Friday, 12 December 2014

future shock is of the absurd...10th jan 15

10th jan 2015
More than half of the developed world does not believe in God. Increasing numbers in developing countries question the existence of god. More than a century ago Nietzsche had said God id dead. Marx too had written religion is the opium of the masses.

Indeed we live in tormenting times where we have plundered and pillaged the planet earth in our so called quest for better technology lives. Hence we are indeed suspended on the knife edge between Scylla and Charybdis. This is as close we can get to the edge of existence where if we live in a totally godless world we are plunged to the depths of loneliness, madness, alienation and existential angst. On the other hand and extreme is a world full of godliness which can border on blindfaith and fanaticism.

Truly this is indeed an existential dilemma. On side an anthropcene monster and on the other a medieval dark ages monster. It's a clash of the past and now, a clash of civilisations which have morphed into robotesque creatures and those who are suspended in the Middle Ages. This clash is reaching epic proportion and a modern barbaric crusade age has reared its ugly head. Violence and terror due to this inimical mingling of cultures is terrifying and most unsettling.

22nd dec 14
Visited my ancestral village after 40 years. Connected with ones roots. Could sense the closeness to my ancestors. Realised how much modern technology has also made its inroads into the pristine purity of rural Orissa. Mobiles, cable and dish tv had spread their tentacles. Perhaps when I visited last there was no power.

Our ancestral house was in ruins with creepers, plants all over. Visited the school which my ancestors had founded with the name of my great grand father Ramchandra. Illustrious ancestors who contributed so much to India for a Century.

Wish I could leave the city and spend the rest of ones life there away from the maddening life of urban chaos and decay.  Feel trapped with wife and daughter not approving of such a change. So be it. Condemned to the urban prison of ones making. Forever trapped in the rat race. Feel so disoriented. Belonging no where. Still looking for a resting place.

Now daughter in Chicago. Grand daughter sbout to be born there. Such a wide spectrum. Right from rural India to the alienated existence of western metros. So difficult to accept the  fate of swinging between two diverse cultures. Though I an essential american in terms of my surreal mental makeup, but the steppenwolf in me wants to go back to my roots.

14th dec14

There is so much plastic in each moment of our lives. Right from furniture, breast implants, decorations, kitchen ware, parts of clothing, cars, condoms, toys, artificial plants, ......its a Frankenstein we have created for our so called better lifestyles..... In the classic movie of Mike Nichols Mrs Robinson Dustin Hoffman is told "there is a future in plastics". Our mall cultures is nothing but buying loads of plastic covered in plastic. So indeed there is now a disposal problem of the millions of tons of toxic plastic which are created daily by monstrous factories spewing forth most obnoxious gases into the already overburdened helpless atmosphere which is being raped and pillaged every nanosecond by us the anthropocene human race which is bent on killing and raping it's very mother the gentle pristine Earth- oedipus like.

We are so hungry for perpetual instant orgasmic gratification that every day the robot like scientists in our most prestigious labs and universities the so called seats of higher learning churn of new inorganic chemical monster compounds which are stronger lighter and capable of creating myriad toys of pleasure and instant gratification which eager private equity and venture capitalists are ready to pounce and fund from complex multi leveraged financial concoctions which rocket scientists and so called financial wizards have created through most abstruse mathematical algorithms which can be deciphered only by them.

13th dec14

Over 5 trillion plastic pieces floating in world's oceans: weighing about 270,000 tonnes. inimical impact upon fauna and flora of the oceans. micro plastic pollution will surely spell doom for the already struggling organisms of the waters. As it is the rivers all over are over polluted cess pools. Cities on the banks of the rivers are dwindling centres of commerce.

The root cause of all this is our plastic culture. This metaphorical plastic culture has insidiously penetrated all the pores and strata of our universal soul minds both of individuals and collective society at large. It has even pervaded the entire strata of the socioeconomic macrosphere consisting of industry, agriculture, services. Plastics have invaded our very existential pores. There is but a thin divide between what is real and what is plastic.

