Climate change getting harder to deny, ignore

The scientific research and evidence surrounding climate change is continuing to grow and the devastating impacts that information predicts should not be ignored any longer.

Whatever your position on climate change — whether you believe it, consider it a hoax, think it’s the natural cyclical long-term process of Earth or believe something else entirely — what’s the harm in taking steps toward de-escalating the dangerous ramifications of a warmer planet?

Even if climate change was a hoax, wouldn’t it be wiser to make every effort to avoid those effects, rather maintaining the status quo toward a possibly world-ending future?

A scientific report released by the United Nations looked at how human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading the land, while the way people use the land is making global warming worse, as noted in an article by The Associated Press.

The UN report notes that food is becoming more expensive, scarcer and less nutritious due to the things humans do. However, scientists say if people change the way they eat, grow food and manage forests, it could help save the planet from a far warmer future.

Some of the ways people can address these challenges are not difficult changes to make. For example, one is changing our eating habits toward a healthier plant-based diet and consuming less meat.

Anecdotal evidence may point toward a larger trend in that direction already, as it seems more vegetarian and vegan options are available at restaurants and grocery stores than in the past, while events like Meatless Monday have grown in popularity over the years as a way to decrease the amount of animal-based products we consume.

The UN report, written by more than 100 scientists and unanimously approved by diplomats from nations around the world, states that if people change their diets toward plant-based foods, the world can save as much as 15% of current emissions by 2050. That’s better for the Earth, and can also make people more healthy, experts say.

Improved farming practices — such as no-till agriculture and better targeted fertilizer application — can reduce carbon pollution by up to 18% of current emissions levels by 2050 too, the AP reports.

Another sustenance-based change people can make is by better monitoring and decreasing the amount of food we waste.

The report said that between 2010 and 2016 global food waste accounted for 8 to 10% of heat-trapping emissions.

“Currently 25-30% of total food produced is lost or wasted,” the UN report stated.

It’s a terrible shame that more than a quarter of the world’s food goes in the trash while millions of people go hungry, some dying from starvation.

In the U.S., up to 40% of the food is never eaten, but at the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

There are ways to make your food stretch. Share it with others, store it or find creative ways to incorporate it into new recipes. For tips online, visit https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home.

But food is only part of the solution to keeping climate change in check.

Growing deforestation in the Amazon in places like Brazil, Colombia and Peru is a concern, as are carbon dioxide emissions from the big-money-backed automotive and fossil fuels industries.

For the world to truly “go green,” many things need to change. But small steps we can take right here at home, like watching what we eat or walking instead of driving to work, can go a long way toward keeping that global thermometer from rising.

And isn’t eating a salad instead of a steak a few days a week better than the increased possibility of less nutritious and available foods, expanded deserts, thawing permafrosts, and forests more vulnerable to wildfires, droughts, pests and disease?

If you don’t think so, then that must be a pretty darn good cut of meat.