Weather is endlessly fascinating; for centuries it was thought to be beyond human control. But Jonathan Foer theorizes that climate is directly related to human behavior. His research indicates that animal agriculture as currently practiced worldwide is a major cause of climate change.
He points out that large numbers of livestock result in huge quantities of methane emissions being released into the air. In addition, nitrous oxide, emitted by the fertilizers used to grow crops for livestock to eat, and deforestation of land required to grow these crops, are all significant contributors to climate change. He says all three of these animal agriculture practices are major contributors to a planetary crisis that urgently needs to be addressed.
Foer urges humans to eat lower on the food chain by reducing the intake of meat. He says humans can dramatically impact global warming by excluding meat from breakfast and lunch. He notes, “sixty per cent of all mammals on earth are animals raised for food.” By reducing the intake of meat, humans will diminish methane emissions from animals, reduce the use of nitrous oxide as fertilizer for crops and cut the rate of deforestation that threatens the absorption of carbon dioxide, a process necessary for sustaining human life.
The author recognizes his plan would be a major change for people to make, but not an impossible one. He cites the times in the 20th century when the whole world was determined to eradicate polio and the sacrifices so many made in World War II. If humankind could work together to address those global crises, he contends we could work together to reverse climate change now.
Foer masterfully uses metaphor and paradox to demonstrate both the good and the evil of which humans are capable. He makes the case that “we must either let some eating habits go or let the planet go.”
Foer’s book is based on scientific research which is documented by countless notes and a 23-page bibliography. But regardless of how much data is presented, he purports the information does no good unless all people accept responsibility for the current world-wide crisis and make the necessary changes to their diet. His message is poignant and painful, bleak and hopeful. He adroitly challenges readers to combat “the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced.”