For the first time in history, humans have reached the level of advancement, intelligence, and population size in which they can have a scale impact on our planet. Our progress is admirable, and our innovation and creativity are unparalleled. Yet, the destruction of the ecosystem is magnified on a scale like never before. The most straining of the factors mentioned above is population size. Exponential human population growth is now putting an immense pressure on our planet. Human habits that were sustainable at a population of 4 million or even 500 million are no longer sustainable today at a population of close to 8 billion people. For the first 10000 years of human history, 10000 BCE to year 0, the human population grew from 4 million to 190 million, a change of 186 million in 10,000 years. That is a rate of less than 0.04% per year. It took until the year 1804 for the human population to reach 1 billion. And yet, in just 200 years that has multiplied almost 8-fold to 7.8 billion, an increase of 6.8 billion people. Our current population growth averages 81 million a year.
At this population size, our planet is facing immense challenges. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities such as burning fossil fuels, destroying forests, and unsustainable agriculture are heating our atmosphere to levels that have never been seen before. The consequences of these changes may be catastrophic. Experts predict that our climate will be 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the year 2100 if we continue at our current pace. While that number may seem small, the consequences may be grave.
What happens when our climate heats up? Increased temperatures will make natural disasters worse, something that we are already seeing. Increased droughts and forest fires in California, stronger hurricanes hammering the Caribbean, and increased rates of flooding across coastal cities like Charleston are looming signs of upcoming climate catastrophe. Another consequence of carbon emission is the acidification of our oceans due to carbon absorption. Acidification poses an existential threat to many highly pH-sensitive ocean species such as mollusks, corals, crabs, and more. In addition to ocean species, land-based vertebrate species such as fish, birds, mammals, and amphibians are at great risk of extinction. Research has found that they are disappearing at a rate of 114 times greater than expected due to climate change and deforestation! Furthermore, oceans are not only acidifying, but they are also rising. Rising oceans to the tune of one to four feet by the year 2100 will flood some of the largest coastal cities in the world: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Sydney, and Mumbai.
Rising temperatures are also increasing air pollution and threatening public health around the world. Increased air pollution occurs due to an increase in ground-level ozone, a major component of smog. Low air quality puts people with pulmonary and cardiac diseases such as asthma, allergies, and COPD at increased risk of poor health outcomes and exacerbations. The list of consequences goes on and on, but this makes the picture clear. The climate change process has already begun, and if continued, our planet will not be around in the same form for us to live on much longer. We must now take aggressive action if we are to avoid the severe consequences that have yet to happen. How can we do that?
The most significant change that can be made to extend the lifespan of our planet and our species, as well as all the other species on it, is a change to a vegan or plant-based vegan diet. 60% of all agricultural emissions come from meat and dairy production, with beef production being the worst culprit on almost all metrics from greenhouse gas emissions, ocean acidification, and land use. Researchers at the University of Oxford have found that a plant-based diet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 73%. That means if everyone ate a plant-based diet, we would have about 1/4th of the total environmental impact per person. Even more monumental, if everyone stopped eating meat and dairy, it would free up 75% of ALL farmland on the planet, equivalent to 3.1 billion hectares. To put that into perspective, this is equivalent to the size of the United States, China, Australia, and the European Union combined! Reduction of deforestation and land loss due to agriculture and preservation of biodiversity would be additional environmental benefits as a result of the land preservation. Joseph Poore, the lead author of the Oxford study, said “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use." Wise words for us all to consider if we want to preserve this beautiful planet for our children to grow up on. In addition to the purely practical global considerations, changing to a vegan diet has profound impacts on human health and longevity, as well as reductions of the horrors of animal abuse and factory farming, as well as benefits for the long-term economy. Stay tuned for further blog posts to explore these each in detail.
These are many of the reasons why myPEAK is committed to fully vegan and sustainable products and practices across everything we do and supports various causes ranging from sustainable energy to animal abuse to childhood nutrition through donations of a portion of our profits at the end of every single year. Join the cause and follow us to learn more.