climate change
August 9, 2019

Why Am I Recycling?

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Things were a lot different when I was a kid. Granted that was a long time ago, but a lot of things we didn’t worry about back then are suddenly high on the radar screen. Like recycling. 

When I was a kid, everything went into the burn pile.  Milk jugs, plastic bottles, metal cans, toy cars, paper, you name it we burned it. 

Then we learned that burning some of that stuff was poking a hole in something called the ozone. So we started to separate our trash. 

I know we weren’t the only ones to implement this revolutionary activity. I know there are a lot of companies that have made significant changes, too, in order to be more environmentally friendly. You no longer see big plumes of black smoke billowing out of tractor exhausts. Even cow flatulence is being monitored. 

So with all of this change going on, why are we still worried about climate change? Did I accidentally put my aluminum beer can in the wrong pile? 

The latest United Nations report on climate change basically says the world is going to burn up, and in short order, if we don’t do something and do it fast. And now it’s getting serious—it might impact what we have to eat. 

“The cycle is accelerating,” said Cynthia Rosenzweig, climate scientist at NASA and co-author of the report. “The threat of climate change affecting people’s food on their dinner table is increasing.” 

Scientists say if we change the way we eat, grow food and manage forests it could help save the planet. But haven’t we been doing that for a while now? 

Farming is way more sustainable than when I was growing up. Back then a lot of farmers pulverized every field, creating finer particles with each pass. If a little bit of fertilizer or chemicals was good, a bit more was better. Livestock emissions was just “good country air.” 

Now all of that has changed, and definitely for the better. I continue to be impressed with the innovations implemented by farmers, and dairy farmers especially, from around the country. I can’t help but think that the practices implemented on these operations has a positive impact on our environmental footprint. 

So why doesn’t this show up in any report? 

Maybe because the earth is a really big place. And maybe because agriculture is just a portion of what contributes to climate change. Or maybe the earth will just keep on getting warmer regardless of what we do. 

I’m not convinced eating more plants and less beef is going to make a difference. I know a lot of my beef friends feel the same way, and they have the research to make their words stick.  

So I’m going to continue eating my burgers and steak. But I will put that beer can in the recycle bin. Maybe the difference starts with me.

What do you think? Can we really affect climate change? Let me know at [email protected]