#sacrifice2survive The news media is missing a big part of the climate crisis story — what you can do

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Here’s a hint about one big way you can reduce emissions and slow climate change. And 7018 would thank you. Photo by Ryan McGuire via Pixabay.

It’s easy to feel hopeless when you tune in to the news media’s coverage of the climate crisis.

Each week it seems there’s a new story about how many millions of people will die and how many thousands of species will go extinct because of global heating. With each story, the world becomes more uncertain and more uncontrollable.

So, instead, we tune out. And that’s because journalists aren’t covering this disaster like they would any other disaster. But there’s something you can do today to help change that.

In a disaster, we want to know what we can do right now to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe. And journalists usually work hard to meet that need. When western North America was choked by wildfire smoke, reporters reminded the public to “stay indoors.” When the Midwest was flooded by rainstorms, reporters quoted sources who told the public to “move to higher ground.” And when Europe was scorched by extreme heat waves, reporters reminded the public to “drink cold drinks regularly.”

What many reporters aren’t doing as regularly is reminding the public about the ways they can reduce the future severity and frequency of such disasters, each of which was fuelled by global heating.

For example, in May an Australian think tank warned the temperature and weather changes caused by that heating could, by 2050, create a world of “‘outright chaos’ on a path to the end of human civilization and modern society as we have known it.”

But few in the media told their traumatized audiences what they could do in their own day-to-day lives to help prevent that frightening future.

Given this lack of information, is it any wonder we feel hopeless? Is it any wonder we wait for someone to do something about the climate crisis? And is it any wonder we think that someone can’t be us?

So what information should reporters be providing to change that? Well, scientists have clearly identified what we, as individuals, can do each day to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We should give up driving our cars. We should give up travelling by plane. And we should give up eating meat.

Because these are three of the things we regularly do that damage our world the most.

It’s true that not everyone may be able to make each of those changes. Some of us, for example, can’t give up driving because we live in a rural community or away from a bus route, while others aren’t well enough to walk, or earn their living driving. Some may also find it difficult to give up eating meat because of a medical condition. And then there are those who can’t give up travelling by plane because it’s part of their job.

But each of us must try, doing everything possible to turn those can’ts into wills.

That’s because, according to a 2017 study, these three things add 4.4 tonnes to your annual greenhouse gas emissions, assuming you go on a single roundtrip transatlantic flight each year.

To put that in perspective, a recently released Institute for Global Environmental Strategies report found that by 2030 we must have reduced our individual annual emissions to less than 2.5 tonnes to keep global heating below 1.5 C.

Just by changing what you eat and how you travel, you can do a lot to keep the world safe. It doesn’t require government action. It doesn’t require industry action. It doesn’t even require new technology. You just have to change your behaviour. That doesn’t mean, though, that government and industry don’t need to act. They do. But these individual changes could have an immense impact.

For example, a team of United States scientists calculated what would happen if every American replaced the beef they ate with beans. In their 2017 study, they found that one food change could likely get the U.S. almost halfway — and perhaps three-quarters of the way — to meeting former president Barack Obama’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions goal.

Similarly, according to a 2016 Oxford University study, more than a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions come from our food system. If everyone gave up eating meat, those emissions would plummet 63 per cent by 2050. MORE

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The Guardian view on meat substitutes: guts without the gore

In the developed world we should take heart from people’s willingness to try new, vegan foodstuffs – and from the success of the companies that make them


Diet is among lifestyle changes urgently needed if developed nations are to have a hope of meeting targets for reduced carbon emissions.’ Photograph: Seth Perlman/AP

The Seventh-day Adventist church in the US adheres historically to vegetarianism, in large part to the teachings of a co-founder of the church – Ellen G White – who advocated for meat-free diet habits following a prophetic vision. Mrs White apparently thought eating animal flesh would “excite and strengthen the lower passions” and had “the tendency to deaden the moral powers”. For almost a decade from the late 19th century a slice of America was marketed and brought up on meat substitutes such as Nuteena, a peanut-based loaf, along with Wham, Tuno, FriChick and Big Franks. While there has always been a market for growing numbers of vegetarians and vegans worldwide, the cause of meat-free diets has been given in recent years a rocket boost, not by religion but by reason.

Diet is among lifestyle changes urgently needed if developed nations are to have a hope of meeting targets for reduced carbon emissions, a must to halt global heating. Every environmentalist and a great many ordinary people – including plenty of non-vegetarians – know that grains, vegetables and pulses including soya ought to soon form a far larger share of the typical western diet than they do at present. Industrialised agriculture and livestock farming are massively carbon-intensive activities. While the UN estimates they cause 23% of global emissions, critics believe this is an underestimate and the true total is far higher.

Last week KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) became the latest fast food giant to announce that it is working on new products based on meat substitutes: in this case, “Beyond Fried Chicken”, a vegan nugget developed in partnership with California-based company Beyond Meat. Following Burger King’s launch this year of the meat-free Whopper, with ingredients supplied by Beyond Meat’s main competitor, Impossible Foods, the KFC announcement confirms what was already clear: there is real momentum, and money, behind the growth of plant-based alternatives to meat.

Veganism in the UK is nothing new. But for some people it is changing our food landscape too fast. Last year the bakery chain Greggs faced criticism for selling a vegan sausage roll filled with meat-free Quorn. When a row between food writer Selene Nelson and Waitrose magazine editor William Sitwell exploded into headlines after Mr Sitwell sent such a rude reply to a proposal for a vegan recipe series, he resigned. It is ridiculous to treat shoppers for pastry snacks as warriors in a culture war.

The structural shifts required to address the climate crisis will not be made in bakeries. The countries that drove the global rise in the consumption of animal products in the past are not the ones that will do so in future. But that doesn’t mean the rich world can go on eating beef and lamb with impunity, any more than we can continue to fly around the world without thinking about the harm that air traffic entails. Instead, we should take heart from the instances in which behaviour change is a message that consumers are willing to consider (the reduction in plastic bag use is another). Greggs’ shares jumped more than 13% between February and March this year, and the company is working on a vegan version of its steak bake. Bring it on.

10 new innovations that will shape a more sustainable future

The new technology that will make an impact in the next five years

Virtual reality experiences that encourage sustainable behaviour is just one of the innovations at the forefront of sustainability innovation.
Virtual reality experiences that encourage sustainable behaviour is just one of the innovations at the forefront of sustainability innovation.

From alternative energy sources to immersive artificial experiences designed to change behaviour, sustainable innovations aim to drastically reduce the effects of human life on planet Earth.

Renewable energy use needs to increase six times to achieve sustainability goals laid down by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Rapidly improving energy efficiency will contribute a percentage of the progress required.

But the importance of new technology and innovation has never been greater to limit the average global temperature rise to below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. Mubadala’s development company Masdar is central to many new developments and innovations in the UAE.

It has commissioned a report on the top 10 sustainable innovations likely to make the greatest impact over the next five years. MORE