Climate, Cows, and Cars

Climate, Cows, & Cars


Which lifestyle choice does more to combat Climate Change, a carfree lifestyle, or a vegan lifestyle?

Like you, I've often asked myself that eternal question: How can I become even more of a pain in the ass, holier then thou Obsessive-Compulsive-Environmentalist]? I was already car-free (and will remind you every time you think of buying gas), composted my food waste, and bought my food in bulk. But then it occurred to me - going vegan was the solution! But I still had my doubts. Was this going to actually help the planet more then boycotting Shell and ExxonMobil? This is the question that I spent a year of research on answering. Please read on, and explore with me how you too can make informed choices that will not only put your conscience at ease, but will help you to enjoy a healthier and happier life too.

Vegans and
	Cyclists comic
© Stephan Pastis

Well, it was one thing to listen to biased opinions (I had them and I knew lots of others did too). But since I knew that my opinion was biased, I realized that I needed to prove this by digging through actual facts.
The question wasn't a new one, mind you. It was originally raised back in 2006 when the UN commissioned a report, titled 'Livestock's Long Shadow' which stated that raising domestic animals for food was a larger contributor to climate change then all transportation combined. But when I started really exploring the details, what I discovered was that the question was more complex then I ever imagined.
(Spoiler alert: they both have a really big impact on the climate.)

The first thing that I found was that shortly after the UN's report, Dr. Frank Mitloehner challenged their findings. Mitloehner pointed out errors in the data which made me think that the folks at the UN could be mistaken. My goal in writing this article therefore, is to look at the impact that both choices have and to bring a greater understanding to each of the two camps of passionate folks, about the huge impacts that both lifestyle choices have for the living beings of the world.

The dinosaurs didn't believe in climate change either.

Of course there are plenty of people in the United States who believe that Climate Change either isn't happening, or isn't caused by people. A PEW research poll confirms that nearly half of U.S. residents believe this (and not all of them work in Congress). The U.S. isn't the only country in denial. The truth can easily be found by looking at the groups involved. Support for climate change denial comes from the Koch Brothers, oil companies, and the coal industry. (link) (link) Meanwhile, the case for human-caused climate change is supported by 97% of the scientific community.

So what exactly is Climate Change? Throughout the world, people are becoming more concerned about it, yet most people seem to be either dis-empowered, or confused about how to create change (hint, it isn't recycling). To put it simply, Climate Change is a general increase in world temperatures due to heat-trapping gases (the aptly-named 'Greenhouse Effect'). The term 'Global Warming' is less accurate because what scientists predict is not for warming across the globe (as a recent U.S. politician, who brought a snowball into the Senate, demonstrated).
It's much easier to come up with a compelling story if you can make up whatever you want, then if you have to stick to the truth."
The effects which are already being felt, are increasingly destructive storms due to thermodynamics. The increasingly radical changes in weather patterns, which have caused drought heat waves and flooding would be better described as Global Weirding, or Climate Chaos. Humans (especially the well-off) are able to stay afloat more easily then the global poor and wildlife which is why our individual choices are progressing faster than our national laws.
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