A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out and we should all be terrified. Experts believe we may have as few as 12 years to cut global emissions by 45 percent to prevent global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and avert a catastrophe.
The 700-page report commissioned by the United Nations is grim, stating, “Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.”
According to Professor Jim Skea, IPCC co-chair, there are two major takeaways from the report:
The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways. The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C—changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation.
Earlier this year, a draft of a similar report was leaked. A copy obtained by Reuters claimed global warming growth was on course to surpass 1.5°C, which would exceed the most stringent goal set in the Paris Agreement by around 2040. According to the draft, countries could keep warming below this dangerous level if “rapid and far-reaching” changes were made.
Sadly, President Donald Trump, an outspoken nonbeliever in climate change, has remained uncharacteristically quiet about the IPCC report. Last year, President Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by pulling out of the Paris climate deal, which makes the U.S. the only country not in the Paris Agreement.
Unfortunately, if we don’t take action now to curb carbon emissions, scientists warn, the planet faces disastrous consequences—from intensified storms and rising sea levels to the extinction of millions of species. And while not everyone can afford an electric car or solar panels, there is something we can all do: eat vegan.
You see, animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change. Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas than all the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, carbon dioxide emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits. In fact, even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565-gigaton CO2e limit by 2030.
There is no such thing as “sustainable” meat, dairy, and eggs, and plant-based alternatives take a mere fraction of the resources to produce as their animal-based counterparts.
But a plant-based diet isn’t just good for the planet—it also spares countless animals a lifetime of misery at factory farms. Pigs, cows, chickens, fish, and other farmed animals suffer horribly. From birth to death, these poor animals are caught in a nightmare: cruelly confined, brutally mutilated, and violently killed.