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Climate change, pandemics and the Ukraine-Russia crisis
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Climate change, pandemics and the Ukraine-Russia crisis

Climate change, pandemic and Ukraine-Russia crisis


Climate change, pandemic and Ukraine-Russia crisis stock photos

Lifestyle changes are necessary due to climate change, COVID-19 pandemics and ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis.

This radical lifestyle change may be called radical. This is the solution. But it’s also the great problem.

The Ukraine crisis is both a good and a bad thing. It causes a meteoric rise in the price oil and natural gas. This is good news for Russia, which has a large oil reserve, but bad news for oil-importing countries. However, high oil prices will drive the shift to renewable energy such as solar and wind.

High oil prices will also drive a shift in mode of transportation—use of bicycles, electric vehicles, railways rather than petrol cars.

Our food systems are the biggest users of oil or natural gas. They consume more than half of all energy to produce, process, distribute, cook, and serve food in restaurants that generate a lot of waste.

This is also why food systems produce more than half the greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides). High greenhouse gas emissions directly result from the large scale production of food. Our food production and post-production systems are so dependent on oil. This includes the use of chemical inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides, oil for land preparation, hauling, transport, and processing.

Grain production covers large areas and chemical inputs that involve land clearing and deforestation. These can lead to soil erosion and carbon dioxide emissions.

Why do we need to produce so much grain? This is due to the animals we raise—hogs, poultry, pets. Our animals receive at least 56 percent of all grains. This is in addition to the large areas that are devoted to grazing lands and forage pastures to raise cattle.

Producing grains and maintaining pastures for our cattle means that we shift land use from forests to agricultural areas. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions as well as chemical agricultural inputs.

The main thesis is that climate change and the COVID-19 pandemics, as well as the Ukraine-Russia crisis, require lifestyle changes. It starts with the food we eat. Lifestyle change is equal to food type changes, which means that we must change from a meat-based diet to a plant-based one.

On analysis, we should eat meat only once a week rather than every meal. A plant-based diet can be healthy and necessary in this COVID age. We need to shift from treating COVID like an endemic condition to keep ourselves healthy, as many of us already do.

Meat-based diets are resource-intensive and inefficient. For example, to make 1 kg of animal protein from 6 kg of plant protein, which is significantly more than it is for beef production, you will need 6 kg of plant protein.

The switch from meat-based to plant based diets will reduce the demand for energy-based inputs to make grains, water supply, and other energy-based inputs.

For 1 kg of grain, it takes on average 3,000 liters water. 19,000 liters of water is required to produce 1 kg beef. This is the same amount of water that we use to bathe for a year.

A plant-based diet decreases energy and freshwater consumption, which requires energy if water is pumped. The shift to a plant based diet will reduce the need for tree planting or reforestation. In fact, 70% of all lands (or 1.5 billion hectares) are used for grain production, forage, and pasture for our animals.

Lifestyle changes are really about food.

[Editor’s note: Teodoro C. Mendoza is a retired professor of Institute of Crop Science at the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, UP Los Baños. He is an advocate and practitioner of household-based food garden and small-scale biodiverse organic farming.]

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