Everything you need to know

What is Climate Justice?

Life

We know that the effects of climate change are happening, but we often don't see these effects in our own country. Or when something does impact us, our country has the wealth and resources to fix the problem. However, climate change usually impacts poor and marginalized countries with more frequency and with greater impact.

This is where the climate justice movement comes in - read on for more information about this important topic and for ways you can help!

What does climate justice mean?

You may have come across the term when you were reading about climate change, or when you heard a speech from Greta Thunberg, or even when you were learning how to speak to your children about climate change.

In short, "climate justice" is a term with an associated social campaign that acknowledges climate change can have differing social, economic, public health, and other adverse impacts on underprivileged populations. These at-risk underprivileged populations (and nations) are not as equipped as wealthier populations (and nations) to adapt to the rapidly changing climate and the catastrophic events it brings.

The movement aims to frame the climate crisis through a social, human rights lens. The ultimate goal is to shift the discourse from greenhouse gas emissions, numeric temperatures, and melted ice caps to that of a civil rights movement. Once you look for it, connecting the dots between civil rights and climate change are easy to see.

The climate justice movement shines light on the notion that the worst impacts of climate change will not be shouldered equally or fairly. There are specific communities and populations that are likely at the highest risk, and it is often these communities that are the least able to adapt to the environmental change. The way to do this is through what's known as a "just transition"

The just transition is "a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy (1)." The just transition means managing both the positive and negative social and employment implications of climate action across the whole economy. It means thinking ahead and involving both developed and developing countries, and focusing attention on the decentralization of energy systems, and the need to prioritize marginalised communities.

Which populations will be hit the hardest?

As a United Nations article describes it: "The impacts of climate change will not be borne equally or fairly, between rich and poor, women and men, and older and younger generations (2)."

For certain communities and populations, the climate crisis will exacerbate inequitable social conditions. Here are a few examples:

  • Communities of color are at more risk for air pollution. Many toxic facilities, like coal-fire plansIn the United States, race is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities hit by climate change (3,4).
  • Senior citizens and those with disabilities may have a difficult time living through periods of severe heat (and would be at a disadvantage evacuating from major storms or fires) (5).
  • Women are more vulnerable than men globally due to economic, social, and cultural disparities (6). Seventy per cent of the 1.3 billion people living in conditions of poverty are women, including in many communities dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood. And worse, women in these populations are less involved in decision-making at the community level, which means they are unable to voice their needs to adapt to the hardships that climate change brings.
  • The economically disadvantaged are at extreme risk:
    • Those living in subsidized housing may have more trouble with floods as the subsidized housing is often located in a flood plain (7).
    • It has also been shown that inequality can grow in the aftermath of hurricanes, disregarding the poor and powerless communities (8).
  • Globally, the warming of the planet by 2˚C (we're above 1˚C already) would put communities around the world that depend who depend on agriculture, fishing, forestry and conservation - which includes over half of Africa's population - at risk of undernourishment (9).

The Global Climate Risk Index developed by Germanwatch quantifies the impacts of extreme weather events – both in terms of the fatalities as well as the economic losses that occurred. Eight out of the ten countries most affected by the quantified impacts of extreme weather events in 2019 belong to the low- to lower-middle income category (10).

So, what can we do to help?

Organizations working on solutions to these issues

The first way to help is to spread the word. Educating yourself on these issues and talking to others about them can go a long way.

Another simple way to help is by donating (money or your volunteer time) to some of the fantastic organizations working for climate justice solution:

  1. The Climate Justice Alliance works to bring race, gender, and class considerations to the center of the climate action discussion. You can join them in many different ways: donate, host a party or dinner to support them, volunteer time, or even find a career with them!
  2. The NAACP is working to fight environmental injustice as well. You can donate or roll up your sleeves and join a local NAACP unit.
  3. Climate Generation is a nonprofit dedicated to climate change education and innovative climate change solutions through youth leadership and community engagement. You can donate, host a workshop, teach students about climate change, or attend one of their fundraising events.
  4. Solar Sister invests in women's clean energy businesses in off-grid communities in Africa. You can donate to them as a monthly supporter, invest in a specific entrepreneur, or even join the team.
  5. Greta Thunberg's Fridays For Future organization seeks to combat the lack of action on the climate crisis in general. You can connect with other climate activists throughout the world to join those striking for climate action.


