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In a little more than five years – sometime in early 2029 – the world will likely be unable to stay below the internationally agreed temperature limit for global warming if it continues to burn fossil fuels at its current rate, a new study says.
The study moves three years closer the date when the world will eventually hit a critical climate threshold, which is an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 1800s.
Beyond that temperature increase, the risks of catastrophes increase, as the world will likely lose most of its coral reefs, a key ice sheet could kick into irreversible melt, and water shortages, heat waves and death from extreme weather dramatically increase, according to an earlier United Nations scientific report.
The planet is heating up faster than predicted, says scientist who sounded climate alarm in the 1980s
The planet is on track to heat up at a much faster rate than scientists have previously predicted, meaning a key global warming threshold could be breached this decade, according to a new study co-authored by James Hansen — the US scientist widely credited with being the first to publicly sound the alarm on the climate crisis in the 1980s.
In the paper, published Thursday in the journal Oxford Open Climate Change, Hansen and more than a dozen other scientists used a combination of paleoclimate data, including data from polar ice cores and tree rings, climate models and observational data, to conclude that the Earth is much more sensitive to climate change than previously understood.
“We are in the early phase of a climate emergency,” according to the report, which warns a surge of heat “already in the pipeline” will rapidly push global temperatures beyond what has been predicted, resulting in warming that exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in the 2020s, and above 2 degrees Celsius before 2050.
‘We are afraid:’ Earth’s vital signs are now in ‘uncharted territory,’ climate scientists warn
The East Bay Times
[…] This year has presented stark evidence that Earth is already in “uncharted territory” with climate change, scientists say, to the point that unless major progress is made to reduce greenhouse emissions, parts of the world that are home to one-third to one-half of the global population could face extreme heat, food shortages and water shortages by the end of this century.
That’s the conclusion of a new study from researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions around the world, that has been drawing growing attention since its publication last week.
“As scientists, we are increasingly being asked to tell the public the truth about the crises we face in simple and direct terms,” the researchers wrote. “The truth is that we are shocked by the ferocity of the extreme weather events in 2023. We are afraid of the uncharted territory that we have now entered.”
Of 35 vital signs of planetary health, 20 are at record levels, and most in an environmentally harmful way, the scientists concluded. Although renewable energy is increasing and rainforest depletion is slowing, ocean acidity, glacier thickness, and Greenland’s ice mass all fell to record lows over the past two years, while greenhouse gas emissions, sea level rise and ocean temperatures rose to record highs.
What’s needed is a much faster phase-out of coal, oil and other fossil fuels, the researchers said in the study, which was published in the journal Bioscience. They also recommended increased protections for the world’s forests, more people eating plant-based diets, financial assistance to help the poorest countries deal with extreme weather disasters, and more family planning and women’s education to voluntarily slow population growth.
“We are in dire straits but it’s not too late,” said William Ripple, lead author of the paper and a professor at the Oregon State University College of Forestry. “The work we do now will make a huge difference.”
Banks pumped more than $150bn in to companies running ‘carbon bomb’ projects in 2022
Banks pumped more than $150bn last year into companies whose giant “carbon bomb” projects could destroy the last chance of stopping the planet heating to dangerous levels, the Guardian can reveal.
The carbon bombs – 425 extraction projects that can each pump more than one gigaton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – cumulatively hold enough coal, oil and gas to burn through the rapidly dwindling carbon budget four times over. Between 2016 and 2022, banks mainly in the US, China and Europe gave $1.8tn in financing to the companies running them, new research shows. […]
Between 2016 and 2022, the research shows, banks in the US alone were responsible for more than half a trillion dollars of finance to companies planning or operating carbon bombs. The single biggest financier was JPMorgan Chase, providing more than $141bn, followed by Citi, with $119bn, and Bank of America, with $92bn. Wells Fargo was the seventh-biggest financier, with $62bn.
‘It’s Like Our Country Exploded’: Canada’s Year of Fire
The New York Times Magazine
[…] It was, all told, an ecologically unprecedented event. By the end of September, more than half of the world’s countries could fit inside the land burned this year in the Canadian wilderness. Since the 1970s, the average area burned in the country had already doubled; this year, wildfires consumed that average six times over. The modern single-year record had been set in 1989, when almost 19 million acres burned across the country. In 2023, the total has passed 45 million.
