Scientists warn of submerged coastal cities, but also offer hope
According to a new projection in the New York Times, large-scale melting of ice in the Antartica is now almost inevitable, and this phenomenon could cause “enough sea-level rise that many of the world’s coastal cities would eventually have to be abandoned.”
However, preventive measures are proposed in a separate new article in the journal Global Change Biology. These measures would involve reforesting as much as possible of the 45% of all land on earth now estimated to be used for raising livestock. Most land used for livestock was once forested and could be reforested again, allowing it to absorb excess carbon in the atmosphere.
According to the new proposal, if livestock products — meat, dairy, and egg products — are replaced with alternatives, this could generate a unique dual benefit. 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 atmospheric carbon.
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 $18 trillion and take at least 20 years. This would be long past the time available to stop the rapid melting of Antarctic.
In contrast, large-scale changes in food and forest could be available almost overnight. Better alternatives to livestock products can range from whole grains and legumes to an array of meat and egg substitutes made from such items 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 atmospheric carbon to pre-industrial revolution levels within five years.
Agriculture is outdoors to a unique degree, exposing it to greater risk from emissions attributable to livestock than any other industry’s risk from the same emissions. So food industry leaders can be seen to have a compelling commercial incentive to reduce those emissions.
For consumers, Bill Gates has been pitching the replacement of livestock products with alternatives as practically imperceptible.