References

  1. https://climatejusticealliance.org/just-transition/
  2. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/climate-justice/
  3. https://naacp.org/know-issues/environmental-climate-justice
  4. https://www.lung.org/clean-air/outdoors/who-is-at-risk/disparities
  5. https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/09/how-extreme-weather-threatens-people-with-disabilities/
  6. https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/womenin-shadow-climate-change
  7. https://furmancenter.org/files/NYUFurmanCenter_HousingInTheFloodplain_May2017.pdf
  8. https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/07/how-inequality-grows-in-the-aftermath-of-hurricanes/
  9. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/climate-justice/
  10. https://germanwatch.org/sites/germanwatch.org/files/Global%20Climate%20Risk%20Index%202021_1.pdf

It feels like there's an endless list of things that parents need to do... all the daily stuff like meals and getting ready for school, and then there's the bigger stuff like making sure that your kids are nice to others and can cope with negative feelings. Have you ever wondered if talking to your kids about climate change is another thing we need to add to the list? As a parent, only you can make the decision about when you think it's appropriate to introduce the topic to your kids, but once you've made that decision, how do you talk about it? Where do you even begin, and what's age appropriate? Stick with us for a guide on how to talk to your kids about climate change and a list of the best resources for each age group.

Why Talk about Climate Change

According to the latest IPCC climate change report (1), the effects of climate change are already here. Even if we make drastic changes to our carbon emissions now, climate change will have negative impacts over the next several decades. Many families might already be feeling the impacts of climate change (fire season, hurricane season, and all the rest), and talking about climate change will help kids process what they are already experiencing. And for many other parents, they might want to introduce the topic before their kids hear about it from friends, at school, or in the media or news. Whenever you decide that you want to bring up the topic of climate change, it's important to try to explain the facts and remember that this is probably going to be an ongoing discussion and not just one conversation.

Age Appropriate Answers to the Question: "What is Climate Change?"

Our kids absorb much more than we often are aware of. They're basically little sponges! Even thought it may seem like kids wouldn't understand the nuanced details about something as complex as climate change, kids generally get a lot out of these conversations.

Our first tip is to stick to age appropriate facts with as little jargon as possible. If you don't know where to start, we drafted these sample scripts for different age groups that you can use below. You can alter the sample scripts below to your child's interest, level of understanding and curiosity, and add or subtract other concepts you'd like to introduce.

Ages 2-4: Just like we depend on the Earth for food and water, the way that we treat the Earth also matters. We are all connected. Some things that humans do can even cause the Earth to heat up. We call that climate change. Scientists are learning so much about it and what we can do to be nice to the Earth.

Ages 5-7: People's activities, like driving cars that use gasoline, or burning coal for energy to heat buildings, increase something called greenhouse gases in the sky. These act like a warm blanket between our planet and space. Over time scientists have shown that it is leading to the Earth's temperature getting warmer. This matters because the temperature affects our oceans, land, air, plants, animals, and humans. We all have an effect on one another. We can all make better choices to help take care of our earth by using less fossil fuels and by using only what we need.

Ages 8-12: The Earth's climate is warming up and scientists know that human activities that use fossil fuels like gasoline for cars or burning coal to heat our homes is contributing to climate change. When these fossil fuels are burned they create greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that trap in heat from the sun and create a sort of blanket around our earth, making it warmer. Scientists believe that these warmer temperatures are contributing to more bad weather, which can affect our crops, businesses, health, water resources, and wildlife. People can make better choices to help take care of our Earth by using less fossil fuels and by conserving or using only what we need.

Ages 13+: The Earth's climate changes over time. Sometimes it's hotter to times and it's colder. But changes from natural causes are usually gradual. Some human activities, like burning fossil fuels like gasoline and coal, are speeding things up. Burning fossil fuels increases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which trap more heat. As a result, the global climate is becoming warmer. Scientists believe that with global warming, we can expect more bad weather, like hurricanes, wildfires, drought, and floods. These bad weather patterns can affect our crops, economy, health, water resources, and wildlife. We can all work together, as a family and as a community to make better choices and decisions to fight climate change.

How To Continue the Conversation

After the initial explanation of what climate change is, there are several ways to continue the conversation. One of the first follow up conversations should focus on local impacts to make it relevant to your lives. Try something like, "Do you remember how there were some days where it was really really hot this summer that it was almost too hot to go outside?" or "Can you remember the last time it rained?"

