Nektarina (S)pace: Could you explain to our readers the correlation between climate change and our food / dietary choices? Syd Baumel: It's a tremendously consequential correlation. Several years ago, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of the world's human-caused greenhouse gas emissions [http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm]. Separately, scientists from the University of Chicago calculated that switching from the typical American diet to a vegan diet would reduce a person's emissions by one and a half tonnes a year. Another study from Carnegie Mellon University estimated that replacing beef and dairy with vegan alternatives for just one day a week reduces emissions more than eating locally sourced food all week [http:// www.newscientist.com/article/dn13741-food-miles-dont-feed-climate-change-meat-does.html].
Thanks to these and other studies, there's a growing
realization among climate experts that meat-eating is to diet what SUVs and jetliners are to transportation. Quite literally, because about 4 to 15 times as much oil and natural gas are used to produce a pound of animal protein vs a pound of plant protein. That's not all. Some animals – notably ruminants, like cattle and sheep – convert a great deal of the carbon in their forage and feed into methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas. Finally, manure gives off nitrous oxide gas, an even more potent GHG. As a result of this hard knowledge, more and more experts, from the authors of top-drawer scientific papers to leading climate science personalities – people like the famous climatologist, James Hansen; Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC; and the influential climate change economist Lord Nicholas Stern – are advocating that people who care about climate change should slash their animal food consumption (if it's high), even "go veg," as Stern has. Pachauri, an observant Hindu, always has been. 99
Nektarina (S)pace June 2013 Issue