“I can’t think of any analogy for the extent to which the modern records were not only broken but destroyed here,” says the fire scientist John Abatzoglou, who in July told me that the 8.8 million hectares on fire was “chart redefining,” then watched as the burn area doubled from there. The fire historian Stephen Pyne calls it “mythology becoming ecology” — “a slow-motion Ragnarok.”
The climate activist Tzeporah Berman put it even more sharply to me: “It’s like our country exploded.”
Humans Are Disrupting Natural ‘Salt Cycle’ on Global Scale, New Study Shows
University of Maryland
Society’s demand for salt comes at a cost to both the environment and human health, according to a new scientific review led by a University of Maryland geologist.
Published Tuesday in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, the study led by Professor Sujay Kaushal revealed that human activities are making Earth’s air, soil and freshwater saltier, which could pose an “existential threat” if current trends continue.
Geologic and hydrologic processes bring salts to Earth’s surface over time, but human activities such as mining and land development are rapidly accelerating this natural “salt cycle.” Agriculture, construction, water and road treatment, and other industrial activities can also intensify salinization, which harms biodiversity and makes drinking water unsafe in extreme cases.
“If you think of the planet as a living organism, when you accumulate so much salt it could affect the functioning of vital organs or ecosystems,” said Kaushal… “Removing salt from water is energy-intensive and expensive, and the brine byproduct you end up with is saltier than ocean water and can’t be easily disposed of.”
SoCal's beautiful coast has a hidden secret: The 'barrens' of climate change
In Southern California ‒ among the most studied bodies of water in the world ‒ the interplay of El Niño, warmer water and competition among native species suggests climate change may not just create losers, and that some species may thrive under the new conditions.
Off San Diego's coast, underwater kelp forests are diminishing due to climate change and other factors, but resilient urchins are still thriving for now. […]
Oceanographers say there's been an 80% loss of kelp across a 25-mile-wide section of the Southern California coastline they've studied over the past 40 years. Scientists have been warning for years these sea urchin-caused "barrens" or deserts pose a risk to marine biodiversity, especially when combined with the larger impacts of climate change.
Climate crisis: carbon emissions budget is now tiny, scientists say
The carbon budget remaining to limit the climate crisis to 1.5C of global heating is now “tiny”, according to an analysis, sending a “dire” message about the adequacy of climate action.
The carbon budget is the maximum amount of carbon emissions that can be released while restricting global temperature rise to the limits of the Paris agreement. The new figure is half the size of the budget estimated in 2020 and would be exhausted in six years at current levels of emissions. […]
The analysis found the carbon budget remaining for a 50% chance of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C is about 250bn tonnes. Global emissions are expected to reach a record high this year of about 40bn tonnes. To retain the 50% chance of a 1.5C limit, emissions would have to plunge to net zero by 2034, far faster than even the most radical scenarios.
Who Were the Worst of the Worst Climate Polluters in 2022?
Inside Climate News
Emissions from the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the U.S. were down slightly in 2022, but thousands of industrial facilities with substantial emissions remain, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data.
Emissions from large industrial sources decreased by approximately 1 percent to 2.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022, according to the annual update of emissions data released on Oct. 5. The data represents emissions from 7,586 industrial facilities across nearly all sectors of the economy and represents about half of all U.S. emissions. […]
The assessment also identified top emitters of CO2 and methane, the two leading drivers of climate change, from each of several significant sectors of the economy for greenhouse gas emissions—refineries, steel mills and liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals and underground gas storage facilities.
Caterpillars struggle to survive climate change, says study
Research on nature reserves and at an allotment has revealed how susceptible caterpillars are to climate change. The University of Cambridge study found the larvae are "really bad at temperature regulation" making them less likely to survive extreme weather.
Dr Esme Ashe-Jepson said this could result in fewer "beautiful, charismatic butterflies", impacting on pollination and the birds which eat caterpillars…
"We found that caterpillars are really bad at temperature regulation, unable to warm up when they get too cold or cool down when they get too warm," said Dr Ashe-Jepson, from the university's Department of Zoology. "This means that if a heatwave occurs, they become trapped on their food plants, like an island - and they cook."
