Climate

Two scientific publications to consider

While these summaries are both very, very different in their focus areas, they both describe climate change. One is a historical perspective going back 66 million years (way back!), two is about human diet and how that impacts climate (with some advice).

One: High-fidelity record of Earth’s climate history puts current changes in context

Summary: Quote – “Scientists have compiled a continuous, high-fidelity record of variations in Earth’s climate extending 66 million years into the past. The record reveals four distinctive climate states, which the researchers dubbed Hothouse, Warmhouse, Coolhouse, and Icehouse. These major climate states persisted for millions and sometimes tens of millions of years, and within each one the climate shows rhythmic variations corresponding to changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun.”

The question I asked as I was reading the article, “where are we now?”

Answer: “For the past 3 million years, Earth’s climate has been in an Icehouse state characterized by alternating glacial and interglacial periods. Modern humans evolved during this time, but greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities are now driving the planet toward the Warmhouse and Hothouse climate states not seen since the Eocene epoch, which ended about 34 million years ago. During the early Eocene, there were no polar ice caps, and average global temperatures were 9 to 14 degrees Celsius higher than today. “The IPCC projections for 2300 in the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario will potentially bring global temperature to a level the planet has not seen in 50 million years,” Zachos said.”

Two: Dietary changes could produce big offsets to carbon emissions

Summary: “Eating less meat and dairy products in favor of plant-based proteins like those found in grains, legumes and nuts could make a huge difference in how much carbon dioxide reaches the atmosphere, research by Oregon State University shows.”

Now, that is a recommendation true to my heart! (and stomach)

Here’s the problem, “The land required to meet current global demand for meat and dairy-based products constitutes more than 80% of the Earth’s agricultural acreage, according to the research collaboration led by Matthew Hayek of New York University.”

To correct this and its outcome, “If production is shifted to more land-friendly foods, the door opens to the regrowth of native vegetation capable of scrubbing away years of climate-changing fossil fuel emissions.”

The result then would be,

“The largest potential for climate-benefiting forest regrowth is in comparatively wealthy nations. In those countries, cutbacks in meat and dairy production would bring relatively mild impacts on food security, the researchers say, while substantially assisting in capping climate change at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial age levels as called for in the 2016 Paris Agreement.

“We can think of shifting our eating habits toward land-friendly diets as a supplement to developing green energy, rather than a substitute,” Hayek said. “Restoring native forests could buy some much-needed time for countries to transition their energy grids to renewable, fossil-free infrastructure.”

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