If you haven’t been following some of the reporting on meat consumption over the last several months, you may not find it to be amusing that Forbes, one of the leading conservative publications has published a long article on how reducing one’s meat consumption relates to helping the planet.
“Today, tens of billions more livestock are exhaling CO2 than in preindustrial days, while Earth’s photosynthetic capacity (its capacity to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by absorbing it in plant mass) has declined sharply as forest has been cleared. (Meanwhile, of course, we add more carbon to the air by burning fossil fuels, further overwhelming the carbon-absorption system.)”, wrote two researchers who have studied livestock agriculture and climate change.” (Source: Forbes)
The researchers also pointed out that livestock are a human invention. They did not exist in their current form and function in Nature many years ago, which means we can also make changes to how they exist now to avert disaster. If we don’t reduce our contributions to climate change, the impacts of our behavior have been predicted to be so damaging, it is hard for us to imagine at this point how destructive they could be. Livestock populations may double by 2050, if current demands continue. Similarly the human population is also growing and has been predicted to be over 9 billion by 2050.
This would make the amount of livestock-related emissions even more unacceptable than today’s perilous levels. It also means that an effective strategy must involve replacing livestock products with better alternatives, rather than substituting one meat product with another that has a somewhat lower carbon footprint.
Of course, such a brief overview of climate change’s complexity is oversimplifying the situation, but the fact that Forbes has published an article about reducing meat consumption at least somewhat suggests how the issue can transcend ideological positions. In short, we all need each other to participate in solutions and so do all the other species on the planet.
If you aren’t motivated much by concern for the Earth or other species because it seems too remote or disconnected, you may like to consider how reducing meat consumption can benefit your own health. For example, about one million Americans die from heart disease each year, and one contributing factor is food choices. Various research studies have pointed to a link between red meat consumption and heart disease.
Image Credit: Michael C. Berch