Who hasn’t heard of climate change by now? The horror scenarios that climate activists have drawn for us are good enough to keep us awake through most nights. The present and the immediate future is one of imminent disaster. The seas are choking, the arctic and the Antarctic ice is melting; floods, earthquakes, and storms will be the new norm and we will all be boiling hot soon…unless we arrest the way we have been spewing our waste into the earth’s atmosphere.
The climate scientists and most politicians have been hammering this point home to their electorate for close to a decade now. And while there may be some opposition to the possibility of a dire future some of them paint, there is consensus that we are not treating the planet politely, and don’t be surprised if it hits back and wreaks its vengeance on us humans.
In our quest for saving the planet, we have been looking for the big villains. Most discussions now swirl around the deadly carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that modern methods of producing energy emit as by-products. Naturally, oil and other fossil fuels like coal have been declared Public Enemies.
While this is not an easy tussle to break up as the world is still highly dependent on fossil fuels. Worse still, the aspirational societies in the emerging countries are not going to roll over and give up the goodies just because the West says that the planet needs help. They would continue to use the cheapest modes of producing energy to provide for their populations.
The much-touted renewable options have not panned out as planned. As more and more stats become available, the chances of wind and solar replacing fossils fuels in the next few decades are dim.
And yet, we need action now.
In our single-minded pursuit of fossil fuels as the greatest threat, we may have ignored other serious threats to our environment. Of course, fossil-protesting has taken on the dimensions of a profitable industry and much political and social attention is dedicated to killing the fossil fuel industry. But slaying this beast is going to be a superhuman effort and not likely to succeed, at least not in this century.
According to a report prepared by the International Energy Agency titled “Energy Technology Perspectives: Scenarios and Strategies to 2050”, to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in earth’s atmosphere to a maximum of 450 parts per million would require an additional investment of $45 trillion on alternate ways of producing and consuming energy! That’s money no nation or group of nations can afford.
Naturally, concerned scientists and activists have been looking for alternative solutions, away from the energy production. And guess what? An even bigger villain of this planetary tragedy might be right where it’s least noticed. On our kitchen tables – what we eat and how we grow them.
In a study published in 2009 by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment, researchers looked at the costs of large-scale CO2 reduction through changes in energy infrastructure and compared them to what changes in agriculture could accomplish.
The researchers concluded that if the average human shifted to a low-meat diet (which they defined as one serving of beef or three servings of chicken or eggs per week), there would be tremendous savings in greenhouse gas emissions.
This shift would free up approximately 15 million square kilometers of farmland, which could, in turn, be planted with vegetation that would mop up carbon dioxide.
Ocean Robbins, a health activist, wrote in his blog: “The bottom line? According to this study, scaling back on foods like beef burgers and bacon could, over the course of decades, wipe $20 trillion off the ultimate cost of fighting climate change — effectively cutting it in half.”
Not to mention the trillions that will be saved in healthcare costs treating people with diseases like diabetes and heart diseases that are chiefly caused by bad diet and lifestyle. Currently, the world is estimated to spend over $60 trillion each decade on modern healthcare.
Robbins adds: “If global dietary patterns shifted, we could not only take a massive bite out of climate change, but we could also save untold lives while reaping immense economic benefits and huge improvements in our health.”
The real villain, it turns out, is the modern animal agriculture farms.
In his must-read book 31-Day Food Revolution: Heal Your Body, Feel Great, & Transform Your World, Ocean writes: “Remember that most of the world’s meat, eggs, and dairy are produced in factory farms — what the livestock industry calls concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). In these establishments, large numbers of cows, pigs, chickens, and other livestock are packed together in extremely close quarters.
“Instead of eating grass, leaves, bugs, roots, or anything resembling their natural diet, the animals are fed a diet based heavily on genetically modified corn and soybeans. Instead of their manure fertilizing grasslands, it piles up in massive lagoons that pollute nearby air, rivers, and groundwater.”
“In all these cases, the majority of the feed is being, essentially, wasted. According to Richard Oppenlander in his 2012 book, Comfortably Unaware, 80% of the world’s soy crop and 70% of the grain grown in the United States goes to feed livestock raised for human consumption. In total, livestock systems (including pasture, animal farms, and land growing food for animals) occupy 45% of the total surface area of the planet.
“In a 2018 study reported in Science, researchers analyzed 40,000 farms in 119 countries. They concluded that animal agriculture occupies 83% of total agricultural land. According to another study, published in the journal Climatic Change in 2014, the average meat-eater in the U.S. is responsible for almost twice as much global warming as the average vegetarian, and close to three times that of the average vegan.
“Theoretically, if the entire world’s human population went vegan, we would save an area of land as large as the United States, China, the European Union, and Australia combined.”
Imagine that much of land area lush with vegetation. We will need more carbon, and maybe the dinosaurs will be back. Seriously, this is a solution that fits the human race and our beloved earth. And it doesn’t inconvenience (to borrow from Al Gore) anyone unnecessarily – a slight change of taste from meats to the veggies. Robbins is not asking everyone to switch overnight to a meatless diet, how about cutting it down gradually to levels that would help you live a healthier disease-free life while at the same time saving the planet. Can you think of a better formula for the survival of the human species?
You can get loads more info by ordering a copy of the book from https://www.31dayfoodrevolution.com/