How to reverse climate change through backyard cookouts on Memorial Day
For many Americans, backyard cookouts featuring burgers, sausages, and ribs are a hallmark of Memorial Day. Yet these cookouts can help to accelerate climate change, which threatens to become irreversible by 2020, with a rise in sea levels that could imperil cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Livestock that are made into animal products are responsible for as much as 51% of human-caused greenhouse gas, according to the United Nations. But according to a new projection published by Reuters, regrowing trees on land used for raising livestock and crops to feed them may be the key to reversing climate change before it is too late.
45% of all land on earth is now estimated to be used for livestock and crops to feed them. Most such land was once forested and could be reforested again, allowing it to absorb excess greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
In other words, if animal products are replaced with foods that taste about the same but are made without livestock — such as Beyond Burgers, Field Roast sausages and Morningstar riblets — this could generate a unique dual benefit. That is, greenhouse gas attributable to livestock can be significantly reduced, and at the same time, the huge amount of land used for livestock could be freed up for reforestation and absorbing greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
Using renewable energy to achieve the same outcome wouldn’t be possible, according to the International Energy Agency, which has estimated that sufficient renewable energy would cost at least $36 trillion and take at least 20 years. This would be long past the time available to stop a potentially catastrophic rise in sea levels.
In contrast, large-scale changes in food and forest could be available almost overnight. Better alternatives to livestock products are generally made from whole grains and legumes, such as peas, sorghum, and beans. Such products are generally responsible for minimal greenhouse gas emissions.
There is documented potential for agricultural change to draw down greenhouse gas from our atmosphere to pre-industrial revolution levels within five years.
For consumers, Bill Gates has been promoting the idea that we can stop climate change by replacing livestock products with alternatives with little or no change in taste. This way, on Memorial Day, by dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions attributable to our foods, we can act to reverse climate change before it’s too late.