12th dec 14

power outage closes UK airspace: power outage led to massive computer failure.these are some of the early pointers to more massive outages which can completely debilitate the power grid of large parts of most developed economies. the power grid failures can also be brought of by bright dark sick hackers which many economies want to focus upon their enemy states. it seem chinese hackers are among the best and will be able to  strike deep into the rather complex US power grid system and paralyse most of urban us.

worse still are dire prognostications that the evil forces are ready to cripple the international financial system. the modern financial runs 24/7 across the globe. these wires transact zillions of transactions comprising of inter bank settlements, card settlements, forex flows, derivatives, options and futures, etc. these cumulatively are several multiples of global gdp. the leverage is mind numbing and stratospheric.

the various sci fi movies we see are but harbingers of the shape of things to come. the more scary ones the cli fi movies like day after tomorrow which mirrors the recent arctic blasts which have kept captive huge portions of us over past couple of months.

these events keep gathering momentum and ostrich like we bury our heads not wanting to see the writing on the wall. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

nothing to say...12th feb 15

12th feb 15

So much happening. isis marcing ahead.  Now US wants to start its offensive against them. This is actually a far bigger war than those in iraq and Afghanistan. This is truly a start of a war of two faiths like the medieval crusades in the 21st century.  Nostrodamus saw it all centuries ago. Clash of civilisations. Silently watching the future unfold.

16th jan 15

maunabrata (silence) is the new om nama shivaya. everything is proceeding at cross purposes. mankind is on self destruct mode. too much of weapons of mass destruction lying around for our comfort. trigger happy terrorists swaggering around like cowboys. terror models are changing from spectacular 70 mm 9/11 extravaganzas to focused micro effective strikes which can broaden the theatre over a larger canvas. hence the only option for the silent passive majority is to live and let live / kill and watch the river / blood flow a la Siddhartha style.  

9th jan 15
To do lists never end. Only with death list stops with undone items. So long most of the essential items keep getting done we carry on. For procrastinators like me some not so imp items by efflux of time reach their expiry date and get off the list by default.

11th dec 14

sometimes i feel that one is reaching a state of nothing to say - somnolescence...a catatonic state where nothing much can be achieved in a day except the very minimum to keep going and the absolute essential external work like bank etc. have been a great procrastinator all my life. keep putting of things till the last date. this probably stems from the strong belief in the futility of existence. this streak of existential angst has been there since my childhood. was an existential kid. through this procrastination i have seen that by efflux of time many issues outlive their utility and importance. this only buttresses my view that most of the things we want to do in our to do lists are really inessential.

have a list of over 40 items which never seems to finish. if two are struck out, few more join. i seem to be doing everything except what i love most - reading, blogging, music and movies. actually most can lead minimalist lives, paring out all the unnecessary frills and topping which really add no value or substance.

at a macro level all this sound and fury signifying nothing or less than that keeps every one on the toes and lot of brouhaha signifying nothing. this a sine non quo of capitalism. so its very difficult to segregate the wheat from the chaff. and crazy pr and advertising has put on the mascara and lipstick on the pallid corpse like features of existence, corporations, etc. hypercompetition and capitalism are premised upon making everything such a charade.   

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Countdown to Paris 2015 - 9th dec 15

9th jan 15

The Guardian

12th dec 14
Daily sophisticated papers are being published on pros and cons of burden sharing of carbon sharing along with complex formulae. Now it has degenerated into a debate on who (which country) has declared its peak emission year, who has not, developing countries crying that they should be given a chance to give their citizens a chance to enjoy so called higher standards of living. No one has the guts to stand up like a prophet at the cost of being ridiculed that the very edifice of human civilisation based upon high energy usage is faulty.

Too many big lobbies out there to fatten their purses like energy, autumobile, steel, construction and infrastructure of nightmares called cities comprising a lifeless tall monolithic structures called high rises and skyscrapers, digital and Internet based objects of pleasure and so called communication like mobiles tablets etc which are crowding all the atmosphere around us with various spectrum like 2g, 3G, 4g, consumer delights and so called necessities and objects de desire like fridges, micros, air conditioning, garments, cosmetics....the list is endless paved with hedonism leading to hell or extinction....

