Posts Tagged ‘water pollution’

Every Bite of Food Pushes Greenhouse Gases Up or Down

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Bill McKibben and 350.org Can Magnify and Speed Their Impact

Bill McKibben, leading the international climate campaign 350.org, urged an attentive audience at Natural Products Expo West to make a difference for the future of the planet. Over 5200 demonstrations, which circled the globe in 181 countries on October 24, 2009, show grassroots understanding of the need to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to no more than 350 parts per million. The current level of 390 parts per million, rising with no end in sight, spells catastrophe for life on earth as we know it.

The most significant part of the talk was McKibben’s answer to an audience question. One woman asked why 350.org does not include a truly sustainable diet as a critical action item in the campaign. She pointed out that a recent analysis by Worldwatch Institute demonstrates that 51% of greenhouse gases are directly traceable to raising animals for food.

The effect of these native ruminants, in an intact ecosystem, on greenhouse gases is in no way like the impact of cows

The effect of these native ruminants, in an intact ecosystem, on greenhouse gases is in no way like the impact of cows

The obvious solution to getting at least halfway to the goal of stopping climate change is simple, rapid, and no cost – eat a plant-based diet.

In his response, McKibben acknowledged that factory farming animals is a huge cause of climate change. However, he was not advocating immediate action to change diet. Instead, he advanced the idea that a carbon tax, once enacted, would make factory farmed animals so expensive that meat would be priced out of the range of most people. This would happen because people in the animal foods business would have to pay the “true cost” of their carbon impact.

McKibben also theorized that “grass fed cattle” could actually be helpful in reducing greenhouse gases. The theory is that, as large animals roam and trample vegetation into the soil, the ground itself stores carbon and keeps it from (more…)

Roasting the Earth Along with Your Dinner

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Five Ways that Raising Animals for Food Accelerates Global Warming More than We Thought

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published the groundbreaking Livestock’s Long Shadow. This historical report focused attention on environmental facts that were long-known but studiously avoided by both consumers and policymakers.

Livestock’s Long Shadow documents the horrific environmental consequences of raising farmed animals for people to eat. Water shortages. Air and water pollution. Degraded soil. Deforestation. Extinction of wild plants and animals.

The list is heart breaking for anyone who cares about the future of our planet. I worry every day about the world my daughters are inheriting. How long

Global warming and climate change are here now

Global warming and climate change are here now

can we sustain even basic necessities on a plundered planet?

Most famously, this United Nations report documents that 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions can be directly traced to raising animals for food. This staggering impact is more than all transportation combined. You could scrap every truck, car, plane, and train on the planet – or you could stop raising farmed animals and have an even greater effect on climate change.

Now two respected researchers document that the impact of animal agriculture on global warming is almost three times worse that the UN estimated in 2006. The respected, independent nonprofit World Watch Institute published this analysis in their November/December 2009 magazine.

The study’s authors thoughtfully question what the United Nations left out or ignored. These pros have really done their homework. Their article demonstrates five major sources of greenhouse gas emissions from farmed animals left out of Livestock’s Long Shadow. The mistakes the authors found include overlooked sources of greenhouse gases, undercounted methane, and global warming contributors put into incorrect categories.

So what’s the bottom line? Over half – 51% – of global warming is directly caused by farming animals. You can have a direct, immediate impact on your kids’ future just by changing what you eat for dinner. Can you think of a single valid reason not to do this?

Changing what you eat is not nearly as hard as you think it might be. It’s not as painful as watching droughts, floods, disease, famine, and hurricanes rip people’s lives apart as global warming accelerates. Thank you World Watch Institute for these fearless insights. We don’t want to confront our comfortable habits, but we must.

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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, the smart person’s nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.