You don't need to spend any money. You don't need congress to act. All you have to do is demonstrate leadership by challenging Americans (again and again) to help lower our carbon footprint. Inform Americans that one of the easiest ways to do so is to
eat less animal products (particularly beef and pork);
and, to buy the ones they do eat from environmentally sustainable, local sources when possible.
Mr. President, doing so is the right thing to do for both future generations of Americans and the other nations of our world. Like many, I was surprised to learn of the impact of the industrialized livestock production processes on the environment and our country's carbon footprint.
The UN study from 2006 entitled, "Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns" is thorough and convincing (see link below).
Then, in 2009, a second study was done for the World Bank with even more alarming figures.
A new report done for the World Bank in 2012 led the Managing Director of the IMF to comment "unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted toasted, fried and grilled" at the most recent World Economic Forum in Davos.
The President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, urged you to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a January 24, 2013 Washington Post Opinion:
" Even as global climate negotiations continue, there is a need for urgent action outside the conventions. People everywhere must focus on where we will get the most impact to reduce emissions and build resilience in cities, communities and countries.
Strong leadership must come from the six big economies that account for two-thirds of the energy sector’s global carbon dioxide emissions. President Obama’s reference in his inaugural address this week to addressing climate and energy could help reignite this critical conversation domestically and abroad. "
Industrialized livestock production puts extreme pressure on our natural resources as well. To produce the beef that we ate in 2012, we may have used 1.3 trillion gallons of water. Countless more are polluted with herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, sewage, etc.
I applaud former President Bill Clinton and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the example they have set by moving to a plant based diet and speaking out about the health benefits. This type of diet (vegan) keeps you food carbon footprint low and allows one to support, local sustainable farming which is important if we are to arrest climate change.
On the other hand, a lot of people, like me, don't have heart disease or want to exclude all animal products from their diets. And, I have heard that for young women, some red meat is important. People should consult their physicians before making dietary changes. But, do we need to eat so much meat?
On average, Americans consume about 5.8 pounds of meat and poultry each week (excluding vegetarians). Yeah, that's like eating three quarter pound burgers or pulled pork sandwiches per day, every day! Granted, some of that meat is not eaten, like bones, fat, waste, etc. But, does a family of four really need over 23 lbs. of meat every week? If we set a target for our nation to cut back 10%, it would be a step in the right direction. Those people who want to help heal our planet would gladly chose to eat a bit less meat each week.
Food and water security, human health, and climate change are interrelated. The Meatless Monday movement encourages people to start their week right by pledging to not eat meat on Mondays. The idea is to encourage participants to focus on making better choices for health and the environment on Monday so that those ideas can be incorporated the remainder of the week.
To be clear, where we can make a difference, is to get the information out so that people can begin to think about their own family's carbon footprint (vehicle choices, where they buy food and what they are buying, saving energy in their homes and businesses, reducing driving and flying, etc.). Having done so, I am confident that many fellow Americans will start to make more appropriate choices because it's the right thing to do.
Mr. President, please help save our children from "Hell and High-water". Speaking of which ...
oh yeah, just say "NO!" to the Keystone XL Pipeline.