Taking A Bite Out Of The Global Financial Crisis

These days, you can’t look at your reader, or turn on the news, without seeing stories of financial implosion or economic crises.  Then there’s global warming and the costs associated with fighting climate change.  All of this gives us another reason not to eat meat (at least most of the time)…  Turns out that eating less meat could wipe $20 trillion off the global cost of fighting climate change.

Earlier this month, “Climate Benefits of Changing Diet” by Elke Stehfest and colleagues was published in Climactic Change, a journal out of the Netherlands.  (Source:  New Scientist Magazine.)

The underlying premise is that raising animals for consumption causes climate change.  By cutting our consumption of animal products, much of that farmland could then be devoted to growing food crops.  Vegetation helps to absorb carbon dioxide, and there would be a significant reduction in the methane gasses produced by livestock.   These gasses are responsible for global warming.

The current goals to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 are 450ppm.  The estimated cost to achieve this goal is $40 trillion, and it will require a 2/3 reduction in emissions..

Cutting our consumption of animal product will reduce the need for expensive retrofits, such as “clean coal” power plants and other carbon-saving technologies.  It certainly seems advisable, in this economic environment, for all of our governments to consider promoting a less-meat based diet.

Of course, there are other factors which will mitigate the levels of greenhouse gasses saved by producing few animal products… Will the land be given over to vegetation or urban development?  What about the increase in pesticide use to grow additional plant-based food crops?  Does this report take into account any projected improvements in animal-farming technologies?

Regardless of all this, there are many reasons to consider eating less/no meat.  If you haven’t already done so, Jane and I would urge you to read Livestock’s Long Shadow, and The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.

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