Tag Archives: climate change

Diets that fight global warming

The food we consume has a massive impact on our planet. According to one analysis, based on UN data, the diet that helps fight global warming the most, by having the least greenhouse emissions, is the vegan diet followed by a vegetarian diet. You can see how the different diets stack up when it comes to global warming in the graph below.

Bar chart
How much CO2e (in billions of tonnes, or Gt) would be saved if the whole world switched to each of these diets. Terms as defined by CarbonBrief. Data: IPCC.

When it comes to global warming we need to move fast if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. A switch to a plant-based diet may be just what we need to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

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Local vs vegan – which is better for the planet?

Many people advocate buying local as a way to reduce the greenhouse gases causing climate change. Buying from local or regional farmers who grow and raise your food, so that it doesn’t have to be shipped a long distance, saves the CO2 used in transportation, but in fact doing so only saves about 10 percent of the total greenhouse gases that are generated in growing and processing most of the food we eat, according to an expert who has analyzed where most of the climate impact of our food comes from.

It’s the kind of food that ends up on the truck that determines the carbon footprint, explains Sandra Noonan, the Chief Sustainability Officer of Just Salad, a restaurant chain, and it is one more reason to switch to a plant-based diet. Supporting local farmers is always a good idea, but it doesn’t have a huge impact on our carbon footprint, since most of the greenhouse gases generated in producing food happen earlier than the final step of trucking it to your local market or store.

More important from a sustainability point of view than how far it has travelled, is what the food actually is. The big advantage here goes to plant foods. One new report published by Stanford University says that by shifting away from meat and dairy, we could lower our climate impact by 68 percent.

Buying locally sourced beef is almost never going to be a better option than shifting to a plate of all vegetables, legumes, fruit, and whole grains. Locally raised beef is still worse for the environment than buying broccoli or lentils that was grown further away and had to be shipped across the country to your store, although of course, locally grown plant foods are best of all.

Now, companies like Just Salad and others are adding labels to ingredients and the food they serve up, that shows the environmental impact of our dish, how much CO2 was burned, and methane was released in the growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting of our food from soil to bowl and beyond. It’s here that consumers will see the big difference between plant foods and animal foods. Let’s hope these new labels will help encourage more people to switch to plant-based options.

Deforestation & methane reductions

Save our forests! During the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26), 105 countries signed a pledge that aims to end deforestation by the year 2030. Leaders worldwide have banded together behind the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, which will dedicate billions of dollars to ending deforestation and promoting reforestation efforts. The declaration says, “…to catalyze further progress on eliminating commodity-driven deforestation.”

We know which commodity they should start with, raising meat! For example, in the Amazon rainforest, raising cattle is the prime cause of the burning down the forest with fires so massive the astronauts can see them from outer space. The land is cleared not only for direct use by the cattle but also to grow feed for the cattle. In fact, the UN’s 2019 IPCC report concluded that nearly 80 percent of global deforestation could be directly attributed to agricultural production – significantly tied to the production of animal feed for livestock.

As climate change activists narrow in on the animal agricultural industry, governments worldwide are initiating programs to cut down emissions across the entire market. Recently, eight countries announced pledges to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent over the next ten years. The United States and European Union just announced the Global Methane Pledge to reduce worldwide methane emissions ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this year. The European Commission has declared that reducing methane emissions, across every industry, is the “single most effective strategy in reducing global warming.”

Methane is a greenhouse gas 30 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide and is largely driven by raising meat.  Cows, in particular, are potent methane producers. Cows produce between 250 and 500 liters of methane every day. That’s a lot of gas! The number of livestock in the world keeps rising and livestock is grown to a larger size than before, all to meet the growing worldwide demand for meat and dairy products.

We can all do our part in reducing methane emissions by simply not eating meat. We’ll also be helping to save the forests and other environmental problems such as water pollution. Going veg is a powerful move to help make a sustainable environment for the planet we all live on.

Cutting livestock by a third

There’s no fixing a climate change catastrophe without slashing the number of animals raised for food.  A new Meat Atlas 2021 report revealed that globally, the world’s five largest meat and dairy companies together account for more emissions than oil giants such as BP or Exxon.  Many people now recognize this fact, but governments appear loath to acknowledge it publicly in their policies due to pressure from large animal agriculture producers and meat-eaters.  However, one country has taken the first step in this process, and are considering cutting the number of livestock by nearly a third. 

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Plant-based treaty to fight global warming

It’s time for a plant-based treaty. What is a plant-based treaty? It’s a new idea that gets to the root of a prime driver of global warming, animal agriculture! We’re not kidding. A UN report said that raising meat causes more global warming than all the cars, plains, trains, trucks, ships and planes in the world all put together. A report by two environmentalists at the World Bank says that animal agriculture accounts for 51% of global warming. Even former vice president, and now a leader of the movement to combat global warming, Al Gore, has become a vegan in recognition of the harm that raising meat causes to the environment.

A new grassroots campaign has launched the Plant-Based Treaty. It encourages world leaders to look at a different but more sustainable solution, rather than focusing on carbon emissions alone. It demands that governments of every country around the globe cease animal agriculture to cut down on emissions. A complete transformation of our broken food system is essential, as practices like unsustainable animal agriculture need to end if there is to be any hope of achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.

