There is a fast and affordable way to halt Southern Europe’s grueling heatwaves

Most pigs alive today will spend their entire lives without ever taking a mud bath.

Plants are ecosystem engineers. They create the kind of environmental conditions in which they and the animals that depend on them can thrive. This includes climatic conditions. Southern Europe today is suffering under grueling heatwaves. In Sardinia the hottest day on record was just seen, at 45.2 degree Celsius.

If we could abandon large swathes of farmland, allowing natural vegetation to take over, temperatures would almost immediately go down. This decline in temperatures would be concentrated in summer. We know this, because it has been studied. People looked at how recent reforestation has impacted temperatures around Europe and here is what they found for the months June, July and August:

Recent reforestation has been enough to reduce average temperature in summer by half a degree Celsius, with a full degree seen in much of France. A realistic reforestation scenario would also increase the amount of rainfall by 7.6% in summer.

So how do you go about reforesting Europe? Well first things first, you need to make sure you do it right. You can’t transition to grasslands. That doesn’t work.

Here in “Subdomain A”, you can see what works. If you go from cropland to woodland, or open shrublands, you reduce temperatures. Similarly, if you go from grassland to woodland or open shrublands, you also reduce temperatures.

In other words, you can’t have grasslands with grazing animals, that’s not going to work, at least not to reduce temperatures. What does work, is abandoning farmland to reforest it. But how do we go about abandoning farmland? Well, the way to achieve this, is by changing what people eat. And equally important, we have to change who gets to eat the crops we grow.

In Italy, 60% of all the cereals grown, are not eaten by humans. They’re fed to livestock. In Spain, it’s 82%. When you leave your house as a European, when you travel through the countryside, you’re exploring a landscape full of plants that serve to feed the animals you eat. This is not necessary.

We know a human being can live without eating animals. And I think this is easier for a human being to do, than to live through 45 degree heatwaves. Moving from a meat heavy diet to a vegan diet cuts land use by 75%.

And so whenever I see people insist that if we were to stop burning fossil fuels China would just continue, I feel like pointing out to them that if we transitioned our whole society to a vegan diet, we wouldn’t have to depend on China working along in any way to see direct results. If your country stops growing cereal crops to feed to animals and starts growing forests on that abandoned farmland, temperatures will go down and rainfall in summer will increase.

So, if you were to seriously believe the prisoner’s dilemma with China prevents any meaningful action on fossil fuels, you should be eager to see your country transition to a plant based diet. And yet, I’ve seen very few low status white males endorse this.

Plant based diets also allow other things: They allow us to immediately reduce emissions of methane, which has a short half-life and would thus immediately help bring temperatures down. The forests would of course immediately absorb carbon dioxide, although they can absorb just a small fraction of all carbon humans have released so far, even if the whole planet was covered in forests. Revegetation would also give animal species the opportunity to migrate and adjust to the new climatic conditions.

Once trees are sufficiently tall enough, the area beneath their canopy can also be used for food production. Blueberries for example, grow well in the shade of trees. However, this is hard to reconcile with mechanized agriculture.

The solutions exist. Besides the simple fact that we can easily change the albedo of our cities (again, no need to worry about what China is doing), we can reforest our countries. The solutions I outlined here won’t do much for people in countries like Uganda, where eating meat is already rare. For their survival, they depend on us no longer using fossil fuels. But for Europe, simply abandoning meat and reforesting the landscape using abandoned pastures and farmland would be a great way to prepare itself for the future. The earlier we start, the fewer of our citizens have to starve or die. The rest of the world would benefit as well.

Unfortunately, the reality is that people just don’t care. In the Netherlands, 95% of people eat meat. Vegans are 0.4% of the population. And yet, low status white males feel oppressed by the vegans. Among Dutch men, 1.8% are vegetarian.

It’s the easiest, most straightforward, most effective, most humane solution that we have available to keep our continent habitable. It’s not difficult. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 10 years old. And if it was difficult. You know what’s also difficult? Dying of hunger. Living through lethal heatwaves.

This is the simplest, most straightforward option available for humans to adjust to the grim future that lies ahead of us. But people don’t do it. They set up billion dollar companies to come up with fake meat substitutes, but people complain that it doesn’t taste the same. They have droves of nerds play around in petri dishes, trying to get a muscle cell to grow into a steak. Because people feel entitled to everything.

The clock is ticking. But if you are like 98.2% of Dutch men, you don’t have to wait for your politicians to do something. You can do something now. Most people knew this ten years ago. They just don’t care. You can wait another ten years. But trees take time to grow. If you wait another ten years, what will there be left to salvage?

