How to combat climate change

Sir, – Well done to John Gibbons (“Maybe this is the summer we all start to believe in global warming”, Opinion, August 6th) for once again highlighting the mounting evidence that climate change is happening and that it is the greatest existential threat to life on Earth.

Wildfires in the Arctic, melting ice sheets, rising sea levels and the acidification of the oceans: the signs are ominous. As a climate researcher at the University of East Anglia recently commented: “this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight”. Nobody will be able to say we weren’t warned.

There has rightly been talk of what the Government can do to mitigate climate change. But what can we as individuals do?

New research published in the journal Science has revealed that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way you can reduce your environmental impact on the planet. The analysis revealed the impact of livestock, which takes up 83 per cent of farmland and produces 60 per cent of agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions, while providing only 18 per cent of calories. It also revealed that the elimination of meat and dairy consumption would result in a reduction of more than 75 per cent of global farmland – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined.

A World Wildlife Fund report found that 60 per cent of global biodiversity loss is down to meat-based diets. A graph produced by Our World in Data suggests that, on average, 0.01m2 of land is required to produce a gram of protein from beans or peas, as against 1m2 to produce a gram of protein from cattle or sheep: a 100-fold difference. Beef production results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of meat. Tofu produces less than 3.5kg. In Ireland, a third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from ruminants.

Albert Einstein’s quote has never been more apt: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”. – Yours, etc,


Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.