When Al Gore's and Leonardo DiCaprio's dramatic documentaries alerted us to the devastating impacts of global warming, many people went through the ritual of switching from incandescent light bulbs to the compact fluorescent variety. Unfortunately, in the case of global warming, good intentions and switching light bulbs are not good enough.
The most powerful individual lifestyle solution was suggested in a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The report found that meat production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. That's more than automobiles.
Carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms, and slaughterhouses. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools.
Moreover, animal agriculture contributes more pollutants to our waterways than all other human activities combined. Principal sources are animal wastes, soil particles, minerals, crop debris, fertilizers, and pesticides from feed croplands. It is also the driving force in world-wide deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction.
The annual observance of Earth Day this Tuesday provides an excellent opportunity for every one of us to help save our planet by dropping animal products from our diet. More details are available at www.CoolYourDiet.org.
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