Welcome to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home and today’s episode entitled Vegan: The Fastest Way to a Cooler Planet
During this series, we will introduce you to current information on greenhouse-gas emissions, solutions for rapid planetary cooling and why a plant-based diet is the quickest, most inexpensive way to reduce emissions and stabilize the Earth’s temperature.
In the past, efforts to mitigate global warming have focused almost exclusively on lowering carbon dioxide emissions. But we now know that although reducing CO2 is critical, even if the entire world switched to a zero-carbon economy and lifestyle today, it would take thousands of years for this gas to dissipate.
Some scientists and government officials now recognize that limiting shorter-lived greenhouse gases such as methane and ozone, and other contributors to warming such as black carbon, released into the air from burning biomass and fossil fuels, can have a major influence in slowing planetary heating in a short amount of time. As one climate scientist says, we need to reduce short-lived greenhouse gases today in order to ensure a livable planet for our children, and we need to reduce CO2 to ensure a livable planet for generations a few hundred years from now.
Limiting these gases, particularly methane, is relatively inexpensive and rapid, whereas many of the technologies to reduce CO2 are either in their infancy or are costly and time consuming to integrate into the current infrastructure.
Scientific understanding of the role of livestock in accelerating global warming has increased as well. Some researchers are beginning to recognize that livestock contributes much more to global greenhouse gas emissions than the 18 percent estimated by the 2006 United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” Demand for beef directly contributes to the rapid melting of Antarctica due to the black carbon and other pollutants emitted into the atmosphere by livestock raising.
Dr. James Hansen, one of the world’s preeminent climate scientists, recently stated that if Western Antarctica melts it could be one of the most frightening climate change tipping points of the 21st century.