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