The second way to continue the conversation is by spending time as a family outside. You don't have to go far! Even on a walk around the block, you can spend time noticing insects, plants, and the weather. Spending time outside with your kids and engaging their natural curiosity is a great way to learn about your local ecosystem. It is also a great way to learn about how people are dependent on nature and in turn, how people impact the environment. By cultivating a love of being outdoors in nature, it gives your kids a greater reason to want to take care of their environment.

Another important way to continue the conversation on climate change is to put the focus on people. It's very easy to talk about polar bears and other far off places, but it's just as important to start exploring concepts of equity and justice. The impacts of climate change exacerbate existing health and social inequities, so low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected (2). Putting the focus on people, friends, communities, and our interconnectedness is a great lens for inspiring much needed action.

Lastly, it's important to find a support network to help continue the conversation. This can be friends and other family members, neighbors, a community group, or your schools. Whether it's a nature walk with friends or learning how to compost with your neighbors, getting your kids involved is a great way to increase their understanding about climate change. You can also look up local and state environmental groups and get involved locally. This is a great way to find other families with similar interests. And lastly, ask your schools about how they integrate climate change into their curriculum. There are a lot of resources listed below that you can forward to your kids' educators.

Resources for How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change


References

  1. https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/
  2. https://www.apha.org/-/media/files/pdf/topics/clim...
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Life

How to Talk to Friends and Family About Climate Change

One of the best things you can do to make a real impact

Even though we're all hyper-aware climate change is happening and of the dangers it poses, it's usually the last thing we want to talk about. Some of the time, a conversation about climate change can feel like an uphill battle about a polarizing topic. But most of the time, it just isn't a fun conversation to have. We'd much rather discuss fun birthday parties, travel plans, or the latest show we binge watched!

But according to scientists, one of the best things you can do to combat climate change is to talk about it (1), which is why we put together a guide of helpful resources on how to talk to friends and family (and even a separate guide for kids!) about climate change. These tips and tricks will help make talking about climate change so much easier.

Why we need to talk about it

Even though climate change is a serious international problem, there seems to be a disconnect between knowing about climate change and talking about it. In fact, even though about 71% of adults in America believe global warming is happening and that it will harm future generations, 64% of the same adults rarely discuss it (1). What's worse, only 25% hear about global warming from a media outlet at least once a week. If we're basically all worried about it, why aren't we talking about it more?! Staying silent about a major issue like climate change, makes it easier to pretend the problem won't impact us as individuals. But if everyone is suddenly talking about climate change, it makes it impossible to ignore. Just take a look at Greta Thunberg- what started as her own school strike turned into a global movement with a huge impact. Just by talking about climate change, Greta made the issue impossible to ignore and inspired countless others to advocate and help put pressure on politicians to create real climate change mitigation policies. That's why we think it's so important to continue to discuss climate change; one small conversation can help create meaningful change.

Tips and Tricks

We know that climate change isn't always the easier subject to talk about, which is how our tips and resources come in. And don't forget- practice makes perfect!

1. Lead with personal impacts

When someone is a climate change skeptic or just not interested in the topic, it's often better to have a conversation about the personal impacts of climate change rather than scientific facts or abstract concepts. Personal examples of how climate change is impacting someone's life like "we've been seeing more ticks this summer, which means more bites and more potential for vector-borne illnesses" or ""wildfires went from once in a while to a constant threat every year. We might move. What about you?" can be much more persuasive than melting icebergs thousands of miles away. Personal anecdotes show that issues caused by climate change are real, local, and are already impacting their lives.

2. It's a conversation, not a lecture

When having a conversation about climate change, it's just as important to listen to the other person's thoughts and opinions as it is to discuss your own. A big part of climate change education is understanding where someone is coming from so you can educate without offending core values of beliefs. And even if someone has dramatically different views than your own, you can always try to connect over shared values. Things like nature, outdoor recreation, and wanting a good world for your children are appreciated and wanted by almost everyone. Connecting with shared values like these can drive home the personal impact climate change can have on our daily lives.

3. Keep Trying

Let's be real, you probably won't change someone's mind on climate change after just one conversation. That's why it's so important to continue the conversation about climate change whenever you can. Every conversation can help move the needle forward and change someone's mind about climate change. Persistence is key!

Climate Change Communications Resources

Yale Climate Opinion Maps 2020

"These maps show how Americans' climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support vary at the state, congressional district, metro area, and county levels."

What is Climate Change Communication?

