Sustainability / Environment

Leading Scientists Urge Global Shift to Plant-Based Food: “We Only Have 7-8 Years to Prevent a Global Climate Crisis”

A major new study by prominent scientists published in the leading scientific journal Heliyon proposes a new strategy for addressing climate change with what they say are “overlooked” solutions. Co-author Professor Andrew Knight  contacts vegconomist to explain, Our planet is in a state of emergency and we only have a short window of time (7-8 years) to enact meaningful change to prevent a global climate crisis.”

The authors argue that a shift to plant-based diets, a global phaseout of industrialized animal farming, and a global standardization of climate change metrics are effective measures to reduce global warming. Removing animals from the food system could offset the world’s total GHG emissions by 68%, highlights the study.  

Meanwhile, the study points out that to avoid an irreversible global climate crisis — brought about by human activity — communities, businesses, governments, and global citizens must change their mindset and behavior around food choices to make a meaningful difference.

Heliyon infographic
Infographic courtesy of Dr Svetlana Feigin

Animal ag not necessary or sustainable

According to the scientists, the data “clearly” indicates that the global climate crisis will continue to escalate without transforming the animal-centered food system. “Animal agriculture is not necessary (nor sustainable) to feed the growing global population,” contends lead author Svetlana V. Feigin from the All Lives Institute. 

The authors propose ending government subsidies for meat, dairy, and eggs to transition from industrialized animal farming. They also suggest implementing taxes on animal products to externalize the costs that are “currently passed on to taxpayers, governments, societies, and future generations.”

The proposed strategy for addressing the climate crisis includes actions such as more stringent legislation on animal welfare standards and divestment in industrialized animal agriculture. 

Image of industrial dairy farming
©Pexels-mark-stebnicki, image supplied by the authors

An ‘All Life’ approach

In addition, the study’s authors recommend adopting an ‘All Life’ approach that recognizes the profound interconnection of humans, animals, and plants with global planetary health — the ‘oneness of life’. 

The scientists argue that by shifting from a human-centric paradigm to an earth-centric one, people can protect the future of life on Earth.

“We are running out of time to alter our current trajectory, and thus to enact meaningful change that will have a profound impact upon the future wellbeing of the planet and all of its inhabitants. Failure to act will ultimately result in a scenario of irreversible climate change, with widespread famine and disease, global devastation, climate refugees, and warfare following resource scarcity,” Feigin urges.

Image depicting deforestation
©Pexels-tom-fisk, image supplied by the authors

Dr Andrew Knight comments to vegconomist today, “These findings reiterate the vital importance of a global transition toward plant-based diets. If we are to have any realistic hopes of combatting climate change and preserving biodiversity, then we simply must adopt lifestyles less consumptive of planetary resources. Plant-based diets would have a major positive impact in this respect, and are ‘low hanging fruit’. They could be widely adopted, immediately, without the development of new technology or significant costs. On the contrary, they would actually lower costs to society.”

To read the full study, visit Proposed Solutions to Anthropogenic Climate Change: A Systematic Literature Review and a New Way Forward.

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