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Climate Warnings: Let's Talk about the Cow in the Room

The op-ed piece Climate Warnings, Growing Louder in today's New York Times starts:
The news that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the most important global warming gas, have hit 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of years increases the pressure on President Obama to deliver on his pledges to limit this country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
boy at Farm-to-Fork picnic
The safe level is 350, so reaching 400 is a big deal. It's causing big storms and droughts now and will cause more misery for our children. The Times calls for Obama to quit shilly-shallying around and to "adopt a robust climate strategy based largely on executive actions," including unleashing the EPA and requiring more energy-efficient refrigerants and buildings.
Yet it takes Tim B  in the comments to mention that one of the most important changes is also a very personal one:
 The large elephant in the room is the mushrooming growth of human populations, which are about triple what they were in 1950.
Tim's right. Families can stretch their "carbon budget" by having fewer children and having them later. Governments world-wide can encourage this trend by taking essential steps to stop the population explosion, including education for everyone and eliminating rewards for having big families.
On the other hand, Tim's elephant isn't the only large animal being ignored. There's a faster, less controversial way us all to help avoid catastrophe.

The Cow in the Room

The United Nation's 2006 report Livestocks' Long Shadow says that:
Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation, and smarter production methods, including improved animal diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, are urgently needed.
Our government can get more done faster by helping the people who are already here eat a low-carbon diet.
  • Use more plant-based menus in schools and all official functions
  • Make the default meal plant-based, even if other options are offered
  • For any animal-based ingredients that are used, choose the greener options
This thrifty, healthy approach will make us feel better and be healthier too. Families and governments will save big by reducing the rates of expensive diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. We can put these savings to work on other green projects, from education and insulation to birth control and high-speed trains.

five types of dried beans

So instead of feeling hopeless or overwhelmed by global warming, start by cooking a pot of beans every week. Reduce the amount of food you waste by starting a Stoup container and by eating right-sized servings. (Yum, cupcakes!).

Don't wait for the government to act. Eat smart for a cool life and a cooler planet today.

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