Charles De Santis
When faced to many recent reports on climate change, Trump claims that he does not see it happening. A recent report published recently in 2019 by Viva demonstrates the impact of human activities and livestock industries on global warming. “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!” (Trump, Twitter).
It appears that Trump uses a skeptic and humoristic tone in this tweet to reinforce his opinion on global warming. There is nonetheless an important distinction between weather and climate. For instance, one day of freezing cold weather in the United States certainly cannot justify or be used as a valid empirical evidence to reject the science behind climate change. The planet is warming up very fast as global temperatures exceed 1°C in 2015, reaching an all-time high of emissions released. Today, temperatures reach halfway to the 2°C (Butler 4). Actions must be taken to avoid the repercussions global warming could imply for future generations such as rising sea level, flooding, water shortage, hurricanes, starvation, mass extinctions and many more disasters.
Environmentalists and different scientific organizations agree that human activities are a central cause of global warming. A recent report presented by Viva supports that livestock farming is detrimental for our environment and turns out to be an inefficient system to solve the global problem of starvation. In fact, livestock farming represents the biggest contribution of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities. Environmentalists estimate that livestock industries represent approximately 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. The problem is complex and involves more than just cows releasing methane in the atmosphere. The livestock sector impacts our environment at many different levels including “soil carbon loss in grazing lands, energy used in growing animal feed, processing and transporting animal feed and meat and nitrous oxide releases from nitrogenous fertilizers”, only to mention a few (4).
Now, how is that an inefficient system to solve the problem of hunger? As global population keep increasing, approximately one in nine people are undernourished today (49). The current agricultural approach of growing crops to feed animals is inefficient and cannot meet the worldwide demand. “Feeding food that humans could eat to animals, so that humans can eat them, is clearly a waste of precious resources” mentions the report, urging for a change in our common agricultural practices (50). Instead, using crops to feed directly humans could increase total calories available by 70% and feed an additional 4 billion of people around the world, conclude a previous study conducted in 2013 (50).
Many governments set guidelines and warn their people to reduce their consumption of meat. However, governments must consider this issue as an urgent and critical situation and actions must be taken. If the situation is ignored, experts estimate that the planet could reach as high as 5°C by the end of this century, which would be catastrophic (4). The report suggests that turning to renewable energy and buying electric cars will not be enough to make a difference. Instead, “the only way to stop this is to change the way we eat, drastically reducing animal food production” (4).
Butler, Dr Justine. “Envirocidal: How Livestock Farming is Killing Our Planet.” Viva!, 2019 , pp. 1-60. https://www.viva.org.uk/sites/default/files/Envirocidal_Report.pdf
Pierre-Louis, Kandra. “Why Is the Cold Weather So Extreme if the Earth Is Warming? New York Times, 31 January 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/winter-cold-weather.html