I just read NYTimes food writer Mark Bittman’s OpEd piece about about global warming (The Endless Summer), and I feel like part of the problem. The last two years have been so overwhelmingly busy that I have not been blogging regularly. And beyond that, I have not mentioned climate change since August 2010; that mention followed five other blog posts on the subject starting in September 2009.
That is precisely what Bittman points out in his column. We seem to have become blind to climate change and our part in it as we struggle to deal with our day to day lives.
Here’s what American exceptionalism means now: on a per-capita basis, we either lead or come close to leading the world in consumption of resources, production of pollutants and a profound unwillingness to do anything about it. We may look back upon this year as the one in which climate change began to wreak serious havoc, yet we hear almost no conversation about changing policy or behavior.
In the two years since I last wrote about this subject, most serious scientific objection to the fact of climate change and global warming has disappeared. It seems pretty apparent that the people who benefit from our lack of action are those in the fossil fuel industry or those who do not want to spend money limiting the impact of their industries upon our shared climate. Those who lose are the rest of us….every one.
I live in Florida where we have just had our 49th day of 90 and above temperatures this year, an extreme even for Florida. Yep, we are just over 200 days into the year and fully one quarter of those days have had temps 90 or above. Because we live in Central Florida where the weather can suddenly become very interesting, we have a local weather station and connect its output to wunderground.com. Their website contains a whole section on climate change with lots of detailed information.
I know we are still struggling economically. I understand that it is hard to face difficult issues day in and day out. I realize that most of us feel pretty powerless to address an issue as large as global warming. But there are certainly things each of us can do . . . even if our leaders will not take charge on this issue.
In 2009, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney started the Meat Free Monday movement encouraging ordinary folks like you and me to eat meat one day less per week. Their website contains lots of useful information about the impact of our food choices.
The UK’s Food Climate Research Network suggests that food production from farm to fork is responsible for between 20-30 percent of global green house gas emissions . . . . Livestock production is responsible for around half of these emissions.
Also in 2009, Mark Bittman wrote Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating. According to Bittman, this book “explores the links among global warming and other environmental challenges, obesity and the so-called lifestyle diseases, and the overproduction and overconsumption of meat, simple carbohydrates, and junk food.”
In March 2012, Brad Tuttle of Time wrote about the The Meatless (and Less Meat) Revolution.
You and your organizations work daily with people who struggle with obesity among other food-related health issues. Research has long indicated that successful weight loss is only maintained when an individual learns about healthy food choices and practices making those choices over the long term. For some people, finding a larger reason to eat more sanely can serve as a powerful motivator.
Perhaps making the connection between global warming and healthy eating would be just the pairing someone struggling with food-related behavior needs.
I used to care that people understood how humans contribute to global warming. I no longer care. It does not matter whether human behavior caused the crisis we are facing. What matters is that there are behaviors each of us can do that can have an impact on climate change.
Are you up for the challenge? It will save you money, help you lose weight, and have a significant impact on global warming.