On November 19, 2020, in a 144 page opinion, the United States Fourth Circuit affirmed North Carolina state court jury’s verdict of liability for compensatory and punitive damages, and remanded the award of punitive damages for a rehearing on that issue based on federal evidentiary standards in Joyce McKiver, et al. v. Murphy-Brown, LLC d/b/a Smithfield Hog Production Division.
Smithfield challenged a jury verdict against it awarding compensatory and punitive damages to neighbors of its hog production facilities. The neighbors, residents of rural Bladen County, North Carolina, sought relief under state nuisance law from odors, pests and noises they attributed to farming practices Smithfield implemented at an industrial-scale hog feeding farm which included large pits called lagoons containing millions of gallons of hog waste and approximately eight million gallons of hog feces being sprayed into the air annually in their community. The state court jury returned a verdict in favor of the neighbors and awarded $75,000 in compensatory damages to each plaintiff, along with a total of $5 million in punitive damages, which was subsequently reduced to $2.5 million due to North Carolina’s punitive damages cap.
Factory farms prove unhealthy, unnatural and unnecessary for both human and nonhuman beings. They are detrimental to both human and nonhuman health, and destructive to the planet and the environment. Moreover, when the toxins seep into the soil, water carries toxins and can contaminate nearby fruit, vegetable and grain crops.
The greenhouse effect means that atmospheric gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone) sustain life on earth by trapping heat from the sun. These gases allow the sun’s rays to pass through and warm the earth, but prevent the warmth from escaping into space in order to maintain temperatures on earth to sustain life.
The problem is that the rapid increase of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide and methane, is intensifying this natural greenhouse effect.
For thousands of years, the gases remained balanced and stable because natural processes removed and released about the same amount. The reason the scientists have been concerned over the last couple of decades is that modern human actions such as burning fossil fuels, animal agriculture and deforestation have been increasing and these activities continue to add huge, unnatural quantities of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Since the problem is the rapid increase of greenhouse gases, predominantly carbon dioxide and methane, we need to stop the human activities that produce the most of these two gases.
We all agree that countries need to promote policies and invest in new technologies to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, but legislation, innovation and diversification take time.
So, why should we act and what should we do today?
Today’s atmosphere contains more than forty percent more carbon dioxide than it did at the start of the industrial era. Levels of methane and carbon dioxide are the highest they have been in nearly half a million years.
While methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, it is more dangerous to the climate because of how effectively it absorbs heat.
Almost half of livestock emissions are in the form of methane,
about one quarter are from nitrous oxide; and
about one quarter are from carbon dioxide.
Of all the types of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, the two most significant, carbon dioxide and methane, comprise approximately 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions and are produced by factory farming.
Factory farming causes methane levels to skyrocket according to ThinkProgress, “Methane Emissions are Spiking, But It Might Be More Cow Than Car,” March 17, 2016. A study found that agriculture related emissions rather than those from the production or use of fossil fuels, were to blame for the increase of methane in the atmosphere. Scientists concluded that methane from factory farming increased more rapidly than methane produced from extracting fossil fuels.
In fact, factory farming produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry of the world.
On November 5, 2019, more than 11,000 scientists of the Alliance of World Scientists, confirmed the warning of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reportof 2006 in the findings of a new study published in the journal BioScience entitled, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency.” The findings assert that humans created the climate crisis over the past four decades, toxic greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise rapidly, governments remain unsuccessful in solving the crisis, and scientists have “a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat.”
What can we all do today? According to the study, “nations need to promptly reduce emissions of potent pollutants such as methane…researchers say that reducing these short-lived climate pollutants could slow the planet’s short-term warming trend by more than 50 percent over the next few decades.”
The study also says people should “eat mostly plant based food which will improve human health and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions from livestock…”
The article references the 2018 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which states, “An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.”
We can all do our part to protect the planet simply by eliminating factory farming, and not consuming, wearing or using the flesh, skins, fur, feathers, byproducts and secretions of nonhuman beings. We have plenty of viable alternatives available today.
Pacifism can literally save our planet.
Pacifism means nonviolence and creates a higher level of consciousness.
Pacifists live in alignment with the values of Benevolence, Compassion, Empathy, Peace, the Golden Rule, Reverence for all life, Gentleness and Kindness.
I invite all of you to participate in a fun activity. Just click on the link below and you will see a list of various ways you can enjoy a peaceful lifestyle. If you have questions, feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.