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2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #4

Posted on 26 January 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 20 through Sat, Jan 26, 2019

Editor's Pick

The way we eat could doom us as a species. Here’s a new diet designed to save us.

The EAT-Lancet Commission’s “planetary health diet” is bold and controversial.

Veggie Burger

Eating more plant-based burgers could help us avoid environmental catastrophe, according to a new report. Shutterstock

The way we eat and produce food has become so destructive to the environment and our health that it now threatens the long-term survival of the human species, an international commission of 37 scientists write in a sprawling new Lancet report.

We now have so many interconnected food-related crises — climate change, pollution, and food waste, not to mention malnutrition and obesity — that it will be impossible to feed the 10 billion people expected by 2050 unless we make dramatic changes to our diets and farming practices, the researchers argue.

What’s needed, according to the peer-reviewed report, titled “Food in the Anthropocene: The EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems,” is a new philosophy for how to eat on planet Earth. Though there are huge variations around the world in what and how much we consume, we are all in this existential crisis together.

Which brings us to what seems to be the most controversial aspect of this report: its specific dietary advice for ensuring that everyone’s nutritional needs are met without exceeding “planetary boundaries.” To survive as a species, it says, everyone — including you! — is advised to eat mostly vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts, and limit red meat consumption to just one serving per week. 

The way we eat could doom us as a species. Here’s a new diet designed to save us. by Eliza Barclay, Vox, Jan 24, 2019

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Jan 20, 2019

Mon Jan 21, 2019

Tue Jan 22, 2019

Wed Jan 23, 2019

Thu Jan 24, 2019

Fri Jan 25, 2019

Sat Jan 26, 2019

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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. Regarding "The Way We Eat..."  I love a fried or grilled steak sometimes, but I feel there are  numerous reasons to go moderate with meat consumption, and I feel this confluence of factors should be what guides our thinking. The sum total of factors is compelling to me. The reasons include more efficient use of scarce land resources, less cancer risk, less heart disease risk, less animal cruelty, possible longer life span, less methane emissions and other factors.

    And there is no obvious downside to lower meat consumption, ie it doesnt appear to cause harm.

    Mediterranean and Japanese diets are lower in meat than Americans diet and they live longer and have lower obesity and diabetes etc. Of course like the article says, its really hard sorting out cause and effect, but perhaps the point is a low meat diet is not obviously hurting Mediterranean people, and is "very likely" helping them.

    We have to make choices , and all we have is the best science available. We may never have perfect sicience, but science is infinitely preferable to gut instincts, unqualified self appointed diet "experts", astrology etc.

    Look at the issue another way. Is there any compound in meat and fish that is important to health that we cannot get from plants? Not that I can see. We know there are plants rich in protein, iron can be obtained from certain plants or even mineral supplements, various plant based oils contain saturated fats (necessary to metabolise certain vitamins).

    We know vegetarians live longer than meat eaters from numerous studies. Of course this might be because they exercise more, but the point is the plant based diet is not obviously hurting them in some way.

    I'm not promoting vegetarianism as such. The new research suggests no more than 600 g of meat and fish combined per week. I eat about 1100 grams of meat and fish combined a week. I could do 800 g I think.

    The high meat / saturated fat diets like The Atkins Diet rely on the ketosis theory of losing weight. Ok this appears to be solid science, but other science indicates people find it really hard to stay with the Atkins style of diet long term.

    The losing weight issue is different anyway form the healthy diet issue (although they overlap). A really effective diet that helps people keep weight off long term remains elusive, especially if you are very overweight. The body resets permanently at increased appetite levels. I see a lot more stomach stapling operations.

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  2. And yes we have to be aware of the link between sugars and carbs and type 2 diabetes, but this could be mitigated by keeping total calorie intake within sensible levels. Asians have quite a high carb diet, but low diabetes, probably because the total calories are moderate. 

    We could also  maximise eating plant based proteins and fibre, so carbs aren't too high.

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  3. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Why Trump is 'wrong' on climate change

    Arnie makes several good points in this article like this one: "The world leaders need to take it seriously and put a time clock on it and say, 'OK, within the next five years we want to accomplish a certain kind of a goal,' rather than push it off until 2035."

    Maybe he has come back from the future to warn us...

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  4. It ain't going to happen as long as politicians are financed by vested interests.

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  5. Related research: Food industry holds sway over public policy with lobbying tactics, study says.

    The food industry in Australia and New Zealand has managed to hold off near-universal calls from public health experts for the government to crack down on junk food and sugar through its influential lobbying tactics, the co-author of an Australian study says.

    The study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, interviewed "high-level people, including former politicians and civil servants with firsthand experience of these corporate activities," the University of Auckland's professor of population nutrition and global health Boyd Swinburn said in a media release.

    The main tactics used by the industry identified in the study included framing the solutions to obesity in terms of personal responsibility, using private dinners and other opportunities for lobbying politicians, cherry-picking and promoting the evidence to suit their case, promotion of deregulation and self-regulatory approaches, funding professional nutrition organisations, sponsoring children's sport and nutrition education materials, and personal criticism of public health advocates," Mr Swinburn writes.

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  6. Before I could get behind any global transition to a vegan diet I would need to see the results of a real scientific / engineering study. The thing is this, it's predoinantly western countries that eat meat, not the most populated developing world, so I'm not convinced that a global transition would have much of an effect on global CO2 / CH4 emissions. Noting too that humans will actually emit more CH4 if we embrace a vegan diet, and the emissions of 8-14 billion humans is not exactly insubstantial.

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