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication is an excellent resource for recent studies and news articles about climate change.

The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it

This TED Talk by Katharine Hayhoe gives a great overview of why climate change can be a polarizing topic, and how to lead a successful conversation with someone whose views differ from yours.

How Do We Talk About Climate Change? – Speaking of STEM

Rutgers University gives a brief overview of climate change communications and how to go beyond politics while discussing the topic

Speaking of Climate Change | Harvard Public Health Magazine | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

C-Change Conversations, whose mission is to discuss climate change with moderate and conservative audiences by meeting them where they are, gives expert advice on how to talk about climate change with someone who has opposing viewpoints.

Persuading Conservatives — Climate Chat

Even though it feels like it shouldn't be a polarizing issue (it's just science, after all), your views towards climate change often align with your politics. Check out this helpful resource for tips on discussing climate change with conservatives.


References

  1. https://www.pnas.org/content/116/30/14804
  2. https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/
Science

Can Individuals Actually Make a Difference When it Comes to Climate Change?

A deep dive into carbon footprints and who is responsible for making change

Have you been trying to reduce your carbon emissions throughout the years? Maybe you're trying to drive less, eat meat only a few days a week, or change all of your light bulbs to LED. Are you curious if it's actually making a difference for the planet? There has always been a debate on whether or not it's worth it for individuals to make changes in their own lifestyle because many claim it has no effect on the grand scheme of climate change. That sparks the question, can individuals actually make a difference or is it all up to the large corporate systems and current policies? Keep reading for a breakdown of the carbon footprints of both individuals and the different global sectors of the economy, and to learn ways we can all work to slow down climate change and build a healthier planet.

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is basically a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide (1). The reason scientists determine a carbon footprint is to bring awareness to the current emissions from creating the product or the impact an individual can have on the environment and then use it as a way to push industries or individuals to reduce their total emissions. Carbon emissions are a serious issue because the more these companies and individuals emit carbon dioxide, the more the planet warms causing other issues like ocean acidification, glacier melting, sea levels rising, and more frequent extreme weather events (3). According to scientists, in order to limit global warming from going above 2℃ or about 35℉, a point at which long lasting or irreversible environmental damage could occur, carbon dioxide emissions are needed to decline by about 25% by 2030 and reach net zero by about 2070 (7). Meaning reducing carbon emissions should be a major goal for everyone!

Ever since the term carbon footprint became popular, many organizations have come out with carbon footprint calculators that help individuals and families determine how much carbon dioxide they are emitting from their lifestyle and provide them with a list of ways they can work to reduce it. If you want to check how much carbon dioxide you emit check out this online calculator! You have probably seen ads or campaigns aimed at getting individuals to reduce their carbon footprint by making life changes like flying less, eating less meat, driving electric cars, or wearing less fast fashion, and many more (2). You might have also heard about the carbon footprints of different industries and sectors like agriculture or transportation, among others that are associated with high carbon footprints. But now that we are clear on what a carbon footprint is, who has a higher carbon footprint, individuals or the different sectors of the economy?

Who has a larger carbon footprint?

When we talk about the different sectors of the economy we mean industries like electricity production, food, agriculture, and land use, industrial work and factories, transportation, and buildings. All of these industries combined equate to about 90% of all global carbon emissions. Broken down even further, electricity production accounts for about 25% of emissions, food, agriculture, and land use is about 24%, industrial work and factories are about 21%, transportation 14%, and buildings equate to about 6% (6).

All of these industries combined contribute about 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year into the atmosphere. Clearly, these sectors account for most of the carbon dioxide emissions globally and this makes the argument for more individual changes difficult. For the most part, we as individuals do not have control over a lot of these industries. Most people can't pick which type of energy their power grid runs on, what type of building they work or live in, or don't have a choice of driving a car when the city they live in doesn't have any public transportation (4). Seems a little suspicious that most of the blame gets put on individuals when these sectors are doing most of the damage. But before we get distracted, let's compare the individual carbon footprint to these different sectors!

The average American carbon footprint is 16 tons/year and the global average is 4.8 tons a year per person. Americans have one of the largest carbon footprints along with Canada, Australia, and oil rich countries like Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan. The top five things that contribute to this carbon footprint are having children, driving, flying, energy use, and eating meat (2). For individuals to really reduce their carbon footprint, they essentially need to do the opposite of those five things and even if they did all of these things perfectly, the average person would make almost no impact compared to the different sectors of the economy. If we compare the average American carbon footprint (16 tons) with the global carbon footprint of all of the global sectors combined (50 billion tons), the average American's contribution is about 0.0000000003%. Statistically that is 0%! So statistically one person's emissions may just be a drop in the bucket, but that is why we need as many people as possible working towards reducing emissions (4,6).