It takes a decade to build a nuclear power plant. It will take decades to replace our electricity grid and our car fleet. The whole infrastructure will need to change. These are all things that unfold over a human lifetime. But diets? If people wanted to, they could change their diets overnight. We already produce the grain, rather than feeding it to animals, we can just eat it ourselves. It’s really not very complex.

Most of the climate activists I speak to who block roads and chain themselves to private jets seem to be missing the fact that it’s not just governments that need to change. It’s the people who need to change. The people need to want to preserve a habitable planet. But they don’t want to.

It is very simple. You have all the facts. You have all the numbers. You have all the information. Nothing I said here is profoundly new information for anyone. But the people made a simple choice. They chose to release Barabbas. And broke my heart.

34 Comments

  1. Imagine an ancient past, in which the whole world was a patchwork of iron age city states warring for territory.

    Imagine you’re a king and some monk or something comes by preaching the gospel of v-ganism. “Just force the population to eat only plants,” says the monk, “and you’ll be able to multiply your population ten times over, with NO downsides!”

    You naturally reply, “…So this means, I could have an army ten times larger than all of my similarly sized neighbors, just with One Weird Trick?”

    “Yes!” says the monk.

    You now do the bigthink, and run the experiment on a small scale with a subset of your populace. After all – if this succeeds, you will quickly be able to make a HUGE army and kick the everloving shit out of everyone from horizon to horizon, and end up emperor of a huge sprawling empire, thanks to the gospel of v-ganism.

    Does this not logically follow, that if such a practice had no downsides, this is how history would’ve played out?

    Considering that the manusmriti is on the order of ~3000 years old, it isn’t as though these ideas are new and haven’t had a chance to prove themselves.

    Why then, did someone not hear the gospel of renouncing meat 3000 years ago, create a massive army, and take over huge swaths of land? Why didn’t their competitors figure out the source of this massive advantage, and copy it in order to remain competitive, just as every country still in existence today renounced swords, spears, shield walls, archers and cavalry in favor of firearms and tanks? Why isn’t MOST OF THE EARTH v-gan?

    No seriously, why didn’t we grow up on a planet that was essentially v-gan by default? Wouldn’t any country that failed to be, essentially renounce all of its competitive power, and be steamrolled by countries that remained v-gan?

    The fact that this obvious outcome did not occur after the idea being widely known for at LEAST three millennia, raises some concerns for me about the practice. There must be a hidden catch in there. Even without knowing its precise mechanism, it’s obvious some hidden disadvantage to the practice must exist.

    A naturally herbivorous animal would not be found eating meat on literally every multigenerational settlement on earth, it would just not even consider eating meat, just as you and I do not in our daily lives consider the practice of trying to eat rocks or wood.

    V-gans are just wrong, and their persistence in their wrongness is what makes them categorically retarded.

    I am sorry that you are still caught in the brain jail of v-gan ideology. I hoped you would’ve escaped it by now. You honestly made most sense back in the days when you espoused eating mussels and low trophic level sea animals on top of a diet of mostly plants, but I see you’ve regressed back into foolish and historically disproven delusions.

    How unfortunate.

    • I’m not explicitly against eating shellfish or roadkill and I know the point you’re trying to make.

      The reality is that the majority of people worldwide had plant based diets until the industrial revolution.

      The exception was people who lived in those marginal lands unsuited for agriculture. And during cold winters, people ate animals.

      But other than that, the natural tendency was to eat plants.

      Then in the post-WWII industrial boom, something magical happened: Rather than your dietary choices being dictated by your environment to you, you were now free to make your own decision.

      And your species made a decision:

      You chose to release Barabbas.

      You’re on your own now.

      • You do realize that I spend a lot of time researching historical food practices right?

        You are not going to convince me that pre industrial people didn’t eat significant amounts of meat, because pre industrial documentation exists and I can just go look at it and easily discern that what you just said is not true

        • This seems roughly accurate to me:

          https://owlcation.com/humanities/medieval-food

          >What Did the Poor Eat During the Middle Ages?
          >A peasant’s diet was composed primarily of bread, dairy, and stew.

          >Meat was extremely hard to come by for peasants, who worked the lord’s estate but were not entitled to any of its resources, such as the range of livestock.

          >These estates were usually located near forests, but the common folk weren’t allowed to eat the animals that dwelt there either. Hunting was a lordly pursuit.

          >Chickens were a source of eggs and thus too valuable to kill. It was a sign of extravagance to eat chicken, as it meant you were wealthy enough to disregard the need for eggs.

