The Biggest Contributor to Climate Change is Meat-Eating, Not Cars

The Biggest Contributor to Climate Change is Meat-Eating, Not Cars

The Biggest Contributor to Climate Change is Meat-Eating, Not Cars

If you’re not concerned about climate change, you’re not well enough informed.

Part of the reason its impact can be hard to understand is because modern humans have never faced a threat like this before. To imagine major cities being washed away seems unbelievable, even despite recent tragedies like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. But climate experts agree that we’re in the danger zone—like our finger just grazed the nuclear bomb button and we’re not yet sure whether it was enough pressure to trigger a launch. The only difference here is that we’ve triggered climate change. The planet is heating up. Sea levels are rising. Animals and humans will suffer the consequences, even if we take steps to decrease carbon emissions now, there will be disasters as a result of how we’ve lived up until this point.

It will take all of us, especially in the Western world, to make changes. And, reports the Guardian, “curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change.”

That’s what a new report from the Chatham House says. “The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined,” the Guardian explains. “[B]ut a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming.”

“Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little,” Rob Bailey, the report’s lead author said in the Guardian. “A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.”

According to the report, beef and dairy make up 65 percent of all livestock emissions and livestock emissions make up nearly 15 percent of all global emissions.

Developing countries are now able to afford more meat, with current projections seeing meat consumption rise 75 percent by 2050 and dairy by 65 percent. “By 2020, China alone is expected to be eating 20m tonnes more of meat and dairy a year,” the Guardian explains. But countries like China and India, which are increasing their meat and dairy consumption are also countries more open to change, reports the Guardian. Here in the U.S., we’ve been eating so much meat and dairy for so long that change isn’t going to be as easy. But says the report, The “Dietary change is essential if global warming is not to exceed 2C.” Two degrees Celsius is 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the number scientists agree we can’t exceed if we want to avoid major catastrophic events. 425 degrees…that’s the best temperature to bake tofu at.

Burger image via Shutterstock

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