Humanoids which are fast morphing into robotic androgynous gargoyles are too deep into their sheer technology and industry based existences that they cannot think of reversing their insane hurtle into bigger, better and faster of everything.

Lima and Paris will be just charades which will work on some acceptable limits which will not curbs the crazy human push for so called scientific and technological progress. Ostrich like with heads buried they will talk of a distant 2100 when temperatures may rise by 2 deg C knowing fully well at the current trends the 2 deg limit will be breached well before the distant 2100 time frame. Already frightening climate changes wreaking havoc in advanced northern hemisphere western world. Crop patterns gone awry. Everyone influenced by climate sceptics says that all is fine and that there is no firm evidence of global warming or climate change. And the story goes on....

9th dec 14
ironically every on is bickering about increasing no of cars and low proportion roads. bogota has come out with solutions like alt days even and odd numbers. no cars in cbds. yet at the same time the large manufacturers are coming out with more powerful and faster cars. crude prices at five year low. car pollution has brought down the largest metropolises to a smoggy standstill. the made love to cars goes on . bigger better faster. no one has the guts to reduce car production. two wheelers and walking along with low energy lifestyles only way of this morass.  

7th dec 14
Complex situation. Devd Ecos which already spew majority of current co2 emissions like USA 25%, Europe not much behind. In terms of cumulative emissions over past century the contribution of the west would be an overwhelming 80%. Now developed Ecos are telling developing Ecos who are less that 20% or so of emissions that they should reduce more since they have larger populations but lower per capita emissions mainly because they have higher upside for growth. It's unfair to curb the growth potential because their numbers are high.

For a fair view developed Ecos should reduce their emissions by over 50% since they are facing the most threatening proportions of extreme climate. They have to reduce their per capita emissions by  50% of their cuurent usage. This will be fair in terms of equity.

26 nov 14
nations are bickering on who should reduce carbon emissions most. one of the major issues is polluting energy. there is not much clarity on curbing large cars, air conditioning, energy intensive large multistoried, air travel, small is beautiful should take centre stage. new grammar of living outlined earlier is a good solution, need for psycho social counselling. who will bell the cat.

24th nov 14

all nations are going through the motions of posturing, blaming one bloc or the other. blame games as we are sinking.,

its a now or never situation. first time the nations have realised that time for living in self denial is   over. tomorrow is now, we need to act as on is yesterday,.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Apocalypse Now

24th nov
today also temperatures in chicago were sub full day. research says most americans believe apocalypse is at hand.

the past two weeks have been perhaps the heaviest ravaging arctic cold to ever hit US simultaneously across all the states. the last winter saw Sandy and some bitter Arctic chill which hit a lot of states in the last month of winter when at its peak. but novembers have never been so brutal. and that too before thanksgiving.

difficult to digest but if we view objectively some of the quirks of nature, weather and climate over the past few years globally and more so in US. am sure the frequency and amplitude of these cases of nature's fury are increasing almost geometrically. but like veritable ostriches we are not able the accept the stark truth but instead burrowing deeper our senile energy doped heads into the sand which provides a respite from the ugly truth which is blowing fiercely above.

a simple list of climate extremes which have ravaged recently are: forest fires, floods, drought, arctic polar chills, tornadoes, twisters, extreme heat, cold, record snows, rapid fall in temperatures, extreme cold, earthquakes, etc. these mind boggling events have already numbed our sensibilities,

yet no one wants correlate the horrifying truth that that this could be connected to US contributing 25% of carbon emissions,  highest number of cars, air conditioning, energy use, mobile usage, plane traffic, the list goes one.

is there no way out of this intensifying morass. should we not take up some strong fundamental changes to our lifestyles to escape certain annihilation.

we are all comfortably numb....waiting for godot....

Monday, 3 November 2014

Diary - Elegy- 13th feb 15

13th feb 15

Such a sick world. Never seen such scheming intolerant neighbours in my life. Lived in so many places in my life.  Never have I met such a psycho like in sobha who hates marley with so much vitriolic hatred. Apart from marley he is after everyone.  Funniest he wants to make a rule banning dogs from all common areas banishing them and their owners to the dungeons of the basements. Medieval and barbaric.