          >The only meat that peasants could hope to get their hands on was pork. Pigs were cheap to take care of, and mostly just fed themselves. It was common for a peasant to keep a pig out back and slaughter it at the onset of the winter.

          This seems accurate to me.

          They’d slaughter the pig at the start of winter, so before Christmas/Yule. Then that’s a moment that people celebrate and ritualize.

          That meat would then be preserved somehow. And then after the end of winter, it’s back to mostly cereals.

      • Yes, and NW Euros traditionally assigned higher value to dairy products like cheese than meat, as meat meant you couldn’t keep your herd alive through winter and had to kill some.

    • So what are the downsides of veganism exactly, besides the fact that vegans would probably be peace-loving people and therefore be reluctant to engage in massive wars? You are implying that non-veganism is somehow strictly better than veganism due to how history played out (i.e. people just eating what they could get their hands on). That time is gone (for now at least). And even if non-veganism was a better population strategy in the past (which I agree with, I wouldn‘t have been 100% vegan in the past either), why would that preclude veganism from being the better strategy nowadays? The problems and solutions outlined are real. I also haven‘t seen any vegans argue that veganism should be pursued to boost pop size (most are nihilistic depressed outsiders anyway that would love to see population collapse). Rather they are arguing that without veganism under current conditions, pop sizes will decline. Veganism is definitely a luxury good of current technology, and should be exploited or at least encouraged due to its positive externalities. Obviously that‘s not going to happen.

      • Ps. I meant healthy veganism is a luxury good of our technology, i.e. Wihout any nutritional deficits, just like with other diets as well. Given that with current nutritional standards veganism cannot be considered less healthy than omni diets, the positive externalities are clearly the decisive factor from a rational point of view at a societal level, not considering personal tastes, etc. But idk why everyone is so upset with this discussion, it‘s not going anywhere, so let‘s relax for a while and watch the social and personal negative karma pile up to the max.

      • Closing the livestock farms is a good start. We will occationally be able to eat some meat from animals that lived a happy life. All humans beeing 100% vegans will never happen but a mostly plant based diet is a must if we want to avoid large scale famines in the future.

      • The downside is that v-gans will lack certain vitamins and minerals to the point that the diet is LETHAL without modern supplementation, and even then tends to make sickly balding toothless weaklings. If partaken of too early in life, deficient bone mineralization causes stunting, weak jaws, and nearsightedness due to failure to sufficiently expand the eye sockets.

        All of this is avoided by eating just a little bit of fatty fish and other random oceanic life.

        That is the essential problem though – subacute combined spinal degeneration, aortic calcification etc are serious life threatening diseases that are essentially certain on a v-gan diet absent modern supplementation, and those are only the lethal problems we already know about. There’s probably a lot more lethal problems we don’t.

        People living in little random primitive fishing villages never had to worry about any of this, because unlike v-gans their diet is natural and actually works.

        Garden plants plus fish is the best diet, the fitness world is rife with ultra long lived ultra healthy pescetarians, and I am correct.

        Gas the v-gans.

    • The “hidden catch” is that a vegan diet will lack certain nutrients if you don’t take them in supplement form. For instance K2. I was an ethical vegan for 19 years and I have cardiac calcification, probably due to a lack of K2 (I may be reversing that now with nattoserra). Yes, you can get K2 by eating natto but how could an ancient society know that? And selenium; you can end up with a lack of selenium easily if you are vegan. And of course B12. So it is only something that a society could do if they knew what extra things they needed. Early attempts, without that information, would certainly have failed. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible now.

      • So your heart is calcified from the known complications of your retarded diet, but you STILL think it is a good idea and encourage others to do it?

        What more do people need to see to PROVE that v-ganism is suicide by moral piety? You are unsalvageably retarded, there is nothing I can say that will help you at this point

  2. People will be forced to change whether they want it or not. We are at the end of growth now, global oil production peaked in 2018. Soon there will be hoards of unemployed people that can help out with the reforestation.

    • People who think we’re about to run out of energy tend to strike me as optimists disguised as pessimists. It’s 2023 and we’re definitely noticing the impact of climate change. But the impact of peak oil is hiding in esoteric realms. It’s at least definitely not visible in oil prices.

      • It is inevitable but maybe not imminent like many other thing.
        I won’t hold my breath for it to solve climate change.

      • The hedonic adjustment in what constitutes oil is real. Oil production is right down if you use a 2000’s definition of oil but we keep finding more flammable liquid hydrocarbons of dubious quality.

        • This is exactly what I mean. The impact is hiding in esoteric realms.

          I remember the peak oil bloggers of the late 00’s.

