James Cameron, most notable for his direction of award-winning films and deep-sea diving endeavors, is wearing a new hat in the public arena as an avid environmentalist. Not only does he have plans to ensure the production of the Avatar sequels is entirely net energy neutral, he recently spoke at Greenbuild about replacing conventional building construction with more environmentally responsible methods as the world’s population grows. Now Cameron’s latest mission is to educate the public on how something most folks do every day is contributing to global warming: eating meat and dairy.
Brainstorming among environmentalists often omits the effects of factory farming from the discussion, until recently. The documentary Cowspiracy, which has gained visibility after Leonardo DiCaprio became an executive producer, tackles this omission and Cameron is chiming in about our food choices being a non-negotiable change to fight global warming. “I think they’re basically unachievable goals if we don’t embrace the way we eat as well as part of it. But nobody’s talking about it,” says the acclaimed director, via The Washington Post.
Factory farming is responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, a fact confirmed by the Chatham House think tank, which is more than the entire transportation sector combined. Carbon dioxide is considered the leading atmospheric gas concern by many, which is emitted in high amounts by running machinery and transporting animals, their feed, and their meat. Immense deforestation for cattle grazing also significantly reduces the Earth’s ability to recycle CO2 into oxygen through its trees. Yet, the production of methane by animal agriculture (via “enteric fermentation” or digestion and burping) and nitric oxide (via fertilizer and animal manure) is also comparably staggering.
Some companies opt for addressing factory farming’s devastating global effects by trying to modify biology. For example, one company is proposing adding a “methane inhibitor” to cows’ feed in hopes to reduce the gas’ emissions. Frankly, this seems like putting a band-aid on a broken arm when considering the massive scale of animal agriculture’s damage. Cameron and his wife are in agreement, as they have founded the Food Choice Taskforce, an entity aimed at taking control of our environmental future through our diets. The director is hopeful that a great shift can take place and people will feel empowered to make choices that will directly impact our future. He says, “It’s a viable choice, it’s essentially a thermostat that’s being handed to us that we can use to turn down climate change.”