On January 16, 2019, Georgina Gustin of Inside Climate News highlighted a report by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, which gathered experts from around the world to suggest a global diet and changes to food production. These changes could meet the demands of the Paris Climate Agreement and other initiatives aimed at improving global health. The report’s recommendations will be a tough pill to swallow for meat lovers, however, as they call for the halving of global meat consumption. Furthermore, the plan proposes that agricultural systems adopt more eco-friendly growing methods that depend less on fertilizers. The entire proposal is no less than a “revolution” and it is not without just cause. As Gustin writes, “Agriculture consumes about 40 percent of global land, while food production contributes about 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
Gustin wrote a follow-up article that details a similar study, originally published in the journal Nature Research. This time the focus was on an increased frequency of “food production shocks” resulting from climate change. Scientists “identified nearly 230 food production shocks, in 134 countries, from 1961 to 2013, and said the frequency of crop production shocks driven by extreme weather had been increasing steadily.” Gustin also reported on investor groups contacting major food companies about combatting looming threats to health and the environment.
Articles by Forbes and Vox reported certain aspects of this story, and major news sites also reported it, pointing out how the proposed diet suggested cutting back on meat and replacing it with more plants and vegetables. However, besides Vice, many of these reports did not outline the necessity for these changes, nor the positive effect the changes could have.
Climate change was often mentioned in establishment reports, but statistics like those cited in Gustin’s reporting were not given. At best a statistic stating that the diet could help save 11 million people was given by both NBC and Yahoo news, however, that kind of statistic by itself doesn’t garner much credence if there is not context to frame it.
Meanwhile, Inside Climate News was expressing what most who read those other articles were probably thinking. America eats a lot and this type of change is not going to come easy. “North Americans already eat six times more than the recommended amount of red meat of about 14 grams a week, the report says.” Worse still, there was hardly any mention of the investor groups that contacting food companies as a result of these reports in any of the mainstream media reports.
Georgina Gustin, “Global Commission Calls for a Food Revolution to Solve World’s Climate & Nutrition Problems,” Inside Climate News, January 16, 2019, insideclimatenews.org/news/16012019/global-food-agriculture-revolution-eat-lancet-commission-climate-change-health-nutrition-report-less-meat.
Georgina Gustin, “Investors Join Calls for a Food Revolution to Fight Climate Change.” Inside Climate News, January 29, 2019, insideclimatenews.org/news/29012019/global-food-system-shocks-climate-change-mcdonalds-obesity-malnutrition-investors-lancet-scientists.
Student Researcher: Matthew Lundeen (North Central College)
Faculty Evaluator: Steve Macek (North Central College)