Time to eat less meat

Time to eat less meat

In April, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a robust report examining ways in which humans could mitigate the most serious consequences of climate change on the environment. The document consists of nearly three thousand pages, but the part that you really need to know comes after about fifty pages and lists all the ways we can reduce emissions right now.

The shift to wind energy and solar is described as the highest impact action. But a little further down an option is cited in a somewhat singular way: "switch to healthy, balanced and sustainable diets". If this wording seems evasive to you, you are not entirely wrong. An earlier version of the report included a recommendation to adopt plant-based diets, Reuters reported. However, the claim was diluted during the negotiations under pressure from the United States, Brazil and other countries where the meat industry is particularly strong. In the summary of the document, plant-based diets are mentioned only once, in a footnote 43.

The huge impact of meat WiredLeaks, how to send us an anonymous report You can't discuss the climate impact of food without talking about meat. Food production generates about 26 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, most of which are caused by livestock. The highest emissions come from ruminants such as cattle and sheep, due to the methane fumes they emit during digestion. For every gram of protein, beef production generates eight times the greenhouse gas emissions of chicken, and 25 times that of tofu. The impact on the ground is also enormous. Nearly eighty percent of all agricultural land is used as pasture or to grow feed crops, while the expansion of cattle grazing is responsible for 41 percent of annual deforestation in tropical areas.

Nonetheless, it seems that even a small reduction in our inordinate craving for beef is capable of greatly benefiting the environment. By replacing even a fifth of our beef consumption with alternatives such as mycoproteins, it would be possible to drastically slow the pace of deforestation. A new study published in the journal Nature simulated what would happen if people replaced beef or other ruminant meat in their diets with mycoproteins, and what would happen if consumption continued on the current trajectory. In a world where the demand for beef continues to rise, deforestation rates would more than double. But if people replaced twenty percent of beef with mycoproteins, the deforestation rate by 2050 would be halved compared to the scenario where meat consumption continues to rise as expected.

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Arrow "Part of the solution to this problem could be existing biotechnology," explains Florian Humpenöder, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Research on climate impact in Germany and lead author of the paper in Nature. Other scientific studies support the need to reduce meat consumption to a much greater extent. The Eat-Lancet commission, for example, recommends eating no more than 98 grams of red meat (pork, beef or lamb) per week. In the United States, on average, every person consumes nearly seven times the amount of beef alone.

In Humpenöder, however, a 20 percent reduction seems a more realistic goal: "I think reaching a quota of replacement of twenty percent by 2050 is a fairly feasible goal, or at least not overly optimistic, "he says. Humpenöder also developed two other scenarios in which mycoproteins replace 50 and 80 percent of beef consumption respectively by 2050. In these two models, deforestation and associated emissions were even lower. Each of these changes led to a halving of the predicted deforestation rate, but the sharpest improvement is achieved by replacing only twenty percent of the beef with mycoproteins.

The study also shows a relatively small reduction in the Beef consumption may have great environmental benefits, explains Michael Clark, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. The challenge is to convince politicians and citizens to translate this research into action: "We are still in a situation where diets have a big impact," he says. While beef consumption is slowly declining in countries like Italy and the UK, the shift to more sustainable diets is not happening fast enough. Clark hopes that promoting a reduction in meat consumption - rather than asking them to give it up altogether - will convince people to switch to more sustainable diets: "The point is to communicate in a way that isn't repulsive," he explains.

This article originally appeared on sportsgaming.win UK.

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