It’s worse than we thought

The High Park Wildfire burns on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland on June 10, 2012. The High Park Wildfire located approximately 15 miles west of Fort Collins, CO has consumed over 65, 738 acres of forest and grassland with approximately 189 homes destroyed. Over 1,773 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service (FS), state and local resources are fighting the wildfire and have achieved 55% containment as of June 20, 2012. The High Park Wildfire began on June 9. 2012 because of a lightening strike on private land. U.S. FS photo.
The High Park Wildfire, June 10, 2012. U.S. FS photo.

Climate change is a lot worse than we thought. This is catching even the climate scientists by surprise, according to a widely-cited story from the Thompson Reuters foundation. The World Meteorological Association reported record temperatures in June — for the 14th straight month. David Carlson, director of the WMO’s climate research programme, stated that “what concerns me most is that we didn’t anticipate these temperature jumps.” They knew it was bad, just not this bad.

And why do you suppose climate change is worse than anyone thought? Has this question occurred to anyone?

Here’s a possible reason: this is surprising because we’ve been minimizing or ignoring livestock agriculture. We’ve underestimated human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, not just by a little, but by huge amounts. One key facet of the “Livestock and Climate Change” (LCC) article in 2009 is not just that animal agriculture was responsible for a lot of greenhouse gases. The FAO knew that in 2006. It’s that there are a lot of additional greenhouse gas emissions from livestock that aren’t getting counted. Here’s a key excerpt from LCC:

22,048 million tons [of annual emissions of CO2 equivalents] are entirely uncounted. When uncounted tons are added to the global inventory of atmospheric GHGs, that inventory rises from 41,755 million tons to 63,803 million tons. (p. 11)

That’s like 52% more emissions than the FAO previously thought. Imagine this news flash: “Greenhouse gas emissions 52% greater than we thought last year!” And now, let’s imagine that actually, it’s probably been roughly this amount greater not just last year, but the year before that, and the year before that, and probably every year going back to, say, 1800. That’s a lot of uncounted greenhouse gas emissions.

LCC is not saying that carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels isn’t real. Oh, yes, trust us, all that CO2 from coal plants is real. It’s not your imagination. But oh, guess what, there’s a bunch of other emissions that you haven’t even figured in. That’s the piece added by livestock agriculture.

Once you are aware of livestock agriculture, it shouldn’t be a surprise that climate change is this bad. Get used to it, guys. We need to change our ways, and fast, if we want to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Encouraging veganism is essential for this purpose.

2 Replies to “It’s worse than we thought”

  1. Climate change is a symptom of our rampant disregard for our environment! When commercial interests can guide our attention, we should not be surprised that they guide it towards things that benefit them!

    Humans have become a global threat but our thinking is still in the fuzzy stone age!

    We will become very smart very fast or we will perish, like 99%+ of species before us and countless species as a result of our own doing!

    Our only hope is a global epiphany where we suddenly wake up to what is really going on!

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