Junior Emma Boersma (Photo by Jacqueline Chao)

MY ANGLE: Don’t eat beef; save the planet

Global warming affects everyone, yet many do nothing about it — including myself. 

Until last summer, that is.

Thinking that global warming isn’t a major threat baffles me, especially since the Camp Fire in Northern California proved to be the deadliest wildfire in state history. 

Yes, that monstrosity was a product of global warming. How? I’ll keep it short: As the Earth heats, the atmosphere holds onto moisture longer, making dry areas drier and more flammable.

Wildfires aren’t the only consequence of global warming; floods, hurricanes, ocean acidity, air pollution, melting ice caps and animal extinction are also results.   

To combat this, I am on a strict no-beef diet. Why? Because cows — particularly their burps and farts — are the leading methane producer, and while there may be less methane in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it traps around 30 percent more heat.

At first glance, the burps and farts of these huge, friendly animals might not seem that potent, but remember that there are about 1.5 billion of them producing between 30 and 50 gallons of methane each a day. 

The reason there are so many cows in the world is the huge demand for beef, dairy, leather and more. Humanity’s love of all things cow causes livestock companies to breed and produce more cows in order to cater to our growing demand. Therefore, by not eating — or more accurately, not buying — beef, I hope to lower the demand for it and thus the number of methane producers in the world. 

Since other types of meat such as pork and chicken contribute such little methane to the environment, I will continue to eat them.

When I explain this reasoning to people, they always respond with a comment like, “One person is not going to change an entire industry, so you might as well give it up.”

Or they’ll say, “Since you’re driving a gas car, you obviously don’t care that much about global warming.”

OK, sorry I don’t have thousands of dollars to spare so I can buy an electric car, but I’m doing what I can with the resources I have. So you can shut up now, thanks.

Because even though the chances of this one teenage girl defeating the inflated beef industry are essentially zero, and while I admit that I really should boycott dairy products as well, at least I’m trying. That’s more than I can say of others. 

But that wasn’t always the case.

Twelve months ago, I was one of those cursed beef-lovers. It was my personality, and I never thought that would change. 

Six months later, I realized the world’s well-being was more important than my own and decided not to eat beef. I started small by allowing myself two exceptions: In-N-Out and Korean food (I can’t say no to my halmoni).

Come New Year’s Eve, I resolved to stop eating beef — no exceptions. Maybe in another few months, I’ll bite the bullet and add dairy to my list of banned foods. 

Or, I’ll realize global warming doesn’t exist, eat beef three meals a day and throw a bag over my head until the world ends in 2030 — just like everyone else.

—By Emma Boersma

Originally published in the Feb. 12 edition of the Octagon.

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