Our magnificent home, planet Earth provides us with clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink and fertile soils to produce nutritious food. However, human activity is driving our planet to its destruction and we can already see and feel the detrimental effects. Action is required to slow the threat of climate change and its irreversible environmental degradation in order to continue to sustain life on earth.
The Current Climate Crisis
Coal, oil and gas production emits billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have reached record high levels, exceeding levels not seen since 400 million years ago when global temperatures were 2-4C warmer and sea levels 10-25 metres higher than they are now. At the rate we are going the planet will not be able to recover from this damage.
The past decade was one of the hottest on record. 2020 was 1.2C above preindustrial levels. These hot temperatures causes large-scale warming of ocean surface temperatures, resulting in rising tides and triggering wildfires.
The Arctic has felt the effects of the increase in heat more than anywhere else on earth! Temperatures of 38C have been recorded in eastern Siberia, the hottest temperature recorded within the Arctic Circle.
As well as an indicator of climate change, the loss of ice also expedites it. The bright white sea ice works to reflect heat of the sun back into space. Yet with the levels at which the Arctic is heating we are losing the vital reflective protection it serves and in its place large, dark and open areas of water that absorb more heat, fuelling global warming further.
Human activity is causing unparalleled changes in the earth’s climate and the impacts of these changes have been felt throughout the world, from unprecedented wildfires across the US and Eastern Australia to devastating floods across South Asia.
How is climate change and food linked?
Every single piece of food we consume had its own impact on the environment, and the Western worlds high consumption of meat and dairy is fuelling global warming further.
The production of meat is unsustainable, breeding, raising and slaughtering billions of animals for food every year entails massive amounts of natural resources such as areas of land and fresh water. Agriculture and forestry accounts for almost 37 % of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Global warming will inevitably impact everyone’s food and water security. Soil degradation, as a direct result of climate change limits the amount of carbon that can be stored in the earth and areas effected by soil erosion are losing up to 30% of food as a result. By switching global consumption to more plant-based diets, less land is required for livestock, giving the land a change to recover.
Could going vegan save the planet?
Veganism, a diet that excludes meat, dairy and other animal products has been shown to help tackle climate change. It offers us the opportunity to reduce our individual carbon footprint, stop the depletion of Earth’s resources and enable a viable future for humans.
Each and every one of us has a “carbon footprint”- This is the net total of greenhouse gas emissions generated by our actions. What we eat contributes to our carbon footprint and going vegan has been found to reduce our carbon footprint by up to 73%
By going vegan or cutting down on meat less land is required – if land is used more effectively than it can store more carbon emissions.
Meat consumption has dropped in the UK by 17% since 2019 and amount of daily consumption falling from 3.6oz to 3oz. But while red meat and processed meat is cut from diets, white meat is taking its place with more than a billion chickens and other poultry killed for food in the UK in 2018.
To feed a growing population it makes sense to use crops that can be consumed directly
What you can do!
Figuring out what food to eat to reduce your carbon footprint is hard. But by becoming more aware of how food is produced and where it comes from you can make informed decisions to make an individual difference to the world.
Here are 5 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Reducing the amount of meat in your diet
2. Using dairy-free products
3. Using 'Quorn' and other meat replacements
4. Reducing food waste
5. Buying local