Tag Archives: global warming

Global warming breaks another record

While world leaders gather in Marrakesh, Morocco, for the next major United Nations Climate Change Summit meeting, the UN World Meteorological Organization has announced global carbon dioxide levels have passed a symbolic threshold. Global average carbon dioxide levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 3 million years.co2-chart

Unfortunately, the grand strategic narratives around the Morocco conference will barely touch on one crucial aspect – meat and the massive greenhouse gas emissions that come from producing the livestock needed for it. Read more

The Global Cost of Not Going Veg

Globe - blue & greenA recent Oxford University study highlights the human, environmental and economic cost the world faces if we don’t go veg. On the health side, the report shows that millions of lives will be lost due to meat, dairy and egg-related diseases. From an environmental perspective, eighty percent of agricultural greenhouse emissions come from livestock. While  the economic cost is already high, Oxford University estimates that by 2050, raising and consuming meat will cost the world as much as $13 trillion per year in increased medical costs and environmental damage. They say the most effective diet to stem this rising tide of pollution and illness is the plant-based or vegan diet. Read more

Vegetarian diet: cool in more ways than one!

Woman drinking smoothieVegetarians may be cooler than ever, in light of another record-breaking year for global warming. With 2014 now on the books, it’s officially taken the title of hottest year on record. That ranking comes courtesy of data released Monday by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the first of four major global temperature record-keepers to release their data for last year.

The world is heating up, and meat is a prime driver, and maybe even the largest driver, behind the crisis. We have written in the past of the connection between livestock agriculture and global warming, and we have been encouraged by Vice President Al Gore becoming a vegan in recognition of that connection.

Closer to home, greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state dropped by about 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, led by reductions in emissions from the electricity sector, a new state report shows. However, as good as this is, it’s clear that this is still only nibbling around the edges of the problem, when we stop to consider that the World Watch Institute has determined that livestock agriculture causes 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.

A state law requires Washington to reduce overall emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, make a 25 percent cut in 1990 levels by 2035, and make even greater reductions by 2050. According to Hedia Adelsman, special assistant to the state Ecology Director, “We still need to take action. We are making a lot of progress but there’s still work to do.  We need comprehensive policies to make sure we not only get to 2020 but 2035.” We agree. Comprehensive policies are needed. But that means, now more than ever, we can’t “forget about food” when it comes to global warming and other environmental problems. Offering and promoting vegetarian options in the state cafeterias, and in state-run and supported institutions, would be a great way to start.

The message is clear, the best way to keep cool in the long run is to eat and drink cool vegetarian food, for both you and the world we live in.

Going Veg is a Climate Must!

City under waterThe latest global warming research makes clearer than ever that there’s no fixing a climate change catastrophe without a worldwide switch to a vegetarian diet. Don’t look for alternatives to save us, such as grass-fed beef which is actually worse.  Nothing else can be substituted for going veg, and even the most optimistic forecast of technological improvements both on the farm and in industry won’t be enough. What’s more, it really needs to happen now!

Scientists from the Department of Energy and Environment at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden, publishing their analysis in the journal Climate Change, show how going veg on a global scale is “crucial” even for a more modest goal of just limiting the global temperature rise to 2C.

This latest research really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, it turns out that, according to a UN report, livestock and meat production cause the emission of more greenhouse gasses than all the cars, trucks, trains, boats, ships and air planes in the whole world put together. In fact a study by scientists from the World Bank and the World Watch Institute show that livestock causes more global warming than all other causes in the world put together!

While most in the environmental community have chosen to remain comfortably unaware of meat’s overwhelming impact on climate, we are happy to report that this has now begun to change. In fact the world‘s foremost leader in both the national and international movement to prevent the impending climate crisis, Vice President Al Gore, has now gone vegan in recognition of meat’s role in causing the many environmental threats now facing humanity.

The good news is that if you want to have a major impact on climate change, you don’t have to wait for international treaties, congressional legislation or industrial reforms. The biggest part of the answer resides squarely on your dinner plate when you have a veg meal. Not yet veg? No problem, we’re here to help with our free classes and our books and other publications.

Meatless Meals for the Norwegian Military

Santa & ReindeerAre vegetarian meals available at the North Pole? Well not quite…yet. Almost at the North Pole, Norway has just instituted meatless meals once a week for their entire military, in order to do their part in the struggle against global warming.

According to spokesman Eystein Kvarving “It’s a step to protect our climate. The idea is to serve food that’s respectful of the environment. It’s not about saving money. It’s about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically friendly and also healthier.” A Norwegian environmental group that campaigns for meatless meals nationwide, The Future in Our Hands, welcomed the military’s announcement. “The defense ministry deserves a lot of praise because it’s taking climate and environmental issues seriously,” said the group’s director, Arild Hermstad.

Of course in instituting the new policy some preconceptions need to be overcome, since only about 1 to 2 percent of Norwegians self-identify as vegetarians. The Future in Our Hands group says that the average Norwegian currently eats more than 1,200 animals in his or her lifetime, including 1,147 chickens, 22 sheep, 6 cattle, and almost 3 deer.

“It seems that people don’t think it’s possible to be an iron man as a vegetarian. It seems like they don’t think a good soldier can be a vegetarian, but we have a lot of soldiers who are vegetarian, so I know it’s possible,” says Pal Stenberg, a nutritionist and navy commander who heads up the army’s catering division. “We have to use a lot of effort in communicating both the environmental benefits and the health benefits.”

