With the near-failure of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, we find ourselves with a short time frame to address global warming. Each one of us can do our part while governments hopefully come around to helping with the problem.
We’ve all heard about how we can ride a bike, drive a fuel efficient car, put good light bulbs in our house and teach our kids to turn off the lights. But the larger contribution we can make – by far the most important one – is to change the way we eat. If we make the right changes to our diet, we will also lose weight, reduce our chances of getting heart disease or cancer, and we’ll feel better overall. So the environment and food connection is a win-win.
Americans eat way too much given how inactive many of us are. Most people are eating up to 3,700 calories per day, enough for a smoke jumper or a heavy laborer. Most of these calories come from meat and dairy, the foods that have the greatest impact both on our health and on the earth. Research shows dairy products promote cancer in people at an alarming rate. People who eat much less meat and dairy will greatly reduce their carbon footprint to the tune of more than 250 gallons of oil per year.
Where does this carbon footprint come from? It turns out we use a tremendous amount of petroleum in meat production. We put most of the grain we grow in the US into cows and pigs and producing this grain takes huge amounts of oil based fertilizer, transportation, and then we have the emissions from the animals themselves which are significant.
A second factor is tropical deforestation where vast areas of rain forest are being cleared to make pastures for cattle for American junk food restaurants. This is a huge contributor to global warming. This is a quick summary to inspire some interest in addressing this problem. We have a program for helping people transition off meat and dairy, even partially.
You can look into it at www.polarbeardiet.com. I hope you’ll give us a visit.
Tom Ribe is a professional environmentalist who has been studying the environment (public lands, fire, agriculture, climate) for more than 30 years. His current project is helping people make the link between diet and climate change. He also studies and works on forest fires and fire policy.