Climate change threatens world food supply” is the headline wake-up alarm being sounded by leading newspapers. It was prompted by the release of a summary report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), staffed by more than 100 experts from 52 countries.

The report details how climate change is threatening our world’s food and water supplies, turning arable land to desert, degrading soil, and raising the frequency of devastating weather conditions. It concludes that avoiding wholesale starvation and mass migrations requires fundamental changes in current animal agriculture and land management practices, which account for 23 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

The conclusions of the IPCC report match closely those by Oxford University in 2017 and by Chatham House in 2015. A 2010 United Nations report blames animal agriculture for 19% of greenhouse gas emissions, 70% of freshwater use, and 38% of land use. All reports recommend a massive shift to plant-based eating.

In an environmentally sustainable world, meat and dairy products in our diet must be replaced by vegetables, fruits, and grains, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar, and other pollution-free energy sources. Our next visit to the supermarket provides a superb starting point.

 

Will Macker

Waterville


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