Carbon Footprints, Nitrogen Secrets

Authors: Falon Shackelford, Howard University Ambassador As evidenced by the various natural disasters, the noticeable changes in temperature that are at some points down right unbearable, and the sea levels that won't stop rising, it is clear that we are in a state of global environmental crisis. The recognition that many communities, especially in low-income communities and people of color communities, are at specifically at risk to these environmental changes is now coming to the conversation that has previously focused on conservation and efforts such as recycling. 

What causes such instabilities? One of the largest contributors to these changes is the various emissions of non natural sources of matter like carbon as well as less acknowledged sources like nitrogen that are equally as detrimental to global environmental stability. One of the sources of nitrogen is the agricultural industry, specifically the herding of cattle and other meat-based industries. Livestock alone is responsible for approximately 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. The Nitrogen based fertilizers along with the food product used to feed livestock place a heavy burden on the environment, particularly because meat product is used as the based of the average diet in the Western hemisphere, instead of just the supplement. The consumption of so much meat, particularly by the average American, has caused desertification throughout many parts of the developing world.

There are obvious sustainable “remedies” to the issue of food, like buying local products and working to support organic companies with your purchasing dollar, it is important to make an effort to try to limit the amount of meat intake in the diet. Why? Well in addition to the various positive health effects, such as the likelihood of lower blood pressure and less stress on the heart (which affects many low-income communities and communities of color) Although, many people are frightened off by terms such as vegetarianism and veganism, a more environmentally friendly diet looks different for different people. Moving towards a plant based diet can lessen health risks, reduce the amounts of hormones that your body interacts with, and result in higher amounts of energy daily. With simple lifestyle changes, like supplementing meats with other sources of protein like beans and nuts, each person can help create more environmentally responsible solutions to problems that affect the well-being of others. This month, Howard University is partnering with Green For All to host an event entitled “Green Is The New Black”, to raise awareness among Howard students about important topics like food justice, environmental justice and the green economy. Also, students will explore exciting opportunities in the green economy while honoring the contributions that people of African descent have made — and continue to make — to the fight for a sustainable planet and an equitable society. Our goal is to further the conversation in the Howard community about the rapidly growing "green economy” and how it can be leveraged to solve environmental and economic issues facing the Black community.

Falon Shackelford — Howard University

Falon is the president of the Howard University Environmental Society, a university wide organization dedicated to increasing environmental consciousness. In addition to helping organizing student engagement in events, Falon has worked with various administrators and faculty to help demonstrate the need for an office dedicated specifically to sustainability on her campus.

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