Last week we wrote about how meat-heavy diets (ahem, Paleos) are probably causing a bacon shortage. Today, there’s more bad news in the animal protein world: Apparently, scientists say fish are shrinking because of climate change, and they’ll be down to one quarter their of their size by 2050.
Overfishing has already caused a dwindling supply of fish, and fewer available species. But scientists predict that the fish we do have are going to get pretty tiny, thanks to the rising temperature of ocean water. This is basically because warmer water has less oxygen, which fish require to move and grow. (So less oxygen = smaller fish.)
Now, back to pigs: The nervously-anticipated, much-debated bacon shortage of 2013 is all based on speculation that this summer’s terrible droughts caused a corn shortage, which will cause a feed shortage in hog lots. And, while it might be a little unfair to blame the Paleo lifestyle for singlehandedly causing climate change, many scientists agree that meat-heavy diets are really not helping.
Most of us probably have several habits we could adjust to reduce our carbon footprint and try to stave off climate change, but we really shouldn’t ignore the tie between meat and, well, heat. The United Nations believes that our current animal product consumption causes equal environmental damage to the use of fossil fuels. The resources required to raise livestock are immense, and the impact on the environment is very different from the impact of producing other foods. Eating locally helps. Supporting sustainable agriculture is huge. But if you’re doing that while eating 2-3 servings of meat per day, you’re probably not doing enough.
You don’t have to go vegan to reduce your impact. I’m not vegan, and I don’t plan to be anytime soon. (I’ve tried it, and quite simply, it wasn’t for me.) But eating meat a handful of times per week from local, sustainable sources has a very different impact than eating bacon at breakfast, chicken at lunch, and beef at dinner, with a side of veggies. If you thrive on a high-protein diet, think about what kind of protein you really need, and how much. If everyone did as much, then fish might have a fighting chance at not shrinking to a quarter of their size (and we might just feel a little better, too).
Photo: flickr user musiclver05