How are you Helping the Fight against Climate Change?

Joe Kottke, Editor-in-Chief

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The debate over climate change has consistently plagued political discussions for decades, as the global temperature reaches 58.5°F. In the past few months, two national governments have declared a state of emergency on climate change: England and Ireland.

Among the general public, 2019 has also constituted a huge movement to reduce plastic straw use. Although every effort helps, unfortunately, this only makes up four percent of plastic pollution. Besides plastic usage, many Americans are unaware of how to contribute to the fight against climate change.

According to Nobel Prize Recipient and Physician Steven Chu, if the cattle industry was a country, it would emit more greenhouse gases than the entire European Union; that’s 28 countries. As of 2019, animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5 percent of carbon emissions. In juxtaposition, meat consumption per-capita is going up and is expected to double by 2050—as the human population nears ten million

The blatant threat of animal agriculture has heated up the vegetarian and vegan movements; 25 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds identify as vegetarian or vegan.

According to Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret Director Kip Anderson, each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. Not only this but in comparison, 1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food. 1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of beef.

The most common rebuttal to plant-based living is cost. According to Atlantic Editorial Fellow Lauren Cassani Davis, due to high per-capita health-care costs, the United States could save $180 billion if the population ate according to recommended guidelines, and $250 billion if it eschewed animal food products altogether. The United States would also be equipped to sustainably feed 735 million more people.

What has costed the plant-based movement larger number has been a reluctance to hastily judge others’ meat and dairy consumption. It is important to note that any decrease in intake benefits the environment—whether that’s eating meat for dinner five days a week rather than seven, or switching to purchasing milk alternatives.

The United States Congress should implement a limitation on animal agriculture, which should detail a maximum annual production outlined by extensive environmental regulations. The environmental regulations should cover all areas of sustainability, including proper land use, resourceful water use, and the maximum annual production should cap carbon emissions levels—although a price ceiling will most likely be necessary in order to avoid extreme prices imposed by farms.

Beyond passing the policy, execution most likely would include a new branch of the USDA, utilizing money that would be saved from inspection, processing, and other tasks performed by the FDA due to less meat and dairy production. This mew branch would theoretically be responsible for approving farms and confirming environmental regulations and productive levels are being abided by.

Take the quiz below to shed some light on how many Earths would be needed to sustain your diet if everyone followed your lifestyle.

How often do you eat meat/seafood?

How often do you eat dairy/eggs?

Roughly what percent of your daily food consumption is locally grown, unprocessed, or unpackaged?

How Many Earths Are Needed To Sustain Your Diet?
1 Earths
1.3 Earths
1.5 Earths
1.8 Earths
2 Earths
2.3 Earths
2.5 Earths
2.8 Earths

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