The definition of climate change seems straightforward, yet individuals continue to attach their meanings to the term. Climate change has become ambiguous, crafting a tornado of fake news and various conspiracy theories.
The formal definition of climate change is “a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular, a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.”
Many different factors contribute to climate change; greenhouse gases, human activity, to the food we consume. Therefore multiple consequences are on the increase in temperature, shifts in wildlife populations, rising seas, and extreme weather conditions.
Since, misconceptions are established, breaking down the myths especially within the three realms of greenhouse gases, human activity, and the food we consume is vital towards better understanding this politically charged subject.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that the gases currently afloat in our atmosphere is the highest that it has been over the past 800,000 years. Humans emit greenhouse gases in various ways the most common form is the combustion of fossil fuels originating from cars and factories. The other two chemical elements that are notable towards their contribution to global warming is carbon dioxide and methane, released from landfills and agriculture.
As previously discussed the combustion of fossil fuels is connected to human activity. Another human-driven contributor is correlated to economic roots cultivating urbanization and the loss of land with deforestation. The two acts urbanization and deforestation further bestow higher emissions.
Additionally, a prominent contributor is the food we consume. Each year one-quarter of the greenhouse gasses is due to the world’s food system, encompassing around livestock. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that each year, livestock sums contribute14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases. There are four ways that food adds to global warming. The first being deforestation which clears room for the livestock, which leads to animals such as sheep digesting their food and producing methane. The third part of the cycle is in regards to the growth of rice paddies, land that is cultivated for growing semiaquatic rice. The last fossil fuel producer is fertilizer. Greenhouse gases are intimately tied in the process surrounding agriculture and food consumption.
Although the above statistics may leave one feeling discouraged about the future, there are solutions. An easy solution including partaking in meatless Monday as 50 grams of beef emits 17.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
Further, studies from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), NASA, and National Geographic have also equipped individuals to conducting productive discussions utilizing their reports. Notably, there has been an upsurge of sustainable companies and products that work towards building awareness for the problem.
The topic of climate change is hard to ignore while remaining difficult to discuss. However, education can start building towards a sustainable solution!
Causes of Global Warming. (2019, February 27). Retrieved from
Key Findings of Climate Change – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
(2019). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/
Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018, June 01). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through
producers and consumers. Retrieved from https://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987/tab-figures-data
Article by: Alexis Takagi