closely with the late Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai on writing and other projects, and has taught in the environmental studies program at New York University and the human rights program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
an historian and writer based in Austin, Texas. His books include Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly (Little, Brown) and A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America (Columbia University Press). His writing on food, agriculture, and animals has appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, The Washington Post, Slate, The American Scholar, and The Texas Observer. He is a frequent contributor to Freakonomics.com, Conservation, Pacific Standard, and Laika Magazine. His literary non-fiction has appeared in The Millions, Quarterly Conversation and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include two books. One, tentatively titled A Graceful Distance: The Cultural Origins of Factory Farming in the United States (Cornell University Press), explores the transformation of the human-farm animal relationship that provided the cultural and psychological foundation for large-scale animal agriculture in the nineteenth century. The second, tentatively titled Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals (St. Martin’s), investigates the hidden ethical, environmental, and economic problems with small scale animal agriculture today, insisting that a plant-based diet is the most effective answer to the problems of industrial animal agriculture.
is a Clinical Associate Professor and the Associate Director in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University. His current research focuses on the ethical questions surrounding the role of animals in our agricultural system, specifically their environmental impact. His textbook with Jeff Sebo, Food, Animals and the Environment: An Ethical Approach (Routledge/Earthscan), is forthcoming in Fall 2015. He is also working a research monograph on the ethics of food and the environment. His last book was Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy (Oxford University Press), edited with Dale Jamieson and Lori Gruen. He teaches Food, Animals and the Environment, a course on the ethics at the intersection of these three areas.
This event is co-hosted by the NYU Animal Studies Initiative and Environmental Studies Program.