What can individuals do?

One thing we all need to start doing is talk about climate change! Many studies have proven the benefits of having open dialogue with friends and family about climate change and how it results in further discussions and adoption of scientific facts. This means that when you talk to your friends and family about climate change and the status of the environment, it persuades people to continue discussions with their social circle and do more research to be able to understand and talk about the issue more thoroughly (8,9,10). Another reason talking about climate change has a positive impact is because when individuals take action it encourages others to take action. An example of this is the Great Thunberg effect! Climate activist, Greta Thunberg, has become so influential due to highlighting environmental injustice, that people who are familiar with her and her actions are more likely to take collective action to reduce global warming (11). Many studies have shown similar impacts and other studies have also discussed how making something a social norm pushes other people to take action (12). An example of this would be recycling! Eventually recycling became a social norm and now it is pretty taboo to not recycle. Just imagine what we can do if we make all environmentally friendly habits a social norm! By influencing just a few people we can start a chain reaction of change and passion for fighting for the environment. Instead of shaming others for not bringing a reusable bag or not composting all of their food scraps, we need to be encouraging others to try and make changes that fit their lifestyle and work to create a more united front that we can use to push corporations and policies that can make real lasting change.

Another great way for individuals to fight against climate change is to get involved in any way they can. There are so many opportunities out there to get involved either through volunteering or working for an organization that is pushing for larger change. And if you have always wanted to get involved, but don't know where to start, try this exercise that the hosts of the podcast How to Save A Planet by Gimlet media mentioned on their episode on carbon footprints. Think about what you are good at, what issue you want to target and feel passionate about, and what brings you joy. At the intersection of all of these questions you will be able to find an organization that is the right fit for you and that would benefit from your specific skill set. And if there isn't one that focuses on the issue you're passionate about, you can start one! Pushing for environmental change doesn't have to become your full time job but if you can volunteer or do things after work to get involved you can make a big difference. Remember, a team of people will always be better than one individual when it comes to fighting these corporate systems that are responsible for so much environmental damage.

Even though it may not seem like the changes you have made in your own life are making that big of a difference, just know that you could be inspiring people all around you to make similar changes, spreading positive change everywhere. So if you love vegetarian cooking, Instagram or blog about it and bring others along. If you have time to get involved in local environmental organizations or join campaigns to get more bike lanes in your neighborhood. Do that instead of worrying about every single lightbulb in your house that isn't LED or that you forgot to bring your reusable bags to the store that one time. Every action can help reduce the global carbon footprint, but if you are able to push corporations or change policies by doing something you are passionate about and enjoy, that can make a huge impact!


Sources

  1. Wiedmann, T. and Minx, J. (2008). A Definition of 'Carbon Footprint'. In: C. C. Pertsova, Ecological Economics Research Trends: Chapter 1, pp. 1-11, Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge NY, USA. https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=5999.
  2. Jones, C. M., & Kammen, D. M. (2011). Quantifying Carbon Footprint Reduction Opportunities for U.S. Households and Communities. Environmental Science & Technology, 45(9), 4088–4095. https://doi.org/10.1021/es102221h
  3. Jackson, R. (n.d.). The Effects of Climate Change. Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved May 7, 2021, from https://climate.nasa.gov/effects
  4. Hawken, Paul. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. , 2017.
  5. https://gimletmedia.com/shows/howtosaveaplanet/xjh53gn/is-your-carbon-footprint-bs
  6. https://www.drawdown.org/drawdown-framework
  7. Summary for Policymakers—Global Warming of 1.5 oC. (n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2021, from https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/
  8. Goldberg, M. H., Linden, S. van der, Maibach, E., & Leiserowitz, A. (2019). Discussing global warming leads to greater acceptance of climate science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(30), 14804–14805. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1906589116
  9. Heald, S. (2017). Climate Silence, Moral Disengagement, and Self-Efficacy: How Albert Bandura's Theories Inform Our Climate-Change Predicament. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 59(6), 4–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/00139157.2017.1374792
  10. Geiger, N., Swim, J. K., & Fraser, J. (2017). Creating a climate for change: Interventions, efficacy and public discussion about climate change. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 51, 104–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2017.03.010
  11. Sabherwal, A., Ballew, M. T., Linden, S. van der, Gustafson, A., Goldberg, M. H., Maibach, E. W., Kotcher, J. E., Swim, J. K., Rosenthal, S. A., & Leiserowitz, A. (2021). The Greta Thunberg Effect: Familiarity with Greta Thunberg predicts intentions to engage in climate activism in the United States. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 51(4), 321–333. https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.12737
  12. Wolske, K. S., Link to external site, this link will open in a new window, Gillingham, K. T., Link to external site, this link will open in a new window, & Wesley, S. P. (2020). Peer influence on household energy behaviours. Nature Energy, 5(3), 202–212. http://dx.doi.org.proxyau.wrlc.org/10.1038/s41560-019-0541-9
Life

