Western Diet Linked to Global Warming

by Sudha Bhat on  September 9, 2014 at 11:10 AM Health Watch   - G J E 4
It isn't a prediction, but it's happening every day as we speak. Global Warming is undoubtedly one of mankind's greatest challenge and the biggest environmental threat. It is nothing but a steady rise in earth's surface temperature mainly due to the heating effects of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. Scientists report that global temperatures have already soared more than what was seen in the past millennium and this trend is on a rise.
 Western Diet Linked to Global Warming
Western Diet Linked to Global Warming

By now we all realize that the effects of global warming are accelerating quite steadily and the magnitude of the impact could be really devastating. Hence, the time for action is now!

Researchers and environmentalists have been warning about global warming for decades. It has reached a point where it is too late to stop it, but we could work towards lessening its severity and impacts.

Few Causes of Global Warming:

Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide together are the main contributors of global warming.

Raising animals for the purpose of obtaining food, killing them and later processing, transporting, and storing their flesh is a very energy-intensive process. This is not only one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide but also the single largest source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

The process of deforestation to provide pastureland for farm animals as well as animal manure causes release of enormous amounts of carbon dioxide.

Burning of fossil fuels such as oil and gasoline emits large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Methane is known to be about 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and thus is responsible for causing more global warming.

Other causes include coal-burning power plants, car exhausts, factory smokestacks etc.

Researchers in Aberdeen and Cambridge University found that food production alone could exceed targets for greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 if current trends continue. In the past few years, there has been a universal shift in eating pattern more towards the "meat-loaded" western kind of diet.

Professor Pete Smith, one of the co-authors from the University of Aberdeen, said: "Unless we make some serious changes in food consumption trends, we would have to completely de-carbonise the energy and industry sectors to stay within emissions budgets that avoid dangerous climate change. That is practically impossible - so as well as encouraging sustainable agriculture we need to re-think what we eat."

Bojana Bajzelj, who is one of the lead researchers from the University of Cambridge's department of engineering, said: "Agricultural practices are not necessarily at fault here - but our choice of food is. It is imperative to find ways to achieve global food security without expanding crop or pastureland."

She further added "Food production is a main driver of biodiversity loss and a large contributor to climate change and pollution, so our food choices matter. Cutting food waste and moderating meat consumption in more balanced diets are the essential 'no-regrets' options."

According to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, if the current trend in food production continues, then by the year 2050 crop-land would be expanded by 42 per cent and fertiliser use increased by 45 per cent over 2009 levels.

The scientists also felt that a further tenth of the world's untouched tropical forests could possibly disappear over the next 35 years.

The authors conducted a study using an average balanced diet which included two 85g portions of red meat and five eggs per week, as well as a portion of poultry a day. The authors felt that if all countries followed this average diet without excessive consumption of sugars, fats, and meat products, it would significantly reduce the pressures on the environment even further

Prof Keith Richards, one of the co-authors of the study said: "This is not a radical vegetarian argument; it is an argument about eating meat in sensible amounts as part of healthy, balanced diets. Managing the demand better, for example by focusing on health education, would bring double benefits - maintaining healthy populations, and greatly reducing critical pressures on the environment."

Ways to Reduce Global Warming:

Drive only when you have to and try to use more fuel-efficient hybrid cars. For short distances, use your bicycles or simply walk it over.

Replace regular light bulbs with LED bulbs, which reportedly last much longer than incandescent bulbs and use much less energy.

Reduce, reuse, recycle: Reduce waste by cutting down on disposable items. Buy products with minimal packaging and avoid products packaged with molded plastic which cannot be recycled. Make sure to recycle paper, glass, plastic, aluminum cans etc.

Remember to turn off your television, computer, video player, music system etc. when you're not using them.

Go green and plant more trees in and around where you live since even a single tree would absorb about one ton of carbon dioxide on an average during its lifetime

Last but not the least, go vegetarian and reduce or eliminate the consumption of animal products.

Thus if each one of us does our bit, it will go a long way to keep global warming from harming us. It is after all our responsibility to leave our mother earth in better shape for future generations.

Source: Medindia

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