          They were not promising us that oil would get more expensive. They were not promising us some new definition of what constitutes oil.

          They were promising us shit was about to go down. But shit didn’t go down.

          If you have to explain to people that peak oil did in fact happen, then peak oil did not in fact happen. If it happened, you wouldn’t have to convince people that it happened.

          We didn’t have a peak oil blogosphere because people thought the definition of oil was going to change.

          No, we had it because people thought society was about to collapse, Iraq was invaded to seize the last remaining supply and it was time to buy some land and go back to self-sustaining farming if you wanted to survive.

          Tragic as it may be, the system just adjusted. There was a hickup in 2008, but things went on. And now, with large reserves of unconventional oil, telecommuting and electric vehicles, I just don’t see it becoming relevant ever again.

          The most frightening thing to consider is that the same thing may happen with climate change: They decide to start blocking the sun and continue with this march towards oblivion.

          • To illustrate.

            This is what I was promised:

            https://www.resilience.org/stories/2005-02-18/here-comes-nutcracker-peak-oil-nutshell/

            >After an almost instant depression seizes the modern industrialized world, and nation-states break down, the frantic attempts of people to feed themselves, stay warm and obtain fresh water (pumped presently via petroleum to a great extent), there will be no rescue. Die-off begins. The least petroleum-dependent communities will survive best. These “backward” nations will be emulated by the scrounging survivors of the U.S. and the rest of the “developed” world, as far as local food production will be tried – in a paved-over, toxic landscape by people who have lost touch with the land.

            And this is what I got:

            >Oil production is right down if you use a 2000’s definition of oil but we keep finding more flammable liquid hydrocarbons of dubious quality.

            I guess we can say that “peak oil happened”, but it was a meaningless event that nobody even noticed.

  3. Like you said people feel entitled to everything, everything thats available.

    Right now, extremely large swaths cant even reduce or adjust their diet to hit the milestone of just being overweight.

    In your replies here, you touched on the actual traditional diets, once a year special occassion slaughter, chickens kept for eggs, and otherwise largely plant based.

    The tradition now is getting what you want when you want it.

    This was very compelling, the forest coverage graph with heat especially, which of course anyone near even a small body of trees could understand on very hot days after standing for 5 seconds on a parking lot by comparison.

    In my city, there is a goal for a certain percentage of tree coverage, I think 20% which they are working towards.

  4. Your argument of feeding crops directly to humans rather than livestock reminds me of a similar thought. We go to work to earn money to buy food so why don’t we work directly to grow our own food? Instead of buying a property in the city, why not buy farmland and try to live off it? All the years of youth spent in schools to prepare them to make money to feed themselves seems unnecessary. Most of what is taught in schools are not useful anyway. Why not arm our next generation with practical knowledge and skills like farming?

  5. Perhaps you could set me straight on this (considering that you played a large part in my initial decision, consider my ears and mind open). I spent a few years vegetarian for a few reasons, and stopped after those few years for a few reasons. One such was environmental concerns, but I came to feel that individual contributions didn’t really amount to much—I wouldn’t have taken issue with someone abstaining for that reason all the same, but I came to the perspective that were I to stop eating animal products or to eat nothing but beef (hell, even if I convinced a few of my friends to do the same) then there still wouldn’t be any sort of change in the industry either way, that the same amount of cows would be raised and slaughtered regardless.

    As such, were any policy to be proposed that would limit or even eliminate meat consumption for the sake of the environment, I would be behind it and willing to make the same sacrifices I did before (as well as to force others to sink or swim), I just see rather little to gain from that angle as is. Unfortunately, it would probably require a wholesale fascist takeover to actually accomplish that, as the people can’t seem to be trusted with the reins and only a single competent individual in absolute power would be likely to manage to bring about such change.

    Basically, I’m ready to answer the call for tangible solutions, I just can’t see any present contribution in my grasp as particularly meaningful.

  6. How much is used for feed acreage in the Meditteranean? All nice and Dandy but in islands tere is not much you can do to i fluence the climate locally.

  7. Radagast, thank you for this post. It is just me, but I think the solution to whatever problem we face is NEVER
    1. a government action, or more government powers to take action
    2. a group of people forcing another group of people what to do (extinction rebellion’s way)
    but rather always a
    1. personal growth to understand the problem
    2. trying to convince others to take action
    3. taking a personal action to whatever extent one deems appropriate
    Even if you believe your personal actions are too isolated and moot, you should nevertheless go for it.
    I think forestation can go a very long way in stabilising our ecosystems. It can go through personal consumption or by even buying some land and planting trees on it. If you do the latter in a clever way you can even generate a modest income by planting a self-supporting mix of nut trees and other plants. If you do this in a country with cheap arable land like Bulgaria, you can buy the land and plant the trees for as little as 2-3k euros per 1000m2. It’s like a win-win: you provide people with high quality healthy food like walnuts/hazelnuts/almonds and you convert grasslands into semi-wild forests.
    As for being vegetarian: grossly reducing meat consumption is probably enough.