11th dec 14

sometimes i feel that one is reaching a state of nothing to say - somnolescence...a catatonic state where nothing much can be achieved in a day except the very minimum to keep going and the absolute essential external work like bank etc. have been a great procrastinator all my life. keep putting of things till the last date. this probably stems from the strong belief in the futility of existence.

16th nov 14

Yet to see interstellar ...another Nolan masterpiece...we are so insignificant in the scheme of the universe and cosmos...less than a nano speck...yet everyone is so bent on proving themselves and becoming better face of infinity we are nothing.....

18th nov 14

today we live in an era of technological excesses. anything we want is out there on the web, most of the time free or very cheap. music, movies, books...are there in abundance on the net. from childhood till about early 1990, ie the preliberalisation period, it was hard to get by anything latest. most of the films are having simultaneous releases across the world. surfeit of tv programs. all the latest serials along with the west.

14th nov 14

one third of US is covered by an arctic chill with sub zero temperatures at most places. chill will last for a week. at some places there have been over 7-9 ins of snow. all this before Thanksgiving. Everything getting topsy turvy. at some places there has been rapid fall in temperatures upto 25/30 deg F per hour. This is something very new which was the preserve of science fiction before. Movie day after tomorrow had some similar clifi plot. all most frightening for the future.

13th nov 14

drifting gradually into nothingness. can do at most few things per day. slowness has taken over. find it meaningless to speed up things. don't want much longevity. hence happy with present slowness. the nausea of the meaningless of existence is overpowering.

12th nov 14

year into its last 50 days. memorable year for humans. in a way best of times and worst of times. capitalism is rising to a crescendo with bigger, faster of everything including mankind's toys of doom - cars, planes, air conditioned malls, houses, energy intensive lifestyles....carbon emissions at highest ever levels....yes the veritable dance of the macabre. no one willing to step back and the same time financial collapses and economies in ICU mode.....qe sera sera...whatever will be will be....most of US experiencing early snows...record namah Sivai....

9th Nov 14

Year 64 on. Reminds me of the The Beatles "When I am 64"....really don't know how many years left.  Today sat with my Brother Sambhu and trapeised down memory lane. Amazing pics of our childhood..our parents...our Guru Baba (my cosmic guru) Swami Hitanand Saraswati....lot of my close cousins...we scanned a lot of keep some of them for long term digital posterity which will outlive us by several decades.

Finality is catching up. The finiteness of existence is getting closer. So indulged myself with four books from flipkart: jarred diamond- guns, godel, and murukami Norwegian wood. And also age of singularity by Raymond Kurzweil. Hope to delve a bit into each book and imbibe the essence of the books through this short fraud process.

More importantly need to make progress on NGL.

8th Nov 14

Super storm bigger than Sandy to hit Alaska and impact much of US. Chicago at almost sub zero temps. yet GOP bickering about climate change. so ironical now that we are running out of time the sceptics have come to roost. ....
trying my best to green as much as i can. but still using ac in car. i really have failed my leanings. how can i change others. used to bathe with cold water like a monk in dead of winter at mid night in Kolkata when in school. entire summers without the fan...that was the young monk who lived out his ideals ......

7th nov 14

yesterday was my 63rd birthday.,creeping closer to the oblivion...failed in implementing NGL at home. How can I expect to really get society at large to accept these almost draconian measure. its now or never.

6th nov 14

today the repubs in control of both houses...fading hopes of action on climate front...apocalypse ahead...we deserve it...


After living in Shanti Park Apts for over 20 years have moved to Sobha Dewflower about 3 weeks ago. Total rhythm of earlier constipated writing has been further compounded. Mind is able to do few things a day. gradually settling down in new apartment. Beautiful apartment. But so much change along with practical dimensions of  address change, getting new connections of cable, telephone, etc.

