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Our Appetite for Animals Is Taking Us Toward Apocalypse

Cutting your meat-eating habits is one of the most impactful ways you can prevent drastic changes to our climate.

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One of the most meaningful things we can do to arrest climate change is to change the way we eat. As discussed previously, and as hammered home by the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in recent lectures in London and Paris, the meat industry is one of the most devastating causes of global warming. And this is not just factory farming--some analysis indicates that smaller farms cause more warming. They're generally better for animal welfare, water pollution, and desertification, but they actually require more resources, and thus cause more greenhouse gas emissions.

We need government change: We need a shift away from the billions in annual subsidies for the meat industry, as discussed in a Union of Concerned Scientists report. We need more healthy vegetarian foods in schools and other government programs. We need education of the public about this very real cause for alarm and potential solutions. We need leaders who understand the issues and take them seriously. But we also need all of us to take personal charge of our lives, and to do what we can personally to decrease our support for climate change.

Most of us are taking some actions, but many are not taking the action recommended by the head of the IPCC and indicated by the United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, which reports that eating meat causes about 40% more global warming gases as all the cars, trucks, planes, and other forms of transport combined--that is, cutting back on our consumption of chicken, pork, and other animal products (I discuss the environmental case against meat in greater depth here).

The article in New Scientist points out that according to some accelerated climate feedback mechanisms citing potential "tipping points", the radical and devastating changes could come into being as soon as 2050. That's a mere 41 years from now. Then again, the good news is that "the survival of humankind itself is not at stake: the species could continue if only a couple of hundred individuals remained." Well that's a relief.

Usually, my stance is to lean into changes, to take them incrementally and slowly, so that they stick. After reading this article, I would say that going vegetarian is nothing to be taken lightly - or slowly. Lean in, for sure, but lean soon!

Here are some tips for making the move, "One Bite at a Time."