We’re glad they recognize some of the health benefits. Actually, this should already be well-known to them. While their country was occupied during World War II, the supply of animal products was all but cut off from the general population. During that time disease rates fell significantly, giving something of a silver lining to all the hardship. Now that they recognize the environmental and health benefits of a vegetarian diet, we hope they will come to learn more about compassion towards animals and the global hunger benefits of a vegetarian diet as well.

To our knowledge, this is the first instance of an entire military going veg once a week. The significance of this can hardly be overstated.  Hopefully this will set the ball rolling for other NATO members to follow suit. So far, the vegetarian fare is going over pretty well amongst the troops, especially the meat analogues. One soldier was convinced the mysterious soy product in his taco was actually ground beef because it was so real.

In the meantime, Santa please take note. We’re getting real close to the North Pole. So on your next trip down from the Pole, why not stop at Spisestedet, an all plant-based restaurant in Oslo, and treat yourself and the elves to dinner. They’re making a recipe and checking it twice. Their chimney is all clear for you and you’ll be giving yourself, the elves, the planet, and all who share it, the most precious gift of all: life itself.

Of Meat and Hurricanes

Strange weather we’ve been having lately! First we had one of the worst droughts ever in the Midwest over the summer, and then a record-breaking “superstorm” in the fall on the East Coast. Many scientists suspect that global warming, and the extremes in weather it causes, is behind them both, or at least is a major contributing factor. Indeed, the past 12 months in America have been the hottest on record, and the water in the Atlantic Ocean fueling hurricane Sandy was way warmer than normal, in some places as much as 5 degrees above average.

What’s meat got do with it? Plenty. Raising livestock for meat and other animal products is now recognized to be largest cause of global warming.  The ground-parching droughts and the house-flooding storms might just both be driven by our meat centered diets.

Global Warming is a really important issue, but recently it seems that people haven’t been talking about it so much, and it has been slipping off people’s radar screens.  So this month, we would like to bring your attention back to global warming, and in particular to how meat consumption is having an effect. 

You might think that the lack of discussion means that global warming isn’t very important, but in fact, the opposite is the case.  Let’s start at the beginning. Scientists tell us that there has been an increase in the level of certain gasses in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and methane. These gasses prevent heat from escaping from the earth. This is called the greenhouse effect. If this continues unchecked, it will result in a gradual warming of the climate, and that will result in tremendous hardship for people all over the world.

There is evidence that this is already beginning to happen. For instance, one can see photos of the spectacular recession of the glaciers in places like Switzerland and the Andes Mountains. There have been record-breaking high global temperatures in recent years as well.

Many scientists warn that the future holds much more severe consequences, if the process of releasing large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the environment isn’t reversed. A small number of scientists note that the earth is still gradually emerging from the last ice age which could account for the recent warming. Even so, they point out that it would be prudent to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses, which only make a natural problem even worse. Either way, reducing the production of these gasses seems to definitely be in the interests of humanity.

Now, there has been a fair amount of study recently about the amounts of greenhouse gasses that livestock agriculture throws into the environment. One study conducted by the UN showed that raising meat causes more global warming than all the cars, trucks, busses, ships, boats, trains and airplanes in the world all put together. That’s right, the food you eat is more important than the car you buy, whether or not you fly to your next vacation or stay home, whether you carpool to work or drive your own car, and whether you buy local products or out of region.

Another study, conducted by two senior members of the World Bank on behalf the World Watch Institute, showed that raising meat actually causes more global warming than all other factors combined. It turns out that the food you buy is more important than whether or not you buy compact light bulbs, or even whether the power company uses coal-fired plants or solar energy. As matter of fact, so dominant is the effect of meat production on global warming that the CEO of one solar energy company said that even just a measly 1% reduction in meat consumption would be the equivalent of 3 trillion-dollar investment in solar energy. This bears repeating: even just a 1% reduction in meat consumption is the equivalent of a 3 trillion-dollar investment in solar energy. Now just imagine how much a 10% reduction would be worth. 

It would be surprising if meat production didn’t have a major environmental impact, because raising livestock is so wasteful and inefficient and because the scale of animal agriculture is so vast. Take a deep breath for this one…every year we raise 56 billion animals for food. That’s nine times the human population. The livestock industry now occupies, directly or indirectly, one-third of the earth’s non frozen land mass. Add it up: 56 Billion animals plus about a third of the habitable land mass of the earth. Of course, there are going to be consequences, and big ones at that.

The best solution to global warming is the simple yet powerful vegetarian diet. And this solution has many advantages. It costs no extra money, it requires no new technology, it requires no international conferences, it requires no treaties and it’s something we can all get started with right away.

Switching to a vegetarian diet reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 3,267 pounds per person per year. But if you’re not quite ready to become a vegetarian yet, consider this. Even small changes in your meat consumption make a big difference when it comes to global warming. According University of Chicago geo-physicists Eshel and Martin, even just cutting back your consumption of meat by only 20% is equivalent to switching from a standard car to a hybrid. Small changes do make a big difference.

So if you’re just starting to change your diet, remember that we’re here to help. Our four books and free classes provide you with all the information you need to get started. In time you’ll discover that countering the effects of global warming with vegetarian food is easy and delicious. In fact, preserving the environment never tasted so good.

Environmentalists in Deep Denial

ImageWith Earth Day just around the corner, we can’t help but lament the depth of denial most of the environmental community is in when it comes to the issue of animal agriculture and meat. There are some notable exceptions, such as the World Watch Institute who says, “The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future — deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” But, on the whole the environmental community has chosen to remain comfortably unaware of the facts connecting our food choices with environmental sustainability, and several attempts by us to get the environmental movement engaged have resulted in a lackluster response. Read more

Recent Entries »