Shift to Vegetarian Diets Is Needed to Save the World, Climate Scientists Say in Leaked Report
By Julia Conley
When some of the world's top scientists conclude an international summit in Geneva next week, they are expected to call for a major shift to vegetarian diets around the world in order to keep the warming of the globe under 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Simply focusing on reducing or eliminating carbon emissions from fossil fuel industries, factories and vehicles will not be enough to avoid catastrophic climate change, according to a leaked draft of the report out of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summit.
Translation: go vegetarian and control land use.— Elise Misao Hunchuck (@elisehunchuck) August 3, 2019
"It will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land."https://t.co/6mP3jBPvqJ
The case for moving towards a largely vegetarian or vegan diet gets stronger and stronger, quite apart from the moral issues about animal suffering. https://t.co/CWdGtuATRL— Nigel Warburton (@philosophybites) August 3, 2019
"We are now getting very close to some dangerous tipping points in the behavior of the climate — but as this latest leaked report of the IPCC's work reveals, it is going to be very difficult to achieve the cuts we need to make to prevent that happening," Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, told The Guardian in response to the leaked report.
Agriculture and other land uses now account for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, while half of the methane emissions in the atmosphere are released from cattle and rice fields. Nearly a quarter of the world's land is now taken up by humans and their endeavors supporting the growing population and developing and maintaining food systems.
Land will have to be managed far more sustainably, the IPCC finds, and a significant shift away from meat-heavy diets will need to take place to keep the warming of the globe from passing 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"The consumption of healthy and sustainable diets, such as those based on coarse grains, pulses and vegetables, and nuts and seeds … presents major opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions," the draft reads, according to The Guardian.
The panel is also expected to recommend "improved access to markets, empowering women farmers, expanding access to agricultural services, strengthening land tenure security, [and] early warning systems for weather, crop yields, and seasonal climate events."
The IPCC summit ends August 6. One hundred and ninety nations are expected to meet in late 2020 for the largest climate-focused summit since the Paris climate accord was forged in 2015.
On social media, climate experts and other observers implored leaders at all levels of government to heed the IPCC's warning and push for significant changes to agriculture and food systems.
@sendems If you are running for the 2020 presidency, it is important to include this in your climate crisis plan: We must transform food production to save the world, says leaked report https://t.co/c9bBZ42EG7— Karen Loebig (@karen_loebig) August 3, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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