Climate Change Starts With Us

"yellow polluted river"

Livestock pollute water sources with fecal matter that could be filled with bacteria.

The Climate Conference that took place in Paris at the end of 2015 seems like it didn’t even end because all the promises made remained just that, promises. Everybody was rooting for a better planet, had expectations for others to start behaving and saving, but climate change starts with us.

The majority of topics discussed at the Climate Conference in Paris revolved around our burning need of replacing fossil fuels with sustainable energy. To give people who want to make a change a choice between solar panels and power plant electricity. The talks revolved around energy, a better education and plans on how to keep greenhouse gases under control. A fight against pollution, more precisely against the big polluters.

But what the members forgot is that we can’t save our planet by making other people do something that we deem healthy for mother Earth, no, climate change starts with us. And we can start by pointing out just how much water, oxygen and acres of forest were used and destroyed so that the participants could enjoy a beef steak after the conference.

If we look at the numbers, big facilities that emit high amounts of carbon dioxide are a small percentage (13%) out of the total of pollution factors. The higher polluter is not a plant that uses fossil fuels and emits thick, grey carbon smoke, although they are not innocent, either. No, the main culprit are livestock.

Numbers aren’t clear yet because studies have only been conducted on small samples of livestock, but it is estimated that pollution figures are somewhere in between 14.5% and 51%. It is a harder concept to grasp than the idea of evil factories, but it is true. A cow pollutes more than an average American with an old coughing car and a habit of long showers and grills. Such a thing is possible because a cow’s manure contains large quantities of nitrogen dioxide, a gas that has a warming potential 289 times greater than carbon dioxide.

But the danger is not only in the manure. A flock of livestock consumes incredible amounts of water. It takes approximately 1850 gallons to obtain only a pound of beef. By comparison, an average American with a taste for daily refreshing showers needs 3.5 months to reach such an amount of water consumed.

Cows are raised for food consumption, but what about their diet? A great part of the Amazon forest was cut down in order to create more grasslands in order to feed the cattle. Those trees used to filter the carbon dioxide. The cows release methane.

The conclusion is, obviously, not to kill all the cows and start a vegan diet, but change starts with us. We could start by adopting a more diverse diet, shrinking our red meat necessities. We need to limit the numbers of animals raised for human consumption because we are hurting the planet more than we expected.

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