Is it true that GOING VEGAN can REVERSE climate change?
Yes, if the world goes vegan and today's animal pasture lands are returned to the native forests that used to exist on those lands in 1800, that can sequester 265 Gigatons of Carbon (GtC) on just 41% of that land and literally reverse climate change.
Human activities had added 240 GtC to the atmosphere between 1750 and 2015. In addition, human activities had added 155 GtC to the ocean. As we regenerate forests on land that is currently being used for farmed animal grazing, the excess carbon in the atmosphere will get sequestered and the Carbon Di Oxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere will decrease. As the atmospheric CO2 levels decrease, CO2 stored in the ocean will be released as the carbon cycle process reverses. Therefore, in order to truly return the Earth's climate back to that which was present in pre-industrial times, we might have to return 100% of the pasture lands to native forests that used to exist on those land well before 1800. However, it is simply astounding that we can sequester 265 GtC by simply returning the native forests that used to exist on current pasture lands in 1800.
The claim made here stems from the paper that we presented at the AGU Fall Meeting, the largest annual gathering of climate scientists in the world, in San Francisco, Dec. 2015. Here is the paper on the official AGU web site. At the meeting, everyone agreed that the figures are indisputable. After all, we were just substituting biome types in the University of Illinois Land Carbon model and adding up the resulting numbers. But everyone seemed to be convinced that the required global Vegan transition would never happen! Indeed, at the Banquet dinner of the AGU Fall Meeting in 2015, the main course was steak!
Let's work together to prove them wrong!
Animal agriculture is responsible for at least 51% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2006, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published "Livestock's Long Shadow", which showed that Animal Agriculture was responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the cars, trains, planes, ships put together, which accounted for 13%.
In 2009, two environmental assessment specialists, Dr. Robert Goodland of the World Bank and Jeff Anhang of the International Finance Corporation, a World Bank institution and both of which are UN institutions, published an article, "Livestock and Climate Change" in the Worldwatch Institute, which showed that Animal Agriculture is responsible for at least 51% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
These two groups had a peer-reviewed debate about their competing claims in the Animal Feed Science and Technology journal in 2011 and 2012. The World Bank estimate was a response to the FAO estimate the World Bank scientists pointed out all that was missing in the FAO estimate. Therefore, in the AFST journal, the FAO scientists wrote an article criticizing the World Bank report. The World Bank scientists responded strongly and reiterated their 51% figure. Then the FAO scientists declined to continue the debate.
As per the scientific process, the World Bank scientists won the debate and their 51% figure stands. Besides, the FAO scientists have conflicts of interests as they are employed by the Animal Agriculture industry, while the World Bank scientists don’t have such conflicts.
We would not believe pseudo-scientific papers from the Tobacco Institute about the efficacy of cigarette smoking, nor would we believe such papers from the Egg industry about the carcinogenicity of eggs. So why would we believe estimates from the International Livestock Research Institute scientists about the environmental impact of Animal Agriculture?
In addition, to add insult to injury, the FAO scientists revised their estimate of the impact of Animal Agriculture down to 14.5% without addressing any of the concerns raised in their debate with the World Bank scientists.
Fool us once, shame on the FAO scientists. Fool us twice, shame on us!