  8. We should of course abandon, reforest farmland and go back to mostly plant-based diets. However, it is neither a linear process nor a simple one.

    The recent heatwave hit the Mediterranean the hardest. But Mediterranen forests have as good as disappeared after centuries of exploitation. Basically, they never recovered from Roman times, and modern states finished off the job with the production of charcoal. Now the soils are too eroded to sustain forests. Shrubs is as good as it gets.

    Also note:
    – Intensive grazing takes place where there is enough water (i.e. usually not the Mediterranean).
    – Many soils in Southern Italy or Spain are too poor even for grassfields, let alone forests. What you have are goats and sheep eating whatever grows between stones and sand.
    – Southern Europe already moved, to a large extent, to some forms of agroforestry, with olive and fruit trees. Soils cannot support cereals anyway. But now even olive trees are dying because of pathogens and drought.
    – But pasta! Yes, pasta flour is mostly imported from North America, or produced in the few regions that do support growing cereals.
    – Forested areas in Italy and Spain are already at a historical maximum. Reforestation is taking place to some extent as people stop having children and migrate; mechanized agriculture means that you do not have to feed work horses.
    – You cannot plant forests: they emerge after a process of “primary succession” that takes 100 years or more – provided that there is enough water and minerals to support it. Which again, Mediterranean soils do not have.
    – Trees burn.
    – The recent heat wave was combined with a marine heat wave. The areas most affected were on the coast. More forests inland would not have helped much.
    – You are not the first one to think of reforestation. There were various attempts to reforest Southern Italy, most notably by the Bourbons, but they mostly failed.

    Preventing forest loss should be more of a priority than re-foresting areas that have not had forests for centuries, but we cannot even manage that.

    • You can restore soils and accelerate these processes. The CO2 fertilization effect should also generally make it easier for woody plants to grow.

      • Yes, and maybe it is not a coincidence that the World Permaculture Association is based in Catanzaro, Italy: it will take the best permaculture methods to restore Mediterranean soils.

        CO2 fertilization? Who are you and what did you do to the real Radagast? So now even you use the “CO2 is plant food” argument? Anyway, I think that CO2 plays a very minor role: plants in poor soils with low precipitation and increasing thermal stress have other limiting factors than CO2 availability.

  9. You are right. Very good and informative post. I also liked the one about heat-resistant trees with nutritious fruit (pomegranates etc).
    Being on the poor side of middle-class, I have been eating very little meat, and gradually abandoning meat for the last couple of decades. (I do like a few sardines tho, now and then).
    Most people can live off olive oil, wine and rusks. And some honey. Carobs are great, and carob trees are heat-resistant too. (the word carat comes from keration, Gk. for carob).
    Around 0.8 million Greeks died of hunger during WWII, because they were stolen their olive oil. They would sell their jewels and even houses to get some in the black market.

  10. I know that you are a vegan for ethical reasons. This is fine with me.

    Now, for farmland/agricultural resource use, can we explore simply switching from beef to chicken and eggs?

    Chickens convert grains to meat much more efficiently, especially considering eggs. They also do not produce methane.

    It is not vegan — chickens suffer — but the effect on the climate would be almost as large as people going vegan. (Chickens are now obligate domestic animals and would not survive without being raised for food production)

    I eat far less beef than I used to for a variety of reasons.

    • I agree about poultry. Especially if there is a trend to live in small towns (even for surviving the heat waves). Because then, some people will raise chicken at home. This is a great way to reduce organic garbage because chicken eat practically anything.
      And if we don’t do it on a large industrial scale, the chicken won’t suffer as much. Also I am guessing that eggs are good for some people, e.g. kids growing up.
      Generally, I think humans have reached a stage where they can do without meat, especially large scale industry style farms, where animals suffer without a cause.

    • This is mostly true. We will have fun new viruses if we have billions of chickens in cages though (see: Bird flu).

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The patients in the mental ward have had their daily dose of xanax and calmed down it seems, so most of your comments should be automatically posted again. Try not to annoy me with your low IQ low status white male theories about the Nazi gas chambers being fake or CO2 being harmless plant food and we can all get along. Have fun!

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