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Vegetarianism, Methane, Climate Change

Despite my angst of late there is evidence the trend for meat consumption in America is on the decline--a steady decline in fact for the past six years. I had an interesting talk with a person I hold dear a couple days ago. Let's call this person "Person A." Comments in parantheses are my thoughts, not what I said.

Person A: "So did you hear about all the methane being released from the permafrost in Russia?"

Me: "Yes" (About 10 years ago it was predicted to be a problem, so far as I know. I've known it was happening for a couple years now. Couldn't tell you about it, however, because of our different thoughts on politics. Hmmm, where is this conversation going?)

Person A: "Well now they're saying methane could be a greater factor than man-made Carbon Dioxide when it comes to global warming."

Me: "Uh huh." (And it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter amount of time than CO2, so if we want to really take on global climate change in the immediacy we need to deal with methane. I darenot say the next step in this argument train so let's see what Person A says next.)

Person A: "So the jury has reached its verdict: global warming is completely natural and not man made. There's just about nothing we can do about it because it's coming from the permafrost."

Me: "Yeah, it's a problem." (I knew this was too good to be true. Person A, I love you (and damn me Dr. Phil should you so choose for me saying "but" in the same breath as "I love you"), BUT what do you suppose caused that permafrost to melt in the first place? And where do you suppose the majority of the man-made methane in our atmosphere is coming from? Answer key: man-made global warming/climate change; the meat industry. I'll admit that as things stand now, once this permafrost and other clathrates get kicking there won't be much we can do about how mightily this natural methane affects global climate change, but the evidence seems to indicate (check the Washington Post link above) we have a little window of time to try to slow things down--if we can.)

NPR ran a story today about why people refuse to accept scientific evidence that climate change is caused by human driven global warming. It was hardly a scientific examination of demographics or a sociological study of what makes a community refuse to accept science, although some buzzwords were spoken by the skeptic being interviewed. Religion caught my ears, as in a comparison between the evolution vs. creationism controversy. Confusion was another word, as in too much data and not a definitive refutation or clashing of specific claims and evidence.

The NASA climatalogist in the story said, "We'll just keep trying to get the information out there." I'm paraphrasing here but the tone was certainly this: "What else can we do?"

Personally, forget about global climate change and a possible link to the meat industry if you can't buy that. The health statistics make a strong enough case: a meat diet is unhealthy. Go veg.

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