Dr Ashe-Jepson began the research, published in Ecology and Evolution, because she realised there was "a huge gap in our understanding" relating to the impact of extreme hot and cold weather on larvae.
Forests are vital to protect the climate, yet the world is falling far behind its targets
The world is falling behind on commitments to protect and restore forests, according to the recent Forest Declaration Assessment. There is no serious pathway to fixing climate change while forest losses continue at current rates, because global climate targets, sustainable development goals and forest commitments depend on each other.
But it isn’t too late. The Assessment was published alongside the Forest Pathways Report I led for conservation organisation the WWF, which sets out a blueprint for how we turn our global forest failures around and get on track to protected, restored and sustainably managed forests.
Around 1.6 billion people live close enough to forests to depend upon them for their livelihoods, and forests suck down about a third of our CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels… Despite this, subsidies still provide incentives for people to convert forests into agriculture.
Climate change is turning swaths of California’s mountains into ‘zombie forests’
Los Angeles Times
There’s something eerie about this forest in the southern Sierra Nevada. Tangles of bony branches obscure the ground. Dead trees stand gray and bristly. An aura of doom hangs over the green conifers that remain.
The expanse of Sierra National Forest near Shaver Lake is a relic of the climate before global warming. Scientists believe that the conifers won’t be able to survive the current conditions. Researchers at Stanford University found in a recent study that roughly one-fifth of all conifer forests in the Sierra are mismatched with the warmer climate and have become “zombie forests.”
“The name ‘zombie forest’ is kind of kitschy, but I’ve come to find that it is haunting,” said ecologist Avery Hill, who co-wrote the study while pursuing a doctorate at Stanford. […]
The findings indicate that these lower-elevation Sierra conifer forests, which include ponderosa pine, sugar pine and Douglas fir, are no longer able to successfully reproduce. Conditions have become too warm and dry to support conifer saplings, whose shallow roots require plenty of water if they are to survive into adulthood, Hill said.
Amazon deforestation linked to long distance climate warming
University of Leeds
Deforestation in the Amazon causes land surfaces up to 100 kilometres away to get warmer, according to a new study.
The research, by a team of British and Brazilian scientists, led by Dr Edward Butt at the University of Leeds, suggests that tropical forests play a critical role in cooling the land surface - and that effect can play out over considerable distances.
It is known that when tropical forests are cleared, the climate in the immediate vicinity gets warmer.
In this latest study, the researchers wanted to know if deforestation in the Amazon was resulting in climate warming further afield, and the study examined the impact of forest loss on sites up to 100 kilometres away.
In Brazil town turning to desert, farmers fight to hang on
Standing amid a terrain of rugged red craters that looks like something from Mars, Brazilian farmer Ubiratan Lemos Abade extends his arms, pointing to two possible futures for this land fast turning to desert.
Abade, a 65-year-old cattle rancher, lives in Brazil's worst desertification hotspot: Gilbues, in the northeastern state of Piaui, where a parched, canyon-pocked landscape is swallowing up farms and residences, claiming an area bigger than New York City.
Experts say the phenomenon is caused by rampant erosion of the region's naturally fragile soil, exacerbated by deforestation, reckless development and probably climate change. […]
"Things have gone haywire. It's not raining the way it used to. So we use irrigation. Without that, we wouldn't get by," says Abade.
NASA Flights Link Methane Plumes to Tundra Fires in Western Alaska
In Alaska’s largest river delta, tundra that has been scorched by wildfire is emitting more methane than the rest of the landscape long after the flames died, scientists have found. The potent greenhouse gas can originate from decomposing carbon stored in permafrost for thousands of years. Its release could accelerate climate warming and lead to more frequent wildfires in the tundra, where blazes have been historically rare.
The new study was conducted by a team of scientists working as part of NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), a large-scale study of environmental change in Alaska and Western Canada. Researchers found that methane hot spots were roughly 29% more likely to occur in tundra that had been scorched by wildfire in the past 50 years compared to unburned areas. The correlation nearly tripled in areas where a fire burned to the edge of a lake, stream, or other standing-water body. The highest ratio of hot spots occurred in recently burned wetlands.
