The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
The two most abundant gases in the atmosphere, nitrogen (comprising 78% of the dry atmosphere) and oxygen (comprising 21%), exert almost no greenhouse effect. Instead, the greenhouse effect comes from molecules that are more complex and much less common. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second-most important one. Methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and several other gases present in the atmosphere in small amounts also contribute to the greenhouse effect. IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“Going vegan” and choosing public transportation are the most powerful tools we have within our personal choices to halt global warming. The two gasses emitted from those two activities are methane and nitrous oxide, and they 72 and 289 times more powerful than carbon dioxide’s Global Warming Potential (GWP). Methane degrades more quickly than the other gases so reducing it has more immediate benefit for slowing climate change. Our personal behaviors, our human ecologies, can make a difference in the face of humanity still failing to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, now at 408 parts per million, a level not seen in at least 800,000 years.
“Warming” isn’t the only issue related to greenhouse gas emissions. We think of this change as happening where we live but most of the newly trapped heat is in the oceans where the same gasses have passed into the water causing a 26% increase on oceanic acidity which is harmful t lethal for life there. Elephants are dying from drought and humans are fleeing crises whose deeper causes of disaffection are poverty induced by failing crops because of climate change.
There is a great deal of conflicting opinion in the scientific literature at the moment due to the difficulty of measuring such immense global industries and activities like animal agriculture; fundamental disagreements about what to consider when measuring activities associated with animal agriculture, such as deforestation compared to “replacement” plant communities (that have lost their ecological functions); and, widespread bias by the researchers.
The fifth assessment report from the IPCC was published in 2014. The next one will come out this year, 2018. We will update and expand this section when it is published.
Peoples’ Climate Mobilization
UPDATE Spring 2018: Green Vegans and other vegan organizations rallied and marched in the Global Peoples Climate Mobilization held on March 29, 2017 in Seattle. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates.
We also carried our three large vegan banners in the 2014 Climate March, one of which promoted the documentary, Cowspiracy.