With the opening of the international climate conference in Copenhagen, the world’s attention is focused on global warming and the resulting coastal flooding and extreme weather patterns.
An article in the respected World Watch magazine suggests that most man-made greenhouse gases responsible for global warming are emitted not from industrial smokestacks or car exhausts, but from meat and dairy production. This represents a substantial increase from the 18 percent contribution estimated by the 2006 U.N. report. (See www.biteglobalwarming.org.)
Chief greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to operate feed crop, factory farm and slaughterhouse machinery, trucks and refrigeration equipment. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.
Whatever the 190 nations’ representatives decide in Copenhagen, each of us can help reduce global warming three times a day. Our local supermarket stocks a rich variety of soy-based lunch “meats,” hot dogs, veggie burgers, dairy products and ready-to-eat frozen dinners, as well as a vast cornucopia of more traditional fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Product lists and easy recipes are at www.tryveg.com.