Must gradually get back to my bleak observations on the twilight zone of human civilization. there has already been a cold arctic blast across north america with unseasonal snow far and wide including Chicago, Today they talk about 0 emissions by 2100. Some hope they have. My gut feeling at this rate another 40 years at max for pronounced climate upheavals.

unprecedented rains in Bangalore. precipitation taking centre stage. like waiting for Godot. ostrich like no one wants to bell the cat. the charade must go on till the apocalypse.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Innovative New Grammar of Living Ideas for Climate Policy

The current state of policy is that the focus is mainly upon limiting incremental growth of temperature. So far the results have not been satisfying. There is a high probability that temperature rise would exceed the 2 deg C cap fixed much earlier than 2100 and also the greenhouse gas emissions budget is very likely to be exceeded within another 30 years. Hence the implementation is tardy and the extreme climate events over the past few years, the frequency and amplitude of which are increasing bear ample testimony to that.

The present approaches are a set of compromise formulations on how to curb climate change. There are far too many climate skeptics and vested interests like big industry who are diluting and thwarting the measures to be adopted. Hence now time has come to adopt bold strategies. It’s possible the tipping point has been reached and mankind is hurtling towards a certain apocalyptical climate crash. Hence there is an urgent need for research on new integrated approaches which are antithetical to all that we have deemed as human and technological progress so far which are actually the very root causes of environmental degradation and climate change. It will be a herculean task to get the major economic powers to agree on this agenda.

The major indicators of economic growth, progress and power are based upon higher levels and increases of mainly GDP, industrial production, electricity, transportation and urbanization. Unless there is dramatic cutback in these parameters there will be further environmental degradation. The decision on cutting back all these parameters is almost impossible now since the conditioning of humanity and society is so deeply ingrained in wanting all modern comforts and amenities that anything inimical to that will be unacceptable. Hence it is imperative that a totally innovative approach based upon de-conditioning of humanity and back to nature policy is adopted globally to save the planet and humanity from the ravages of climate in the next few decades.

The key features of the innovative policy idea being proposed both at the levels of individuals/society and economies/Governments.

1.      Yoga and similar practices like mindfulness, etc for all which will help leading simple lives and curb dehumanisation. Counseling for reducing human needs.
2.      Psychological counseling for all to cope with new lifestyles and give up pleasures of present lives. Deconditioning, de-schooling, unlearning and yoga for leading simple lives. Limit wealth accumulation. Ban in phased manner by 2020 of high energy based urban lifestyles. New low energy technologies.
3.      Reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2020. Top polluting sectors electricity & heat, industry and transportation which together constitute about 54% of total global emissions to be targeted for even higher reductions since agriculture and allied activities (about 14%) which are essential for human survival cannot be expected to reduce their emissions much. This will entail downsizing or shutting down several industries which are not integrally essential for human survival. Along with this need for realignment of employment among low carbon emitting sectors. Basic idea is that most industries are manufacturing products & services which are not essential for human survival. Reduction of usage of air conditioning, cars, refrigeration would be necessary for human survival. Hence most of our need for higher incomes is for buying goods and services which are not basic and essential.
4.      Reduce inessential transportation and travel by 50% by 2020.
5.      Reduce use of water and conservation of water. Scarcity of potable water a major threat to humanity.
6.      Reduce urbanisation. Move towards rural and nature. Strict imposition of green indices for all residential, office and factory buildings.
7.      Reduce deficit financing of all countries and high debt leveraging of individuals (spawning consumerism).  
8.      Population reduction and maintaining balance between working and dependant population ratios. Legalise euthanasia and unnecessary prolonging of life.
The impact that the NGL innovative policy idea could have if adopted:
Impact will be multifold. Change in individual mindsets so that human yearning for high energy lifestyles is curbed. Once human wants and needs are reduced demand for material wealth will decline and transition to simple lifestyles will be easier. Simultaneously reduction of carbon emission by gradual downsizing shutting down of high carbon emitting industries will have impact in retarding climate change. Hence we tackle both demand and supply facets for carbon emission and environment degradation. This is the best we can do now. 
The research approach needed to develop the idea:
Literature reviews for working out alternative scenarios of climate change: worst case, best case with present incremental approaches, and a most likely scenario by 2050 and 2100.
Simulate with climate specialists a scenario if there could be massive 50% rollback of carbon emissions by 2020 along with radical water usage reduction and conservation, population control, de-urbanisation, etc outlined above. Find out impact on temperatures, sea level changes, poles and glacier melting, etc by 2050 and 2100 and whether there could be reduction of temperatures and extreme climate events.
Arrive at gaps between scenarios in 1 and 2 above.
Literature reviews and research on:
                                                     i.     Rewinding human lifestyles and society towards basic pre industrial, back to nature and small is beautiful. Manifesto for new low carbon lifestyles and mass counseling strategies.
                                                    ii.     Rollback of GDPs based upon de-industrialisation, low energy lifestyles, de-consumerism, re-employment for those in downsized / shut down sectors/industries. Structural readjustment of all economies both developed and developing in terms of sectors, inputs-outputs, income-expenditure.
                                                   iii.     Evolve alternative integrated measures and indices of development in place of present GDP based ones, which can factor human development index, climate and nature friendly societies, de-conditioning, etc.
                                                   iv.     Euthanasia and optimum world population for maintaining steady state equilibrium of food, basic requirements, nature and climate.
                                                    v.     Evolve green metrics for all communities, work places and production factories.
Present above findings to various segments of societies (stratified random samples) and selected Governments in form of summary reports and questionnaires to obtain their feedback and acceptance levels.
Integrate feedback and research in order to evolve most suitable strategies for New Grammar of Living.

