Jane and I are sitting here watching television. We're both actually glued to the television, and I find myself writing this post during commercial breaks. What has us so captivated? We're watching National Geographic: Six Degrees Could Change the World, it's a program devoted to what might happen as global warming increases the temperature of our planet one degree at a time. It's based on the book Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, by Mark Lynas. Since we never got around to watching An Inconvenient Truth, I can't speak to how much of this is overlap, but it's a pretty impactful thing to watch.
There is a segment early on, which discusses the carbon impact of the little things we do in our daily lives. The segment is authored by Jamais Cascio, and his in depth analysis on eating cheeseburgers can be found here. But the bottom line:
The greenhouse gas emissions arising every year from the production and consumption of cheeseburgers is roughly the amount emitted by 6.5 million to 19.6 million SUVs. There are now approximately 16 million SUVs currently on the road in the US. (note: The 6.5 million SUVs are the equivalent of consuming one cheeseburger per person, per week, 19.6 million SUVs corresponds to three cheeseburgers per person, per week. This relates to US consumption.)
Unfortunately, the National Geographic program doesn't drive home the point that eating lower on the food chain is a more carbon-friendly thing to do. They also don't discuss eating locally as another option to help reduce the carbon output. For more on this, see our posts "More Reasons Not To Eat Meat" and "Vegan Eating Trumps Eating Locally."
The basic premise of Six Degrees, is that things will become untenable if we remain on our current course. We have a limited opportunity of time to make effective changes. Though the program doesn't mention it, eating vegan is very easy change to make which can have a dramatic input on your carbon output.