Western diet blamed for health problems and increased carbon emissions

I suppose it was just a matter of time. I mean it wouldn’t be too long before a study would come out pointing out how diets of people in Western countries are blamed for health problems and then tying them to (you guessed it) affecting climate change. It is common sense that if people don’t eat the right foods, exercise or take care of themselves in some way it will lead to increases in the rates of diabetes and cancer as well as other health problems.

Now environmentalists have a Nature study that they can use to push for controls the kind of food we eat. Since, like there has been a scientific relationship established between human activity and climate change, a link has now been made between diets in Western countries and carbon emissions. The next step policy wise is to enact carbon emission controls (perhaps special taxes) on food production. The Slow Food movement that pushed the mantra Buy Local which is is based on the idea that eating at locally owned and operated restaurants was more climate friendly and help reduce people’s carbon footprints.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) would make the implementation of this easier since by forcing people to buy health insurance, it makes it easier for people to be regimented. Increases in insurance premiums or reductions in coverage could be justified if patients are obese or don’t eat the right foods. Incentives could be put in place by insurance companies to get people to lose weight similar to how auto insurance companies give discounts for customers to take certain auto safety classes or for having good driving records. None of this sounds bad in theory, but I don’t like the idea that it will be pushed down people’s throats and could even affect people who are overweight for reasons other than food consumption. Persuasion works much better than force when it comes to things like weight loss or encouraging healthy lifestyles.

What raised the hairs on the back of my head was this section of the Euractiv news report quoting researchers:

At the same time, the study reveals that the production of beef, as well as some fish, will be an environmental problem, and the amount of carbon emission from food production could double if the Western lifestyle keeps spreading across the globe.

“If this trend continues, we will be around 30% more people on Earth in 2050, but the carbon emissions will increase by 80% compared to the levels we have now,” Tilman said. “What we eat is as important for the environment as what cars we drive. The food industry contributes with more carbon emissions than what all cars and means of transport do together,” he continued.

Though it is not a scientific study, one environmentalist made an interesting case in an essay published on line making the case that meat consumption can reduce carbon emissions. To the best of my knowledge and not surprisingly, it has had little to no influence.

In fairness and to their credit, the Nature study’s researchers suggest Mediterranean or vegetarian diets and say nothing about food controls. In addition to industry being blamed for climate change now human activity inso far as food use leads to increased population which results in increased carbon emissions which affects global warming. The data in this study can be used to justify direct controls on human food consumption and production down the line. It is utterly disgusting to scold mankind for the sin of existing in the form of blaming humans for the planet’s environmental problems (if any) when, in fact, we are clearly not. Enough is enough!