To cool planet, don’t eat meat
On Sept. 21, hundreds of thousands marched throughout the world demanding action on climate change. Later that same week, 120 world leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations Summit on Climate Change. What can we do?
A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat production accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that the contribution might be closer to 50 percent.
The meat industry generates carbon dioxide by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged, respectively, from the digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools.
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In an environmentally sustainable world, wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources must gradually replace polluting fossil fuels. Similarly, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains must replace polluting meat and dairy products. The large variety of widely available plant-based entrees, lunch meats, veggie burgers, cheeses and ice creams can certainly help.
Our next trip to the supermarket is a great opportunity to start the transition to a sustainable world. Our favorite Internet search engine offers ample product lists, recipes and dietary tips.