It seems like every week there is a report about a massive drought, unusual weather, or impending food shortage that rips through the news. While it can be easy to write all of these events as coincidences or simply bad luck, the reality is the majority of them are caused by global climate change. The fact that humans have fundamentally altered the earth’s natural climate is becoming more and more difficult to ignore and although there are still debates over the validity of “global warming,” we simply cannot afford to hold off on making plans to protect ourselves.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York metro area has been forced to build infrastructure and systems that would protect the city and surrounding coastal regions from another such disaster. Considering the water in New York Harbor could be a foot higher by 2030, and 71,500 buildings worth more than $100 billion are located in high-risk flood zones, city planners have no choice but to take action to bolster the city against large-scale flood disasters. Adding to the urgency of this problem, it is estimated that the sea level is rising 50 percent faster around New York than the global average. In short, New York needs to build a strong defense against this growing water wall … and needs to build it fast.

So, in response to this growing problem, a collaborative team of architects, designers, and city-planners headed by Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group, has proposed a project called “The Big U.” This project was the winning submission in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild by Design contest. Essentially, the Big U is a giant wall that would stretch from 42nd Street on the East Side to 57th Street on the West Side, creating a protective perimeter around the city. The structure would have a fun and colorful design that would entertain visitors – but as you might imagine, building a full wall around the city is a huge undertaking and comes at the steep price tag of $540 million.

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The high cost of the project may derail the execution of this project, but it calls to mind the question of how we as individuals can combat climate change. While there is no doubt that we will likely need to create infrastructures like the Big U to truly fortify cities and coastal areas as global sea levels rise, we can all take action to protect against the worst impacts of climate change – and hopefully slow the pace of this water rise.

The Big U might be a solution to the symptoms of climate change, but why settle for a band-aid when we could instead work to solve this problem at its source?

 One Green Planet believes that our global food system dominated by industrial animal agriculture is at the heart of our environmental crisis. This destructive industry currently occupies over half of the world’s arable land resources, uses the majority of our freshwater stores, and drives greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, this system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction.

“The real war against climate change is being fought on our plates, multiple times a day with every food choice we make,” said Nil Zacharias, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet, ”one of the biggest challenges facing our planet, and our species is that we are knowingly eating ourselves into extinction, and doing very little about it.”

By choosing to eat more plant-based foods, you can drastically cut your carbon footprint and help abate rising global temperatures that are driving sea level rise. We might not all be able to help build fortresses around the places we call home, but we can help combat climate change every day with our food choices. With the wealth of available plant-based options available, it has never been easier to eat with the planet in mind.

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Lead image source: Quinoa and Pinto Bean Cheeseburger