I am currently doing a Masters in Public Health at Bournemouth University and have focused for my first two assignments on 'The effect of Climate Change on Malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa' & 'Will a plant based diet help lessen the damage of climate change?'
I shall furthermore be looking into more aspects of climate change,particularly the agricultural, water supply & sanitation, and especially the population angles, as I realise as a Health Professional, there is a vital need to raise awareness. This has particularly impressed me by reading all the evidence about Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from ruminants, and all the by-products and processes of the meat and dairy industries. I therefore would like to bring your attention to various literature and supply a few statistics:
- The resolution of the World Health Assembly calls on the WHO to assist the international community in grasping the health risks of climate change (McMichael A.J., Neira, M., Heymann, D.L., 2008. Climate change and health. World Health Assembly 2008. The Lancet, Volume 371, Issue 9628, Pages 1895 - 1896, 7 June 2008 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60811-9.)
- Reducing livestock production limits the cattle related methane emissions and deforestation that are contributing to global warming.(Friel S, Dangour AD, Garnett T, Lock K, Chalabi Z, Roberts I, et al.2009. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: food and agriculture. Lancet 2009;374:2016-25.CrossRefMedlineWeb of Science).
- 18% of GHG emissions currently comes from animal based agriculture compared with 13.5% from the world transport systems
. (Going veggie for the environment leaflet. Vegetarian Society UK 2011).
- Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang's evidence far surpasses the 2006 Report by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), saying that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year, or 51% of annual worldwide GHG emissions. Goodland, R and Anhang, J. 2009. Livestock and Climate Change. World Watch Nov/Dec 2009.
- Meat production is a wasteful and inefficient production of protein. 41-46% of the world's consumption of fresh water is used on animal farming. We need a more holistic approach in GHG reduction and information to show the fuller environmental impacts of continuing in this activity. (Baroni et al. 2006. Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61,279-286). (A particularly good study).
- Why isn't more research being done into dietary effects on climate change as a move towards a more plant based diet could substantially help in lowering GHGs? (Carlsson-Kanyama et al. 2009. Potential contributions of food consumption patterns to climate change. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009, 89 (suppl) : 17045-95.
I hope that you manage to peruse these papers, as I am sure they will inform and surprise you with the research.
Because of my studies, I am away from Zambia this year, so my concerns over the climate changes Africa is having to face is very pertinent to me. I help run a charity based in rural Zambia: (www.lemontreefoundation.co.uk).
Hoping that there are some strong positives coming out of the Durban conference-its of vital importance.