Summer Recap: Here's What's Up with Wildfires

i.e. another way climate change is screwing with our health

Remember how bad the wildfires in the western United States were this year? Maybe you're worried that summer is never going to be the same with the constant air quality warnings? If you're like most people, you're probably a little concerned. And rightfully so! For instance, even if you weren't in California during the wildfires this year, you might have still felt the effects of the wildfires. While it doesn't seem the most direct, wildfires that occur far away still affect the environment you are living in. Climate change is playing a huge role in the number of wildfires and the length of the wildfire season that we're seeing and will be seeing - here's why.

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Food

Treat Yourself (and the Earth) to a Meat Besides Beef!

This little change can make a surprisingly big impact on climate change

For many, meat is not just a centerpiece at meals, but also integrated in cultural practices and dishes. As much as we love meat, we also know that it can have a huge impact on the environment and climate change.If you're looking to help the environment out, and are not quite ready to give up meat entirely, try making the switch from beef to any other meat! While beef, chicken, and pork are all meats, their environmental impacts are surprisingly different. Check it out as we break down how the meats stack up when it comes to helping fight climate change.

What's climate change got to do with meat?

If you're wondering about why scientists are bringing meat into the conversation about climate change, we've got you covered. Climate change is, well, exactly what it sounds like- the climate on Earth is changing. Climate is the long-term weather trend that we see on Earth (7). For instance, scientists can take a look at the five or 10 year temperature trend of a location and can see if the temperature is slowly rising or falling over time (7). For most places on earth, these long-term trends show that the temperature on Earth is rising slowly, which is not good (7)! .

Many things contribute to climate change, but the main contributor is what we call the greenhouse effect from different greenhouse gases (7). If you've ever stood in a greenhouse or a glass building when the sun was shining and noticed that it was way hotter inside the greenhouse than outside, you already understand how greenhouse gases work! Greenhouse gases act just like the glass in a greenhouse and trap heat on Earth, when normally it would go back into space (7). Of all the greenhouse gases produced from food, 56% is from our meat-producing systems because of the energy lost transforming plant energy (think animal feed) to animal energy (the actual chicken, pig or cattle) (2, 5). Some of the greenhouse gases produced from livestock like pig, chicken and cattle include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide (5).

Let's cut to the chase, why focus on beef?

Maybe you're wondering just how much of an environmental impact beef has compared to other meats. In a recent study, researchers found that for dairy, chicken, pork and eggs the environmental costs are pretty similar, but much lower than the environmental impacts of beef (3). Cattle systems actually produce many different greenhouse gases, including a lot of the strongest greenhouse gas, methane, which they belch out (5). Cattle produce a large amount of methane when they digest their food because they have four stomachs (4,5). On the other hand, pigs and chickens with just a simple digestive system produce very little methane (8). Scientists found that from beginning to end, making beef takes 28 times the amount of land, 11 times the amount of water, 5 times the amount of greenhouse gases, and 6 times the amount of nitrogen than any other meat because of how much energy they must consume to grow to a decent size (3). And even though beef is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and the least efficient type of meat to produce, it's the most popular meat in America (3, 6). Over the last 50 years, with the rise of the popularity of beef, we've seen greenhouse gas emissions from cattle rise by 59% (6).

What's the difference if I make the switch from beef to other meat?

