It can be hard to quantify the effects of climate change; a few degrees hotter here and there, the slow melting of the polar ice caps in far off continents.
The consequences seem distant. Miles away from your day-to-day existence, right?
What if we were to tell you the things you cherish and hold dearest in the smorgasbord of modern society were under threat and could be wiped out by 2050?
According to a new report released by WWF, the UK’s best-loved dishes as we know them, could be under threat as soon as 2050, as a direct result of climate change.
Production of many foodie favourites will be affected in a mater of decades, including cheese, chicken, lamb and cod.
In other words, habitual human effects on the environment could jeopardise our precious McNuggets:
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Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF told UNILAD:
Chicken is going to be affected by climate change. It’s likely to cost more and could be fed on algae or insects in the not so distant future.
The way we eat also contributes to climate change.
By making a promise for the planet this Earth Hour we can all play our part and make a difference to tackle climate change head on.
Another chicken-based dish which will change beyond recognition is the nation’s favourite curry; Chicken Tikka Masala.
The report predicts, by 2050, chickens will be fed on alternative feeds such as insects and algae, rice prices will rise by a third, onion shortages will occur after an increase in diseases, as well as higher prices for tomatoes due to extreme rainfall and heatwaves.
Classic fish and chips will also be lost to substitutions of anchovies for cod, as warmer oceans cause those species to displace cod populations.
Indeed, 2.7 trillion fish are dragged out of the ocean every year, Dr Callum Roberts, a Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, told UNILAD.
Estimates warn we could see ‘fishless oceans‘ as early as 2048.
The subsequent ‘domino effect of every single animal in the ocean’ is devastating to the natural food chain, the waning ecology and longevity of the life in our seas.
Dr Roberts outlined the great human consequence:
If the oceans die we certainly will. Yet we kill more fish per year than all the humans who have lived on Earth, ever.
Many of the fish we catch are simply thrown over the side because they’re over quota or the wrong species, or they’re not quite big enough.
We can’t take as much as we like. We’re overfishing the oceans. We’re causing a decline in marine life. If we act decisively, we can bring them back from the brink.
The WWF report, commissioned in conjunction with Earth Hour, also states around 20 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse emissions are attributed to food production.
The cheese ploughman’s was revealed to contribute more to climate change than the fish and chips or chicken tikka masala.
The simple cheese, pickle and bread dish cost 2.6kg CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions to produce, which is the equivalent of charging a smartphone 316 times, boiling a kettle 113 times or keeping an LED lightbulb switched on for 28 whole days.
The threat to these classic dishes just shows climate change could impact every aspect of our lives in the future if we don’t act now. That’s why this Earth Hour we want people to eat more sustainably.
It doesn’t necessarily mean going vegan or vegetarian – it means each of us cutting back on the amount of fish, meat and dairy we eat.
If each of us takes a small action, together we can combat climate change and future-proof our best-loved dishes.
Science says climate change will devastate future generations – but a lot of us humans have the heady cocktail of self-preservation and a lack of foresight which stops us acting in earnest against the apparently inevitable.
Meanwhile, the world is experiencing a ‘biological annihilation’ of its animal species at the hands of humankind, with extinction levels 1000 times higher than expected because of human activity.
It’s a sixth mass extinction expected to wipe out two thirds of species by 2020.
This Earth Hour, at 8:30pm on Saturday March 24, will make a small change.
Reduce your environmental footprint by reducing the amount of meat you eat, refusing plastic cutlery or carrying a reusable coffee cup.
Do it for the innocent animals.
Do it for future generations. Do it for the chicken nuggets.
For more information and to make your #PromiseForThePlanet, visit WWF Earth Hour.