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A Global Dietary Imperative to Global Warming


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Title: A Global Dietary Imperative to Global Warming

A Global Dietary Imperative to Global Warming
  • Saurabh F. Dalal
  • Vegetarian Society of DC
  • vsdc_at_vsdc.org
  • 202-362-VEGY

  • Main Idea
  • Background on Global Warming
  • Animal Agriculture and Its Impacts
  • Examples of Inefficiency
  • Conclusion
  • Resources

Main Idea
  • Human activities have changed the composition of
    the atmosphere and therefore are influencing the
    Earth's climate, particularly in global warming
  • The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and
    oil, and deforestation have caused the
    concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases
    to increase significantly in our atmosphere
  • Although rarely addressed, it is increasingly
    clear that eliminating the production and
    consumption of meat and other animal products on
    a global scale is vital in reducing global
    warming and other grave environmental threats,
    and so doing reduces the extraordinary waste of
    water, land, fuel and other precious resources
  • Also benefits people's physical and spiritual
  • Prevents the massive mistreatment of non-human
    farmed animals as well as our effects on others

Global Warming Background
  • Definition an increase in the average
    temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth's
    surface and in the troposphere, which can
    contribute to changes in global climate patterns
  • Refers even more to the decades of this century
    and the projected continuation of this increase
  • Can occur from a variety of causes, both natural
    and anthropogenic (human-induced)
  • Scientists are certain that human activities are
    changing the composition of the atmosphere and
    responsible for most of the warming in recent
    decades (1)
  • Global average air temperature near the Earth's
    surface rose 0.74 0.18 Celsius (1.3
    0.32 Fahrenheit) in the last century (2)

Greenhouse Effect
Greenhouse Gases Temperatures
  • Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the
  • Greenhouse gases (compounds) include water vapor
    (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4),
    nitrous oxide (N2O), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
    etc, ozone (O3)
  • Necessary for life as we know it but increased
    concentrations result in increased temperatures
    on the Earth
  • Warmest global average temperatures on record
    have all occurred within the past 15 years
    warmest two years being 1998 and 2005
  • If the concentration of greenhouse gases
    continues to increase, then by 2100, climate
    models referenced by the IPCC predict that
    global temperatures are likely to increase by 1.1
    to 6.4 C (2.0 to 11.5 F) above 1990 levels

Global Temperatures
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Body established in 1988 and comprised of two
    United Nations organizations
  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Evaluates the risk of climate change brought on
    by humans, based mainly on peer reviewed and
    published scientific/technical literature
  • Reports are widely cited and the panel is
    regarded as authoritative

Other Resulting Changes
  • An increase in global temperatures can in turn
    cause other changes
  • rising sea level, flooding, submerged islands
  • changes in the amount/pattern of precipitation
  • increases in the frequency/intensity of extreme
    weather events record heat, wildfires, droughts,
    shrinking lakes
  • glacier retreat, permafrost melt, reduced summer
  • acidification of the oceans
  • destruction of wildlife habitats
  • endangered species extinctions
  • changes in agricultural yields
  • increases in the ranges of disease vectors
  • environmental refugees

General Mitigation Categories
  • Five categories of actions that can be taken to
    mitigate global warming
  • Reduction of energy use (per person)
  • Shifting from carbon-based fossil fuels to
    alternative energy sources
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Geo-engineering including carbon sequestration
  • Population / birth control, to lessen demand for
    resources such as energy and land clearing

General Mitigation Strategies
  • Mitigation Strategies for Global Warming
  • energy conservation
  • renewable energy such as bio-mass/bio-diesel,
    solar power, tidal and ocean energy, geothermal
    power, and wind power
  • electric or hybrid automobiles fuel cells
  • development of new technologies
  • carbon offsets carbon credits carbon taxes
    enhancing natural carbon dioxide sinks carbon
    capture and storage
  • population control
  • Governments, corporations, schools, religious
    institutions, and other organizations to get
    actively involved as well as individual-lifestyle
    and political action

US Climate Policy
  • US government policy has three components
  • Slowing the growth of emissions
  • Strengthening science, technology and
  • Enhancing international cooperation
  • Implementation uses voluntary and incentive-based
    programs to reduce emissions
  • In 2002, the US announced a strategy to reduce
    the greenhouse gas intensity of the American
    economy by 18 percent over the 10-year period
    from 2002 to 2012

Specific Mitigation StrategyPlant-based Diets
  • The important set of connections between global
    warming and animal agriculture along with the
    increasingly globalized Standard American Diet
    (SAD) have generally been overlooked or
  • In addition to technology developments and the
    like, it is necessary to change the consciousness
    of people and subsequently their personal
    behaviors on a large scale, a major component of
    which is a shift to plant-based diets
  • Dispel the myth that technology alone will solve
    each and every problem
  • Technology changes often have negative side
    effects whereas positive dietary shifts are
    accompanied by a number of other important
    benefits, e.g. improved personal and public
    health, animal concerns

Role of Animal Agriculture
  • Overuse of the land by livestock, leads to
    overuse of fuel and water, also degrades the land
    and pollutes the water around it
  • Contributes to additional environmental and
    health problems
  • Animal-based diets use energy very inefficiently
  • In total, livestock industry uses (and abuses)
    roughly 30 of the planet's surface
  • In direct competition with other activities for
    scarce land, water, and other natural resources
  • Conflicts arise over resources