Finalise New Grammar of Living for implementation from 2016.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Green Metrics (WIP) - 12th Sept 2014

An outline of a Green Metrics for emerging economies for flats in multistoried. The metric have been in terms of three phases. The first phase is the simplest to document and monitor. Once this stabilizes, the next phases’ additional points may be implemented. In the final phase, we can try add the more detailed points which will also throw light on further nuances of green living. Awards and point rating schemes can be introduced on a monthly and quarterly basis. A format will be appended soon.

Phase I (ideally in terms of family per caput usage)
  1. Reduction in electricity bill each month: value and points consumed.
  2. Reduction in gas cylinder usage.
  3. Reduction in water usage.
  4. Car petrol consumption reduction.

Phase II (ideally in terms of family per caput usage)
  1. Reduction of usage of ACs.
  2. Greater use of scooters.
  3. Usage of gas cylinders for cooking.
  4. Lower air travel.

Phase III – to be practiced by individuals

  1. No suits / jackets / coats during warm seasons.
  2. Less ironed clothes.
  3. Less water for car washing.
  4. Put off lights, fans when not required.
  5. Put off geysers when water warmed to adequate temperature.
  6. Greater use of stairs and less lifts.
  7. Less mobile use.
  8. Reduction in meats in diet.
  9. Less processed food. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Do not know what the future holds...

Written on 27-12-11

The meaninglessness of existence....yesterday Tina’s friend and hostel mate was brutally shot down in Manchester. Within hours Facebook filled with likes and a video with his pics....body will take one month to reach his helpless parents on India.

The decline of the west....along with the rise of the BRICs and having a searing impact on the west have-nots....those without jobs... evident by the increase in the number of beggars in downtowns of developed economies..

The sharp schisms in most advanced societies.....are tearing their very fabric apart....

The picture is not very good anywhere else...the world seems to be hurtling close to the edge....the hurtle is intensifying.... almost like an anthem....I have been singing for past forty plus years...

Now all is compounded by climate a voice crying in the wilderness.....

Do not know what the future holds. The worst case scenario is unfolding both on the climate front with extreme weather conditions becoming a norm and the global economy is teetering dangerously with most economies world over leveraged on debt and financial excesses. Is there no way out of this morass. Even the emerging markets are veering dangerously with their high populations eager to surge on all the energy hungry cars, air conditioning and other toys of mass destruction.

Human kind is bent on destroying itself.... suicidal.... Malthusian.... the living dead.... all going thru the motions.... of enjoying life...malls.... consumerism.... losing their capacity to be human.... everything is so plastic... the rock musicians sang of all this forty years ago.... now everything has gone too deep.... instant gratification..... is there no way out of this imbroglio.... perhaps only in death.... as if from one state of living dead to another...  zombie like we move forward to the future.... like the Hollywood sci-fi cli-fi movies.... celluloid to celluloid..... dust to dust and ashes to ashes...

