How much meat do you eat? Many Americans eat meat every day, but common foods like beef and pork could soon be replaced by… insects!
While some people around the world eat insects, most people living in the US would find this idea to be, well, disgusting. Though Americans are certainly not used to consuming bugs, some are suggesting that one day we might have to change our diets.
Have you ever thought about how meat gets from the farm to your table? The United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a report suggesting that livestock farming could be contributing to climate change, and that nations need to reconsider how they are using land.
The panel has released the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), which advises the world’s nations to alter land usage and reduce the consumption of meat. The report states that farming and forestry cause 23% of human carbon emissions, which many scientists think cause climate change. According to the report, changes to land usage and diet must be part of the solution to catastrophic climate change.
One of the authors of the report, Cynthia Rosenzweig, said at a press conference, that “diets present a major opportunity for reducing greenhouse gasses as well because diets that are rich in plant-based foods emit lower greenhouse gas emissions than diets that are very heavy in red meat consumption.”
This is not the first time the UN has proposed changes to our food to save the planet. In 2018, a team of scientists suggested replacing meat with insects. Beef is higher up in the food chain and, therefore, highly energy-intensive to farm. By comparison, insects are efficient and can produce a protein-rich diet with much fewer resources.
In the meantime, politicians are seizing on food as the new frontier for carbon taxation. Germany is considering introducing a 19% meat tax to combat climate change. This would be a large increase, as its current tax on meat is only 7%.
US politicians are also looking at proposing changes to agriculture due to worries about climate change. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) recently released a plan to de-carbonizing American farming. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and former Vice President Joe Biden have also targeted agriculture as part of their climate policies.
While these suggested changes to agriculture have been prompted by climate change, not all scientists agree that climate change is a problem. Fossil fuels like coal and oil send carbon into the environment, which many scientists think is causing the Earth to get warmer. However, it has been found that 60% of global human emissions have disappeared! No-one fully understands why, but the most likely suspects are the oceans and a rapidly greening earth. Most plants evolved during a time when the CO2-levels were about ten times higher than today, and our emissions have therefore boosted growth dramatically. According to a 2018 study, new vegetation corresponding to two times the area of the US had grown in the last 35 years.
Luckily, we don’t have to stop eating meat yet, unless we want to. What do you think it would be like to eat insects – delicious or disgusting?