‘Stop the madness’: UN chief warns Nepal’s mountains have lost one-third of their ice
Nepal's snow-capped mountains have lost close to one-third of their ice in over 30 years due to global warming, the UN Secretary-General warned today.
António Guterres delivered his message during a visit to the area near Mount Everest, the world's highest peak.
Climate scientists say the Earth's temperature has increased by an average of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years, but warming across South Asia's Himalayas has been greater than the global averages.
"I am here today to cry out from the rooftop of the world: stop the madness," the UN chief said via video message, calling for an end to the "fossil fuel age".
As Climate Talks Near, Calls Mount for a ‘Phaseout’ of Fossil Fuels
Yale Environment 360
It is boom time in the deserts of New Mexico and West Texas, where vast oil reserves buried in the Permian geological basin are getting a second life, thanks to fracking. Though tapped for more than a century, the basin still contains the largest oil reserve in the United States, and one of the largest in the world. Output has tripled in a decade. And big oil appears determined to tap every last drop. […]
These developments — often called “carbon bombs” for their potential to supercharge the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere — are among the largest of hundreds set to expand global production of fossil fuels in the next few years. They help explain why, even as renewable energy production soars, CO2 emissions remain stubbornly high — rising by 1 percent last year.
The promises made by governments at UN climate conferences to deliver net-zero emissions by mid-century are clearly not yet delivering. Critics say they are too nebulous and hold nobody to account, especially in the short term.
Honolulu climate case against oil cos can go to trial -Hawaii top court
Hawaii's highest court has allowed a lawsuit by Honolulu accusing fossil fuel companies, including Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and Shell Plc, of deceiving the public about climate change to go ahead to trial.
In a unanimous opinion on Tuesday, the Hawaii Supreme Court rejected the companies' argument that the lawsuit seeks to regulate emissions or interstate commerce, powers reserved for the federal government.
It said the case instead focused on allegedly misleading statements the companies made, which Honolulu claims led to climate change-caused property and infrastructure damage.
"This case concerns torts committed in Hawaii that caused alleged injuries in Hawaii," Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald wrote for the court.
Pennsylvania court permanently blocks regulatory effort to make power plants pay for greenhouse gas emissions
Pennsylvania cannot enforce a regulation to make power plant owners pay for their planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, a state court ruled Wednesday, dealing another setback to the centerpiece of former Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to fight global warming.
The Commonwealth Court last year temporarily blocked Pennsylvania from becoming the first major fossil fuel-producing state to adopt a carbon-pricing program, and the new ruling makes that decision permanent.
The ruling is a victory for Republican lawmakers and coal-related interests that argued that the carbon-pricing plan amounted to a tax, and therefore would have required legislative approval. Wolf, a Democrat, had sought to get around legislative opposition by unconstitutionally imposing the requirement through a regulation, they said.
How Montreal Built a Blueprint for Bargain Rapid Transit
This summer, Montreal opened the first phase of its new rapid transit system, the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). Riders can now catch sweeping views of the city on the fully automated train, which runs elevated from downtown to the suburbs south of the St. Lawrence River. Though this first phase is only a small part of the overall network under construction, the REM is already serving 30,000 riders every day.
But the REM is more than a useful new transit line for Quebec’s largest city. It is in many ways unprecedented among recent North American transit projects, and bears valuable lessons for other cities.
First, at 42 miles in total, the REM is far larger than the subway extensions that many cities have seen in recent years… But by far the most important reason to pay attention to the REM is its cost. Even after the just-announced increase to C$7.95 billion ($5.82 billion) its price tag is a mere C$119 million per kilometer, or $139 million per mile. According to data from the Transit Costs Project at New York University’s Marron Institute, the costs of other North American transit projects are literally multiples of that. […]
Another factor in the cost savings relates to the speed of delivery. […] Strong political backing from all levels of government was also critical.