The answer is - actually a big difference! If we compare the numbers, cattle make up 54% of total livestock greenhouse gas emissions, while pork only makes up 5% and chickens only make up 1% of greenhouse gas emissions (6). Just eating a little over 2 pounds of beef (or the equivalent of about 3 steaks), is the same as using a car to drive 100 miles (1). And if you swap out beef for pork in a meal, your carbon footprint is cut by a third (1). And if you swap out beef for chicken, your carbon footprint for that meal is 7 times smaller!

So, if you're looking to make a big impact on the environment with a smaller change than going entirely vegetarian or vegan, give eating a little less beef a go. You can add in more vegetables if you're making a stir-fry, or make pork, chicken, or sustainable fish the star of the show instead of beef. The culinary possibilities are endless! In fact, we've put together a starter list to help you get a jump start on eating less beef below.

Try out these tasty ways to eat less beef!

  • Think outside the box for burgers: Next time your hamburger hankering strikes, why not try out a tasty alternative like a chicken teriyaki or Hawaiian pork burger? Check out our article on beef burger alternatives that aren't plant based!
  • Keep beef for a special treat: Try not to cook beef at home or order it from your normal take-out spots. Instead, treat yourself to beef on special occasions like a birthday or when you go to a fancy restaurant.
  • Mix and match the meats: Instead of making spaghetti bolognese or meatloaf with just beef, substitute half for turkey or pork. You still get the flavor of beef, but it's better for the environment. Chopped vegetables or lentils also make for an awesome substitution for recipes that call for ground beef.
  • Make beef a side dish: Look to other meats or even vegetables to be the centerpiece of your meal. Our personal favorite is loading up on the vegetables, which make for surprisingly delicious centerpieces when grilled.
  • Don't forget the marinade: Worried that your meat might get dry? Marinating chicken and pork is the key to juicy, tender meat. So, amp up that flavor and your creative juices with some marinades. Plus, marinating is a top tip for a non-toxic BBQ!


References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/5/1704S/4596965?login=true
  2. http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet
  3. https://www.pnas.org/content/111/33/11996
  4. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02409-7
  5. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2019.00005/full?source=post_page---------------------------
  6. https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/266680/
  7. https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/
https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/B%201382_4.PDF
Food

Our 3 Favorite Tasty Meaty Burger Recipes Without Any Beef

Take action against climate change by replacing beef with pork, chicken, or turkey

We love burgers! The bun, the juicy meat, the sauces, and the toppings. We can barely go through a week without one. But realizing how big of an impact beef has on climate change is making us rethink our dinner plans. How do we get our burger fix while also making more environmentally friendly choices? Turns out that switching from beef to another meat is one of the easiest things you can do to make a big impact. Yes that's right! No need to go with a veggie burger (although more power to you if that's what you choose!) If you swap out beef for pork in a meal, your carbon footprint is cut by a third (1). And if you swap out beef for chicken, your carbon footprint for that meal is 7 times smaller! That's why we love these three easy no-beef burger recipes. They're so flavorful and delicious that all meat loving eaters will enjoy them!

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Women are the superheroes of our society, and just like in true superhero-fashion they carry out their work swiftly and efficiently without anyone realizing just how much they do to make sure everyone stays safe and life keeps running! They manage to juggle a variety of tasks everyday and their hard work is often under-appreciated. In lower income countries, women are the ones to grow and produce food, obtain water, cook, clean, bring up children, and take care of the household. However, even though women are awesome, they face unequal health risks compared to men and climate change will only make things worse. Read on to learn more about how climate change impacts women's health specifically.

How women are more vulnerable

Certain cultural and religiously based gender roles place women and girls at higher risk of developing health risks. For example, women suffer from higher rates of anemia and malnutrition compared to men globally (5). In countries with deep-rooted gender norms, women eat last after all the men and boys have been fed and consume the least amount of food (8). Women are usually also the first to sacrifice their own food to ensure their families have enough in periods of crisis (8). All of this contributes to calorie deficiency, chronic energy deficiency, and poor health in women, making them more vulnerable to climate catastrophes (13).

Women are also more economically vulnerable due to lower social and political status in countries with strong gender roles (12). They often don't share the same rights as their male counterparts when it comes to things like social status, land ownership, educational opportunities, and health outcomes as it relates to reproductive and sexual health (12). Since women are responsible for household food and water collection in these countries--both time consuming and physically demanding tasks--they often don't have the time or opportunity to earn an income or continue their education or participate in local governance (12,13). In general, women in these societies have lower average literacy and education levels and even if they are able to secure a job are still regarded as secondary income earners and are the first to be laid off (13). This economic and social insecurity highlights the fact that women are more likely to slip into and live in poverty, inhibiting their ability to adequately provide self-protection and improve their socioeconomic condition (13).

