What’s more American than a nice, juicy burger fresh from the grill? And in a world such as ours, dominated by a toxic political climate, a country that feels like it’s on the brink, and a planet reeling from the very real and ever-worsening repercussions of climate change, sometimes we deserve a little solace in the form of some juicy beef-and-cheese.
Well, it’s high time to find another end-of-the-world comfort food, because a new report throws into stark relief the reality of what American eating habits are doing to the planet. According to The Huffington Post, a newly released report states that three of the largest meat and dairy producers in the U.S. are some of the biggest contributors to climate change. According to the report:
The climate footprint of oil and gas giants such as Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP are well-known, but food companies have faced far less scrutiny. The world’s five largest meat and dairy companies combined, including Tyson, Cargill and Dairy Farmers of America, are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions every year than any of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.
This comes on the heels of the United Nations’ dire announcement earlier this week that we have 12 years to prevent absolute environmental “catastrophe.” This announcement has, in turn, led sites such as CNN to suggest individual changes in order to curb climate change. (Which has, again, led people to tweet that CNN is f*cking up by asking people to change.)
But climate scientists—aka experts on the matter—have suggested that cutting back on meat and dairy is essential. Citizens in the U.S. and U.K. need to “cut consumption of beef by 90 percent and consumption of milk by 60 percent to keep global warming at or below 2 degrees Celsius.”
So, yes, while major companies need to be forced to change, so do regular old people.
It’s no secret that modern agriculture does more harm than good; bovine flatulence has long been known to be a leading cause of the production of greenhouse gases. And while, yes, large corporations need to be regulated to the gills in order to prevent malpractice, Americans also need to act. Particularly because meat consumption is up in 2018.
When we talk about climate change, its causes, and what we can do to stop it, often you’ll see articles talking about large oil companies such as Exxon or BP, and what we, as individuals, should do at home. And while it’s frustrating to feel like we’re being asked to change our individual lives to try to combat these titans of pollution, the reality is that we are part of climate change, as this study shows. Cutting back on (if not completely cutting out) meat and dairy is something individuals can and should do: if we greatly reduce our intake of these large-footprint foods, we’ll reduce Tyson, Cargill, and DFA’s demand, therefore reducing their production—which is essential to curbing climate change’s most disastrous outcomes.
No snowflake thinks it’s to blame for the avalanche. After all, it’s just one snowflake. But with such horrifying news, it’s time for us to confront our role in creating this environmental disaster, put down the cheeseburger and chill a little.