Eat less meat, save the planet — and yourself (from Salon)

Eat less meat, save the planet — and yourself

Eat less meat, save the planet — and yourself

One of the biggest climate solutions also happens to be the healthiest, a new study finds


Eat less meat, save the planet -- and yourself(Credit: Nitr/Shutterstock)
Man-made climate change isn’t just about the way we power our homes and transport our bodies — it’s also about the way we feed ourselves. The deforestation and fertilizer use associated with agriculture are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s a problem that’s going to become increasingly more so as the population grows. It’s also becoming increasingly obvious that we can’t keep this up.
A new take on the theory of we really can’t keep eating this way, guys comes from researchers at the University of Cambridge. By the middle of this century, they write in the journal Nature Climate Change, the world’s going to have 9.6 billion mouths to feed. And doing so — if we continue in the way we grow and consume food now — will increase emissions up to 80 percent above 2009 levels by 2050, accounting for nearly all of the greenhouse gas emissions we’ve allotted for the entire global economy (that includes the way we power our homes and transport our bodies) under our current climate plan. Efforts to increase yields in areas like Sub-Saharan Africa, where land use is notably inefficient, would be useful, but even in a best-case scenario wouldn’t be enough to stop agriculture, and its negative climate impacts, from expanding.
We can’t slow climate change, in other words, unless we change our diets.
Change how? Reducing food waste is an obvious one: At least a third, and as much as half, of the food produced globally currently goes to waste. So, too, is eating less meat. Global meat production hit an all-time high of 308.5 million tons in 2013, a trend that, as demand from developing nations grows, can be expected to rise accordingly. And while cows themselves are bad for the planet (their belches and farts are an important source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas), meat, by virtue of being extremely inefficient to produce, puts a massive additional strain on our agricultural system.


“The average efficiency of livestock converting plant feed to meat is less than 3 percent, and as we eat more meat, more arable cultivation is turned over to producing feedstock for animals that provide meat for humans,” explains lead author Bojana Bajzelj. ”The losses at each stage are large, and as humans globally eat more and more meat, conversion from plants to food becomes less and less efficient, driving agricultural expansion and land cover conversion, and releasing more greenhouse gases. Agricultural practices are not necessarily at fault here – but our choice of food is.”
The good news is that saturated fats from meat and dairy products — along with sugar, which is also energy-intensive — have something major going for them: We’re supposed to be eating less of them, anyway. The researchers found that eating meat in amounts that are generally recognized by the health community to be bad for you also happens to be bad for the environment. They reference, for example, the recommendations put forward by the American Heart Association, which stress a general reduction in the consumption of red meat and a focus on lean meat — similarly, a diet benefiting the planet, per the study, would include two servings of red meat and five eggs per week, along with a portion of poultry each day.
Speaking with Salon, Bajzelj explained that the recommendations for meat consumption that could arise from their findings are similar to what you might hear from a health professional: While excessive meat consumption will make it impossible for us to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, eating some meat is perfectly fine; eating less than that, if you so desire, is also OK.
“This is not a radical vegetarian argument; it is an argument about eating meat in sensible amounts as part of healthy, balanced diets,” elaborated study co-author Keith Richards in a statement. “Managing the demand better, for example by focusing on health education, would bring double benefits — maintaining healthy populations, and greatly reducing critical pressures on the environment.”
Paul West, co-directer and lead scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Global Landscapes Initiative, says the main point of this newest research is not surprising: His own study, recently published in the journal Science, detailed the ways in which improving agriculture while reducing food waste and meat consumption will be necessary for feeding a growing population without destroying the environment in the process. Nonetheless, he told Salon, it “helps advance our understanding of the connections between diet and greenhouse gas emissions.” And he points to yet another study, published this summer in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that arrived at the same, forceful conclusion. The lead author of that one, Gidon Eshel, summed it up thusly: “Reduce beef whenever possible.”
Lindsay Abrams
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email

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