In many societies, women are also in charge of caregiving responsibilities, which could prevent them from leaving certain areas outside their immediate environment (12). This would impede their ability to mobilize in case of emergency or climate disaster (12). Women are also at higher risk of violence during and after disasters (12,13).

It's clear to see from this that women face a number of challenges due to just their gender identity and often suffer more than men from poverty, hunger, malnutrition, economic crises, violence, and disaster related problems (13). Climate change-related disasters have the potential to make things worse.

Climate Change will make things worse

Climate change can impact people's health through a variety of mechanisms—heat, poor air quality, extreme weather events, reduced water quality, decreased food security, and vector-borne diseases, just to name a few (5). Since women have distinct physiologic and health needs throughout their life cycle, especially during periods like pregnancy, this places them at a greater risk of climate change impacts and sensitivities (2,5).

Since climate change can lead to increased temperatures and sea level rise, this contributes to heat waves and saltwater intrusion in rural coastal areas (2, 6). Saltwater intrusion happens when seawater encroaches into fresh groundwater supplies and increases the salt content of people's drinking water (7). This is an issue because people can't drink salt water and it can't be used to irrigate crops, so this could contribute to water scarcity and food insecurity (7). In addition, both saltwater intrusion and heat waves increase the potential risk for pregnant women of developing preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, or delivering preterm (2,6).

Since women often eat last in their families in certain countries, climate-driven food insecurity would worsen their already limited nutritional intake (5,8). This would negatively impact women's health during menstruation, pregnancy, and nursing—all periods of time when women have increased nutritional needs physiologically (2,5). Since women produce around 60-80% of all food in low-income countries and are the main food producers and providers in the world, climate change-related agricultural issues and food scarcity wouldn't just be a health issue but an economic one as well (2,3,5). Women's livelihoods as smallholder farmers would be at risk from climate-related crop failure, which would increase their risk of falling into poverty (5).

During climate-related disasters like floods, storms, droughts, and heat waves, women suffer more mortality cases compared to men and are at a greater risk of experiencing physical, sexual, and domestic violence afterwards (2,5). This mortality difference is most striking when compared to women's socio-economic status in the country, since women have the worst mortality outcomes in countries where they have very low social, economic, and political status (10).

This combination of low social and economic status and socially constructed gender roles contribute to the increased climate change-related health risks women have compared to men (9,13). However, we can do things to change this.

The way forward

Thankfully, organizations are aware of this disparity and have been researching how to mitigate it. By empowering women to participate in decision making at all levels and providing proper access to information and education, we can help develop and improve women's livelihoods and create lasting social change (13). Increasing women's social and economic opportunities will allow them to not only develop more social network connections and have greater autonomy and independence, but also contribute to overall better health outcomes.

While both men and women will be vulnerable to changing environmental conditions, the drivers and effects of climate change are not gender neutral (3). To help address this, women should be included at all levels of decision making so as to contribute to the process of assessing vulnerabilities and capacities and promoting equality (2,5,13).



References

  1. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(20)30001-2
  2. https://books.google.com/books?id=JDAnEAAAQBAJ&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&printsec=frontcover&pg=PA1&dq=climate+change+women+health&hl=en#v=onepage&q=climate%20change%20women%20health&f=false
  3. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7pr8xyafPi0C&oi=fnd&pg=PA55&dq=climate+change+women+health&ots=bT1kAckdWt&sig=9UuuKEYOw6TQKP0GICEQ0apiC-w#v=onepage&q=climate%20change%20women%20health&f=false
  4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.02.021
  5. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002603
  6. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.1002804
  7. https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/water-resources/science/saltwater-intrusion?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  8. https://wfpusa.org/women-are-hungrier-infographic/#:~:text=Rooted%20Gender%20Norms-,Deep%2DRooted%20Gender%20Norms,ensure%20their%20families%20have%20enough.
  9. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60854-6
  10. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/144781/9789241508186_eng.pdf
  11. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GH000163
  12. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mohammed-Baten/publication/295861981_Gender_issue_in_climate_change_discourse_theory_versus_reality/links/585a2e0408aeffd7c4fda7a2/Gender-issue-in-climate-change-discourse-theory-versus-reality.pdf
  13. https://doi.org/10.11634/216796221504315

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