The Cow in the Room: Beef is Worse than Cars for the Planet
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….
The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.
CO2 Levels High and Dangerous
The safe level for carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is 350 parts per million. The current level is 404 ppm, up from 400 in 2013. This XCKD cartoon helped me get a grip on how unusual and scary this is. Check the current CO2 status here if you dare. High levels of CO2 causes extreme weather, including hurricanes, blizzards, and droughts, and temperature shifts that are triggering the 6th Great Extinction. Climate change brings war, famine, and mass exodus. It’s a threat to our very existence as a species.
You’d think there would be an all-hands-on board call to stop climate change and heal our planet. Yet educators and advocates rarely mention two major ways to slow climate change: reducing human population and eating plants instead of animals. No matter what your age or procreation status, you can reduce your carbon footprint starting with your next meal.
How Can We Stop Climate Change?
Our government can slow climate change 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, including education and access to family-planning services to all.
On a personal level, you can decrease your sense of hopeless and help stop climate change 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. While you’re at it, please consider having fewer children later and feeding the kids that you do have plants!