Supporters of this treaty are campaigning in places such as Amsterdam, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Seoul, England and Mumbai to encourage world leaders to sign the Treaty. The key points of this treaty are:

  • Relinquish – No land-use, ecosystem degradation, or deforestation for the purposes of animal agriculture.
  • Redirect – An active transition away from animal-based agriculture systems to plant-based food systems.
  • Restore – Restore key ecosystems and reforest the Earth.

According to Anita Krajnc, Global Campaign Coordinator for the Plant-Based Treaty, “We hope that national governments see the support behind the values and principles of the Plant Based Treaty campaign and use it as inspiration to start to negotiate vital changes in our food system.”

With increasing pressure and clear evidence that the climate crisis is real, it is easy to feel hopeless. But you don’t have to wait for a treaty. Just switching to or maintaining a plant-based diet is something each of us can do on our own.

Learn more about how animal agriculture causes global warming.

The New Normal – a hotter earth

We knew it was coming. It had to happen. On May 4, the hotter Earth will officially become the new normal. That’s when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases its once-a-decade update to “climate normals.”

“It was a very substantial upward trend in temperature, especially along the West Coast, in the South and along the East Coast,” says Mike Palecki, with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Globally, the decade ending in 2020 was the hottest decade recorded since 1880. “We’re not aware of how much warming is happening on a regular basis,” says Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist with the nonprofit Climate Central. “It’s that slow grind that’s eating away at the changing normal that doesn’t give you the opportunity sometimes to sit back and look at what it used to be.”

That raising meat was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, culprit should come as no surprise.  According to a UN study, raising meat causes more global warming than all the cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes in the world all put together. A study conducted by the World Bank went further, stating that raising meat causes more global warming than all other causes put together. Even former vice president Al Gore has gone vegan, and says he’ll do it for the rest of his life.

We raise staggering 60 billion farm animals every year for meat. That’s an awful lot of animals, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has a big effect on the environment. Learn more about how raising meat causes so much global warming.

Sound the alarm for the rainforest

Fire! Sound the alarm!

Yes, sound the alarm. It’s even worse than we thought. Scientists warn that the situation in the Amazon rainforest is, “worse than we realize. The rainforest’s climate is changing fast and in alarming ways.” Someone should sound the alarm before it’s too late!

According to scientists, the Amazon as a whole is now actually really warming the global climate. Not long ago, the Amazon was one of the best protections against global warming, but we’ve ruined that now and the Amazon has started to flip.

Animal agriculture and meat consumption are widely blamed by scientists and environmentalists worldwide for causing deforestation and fires across the region. Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of meat. The rainforest is burned down to clear land to raise cattle and cattle feed. Simply put, the meat we consume is burning up our future on this beautiful planet. If this continues, large parts of the Amazon could permanently become drier savannah lands in only 15 years. The earth would lose a friend, and the many animals who live there will lose their lives.

Tropical forests such as the Amazon are very humid and under natural conditions they rarely burn – unlike many forests in the western USA where fire is a natural part of the forest’s life cycle.

After intense fires in the Amazon captured global attention in 2019, fires again raged throughout the region in 2020. According to an analysis of satellite data from NASA’s Amazon dashboard, the 2020 fire season was actually more severe by some key measures. The fires in the Brazilian Amazon were up by 13% this year, making 2020 the worst fire season in the area in a decade. At the start of last October, there were a staggering 28,892 active fires active in the Brazilian Amazon

The fires are so bad the astronauts can seed them from space. But there’s a way you can help put out the fires. Meat production is very sensitive to consumer demands. Brazil will stop exporting meat when people stop eating it. Every time someone orders a veggie burger, the demand for meat on the world market goes down a little, and every little counts.

Paying for meat’s damage to the environment

The production of meat and dairy products are causing a fortune’s worth of damage due to their effect on global warming. While estimates vary, up to 51% of all greenhouse gases are said to be produced as a result of animal agriculture.

Here’s something to think about. What would happen to the price of meat and dairy products if we included the cost of the damage done by the greenhouse emissions generated from raising meat and dairy? It turns out that the prices would go sky high. It’s estimated that the price of meat would increase by 146% and the price of dairy would rise by 91% if we charged food production companies for their impact on climate change, while the cost of plant-based foods would increase by only 6%. As you can see there’s a big difference.

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Crying over the Cryosphere

Ice melting

The cryosphere is under attack! Most of us rarely come into contact with the cryosphere, but it is a critical part of our climate system. The term refers to the frozen parts of our planet – the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, the icebergs that break off and drift in the oceans, the glaciers on our high mountain ranges, our winter snow, the ice on lakes and the polar oceans, and the frozen ground in much of the Arctic landscape called permafrost. Read more

Four factors damaging the earth

earth-day-2020-headerEarth Day is coming up on April 22 so this is a good time to remind ourselves of how a plant-based diet can help heal the earth, since raising meat is such a big driver of the environmental crisis. The major concerns are as follows:

Methane from cattle pie chart1. Climate Change

First and foremost, global warming! According to a UN report, raising meat causes more greenhouse emissions than all the cars, trains, trucks, boats and ships in the world put together. Livestock and their byproducts actually account for 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG [green house gas] emissions.” So by reducing demand for animal products, we can do a lot to reduce the rate of global warming. Read more

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