Meat and Global Warming

Meat and Global Warming

Meat and Global Warming

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been curious how much I am contributing to global warming by eating so much meat.

So I dug in, read and researched, and reported my finding initially under an Instagram story (saved under “Climate Change“).

Evidence is pretty strong that the burning of fossil fuels starting during the industrial revolution in the 1700s is mostly to blame.

However, there are 2 sides to the equation.

Climate Equation

There is the carbon released through emissions like transportation and energy production.

Then there is carbon sequestered. This is carbon taken out of the atmosphere and stored in what are known as carbon sinks.

The problem is we are hurting both sides of the equation.

We’re emitting more and more carbon and sequestering less.

Technological advances like solar and wind energy hold a lot of promise of helping the emission side of the equation. But what about the other side?

The often forgotten side of the equation

By cutting down forest, plowing land, and overgrazing pastures we destroy carbon sinks especially the soils which stores more carbon than all terrestrial vegetation and the atmosphere combined.

Over 2/3rd of the plant’s land is desertifying – turning grasslands into desert and destroying soil.

How does this happen?

When livestock like cattle, sheep, and goats overgraze on plants they leave the soil bare and cause desertification. And this is really the main reason meat has been linked to global warming. Animals destroy the soil.

The Paradox

But this confused me. Just a couple centuries ago, between 30-60 million bison roamed North America – so it should be one big desert – but it isn’t. Moreover, blaming a food that we evolved to eat over millions of years as being the culprit in modern man-made problem is short-sighted. Thanks to a guy named Alan Savory he figured out the paradox.

Grazers like bison protect themselves in the wild by forming herds. When a predator attacks they get together making it less likely any one in particular would be singled out for dinner.

A key component of herds is that they keep moving. They trample the soil then move on. This natural phenomenon prevented overgrazing of plants as well as provided good coverage of the soil.

As Allan Savory discovered when we mimic nature and herd these grazers, let them trample and then move them along…desertification reverses and grasslands reform and soil health returns.

It’s estimated that if we use this holistic approach of planned grazing to just half the world’s grasslands we can go back to pre-industrial carbon levels, reverse climate change, and feed the world.

So animals are not to blame for climate change, on the contrary they are a vital part in the solution to restoring our carbon sinks and saving us all from a heat death.

Moving Forward

Fortunately, more and more animal agriculture is being adopted. This regenerative approach of planned grazing can lead us to true sustainability.  So if you are a meat eater or are experimenting with a carnivore diet, supporting farmers doing it right is supporting the world and your health.

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