An Amazing Update on the Climate Healers Position Paper

“In God we trust. All others must bring data” – W. Edwards Deming.


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Dear Climate Healers,

Have you noticed that climate change is in our faces lately? The top three stories on the New York Times web site on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, were

1. Heat Will Likely Soar to Record Levels in Next 5 Years, New Analysis Says
The World Meterological Organization forecast “far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment” with global temperatures likely to exceed 1.5 deg C by 2027.

2. Canada Wildfires Have Been Disrupting Lives. Now, Oil and Gas Take a Hit.
Alberta’s vast oil industry is cutting production as the flames menace wells and pipelines, highlighting the danger.

3. Formula 1 Cancels Grand Prix Amid Deadly Floods in Italy
Formula I canceled this weekend’s Grand Prix after heavy rain and flooding in Italy made it unsafe to proceed with the race.

To paraphrase Glen Merzer, it’s as if Mother Nature is saying, “This beautiful, blue green planet is yours to keep if you can figure out how to take care of all the plant and animal life on it. But if you can’t figure it out, I’ll burn you to a crisp or drown you, take your pick.”

Therefore, let’s figure it out, shall we? The Climate Healers animal agriculture position paper showed that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 87% of greenhouse gas emissions annually when we take into account the opportunity cost of the land used for animal agriculture. This calculation was based on data found in UN reports and peer reviewed scientific papers, valid as of 2019. Since then, the UN IPCC released the Sixth Assessment Report and it had some glaring omissions and some important updates.

One of the glaring omissions is that the biomass flow diagram (Fig. 11.9, Page 836) from Working Group 3, Chapter 11 of the Fifth Assessment Report has disappeared in the Sixth Assessment Report. It’s as if the political process used to compile the UN IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report – a process that let political representatives from a few nations delete the scientific recommendation to adopt a plant-based diet – deemed that is too much information from which pesky systems engineers can conclude that animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change. That biomass flow diagram diagram and the accompanying data is not there anymore. Therefore, we will assume that the relevant data in the Fifth Assessment Report is still valid.

Next, one of the important updates is that the ratio of the CO2 embedded in soil and root systems to the CO2 embedded in above ground vegetation has been revised upward in the Sixth Assessment Report. This means that for every 1 Kg of CO2 stored in above ground vegetation on land, there is now an estimated 3.77 Kgs of CO2 stored in root systems and the soil, not just a little over 2 Kgs as in Working Group 1, Chapter 6, Fig 6.1 of the Fifth Assessment Report. Recall that the opportunity cost of the land used for animal agriculture was calculated to be 34.5 Gigatons of CO2 in the CH position paper, based on tripling the 11.5 Gt CO2 in the above ground vegetation consumed by farmed animals today, to account for the CO2 stored in root systems and the soil. Using the updated Sixth Assessment Report (see Fig. 5.12, page 700) estimates, we can now multiply by 4.77 (= 2150/450) the CO2 embedded in the above ground vegetation consumed by farmed animals, not just triple it, to include CO2 stored in root systems and the soil, which means that the opportunity cost of the land used for animal agriculture is now at least 54.9 Gt CO2, not 34.5 Gt CO2.

When we plug in this updated opportunity cost of the land use, animal agriculture is now responsible for at least 118% of greenhouse gas emissions annually. This estimate is greater than 100% implying that if we all go vegan and transition to a socially just, plant-based, ecosystem restoration economy from our current socially unjust, animal-based, resource extraction economy, then the CO2 levels in the atmosphere will decline and the earth will grow cooler annually, even if all our other consumer demands remain the same as before.

Isn’t that amazing? What are we waiting for?

Thank you for your support.

HELP us every day to

Heal the planet.
Eat plants.
Love animals.
Plant trees.

It’s that simple.

Thanks again for being a superhero and joining our herd. Please forward this post to all your friends and let’s grow our MOOOvement together.

With much love,
Sailesh on behalf of Vega, Cow and Climate Healer and the Climate Healers core team
(Akhil, Alison, Anne, BJ, Carl, Chip, Debra, Gabriele, Giva, Ilse, Jamen, Kelly, Ken, Kimaya, Krish, Maggie, Marco, Paige, Pareen, Paul, Ray, Sailesh, Sarah, Shankar, Stacey, Suzanne, Tami and Vega, the Cow and Climate Healer).

PS: If you are looking for Vega the Cow’s weekly update on “50 Ways to Leave My Udder“, please click here.


Should Mother Earth be in Hospice Care?
Celebrating the Unstoppable VEGAN Revolution in Goa
Sailesh Rao
  • Dr Rajeena Shahin
    Posted at 07:08h, 19 May Reply

    Great read. An eye opener. hope more people read this and change their behaviours to a planet friendly one

  • Ray Kowalchuk
    Posted at 14:51h, 31 May Reply

    This 118% calculation is an opportunity to illustrate the need for more than divvying up the greenhouse gas emissions so folks can look at a pie chart on USA Today. The warming potential of agricultural methane was clearly understood in textbooks but suppressed in even the forefront of environmental politics since they “chose their battle” against fossil fuels. The GWP100 seems an arbitrary metric but I personally see the well-intentioned insidiousness (oxymoron?) to backpedal on food emissions…CO2 narratives don’t punch the public in their well-fed gut the way CH4 topics do. The “vegan agenda” is less a bias than a dissolution of personal and political bias, and as activists we discover for ourselves, and witness in the folks around us, that the brain is wired to the stomach.

    The ag community began its self-assessment of emissions in 2006’s Livestock’s Long Shadow, and the climate community, determined to protect the optics of both their personal footprint and their monomania for renewable energy solutions, STILL accept the “cowboy science” of 14.5% global emissions attributable to animal agriculture. Worse, their attitude towards this “percentage game” has been dismissive, despite the growing awareness that, though the land use benefits of ending oil are small and rarely calculated, the environmental opportunity costs of ending meat and dairy are gargantuan, as Dr. Rao illustrates.

    Now that we are looking at numbers >100% we may shift the dismissive attitude towards accounting all-in SOLUTIONS. I’m not talking about convincing the agricultural community — this never was any more rational than debating the oil industry. It’s the “good guys” of environmental science who have to exhibit some integrity despite the political landscape of food.

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