L.N.G. exports may well be worse for the environment than burning coal
Bill McKibben at The New Yorker
The Biden Administration faces one of its most profound climate choices this autumn: Should it continue to allow the expansion of liquefied-natural-gas exports, or should it halt the rapid buildout of this industry at least until it can come up with new guidelines? The stakes are enormous—the buildout of L.N.G. infrastructure in the United States is by far the largest example of fossil-fuel expansion currently proposed anywhere in the world. But there’s some new data that may make the Administration’s choice easier—or certainly starker.
The data are from an analysis by Robert Warren Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell who is one of the world’s premier methane scientists. The analysis attempts to establish the greenhouse-gas footprint of L.N.G. exported to Europe and Asia, and the numbers presented are astonishing. Coal-fired power has long been the standard for measuring climate damage: when burned, coal releases carbon dioxide into the air in large quantities. In recent years, Howarth has demonstrated that, domestically, natural gas is no better for the climate than coal, largely owing to the methane leaks associated with it; now, though, it appears that exporting L.N.G., because of the extra leakage of the supercooled gas during transit, could allow even larger amounts of methane to escape into the atmosphere and, hence, could do much more damage to the climate than coal does. The leaks come at every stage of the process, Howarth explains. Even once the gas is compressed aboard ship in insulated tanks, some of it “boils off” as heat leaks through the insulation. Newer tankers try to burn that boiled-off methane for fuel, but even then, Howarth says, some of it is emitted unburned in the exhaust stream. He notes, “It all adds up.”
Wind Power, Key to Climate-Change Goals, Faces a Crisis
The New York Times
[…] An assortment of recent obstacles to projects in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are almost certain to delay — and possibly derail — Northeastern states’ grand ambitions to harness the winds blowing over the Atlantic Ocean.
Four projects that were supposed to provide electricity to New York City and its suburbs are in limbo after being denied big increases in subsidies. And on Tuesday, the world’s biggest developer of offshore wind farms shocked New Jersey officials by backing out of two projects off the state’s southern coast. “Macroeconomic factors” including inflation and rising interest rates had made the projects too expensive, the company said. […]
The nine gigawatts of offshore wind power that New York is chasing was supposed to be a major piece of President Biden’s goal of creating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind nationally by 2030. (The Biden administration says 30 gigawatts could power more than 10 million homes.) That goal was considered unattainable even before the developer, Orsted, backed out of the two New Jersey projects, which the company said would have produced 2.25 gigawatts.
The Arctic Is Becoming One Giant Construction Site
The New Republic
Nome, Alaska—population 3,600, myself included—is one of the most remote places in North America. Entirely disconnected from the continent’s road system, it has two gas stations, two pizza joints, half a dozen sled-dog teams, and no traffic lights. And soon, Nome’s diminutive harbor, at the upper reaches of the Pacific Ocean, will be able to accommodate any U.S. military vessel smaller than an aircraft carrier.
With funding from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Army Corps of Engineers allocated $250 million last year to build the northernmost deepwater port in the United States. Spending a small fortune to make Nome a fully equipped naval rest stop is emblematic of a larger trend reshaping the High North. An unprecedented infrastructure boom, made possible in part by global warming, is transforming the region into an increasingly militarized and industrial landscape—one where the extraction of natural resources and degradation of the environment are accelerating in tandem.
Drought reveals cracks in Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty as B.C. lake dries up
Victoria Youmans says she hasn't seen Arrow Lakes Reservoir looking so low in more than 20 years.
The resident of Nakusp on the shores of the reservoir in British Columbia's southern Interior says she's seen thousands of dead fish on the shore, and the receding waterline means boat access has been cut to waterfront properties. Instead of lapping waters, some homes now face an expanse of sucking quicksand.
Drought is part of the reason. But so too is the Columbia River Treaty with the United States that obligates B.C. to direct water from the reservoir across the border at American behest.
The grim scenes described by Youmans illustrate the stakes in ongoing talks between Canadian and U.S. negotiators to modernize the 62-year-old treaty, as the increased risk of extreme weather weighs on both sides. Part of the treaty that gives the United States direct control over a portion of the water in Arrow Lakes Reservoir and two other B.C. dams is set to expire in September 2024.
Dengue is spreading in Europe
Dengue typically affects tropical regions — but the disease is currently surging in parts of southern Europe, spreading among people there and reaching areas where it had not been recorded previously.
