Climate change is without a doubt a major concern across the globe. Various communities and leaders are finally beginning to come together and address the issue. But to produce solutions quickly, we must work as one global community and put aside our differences to preserve the only place we can call home. The depletion of our marine life, release of greenhouse gasses, and deforestation are some of the challenges we continue to face to this day. Although we have taken measures to reduce the impact our choices have on our environment, what more can we do to ensure that we provide generations to come with a sustainable future?
Many factors contribute to global warming and climate change, some of them being, the burning of fossil fuels, improper harvesting of rainwater, mass destruction of forests, etc. These factors are indeed reasons for why our planet is dying but a major factor that often goes unseen by most people is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture alone contributes to over 50% of our world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is greater than the number of gases released by all kinds of vehicles put together. Many people aren’t aware that what they put on their plates is negatively impacting our environment but there is a way to avoid a major environmental catastrophe. Simply by reducing the meat and dairy we consume, becoming more aware of the products we buy, and adopting plant-based diets, we will be able to see a drastic change in our health as well as greenhouse gas emissions. The tons of water and grain being wasted on the animals in the dairy and meat industry can be diverted towards feeding the millions of people dying of starvation.
But this can only be achieved by cutting the demand for animal products. When such industries no longer need to mass-produce animals for food, the amount of methane (a gas much more harmful than CO2) released into the air is lowered. “Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20-year time frame”(Shindell). Since methane has intense effects on our environment, cutting down on the emission of methane will result in a large step forward to stopping climate change.
Incorporating the concept of sustainable consumption through a plant-based diet into our daily lives will ensure that our planet can continue to thrive as it did before. These ideas align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, specifically #12 Responsible consumption and #13 Climate Action. The UN’s recent initiative to address climate change explains the need to make changes in our habits through their ActNow campaign. Although it may be a little less convenient than before, the only way to protect our planet is to make immediate alterations and be more mindful of the way we use our resources.