Letters to the editor-Eden Prairie News

I was pleased to read the article on climate action and the mention of the United Nations reports and I’m supportive of the efforts toward cleaner energy.

My concern is that the leading cause to climate change isn’t being discussed.

Interestingly, another article by TIME also came out Aug. 8, titled “If we want to stop climate change, now is a moment of reckoning for how we use the planet, warns U.N. report”. In the report, summarizing the findings of more than 100 scientists from 52 countries, it states “Significantly reducing deforestation while increasing the rates of restoring forests ranks among the most urgent solutions in order to retain any hope of keeping temperatures from rising to catastrophic levels by the end of the century.” The article continues to explain that forests are being converted to agricultural land and that it is time to rethink our diets.

“Scientists say a shift away from eating meat toward plant-based diets could yield big dividends in the fight against climate change. Reduced meat consumption means lower emissions from livestock and the fertilizer needed to sustain them but also provides an opportunity to reforest land that farmers would have otherwise used for grazing.”

This is an inconvenient truth, but is not “new” news. In 2006, the United Nations released their report, Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options stating: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”

A few mind blowing findings in the report:

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
  • Livestock generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.
  • Livestock accounts for respectively 37% of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), "which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64% of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain."
  • Livestock now use 30% of the earth’s land surface, "mostly permanent pasture but also including 33% of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70% of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing."

The good news is, as stated in another TIME article that came out Aug. 8, "How eating less meat could help protect the planet from climate change," “Searchinger of the World Resources Institute points to the rise in popularity of meatless products such as the Impossible Burger as a promising sign. He hopes that when the public and politicians see reports like this one they remember that food and agriculture are key factors in the fight against climate change.”

David Smith

Eden Prairie

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