Our plate at the center of the climate emergency
Forest, agriculture and land are in the core of climate. A change in our food diet is needed, according to the latest IPCC report.
Recently, a special report on Climate Change and Land has been published by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), the most important scientific body on these issues. The conclusions are clear:
- Nearly 37% of emissions come from land and food production
- The main reason to change the use of land and to deforest is feeding cattle and feeding us, so increasing the hectares without forest. At least the 35% of this food/meat is ultimately wasted.
- Land and forests are the principal basis for human well-being, providing food security, water, clean air, biodiversity and… capturing greenhouse emissions!
Land and forests have the highest potential to mitigate the climate emergency, at the same time that they help us in adaptation.
“Trees are the most effective method to combat climate change”, as the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich showed in a study last July.
“Reforesting around 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide could store about two thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon as a result of human activity”. Paradoxically, one third of these emissions are directly or indirectly caused by chopping the trees that we are intending to plant…
The most practical, cheapest and faster way to reforest and have more trees is stopping deforestation!
Is it possible to feed us without eating the planet?
As the IPCC report analyses, a change in our diet is needed to enable more sustainable land-use management, enhanced food security, low emissions and respond to climate crisis. Deforestation is basically caused to increase the hectares for feeding cattle or feeding us.
From 2017, Drawdown Project has been clearly pointing 100 solutions for climate change. Plant-rich diets together with reducing food waste can have an incredible impact in cutting down emission drastically. Trees, planet and future are undoubtedly in our plate.
Early this year, the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems described a healthy diet as the one based on an increase in consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. At the same time, we should tend to decrease consumption of unhealthy foods (such as red meat, sugar, and refined grains)
Are we supporting the Amazon deforestation when consuming meat?
Every 5 second an hectare of land is deforested globally. Last months the news from the Amazon are worse than ever: two hectares of primary forest per minute disappeared. 2019 could be the worst year in recent memory for the Amazon.
When an hectare of centenary trees is deforested, a domino effect starts. Speaking only from a human-centered point of view, a tree is a perfect system to produce clean air and water, and ensure a productive soil.
When a tree falls down, biodiversity disappears and land starts loosing life. Apart of “shutting down a perfect machine” of producing clean air, water and health, a died tree brings back to the atmosphere the CO2 captured, accelerating global warming.
There is no innovation or human invention more exponentially successful and perfect that forests to give us health and wealth in the most efficient way.
Is it worthy to exchange our life insurance for eating hamburgers daily? Unique ecosystems as the Amazon forest cannot come back with reforestation. Hundreds of years cannot be replaced with young trees so easy when, moreover, land is degraded because of deforestation.
The urgency to act right now
We are all living in a tipping point completely decisive in History: if changes are not made at all levels, Planet Earth cannot hold us for much longer.
The overshoot day has come sooner than ever. It means that last July the 29th humans already consumed all the resources that the Planet can renew during the year. After that day, we are living “in deficit” taking resources from next generation, other species or people using less resources.
The good news are that the possibility to reverse this trend is at all levels and in every place, as the 2030 Agenda claims:
- All of us, consumers, have the strong power of the demand. As it happens in the elections, every of our purchases, all together, can decide daily how the global production is oriented.
- Decision makers have in a very short term important meetings to show real actions: Climate Action Summit in New York (23 September 2019), Desertification COP14 (India, September 2019) and Climate Change COP (Chile, December 2019)
- Companies are moving to circular economy and more sustainable production models, although it is needed to go faster.
- Scientific and academy are stronger than ever in facts and recommendations to act urgently, as we have seen above.
- Civil society and young people are getting more conscious about some global challenges and mobilizing in that sense.
Our meal as a political decision
Something that we all aspire to have diary is three meals per day, so let’s make our daily food the first step for this (r)evolution!
- When eating meat and dairies we know we are contributing (in)directly to deforestation, land degradation and global warming
- When eating local products and local vegetables, we are supporting a more sustainable land management, generally.
- When throwing away food, we are throwing away also water, land capacity and all the resources needed for the next generations
- When buying packed food, we know that rarely plastic can be recycled and that it is also affecting oceans, land and our own health.
The change of food diet that the IPCC, The Lancet or Drawdown Project recommend is not only possible but urgently needed for our present and future health, for next generation and for all the species. The secret is easy: local products, avoid packaging and decrease animal protein.