It is human nature to ignore problems that we don’t see: out of sight, out of mind.  But what happens when turning a blind eye creates a bigger problem down the road, and what if that “problem” is not “problematic,” not “disastrous,” but cataclysmic? That’s what’s in store due to our collective ignoring of global warming.

According to a new NASA study, “a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers…from melting into the sea.”

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These sheets contain enough ice to raise sea level by 4 feet and, according to NASA scientists, are melting way faster than expected. What that means for us: Say goodbye to vacations at beach hotels in Miami – the Florida Department of Transportation says flood damage from rising sea level will be an issue in just 35 years, and residents are already saying that it’s a problem. Other major cities with waterfront views, from New York City to the Chesapeake Bay, will too soon suffer the same fate as well. 

The MANY Problems

But global warming isn’t only an imminent disaster. Around the globe, Mother Nature is already packing a punch:

  1. Iconic Western forests have been decimated because winters aren’t cold enough to kill ravaging beetles
  2. Wildfires in western states are larger and last longer due to warmer temperatures and faster snow melt.
  3. “Super storms” like deadly hurricane Katrina and Sandy have thousands of deaths and uprooted tens of thousands of lives. In the Northeast alone, there has been a 71 percent increase in “very heavy” storms (the top 1 percent) since 1958.

If we continue ignoring the planet’s alarm bells, the hottest temperatures may soon be 10 degrees to 15 degrees hotter across most of the country than during the last 20 years. Among the consequences we face:

  1. Rapid species extinction
  2. More devastating and more frequent droughts
  3. Food scarcity
  4. Extreme risk of water shortages and water quality issues in communities across the country
  5. Rising sea levels due to ice melt will make many coastal communities uninhabitable
  6. The possible reemergence of rare diseases

We can’t all afford hybrid cars, solar energy, or other costly means of lightening our footprint. But there is a choice that we can afford…a choice that, made by enough of us, would dramatically slow climate change. And that is the choice to go vegan. Politicians won’t go near that conversation, because too many of them get their funding from the Koch brothers and the meat, dairy, and energy industries, all of whom stand to lose, big time, if our consumption of animal products plummets.

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A Simple Solution

Dozens of comprehensive studies have proven that meat and dairy production takes a tremendous toll on the planet. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has almost 300 times the global warming potential of CO2, and 37 percent of the methane (23 times more potent than CO2). Meat production emits more greenhouse gases, in fact, than the entire transportation sector. Driving a Prius? Good idea. But the best idea yet? Switching to plant-based eating.

In a recent Huffington Post article, I outlined a few of the ways that our diet has brought us to the verge of collapse. I hope you’ll read it. More hopefully, consider the following:

  • One study looked at what would happen if households in four countries swapped lentils for beef once a week: emissions reductions from this step alone would equal taking 3.7 million cars off the road for a year. Now imagine if the whole world went vegan!
  • A second study suggested that if Europe and America switched to a vegan diet, an area the size of Russia and Canada combined could be freed from use for animal production. What would that mean? It gets a little complicated but here’s the conclusion:  If the switch had been made in 2010 and that land were to regrow as forest by 2030, it would have soaked up enough CO2 and reduced enough methane that the costs of reducing climate change would have dropped by 70 percent by 2050.  Can I hear a ”whoa……”?

Many of us are coming to veganism because participating in systemic torture is morally unacceptable. Others are waking up to the importance of a plant-based diet for optimal health. But here’s the terrifying truth, friends:  for our very survival, there is no time left for a slow transition to veganism.

Help us save the planet. The politicians, in the pocket of big business, won’t do it. But we can.

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Are you in?

Try these tips for beginning this vital journey, or e-mail Linda Soper-Kolton at [email protected]. She’s our certified vegan chef and head of Compassionate Cuisine at CAS. An inspired cook and a wonderful teacher, she’ll give you all the support you need.

You can also find many delicious recipes to make the transition right here on OGP.

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Image source:  Marco Bernardini/Wikipedia Commons