The mosquito-borne disease, which can cause fever, headaches and fatigue, and kills as many as 40,000 people each year, is not endemic to mainland Europe. Most incidences or small outbreaks originate from travellers who are infected abroad and bring the virus back. But this year, a combination of warm weather conditions and an increase in the number of imported cases has sparked a surge in local infections carried by tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus), which inhabit southern Europe.
“It’s a situation that warrants an awful lot of attention,” says Patricia Schlagenhauf, an epidemiologist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. […]
“At the moment, you have all of those conditions in southern Europe. You have a lot of travellers coming back, you have a local mosquito capable of transmitting the virus, and you also have the right climate and temperature,” she adds. […]
Europe’s long and warm summer this year has created the ideal conditions for A. albopictus mosquitoes to thrive and colonize large urban areas.
As climate threats grow, poor countries still aren't getting enough money to prepare
The world is facing more extreme weather that scientists say is fueled by human-driven climate change. The poorest countries have done the least to cause the problem, but they are being hit the hardest by more intense droughts and floods and storms. Yet as the threats from a warming planet grow, the United Nations says in a new report that less money is being sent to developing countries to help them adapt.
Developing countries, which have less wealth than developed countries like the United States, were promised $100 billion a year from their richer neighbors to help pay for cutting climate pollution and coping with the impacts of rising temperatures. Developed countries didn't deliver on their pledge. In 2021, they actually gave poorer nations 15% less money for climate adaptation than they did the year before. That meant less money for things like flood defenses, drought-resistant crops and early warning systems to help people evacuate emergencies.
The UN estimates the gap between how much money developing countries need to pay for adaptation projects, and the amount of public funding they're getting directly from wealthier countries and from institutions like the World Bank now stands at between $194 billion and $366 billion every year. Put another way, poorer countries need at least 10 times more money for climate adaptation than the $21.3 billion in public funding that they received in 2021.
Years into a climate disaster, these people are eating the unthinkable
The Washington Post
It was 1 p.m., her children still hadn’t eaten, and every item on Nyaguey Dak Kieth’s “long to-do list” pertained to surviving another day. So Nyaguey grabbed a plastic bucket and an empty sack and set off from her village surrounded by floodwater. Those waters had upended her life, but also provided a food option — not a desirable one, but one of the few left.
Water lilies. They’d been keeping her family alive for two years. They were bitter. Hard to digest. They required hours of manual labor — cutting, pounding, drying, sifting — just to be made edible. […]
Climate disasters are often perceived as finite events — with an emergency and a recovery, a beginning and an end. But as these disasters grow in magnitude and frequency, striking poor countries dependent on a stretched humanitarian system, some are no longer just passing crises, but permanent states of being. That dynamic points to the extraordinary stakes in global climate talks, which center on the question of how wealthy nations can foot the bill for climate-related destruction — even when that destruction is chronic.
Why can’t we just quit cows?
Cattle play a colossal role in climate change: As the single largest agricultural source of methane, a potent planet-warming gas, the world’s 940 million cows spew nearly 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions — much of it through belches and droppings.
As such, there’s an astonishing amount of time and money being funneled into emission control. On-farm biodigesters, for example, take a back-end approach by harvesting methane wafting from manure pits. A slew of research aims to curb bovine burps by feeding them seaweed, essential oils, and even a bovine Bean-O of sorts. The latest endeavor, a $70 million effort led by a Nobel laureate, uses gene-editing technology in an effort to eliminate that pollution by re-engineering the animals’ gut microbes.
Given the world’s growing appetite for meat and dairy, these novel ventures are crucial to inching us toward international and national climate goals. Yet they beg the question: Wouldn’t it be easier to ditch milk, cheese and beef for plant-based alternatives? Why fight nature when there’s an easier solution, at least from a scientific perspective?
Research shows that even a modest skew away from meat-based diets can shrink an individual’s carbon footprint as much as 75 percent. As it turns out, however, untangling cows from the climate equation is enormously complicated — especially in the United States, where the industry, worth $275 billion annually, boasts the world’s fourth largest cattle population and is its top beef and dairy producer.