Letter: Osborne’s Column Left Out Inconvenient Truth about Climate Change

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While I applaud the efforts of Laguna Greenbelt and the climate scientists who participated in the recent panel, there is a glaring omission in Dr. Osborne’s bullet points for “building the public will to treat this issue as the highest political priority…” The omission? What we eat.

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in a landmark report that livestock farming posed a major threat to the environment and urged the world to take this problem seriously. “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” stated Henning Steinfeld, chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch. “Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.” The report refers to livestock’s “long shadow” and makes clear that animal agriculture could compromise the future health of our planet.

The threat has only intensified since then. In 2014, a study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature illustrated that through our diets alone––largely because they are characterized by high levels of animal products––we will exceed the CO2 target agreed upon at the Paris Climate Summit to limit the global rise in temperature to “well below 2°C.” Here is the glaring inconvenient truth: globally, the animal agriculture industry emits more greenhouse gas than the world’s planes, trains, and cars combined.

Over 80 percent of farmland is used for livestock, yet it provides only 18 percent of the world’s calories. The devastation wreaked by factory farms isn’t contained to the land; it even reaches our oceans, causing dead zones in coastal areas, including one in the Gulf of Mexico that reached 8,776 square miles in 2017.

More than 70 percent of deforested land in the Amazon is used to feed livestock. We use miles of valuable land to grow soy, corn, and wheat that could be used to feed humans directly; instead, we feed it to animals at an abysmal feed-to-meat conversion rate. Factory farms are providing your cheap meat and dairy with institutionalized violence done to sentient beings—human and animal.

You want healthy oceans? You want to slow down climate change? Unless we confront what for many is an inconvenient truth, this problem will not be solved by panels on rooftops or panels of scientists, while both are important. Stop supporting factory farms and adopt a plant-based diet. It is easy, affordable and delicious. If you think we are going to heal our own habitat any other way, think again.


Tracy Keys, Laguna Beach


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  1. Tracy, parents drive their kids to and from school, soccer practice and games, baseball practice and games, swimming practice and games, tennis practice and games, softball practice and games, basketball practice and games, music practice and concerts, vacations, movies, plays, while Laguna Beach spends millions of dollars to attract more drivers burning millions of gallons of evil, nasty fossil fuel to arrive here at Utopia, where everyone preaches Climate Change Sharia while practicing exactly the opposite. If you think Eco-Hypocrites are going to “heal” what humans didn’t do, think again.

  2. Kudos to Tracy for exposing the REAL inconvenient truth. A few years after the FAO report exposing the devastating effect the livestock industry has on greenhouse gases (GRG), Robert Goodland (senior ecology officer for the World Bank} and his team reworked the data and found over 50% of GRG come from the livestock industry far out weighing all other sources combined. He opined that cutting back on the standard American diet (SAD) by even 25% would push the tipping point forward. Google him and, even better, watch his videos on Youtube.
    Another area one never hears about (especially in Laguna Beach) is the effect of the SAD on water consumption. The SAD consumes 1000 gallons daily; a plant based diet, 400 gallons. Also, one consequence of switching to a plant based diet would be a giant leap forward in the health of the population since 80% of the chronic diseases we deal with day in and day out are due to the SAD (see John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard to name a few ). The quickest way to heal the planet would be for congress to end the subsidies to the livestock industry (dairy included) and instead subsidize farmers who raise fruits, vegetables and grains. Of course a Big Mac would go for around twelve bucks! ,,,and don’t get me started on olive oil!
    Thanks Tracy

  3. Tracy Keys is spot-on about red meat. Many years ago I read the book Killing the Cowboy, and though not as radical as the title implies, it describes the damage cattle due to the land. As I recall the book was written in the 80s, prior to the global warming hysteria. As stopping smoking is the best thing an individual can due for their health, not eating red meat is probably the best thing one could do for the planet.


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