Hinduism and Vegetarianism that may (maybe) save the planet!

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We all have heard of greenhouse gases being produced due to our use of fossil fuels. Recently Dr. Gavin Schmidt, the chief scientist and the Director of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies run by NASA gave a presentation at our workshop and his presentation can be viewed from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5vbWncrCF7XR3E2RVhYdnBrb0U/view.

According to Dr. Schmidt, the climate is warming and the glaciers are melting everywhere one goes. As the graph below shows, since the beginning of the industrial age, the temperatures have gone up by nearly 1 degree Centigrade or 2 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn’t seem like much but in fact it’s equivalent to 1/4th of the ice age in the other direction, and that means a lot!

Temperature increase of 1/4 ice age in the other direction since the beginning of industrial age.

This is happening all because of us, and we basically have two stark choices: 1) “Business as Usual” under which our earth will soon be an entirely different planet (may be Venus!), and 2) “Serious Mitigation” under which we get cooked a little later. In his talk, Dr. Schmidt ruled out “Aggressive Mitigation” which is not realistic, given the political discord and the lack of will to confront the crisis head-on.  But hey, what’s wrong with buying a little extra time for ourselves and for our children!

So you may ask: what does it all have to do with Hinduism? Well, our agriculture on the worldwide basis has a large carbon footprint in terms of greenhouse gases; in fact, nearly 1/3rd of the total. Therefore, our diet plays a very important role. As the chart below from our preeminent Regents Professor David Tilman shows, there is a world of difference in terms of greenhouse gases between getting calories from legumes (e.g., arhar dal) and from meat/fish. Not all Hindus are vegetarians but many are, and Hinduism strongly encourages vegetarianism – certainly no beef (ruminant meat) which is the worst by far.

Talking of cows, I hope that you will see a very old Iranian movie “Gaav” (The Cow in English or Gau in Sanskrit: https://www.timeout.com/minneapolis/things-to-do/reshaping-our-world-film-series-the-cow-gaav#tab_panel_3) on July 19th. If so, I would love to hear your impressions since unfortunately I will be missing it due to a conference in Chicago.


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