Thanksgiving Bugs? No Thanks!

By Vijay Jayaraj

Fox News host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery once made a special video segment on bug cuisine.

The idea was to understand how bugs tasted. Why? Because the cuisine is increasingly termed environmentally friendly. The United Nations (UN) claims that a bug-based diet could help tackle climate change.

But will giving up your Thanksgiving turkey really save the planet from climate change?

In the 10-minute video segment, Kennedy visits a New York restaurant. The Black Ant specializes in bug cuisine.

After tasting freshly cooked ants and grasshoppers, Kennedy speaks to Kevin Olival, a faculty member at Columbia University. Olival reemphasizes that bugs can help us tackle climate change.

This idea has its roots in the UN report from 2013 that explored alternatives to red meat and white meat. In fact, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has promoted an insect diet since 2003.

Today, items promoting an insect-based diet as environmentally friendly abound on the internet. Some chefs call bugs a “sustainable food source and eco-friendly protein.”

However, no substantial scientific evidence supports these claims. That’s so despite the numerous reports the UN has published on the subject.

Rising Greenhouse Gases? Response of Climate System is Not Simple!

Why does the UN recommend an insect-based diet? To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and so reduce global warming.

However, this idea failed the test during the past two decades. Despite rapid increase in livestock production and GHG emissions from the livestock industry since the 1960s, the climate system has not shown a corresponding rapid warming trend.

Between the year 2000 and 2014, there was a slowdown in warming. Meanwhile, meat consumption rose.

Yes, greenhouse gases do contribute to warming. But they aren’t the primary driver. We know that because of a glaring mismatch between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and the temperature trend both in recent decades and in many centuries earlier.

Further, no empirical evidence proves that reducing livestock production will slow warming. On the contrary, warming slowed while livestock production grew.

So, stop worrying about your Thanksgiving turkey, and don’t feel guilty about damaging the planet with your feast. You’re not!

This article was adapted from the original, published in The Stream.  

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK.

Photo attribute:  © Raimond Spekking https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e5/Mealworms_as_food_and_Buffaloworms_as_food-2395.jpg

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