The Earth as we know it is disappearing at an alarmingly fast rate. I know it, you know it and we need to stop ignoring it.
Over the past decade, there’s been no secret about the fact that our climate is rapidly changing and becoming too hot for the earth to remain sustainable. Coral reefs once full of vibrant colors and unique marine life are now rotting away and turning into white skeletons. Rainforests are pummeled down to make room for animal agriculture and by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish, as reported by a World Economic Forum study.
The United States isn’t doing much to prevent this either. For being one of the largest carbon dioxide emitters in the world, we actually harm climate change efforts further such as pulling out of the Paris Agreement. And at this rate, it doesn’t look like we can depend on this current administration to make the changes needed to sustain our environment.
So that leaves the question: What do we do now?
Well, it might not feel like making changes in your own life would make much of a difference, but if we all think like that then there will be absolutely no change. We have to save the Earth together, or else it won’t happen at all.
It’s valid to be too caught up with your own life and struggles to really have time to think about being environmentally conscious, but there are many small things you personally can do that makes all the difference. Part of the way that you can do this is to pay attention to the foods you are consuming.
As a long time vegan, I understand that it requires a lot of time commitment and resources to go full throttle into cutting out all animal products from your diet. But cutting out some animal products is absolutely vital in the grand scheme of things and is easily attainable with a few adjustments. If you cannot personally adapt to a vegan diet and lifestyle, merely cutting out all beef and dairy products is already doing both your health and the Earth a solid favor.
A byproduct of raising mass amounts of cows for food consumption is methane, a greenhouse gas. Methane along with other greenhouse gases are constantly emitted into our atmosphere. This pollution contributes to the deterioration of our atmosphere and is the main reason our planet is warming at such a high rate. According to an investigative environmental film called Cowspiracy, methane is 25 to 100 times more destructive than CO₂ emissions and livestock production overall is responsible for 51 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
We cannot sit by and watch this destruction happen while most of us can omit beef and dairy from our diets. I’m not one to advocate for eating meat and byproducts from poultry and that alone also makes environmental impacts, but if you need meat in your diet then I highly suggest sticking to just that in order to make the most change.
The time for change is now, not later. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that if we don’t make rapid changes by 2030, the Earth will grow hotter by 1.5 degrees Celsius. This might not seem like much, but our planet is fragile in the sense that these types of temperature changes will cause extreme droughts, floods, wildfires and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. These predictions are not to be taken lightly. They are real and oncoming consequences that will affect both yourself and every other living organism in this world.
It is all of our responsibilities to do something. Re-evaluate the number of animal products in your diet, cut down on plastic use, monitor electricity and motor transportation use. No matter what’s going on in your life, we all can help a little.
These suggestions alone are not a solve-all-solution that will fully reduce our environmental impact. But small changes like these could take years off the climate’s expiration date, if we can all work together.
Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.