Change your diet: the easiest way to help reduce your climate impact
Sarah has been studying dark matter and dark energy for the last 20 years, but when her children started school she began to think about our own planet in the next 20 years and beyond. She learned about climate change properly for the first time, how it threatens worldwide food production, and how food causes about a quarter of all global warming. She wanted to know how much each of her food choices was contributing, and why. She delved into the academic research literature and summarized the results in simple charts. The charts make it easy for the non-specialist to see the impacts of different meal options showing that some easy food switches can reduce food greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent. Most of us make many food choices every day, and by changing these we can significantly reduce climate change caused by food, and free up land that can be used to help reduce climate change overall.
There is an impending perfect storm of pressure on our food production system, with increasing population and changing consumer tastes, in the face of rising temperatures and extreme weather events.
Tim Gore, head of food policy and climate change for Oxfam, said: “The main way that most people will experience climate change is through the impact on food: the food they eat, the price they pay for it, and the availability and choice that they have.” Yet, at the same time, food production causes about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and this is rising as the population increases and becomes more affluent. If we stopped burning fossil fuels, food would be the biggest contributor to climate change overall. Food production causes about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and this talk will be about our potential for change.
About the speaker
A Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, Prof. Sarah Bridle has diversified from cosmology into agriculture and food research, motivated by the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, Sarah founded the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Food Network+, bringing together food research and industry with STFC capabilities from astro, particle and nuclear physics and the UK's largest science facilities. Sarah led the Take a Bite Out Of Climate Change exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in 2019 and leads the Greenhouse Gas and Dietary Choices Open Source Toolkit which brings together data from food choices and greenhouse gas emissions to inform the public and policy makers. Sarah's book Food And Climate Change Without The Hot Air was published by UIT Cambridge in September 2020.
Sarah is author of over 100 refereed publications which have over 9000 citations and has won prestigious awards in the UK and Europe including a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, the Royal Astronomical Society’s Fowler Award, and European Research Council Starting and Consolidator Grants.
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Photograph of Prof. Sarah Bridle courtesy of UIT Cambridge
Event image: close-up of yellow corn - photo by cmo photography on Unsplash
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