Role of Animal Agriculture
  • United Nations - Food and Agriculture
    Organization (2006 Report)
  • States that animal-based agriculture causes
    approximately 18 of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Amount greater than that caused by all forms of
    transportation on the planet combined so cars
    are still problematic but cows are contributing
    more to global warming
  • Therefore, what we eat is actually more important
    than what we drive

Emissions from Animal Agriculture
  • 9 of all CO2 emissions
  • 37 of methane (CH4) emissions
  • CH4 23 times global warming potential of CO2
  • 65 of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions
  • N2O 296 times global warming potential of CO2
  • Researchers at the University of Chicago found
    that the average American diet, including all
    food processing steps, produces an extra 1.5 tons
    of CO2-equivalent (annually), compared to a
    meat-free diet

Rising Demand of Animal Agriculture
  • Demand in the developing world is projected to
    double meat and dairy production globally by 2050
    (UN FAO)
  • Report considers only land mammals, and does not
    address egg, poultry, and seafood consumption
  • Hence, the impact of animal agriculture is far
    greater than the FAO report indicates, and will
    worsen still more if present dietary trends
  • 55 billion animals are reared worldwide to be
    killed and eaten annually
  • 70 percent of the grain produced in the United
    States (and over a third produced worldwide) is
    inefficiently diverted to feed farmed animals
    (despite great hunger in many parts of the world)
  • With fresh-water sources dwindling rapidly, we
    are using up to 14 times as much water than that
    required for completely plant-based diets

Despoiling the Environment
  • Animal Agriculture is a vastly inefficient use of
  • Food IN to Food OUT
  • Water
  • Land
  • Energy
  • Animal Agriculture causes environmental
    devastation as a consequence
  • Land, water, air
  • Manure / urine
  • Rainforest destruction

Enormous Resource Inefficiency
  • How many pounds of Grain are used to make 1 pound
    of beef ?

Enormous Resource Inefficiency
  • How many pounds of Grain are used to make 1 pound
    of beef ?
  • 12-16 pounds
  • 8 loaves of bread
  • 24 plates of spaghetti

Enormous Resource Inefficiency
  • How many gallons of Water are used to make 1
    pound of beef ?

Enormous Resource Inefficiency
  • How many gallons of Water are used to make 1
    pound of beef ?
  • 2500-5000 gallons
  • Ave persons shower for 6 months
  • Gal/pound tomatoes 25, wheat 25, apples 50

Enormous Resource Inefficiency
  • How many calories of fossil fuel are spent to
    produce 1 calorie of protein from beef ?

Enormous Resource Inefficiency
  • How many calories of fossil fuel are spent to
    produce 1 calorie of protein from beef ?
  • 78 calories
  • 2 calories for soybeans
  • energy needed to produce a pound of grain-fed
    beef is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline

Ecological Destruction
  • Pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics into
    ground, water, airand food
  • Mounds of manure urine at feedlots dairies
    and animal flatulence
  • Pollution, and added pollution, to the air,
    waterways, and land from all the extra needs and
  • Rainforests destroyed for land to graze cattle,
    especially in third world countries beef is
    exported to developed countries
  • So even less ability for plant kingdom to absorb

Ecological Destruction
  • Ave dairy cow produces how many pounds of wet
    manure per day ?

Ecological Destruction
  • Ave dairy cow produces how many pounds of wet
    manure per day ?
  • 120 pounds (per day!)
  • Humans produce only several pounds per day

A Global Dietary Imperative
  • The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving
    force behind virtually every major category of
    environmental damage now threatening the human
    future - deforestation, erosion, fresh water
    scarcity, air and water pollution, climate
    change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the
    destabilization of communities, and the spread of
    disease. Worldwatch Institute
  • eating meat is like driving a huge SUV... a
    vegetarian diet is like driving a hybrid car,
    and... a vegan diet is like riding a bicycle

  • An all-plant-based diet offers powerful
  • Efficiency of global and local resources
  • Reducing greenhouse gases
  • Minimizing land / water / air pollution
  • Overall planetary health / sustainability
  • Lesser dependence on foreign oil, foreign
    economic markets, and related factors
  • Enormous cost savings for the near- and long-term
  • Alleviating global hunger
  • Reducing effects on non-human animals
  • Personal and public health / well-being
    Fostering peace, sharing, and responsibility
    Minimization of harm, respect for all life
    Reconnecting with the spiritual and religious
  • GO VEGAN !

Helpful Resources
  • Vegetarian Society of DC
  • www.vsdc.org (vsdc_at_vsdc.org) 202-362-VEGY
  • Vegetarian Union of North America / International
    Vegetarian Union
  • www.ivu.org (vuna_at_ivu.org)
  • Councilors of VUNA, esp Prof. Richard Schwartz
  • FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement)
  • www.farmusa.org info_at_farmusa.org
  • EarthSave International
  • www.earthsave.org information_at_earthsave.org
  • Worldwatch Institute
  • www.worldwatch.org worldwatch_at_worldwatch.org

Helpful Resources
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • http//www.ipcc.ch/
  • UN FAO
  • http//www.fao.org
  • US EPA
  • http//www.epa.gov/climatechange/index.html
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