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HOW TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE: COWS, TERMITES, LANDFILLS, PERMAFROST
Lawrenceville, NJ (Dr Simone) – A healthy diet will decrease diseases, decrease potent greenhouse gases, decrease carbon footprint by about 30%, and decrease the risk of war and piracy.
Carbon dioxide has been considered to be the leading cause of global warming but methane is 25 to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Therefore, even though governments and Nobel Laureates focus on carbon taxes, the real emphasis should be on minimizing and eliminating methane sources rather than focusing on burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. In fact, the Global Warming Potential (GWP), a measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide is 1, whereas the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane is 86 over 20 years and 34 over 100 years.
By 2050 the world’s population is predicted to be 9 billion people and crop yields must increase by 50%. The global market supplies most of the world’s food supply and relies on three crops: corn (maize), wheat, and rice. Most of this goes to feed livestock. The publication called Chokepoints and Vulnerabilities in Global Food Trade by the Chatham House shows that the global food system relies on getting through 14 chokepoints like the Panama Canal, Suez Canal, Black Sea ports, Strait of Hormuz, US inland waterways and rail network, and Brazil’s road network. These chokepoints are subject to weather, war, piracy, and other vulnerabilities.
Healthy foods result in better health outcomes and lower carbon production. However, the current world’s population has demanded a more westernized diet that dramatically increases the risk for cancer and other chronic diseases: high in meat, cheese, processed foods, high in sugar and saturated fats, and low in fiber. This was the subject of our first book in 1980, Cancer and Nutrition.
When people take personal responsibility for their health by eating low-fat, low sugar, high-fiber foods, their health will improve, there will be less risk for war and piracy because there will be less demand for these foods, and the carbon footprint can be reduced by 30% because there will be a reduction in the consumption of meat and cheese and hence a reduction in the production of a major greenhouse gas, methane.
Greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere and include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Carbon dioxide has been considered to be the leading cause of global warming but methane is 25 to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Methane rises into the air, reacts with hydroxyl radical to form water vapor and carbon dioxide. Methane’s lifespan in the atmosphere is about 9.6 years. The U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization says that methane output could increase by 60 percent by 2030 [Source: Times Online].
Sources of Methane
Cows and other Grazing Animals – Globally there are about 1.5 billion cows (65% are in India, Brazil, and China) and billions of other grazing animals that emit massive amounts of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence. Two-thirds of all ammonia comes from cows. The release of about 100 kg methane per year for each cow is equivalent to about 2,500 kg carbon dioxide per year. Some experts say the average dairy cow expels 100 liters to 200 liters a day (or about 26 gallons to about 53 gallons), while others say it’s up to 500 liters (about 132 gallons) a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane that one cow produces in a day, an amount equal to the pollution produced by a car in a day.
Termites globally produce about 20 million tons of methane each year.
Landfills are the third largest source of methane in the United States.
Thawing Permafrost releases equal amounts of carbon dioxide and methane that come from decomposing dead animals and plants. Water-saturated permafrost soils without oxygen can be twice as harmful to the climate as dry soils because methane is 25 to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
The government must intervene to encourage a healthy diet which therefore will decrease the demand for meats, fats, and sugar, and increase the consumption of high fiber foods. A healthy diet will decrease diseases, decrease carbon footprint by about 30%, and decrease the risk of war and piracy.
(c) 2018 Charles B Simone, M.MS., M.D.