Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 6, 2012

Changing what we eat could ease world’s climate change

Frankenstorm Sandy is one more dramatic demonstration that climate change and its extreme weather patterns are now part of our future.

Although we’re unlikely to reverse climate change, we can still mitigate its effects by reducing our driving, our energy use, and our meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption. A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat consumption accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that it may be closer to 50 percent.

Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport, and slaughter animals and to refrigerate their carcasses.

The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

We have the power of reducing the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat.

Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of soy-based lunch “meats,” hotdogs, veggie burgers, soy and nut-based dairy products (including cheese and ice cream), and an ample selection of traditional vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes, and transition tips are available at www.livevegan.org.

Calvin Cowan

Cumberland

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