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Climate change calculator

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 09, 2015

Brad Plumer of Vox plays around with the climate change Global Calculator and discovers, among other things, eating less beef and slowing the world’s population growth would significantly slow global warming.

The IEA scenario I started with assumed that, by mid-century, the average person will be eating 2,330 calories per day, including 220 calories of meat. It also assumes we’ll be eating more beef — that is, about 25 percent of the world’s meat will come from ruminants like cows, up from 22 percent today. Since cows produce a lot of methane, this is significant.

But what if we tweaked those assumptions? I told the calculator to assume that in 2050, the average person was only consuming 152 calories of meat per day — which is the WHO’s target for a healthy diet. I also assumed that the mix of meat stayed similar to what it was today — marginally less beef, more chicken and pork.

The result? Global greenhouse-gas emissions dropped significantly. We’re now on pace for around 2.5°C of global warming, give or take.