Changing our habits first is the way most people start global warming solutions. It’s effective, plus pretty much automatically gives one a heck of an education.
And it pays to focus on big things that matter: Compassionate food choices and reduced food waste are the two highest-payoff climate change solutions ordinary folks can do in our day to day lives.
One of the organizations we follow is Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit advocating not only a vegetarian diet, but also cruelty-free meat production and policy advocacy. They publish a magazine, Compassionate Living, full of enjoyable recipes as well as inspiring profiles of famous people who have made the switch to eating less meat or eating no meat at all.
Why is eating less meat or no meat at all a good global warming solution? Turns out producing meat (beef worst of all) uses vastly more land, feed, water and transportation than any other food source… it is simply wasteful, plus the manure and animal digestion creates a LOT of methane pollution – a potent greenhouse gas 21 times as virulent as carbon dioxide.
At Paul Hawkins’ recently-published Project Drawdown points out, eating a plant-rich diet and reducing food waste are the third and fourth most powerful global warming solutions available to mankind. A plant-rich diet is the solution most immediately available to ordinary citizens, in every country. And food waste is simply, well, dumb…
When many of us participate, we pull a whopping 137 gigatons of greenhouse gas pollution out of the atmosphere. (A side note: Get the Project Drawdown book, an essential resource material that should be in the home of every family interested in a safe, clean future for their kids and grandkids).
In one of his first public talks after leaving the White House, President Obama spoke to this, as reported by Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: “The former president noted that the Paris agreement focused on damage to the environment from the energy sector, leaving the role of food production largely unaddressed. ‘We are actually seeing a continuing increase in emissions coming out of the agriculture sector,’ he said, ‘and a lot of that has to do with changing diets around the world.’ ”
But what if you aren’t ready to go 100% vegan? Try the Meatless Mondays approach, giving up eating meat one or more days per week (full disclosure, this writer set a personal goal of eating meat no more than twice a week… I still get to enjoy it, just not all the freaking time! Plus, each vegetarian day is a whole lot cheaper anyway.)
This month both the new film and book, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power came out… Former vice president Al Gore’s ten-year update to the iconic film An Inconvenient Truth that won him a Nobel Peace Prize. Everyone should see the film, and I suggest buying the book as well, to use its excellent tools-chapters to guide your own climate solutions efforts.
So, Gore’s “Eat With the Planet in Mind” chapter shares these pointers:
- Eat less meat, especially red meat.
- Make plant-based food a bigger part of your diet.
- Go local: Buying locally-produced food dramatically lowers greenhouse gases from long transportation chains.
- Buy foods that don’t contribute to deforestation, an evil that contributes 10 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas pollution.
- Buy in bulk.
- Buy organic… organic agriculture uses 30 to 50 percent less energy than traditional agriculture.
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Not sure how to start saving the planet (civilization, really)… Start by remembering Al Gore’s saying: “Hope is a renewable resource.” Keep your morale up.
Then, our immediate practical first step becomes “Deeply know our personal Superpowers,” those skills over which we all have 100% control:
3) To save the planet, USE OUR VOICES and take advocacy seriously in all its many flavors: Never miss a vote and never stop influencing your government. Influence the vast business world by voting with your buying power… business listens when you speak its language. Set a solid example in your personal life. Tell friends what we must do. Finally, have a carefully-chosen annual donor program. All of these are ways you can use your voice.
No one can take your personal power away. Stay focussed on the list of substantive global warming solutions.
And at all times, cast aside the “learned-helplessness” that infects so much of modern life… the time is now for action.
Never give up.
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