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DOOMSDAY SOON

The Doomsday Clock was devised nearly 70 years ago by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a watchdog group created at the end of World War II by Manhattan Project scientists (the guys who developed the A-bomb.) And this year the Clock moved forward for the first time since 2012, inching three minutes closer to midnight. It is now 11:57 pm. At the metaphorical midnight, the world will end.
 
What prompted the move closer to our doom? Scientists have cited a slowdown of nuclear disarmament and threats of climate change. Now there is nothing you or I can personally do about ending the threat of nuclear war. But what about climate change? Consider that deforestation has a major impact on global temperatures. Brazil's tropical forests pump 20 billion tons of water vapor daily into the atmosphere through leaf transpiration, and though destruction of forests plummeted in the last decade, since August 2014 tree cutting more than doubled in Brazil compared to the same period a year earlier.

Most of the land cleared will serve as cattle pasture, due to the higher global prices for beef. Richard Schiffman, writing for Scientific American, notes that cutting the forest for cattle ranches is the single largest driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, accounting for nearly 70 percent of clearing.

Scientists fear that if the practice goes on, it could lead to a permanent drought in Brazil, and tree loss there ripples beyond the South American country's boundaries, affecting weather systems a continent away. One study predicts that a fully deforested Amazon (it is currently nearly 20 percent tree-free) would mean 50 percent less snowfall in California's Sierra Nevada, which would reduce the spring runoff on which agriculture depends. I'd so miss my kiwis and plums and spinach, and yes garlic! And you thought we in the Golden State were in a drought now. If things don't change just you wait. No wonder why scientists are so concerned.

I visited the Amazon once, as a college student in the early 90s. This was during a 20-year period of increased forest clearing worldwide, a trend that ended in Brazil from 2004 to 2011. Back in the summer of 1994 the air was thick with the smoke from massive forest fires, and the sky loomed an angry black. I couldn't put out the flames, I'm only one dude, but I did choose against upholding the dietary habits for which the forest burns.

On the same trip I visited a cattle ranch. The rancher proudly showed me the testosterone he used to inject the steers. That extra testosterone of course makes its way into the meat and into the blood of humans who eat it. Too much testosterone is converted to DHT which contributes to male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement, even cancer. Practices not good for either man or beast.

What's more, consumption of animal protein is linked to overweight and obesity, which are associated with sleep apnea (snoring), a disorder shared by 25 million Americans, many of whom are obese. When a person puts on extra weight, fat narrows the tube of the airway, blocking the flow of air to the lungs. Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression and an impaired ability to think clearly, which may be why meat eaters persist in their ways. Vicious cycle!


So beat the meat, save the world, ra ra ra. Insignificant though it may seem, the food an individual (you) consumes has far-reaching effects. Because the only thing good about being 2 Minutes to Midnight is the classic song by that name. There's no Living After Midnight in this scenario. So keep the Apocalypse at bay. Save the day. Choose plants.


 

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