Getting Serious About Climate Change

In 2015 more and more Americans began eating poultry than red meat. The question is, can Americans opt-out of eating so much meat for the better of the environment? 

Eleanor Cummins of Popular Science wrote about why Americans eat so much meat in Oct. 2019. Cummins begins before the first 13 states were created, where only kings and royalty were the ones who had the money to feast on animals. When colonists began a new life in America, there was much more land to raise livestock. 

Since then, everyone in the US wanted to have meat in their diet. Having meat started to be associated with what it meant to be American, it seems almost criminal not to have a turkey at Thanksgiving. 

Cummins quotes Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, in which people couldn’t sustain livestock in the cities in the early 1900s and had to migrate farms away from crowded places. Farms on the outer banks could increase production and be able to sell more at cheaper prices. 

While the consumption of red meat keeps growing, more and more people are choosing poultry, fish, and vegan foods. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Over 2015-17, beef had the largest percentage increase in per capita loss-adjusted availability—growing by 6 percent.”  After the 2007-9 recession, Americans began eating more red meat. 

The USDA also explains how poultry started to change the diets of Americans. As health departments started to advise switching to chicken rather than the fatty beef, and the bird becoming much more accessible in a variety of ways, “skinless, boneless breasts and ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens.”  The “Loss-adjusted chicken availability increased from 22.4 pounds per capita in 1970 to 52.3 pounds per capita in 2017.” 

Vegan Bits lists the top 10 most vegan cities in the US, as of Jan 1, 2020, the top being Portland, Los Angeles, and NYC. Certainly, here there’s a stronger normalization of choosing eggplant parmesan over a half slab of pork ribs. 

In a survey conducted by Faunalytics, the top reasons why people are vegan are because of health-69%, animal protection-68%, and concern for the environment-59%.  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(AOC), U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, has heavily pushed for the Green New Deal, legislation that pushes for climate change and to address economic inequality. The Green New Deal was modeled after the New Deal that took place in the 1930s in order to help recover from the Great Depression. 

In Mar. 2019 AOC spoke in frustration after the senate voted against the Green New Deal, calling it elitist, “This is a quality of life issue. You wanna tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist?” AOC stated the poorest people in the cities are the ones experiencing first hand the health effects of climate change. 

“Science should not be partisan,” AOC could not comprehend why so many people turned against helping create legislation for improving the environment, “We are facing a national crisis.” One of the main factors to drive AOC to her frustration was the heavy attention that focused on helping oil companies rather than people’s lives. 

AOC was interviewed over a zoom meeting by Jane Fonda on Oct. 23 on the matter of how the Green New Deal could have been helpful in the heights of the coronavirus pandemic. AOC amplifies how already having the legislation in place would have changed the mindsets of Americans on science-related issues. 

“We would have respected the science early,” AOC refers to the scientists who were warning the population of the pandemic in its early stages. AOC also adds that the Green New deal was also centered around universal healthcare, which is still critical as the COVID-19 cases continue to rise. 

AOC and many Americans have high hopes for climate control as the new year comes along and Joe Biden will be officially inaugurated into office.

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