Glaciers and Icebergs are Melting

Snow road in Italian Alps

Snow Road in the Italian Alps – photo by Marco Zorzanello, Time Magazine

It seems like the freezer is broken and now everything is starting to melt!  At a time when we would normally expect plenty of snow and ice in northern latitudes, levels this year are at record lows. Global warming is a huge problem and raising meat is one of the biggest reasons why.

Greenhouse gases generated from the production of meat are contributing to rising temperatures across the globe. A UN study said that raising meat causes more global warming than all the cars, trains, planes, boats and ships in the world put together.  A study by two senior economists at the World Bank showed that the livestock-meat sector of the economy is responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions. Whether it’s the production of fertilizers for the crops, the fuel consumed in growing and harvesting the crops to feed the animals, the transportation needed to bring the crops to the feedlots, or take the animals to slaughter, or the refrigeration needed to keep meat chilled after it’s been processed, animal agriculture burns a lot of fuel.  In addition, all those animals, and there are over 60 billion of them, generate gases themselves, through breathing and from their digestive processes. Methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas, 21 time more powerful at heating up the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, and farm animals produce a lot of it.

Time Magazine recently wrote about the lack of snow in the Swiss Alps, where they noted: “From 1960 to 2017, the Alpine snow season shortened by 38 days—starting an average of 12 days later and ending 26 days earlier than normal. Europe experienced its warmest-ever winter in the 2015–16 season, with snow cover in the southern French Alps just 20% of its typical depth.” The result of this is that areas that would normally be covered with snow are bare.  They’re having to build “snow roads” for people to ski along but that’s just not the same.

A wealthy area like Switzerland may be able to deal with the loss of income more readily than poorer areas.  Countries across Asia and Africa are already suffering from droughts and floods. The IMF reports that higher temperatures hurt economic activity in hot countries by lowering agricultural output, reducing the productivity of workers exposed to heat, slowing investment, and damaging health.

We can’t escape from these global trends.  Here in the US, we see rising sea levels in Florida, more severe droughts and wild fires in California, and hurricanes damaging many parts of the south and east.  Part of this is due to the decrease in ice in the Arctic and an increase in the average temperature, which leads to a change of weather patterns worldwide.  It’s not possible to tie any specific drought or hurricane to climate change, but the overall pattern seems to be pretty clear.

Now for the good news. there is something we can all do that would make a big difference.  By reducing or totally cutting out your consumption of animal products, you will cut down the requirement to raise animals.  Switching to a vegetarian diet reduces greenhouse gases by 3,267 pounds per person per year. Preserving the environment never tasted so good!  See our Global Warming flyer for more information