Climate Change Mastermind

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  • Climate Change: It’s the Food! I, along with most of you, was first made aware of the existential perils of climate change by Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006. He clearly laid out the disastrous future ahead with his solutions being largely limited to curtailing the fossil fuel industries. No mention was made of the livestock industries’ contributions to global warming. Nor did his 2017 Sequel provide enlightenment on the potential role of curtailing our addiction to meat-eating for saving our home. In 2006, the WHO published highly-influential research, Livestock’s Long Shadow; a nearly 400-page report finding livestock’s contribution to GHG production to be nearly 18% of the total; while all transportation (buses, train, cars, planes, etc.) accounts to less than 14%. By including several additional factors, those underestimated by the WHO report, the WorldWatch Institute concluded that livestock actually accounts for more than 51% of the GHG produced annually. (See: https://awellfedworld.org/wp-content/uploads/Livestock-Climate-Change-Anhang-Goodland.pdf) The EAT-Lancet Commission, considered to be the authoritative word on the subject of climate crises and diet, published their conclusions in 2019: The livestock industry is a major detriment to planetary survival; and that we have fewer than 12 years to take action before life on Earth becomes impossible. In March of 2020 the EAT-Lancet Commission reported that replacing beef, pork, and poultry with a plant-food-based diet reduced the GHG associated with people’s diets by up to 50%, depending on the type and degree of substitution (vegan being most effective). (Lancet Planet Health. (2020) Mar;4(3):e98-e106). Further encouragement about the power of food comes from scientific findings that changing from a standard Western diet to a vegan diet can reduce GHG production by as much as 80%. (PLOS ONE, Nov 3;11(11) (2016). A simple U-turn, back to traditional diets followed by the more than 100 billion human inhabitants who have walked planet Earth, is the change in eating patterns I am proposing. All large populations of trim, healthy, athletic-competing, war-fighting people throughout verifiable human history have obtained the bulk of their calories from starches. Examples of thriving populations include the Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians, who ate sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and/or rice; Incas in South America who ate potatoes; Mayans and Aztecs in Central America were known “as the people of the corn;” and the Middle East, formally known as “the breadbasket of the world,” fed hundreds of millions on a diet of wheat and barley. The vast majority want a viable future for their children; they just don’t know how to attain this elusive, but precious, goal. People are poised for big changes in their lives, especially after realizing that there is no going back to “normal,” and that in fewer than 50 years we face extinction. Looking back, to only 50 years ago, the majority of people on planet Earth followed a starch-based diet; and many of us are old enough to remember these times. How ironic to realize how knowledge commonly held within one lifetime— the traditional starch-based diet—would also be a necessary part of the solution to mitigating climate change for the next half century, and beyond, for the lifetimes of many future generations. We have a world to save and every bite counts.

Climate Change Mastermind

Climate Change: It’s the Food! I, along with most of you, was first made aware of the existential perils of climate change by Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006. He clearly laid out the disastrous future ahead with his solutions being largely limited to curtailing the fossil fuel industries. No mention was made of the livestock industries’ contributions to global warming. Nor did his 2017 Sequel provide enlightenment on the potential role of curtailing our addiction to meat-eating for saving our home. In 2006, the WHO published highly-influential research, Livestock’s Long Shadow; a nearly 400-page report finding livestock’s contribution to GHG production to be nearly 18% of the total; while all transportation (buses, train, cars, planes, etc.) accounts to less than 14%. By including several additional factors, those underestimated by the WHO report, the WorldWatch Institute concluded that livestock actually accounts for more than 51% of the GHG produced annually. (See: https://awellfedworld.org/wp-content/uploads/Livestock-Climate-Change-Anhang-Goodland.pdf) The EAT-Lancet Commission, considered to be the authoritative word on the subject of climate crises and diet, published their conclusions in 2019: The livestock industry is a major detriment to planetary survival; and that we have fewer than 12 years to take action before life on Earth becomes impossible. In March of 2020 the EAT-Lancet Commission reported that replacing beef, pork, and poultry with a plant-food-based diet reduced the GHG associated with people’s diets by up to 50%, depending on the type and degree of substitution (vegan being most effective). (Lancet Planet Health. (2020) Mar;4(3):e98-e106). Further encouragement about the power of food comes from scientific findings that changing from a standard Western diet to a vegan diet can reduce GHG production by as much as 80%. (PLOS ONE, Nov 3;11(11) (2016). A simple U-turn, back to traditional diets followed by the more than 100 billion human inhabitants who have walked planet Earth, is the change in eating patterns I am proposing. All large populations of trim, healthy, athletic-competing, war-fighting people throughout verifiable human history have obtained the bulk of their calories from starches. Examples of thriving populations include the Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians, who ate sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and/or rice; Incas in South America who ate potatoes; Mayans and Aztecs in Central America were known “as the people of the corn;” and the Middle East, formally known as “the breadbasket of the world,” fed hundreds of millions on a diet of wheat and barley. The vast majority want a viable future for their children; they just don’t know how to attain this elusive, but precious, goal. People are poised for big changes in their lives, especially after realizing that there is no going back to “normal,” and that in fewer than 50 years we face extinction. Looking back, to only 50 years ago, the majority of people on planet Earth followed a starch-based diet; and many of us are old enough to remember these times. How ironic to realize how knowledge commonly held within one lifetime— the traditional starch-based diet—would also be a necessary part of the solution to mitigating climate change for the next half century, and beyond, for the lifetimes of many future generations. We have a world to save and every bite counts.

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