Human “gas” emissions and climate change

A reader asked this question yesterday…

Dear Mr. Hicks, Since we are also animals, how much of the green house gas problem is caused by the human life cycle. Linda

Dear Linda,

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Thanks for your message; I have never been asked that question before, but I will take a stab at it.

As I see it, the “human life cycle” in terms of gases that come out both ends of our bodies, is not the problem with humans as far as GHGs are concerned. The problem is the way we CHOOSE to live, beginning with what we eat.

True, gases from our lungs and bowels do contribute to GHG, but probably account for less than 1% of the human induced GHG. The other 99% comes from our lifestyle of high energy consumption, extremely inefficient homes, overconsumption of STUFF, our love affair with traveling by car and airplane—and of course, our grossly unsustainable habit of eating animals.

CO2 concentrations since 1970--from NOAA

CO2 concentrations since 1970–from NOAA. Feb 2015 level was 399.88. Feb 2016 level was 403.28. Obviously, we’re not doing very well.

If all 7.4 billion of us humans were eating a plant-based diet, living in high occupancy, efficient buildings, consuming far less non-recyclable STUFF and primarily traveling by rail instead of air and highway—we would be very close to living in harmony with nature. Having said that, the optimal population level for humans on this planet is probably less than five billion and, of course, we’re on track to reach twice as many by 2050.

As such, we have become the “infestation of planet Earth” as we remain oblivious to the inability of Mother Nature to continue supporting our highly destructive, wasteful and unsustainable lifestyle. In summary, there are many problems associated with how we have chosen to live, and only one of those problems can be changed quickly—our food choices.

J. Morris Hicks, promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

J. Morris Hicks, promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

And as I continue to say on a regular basis, if we can cut our animal-food consumption by 80% within five years, then we would likely buy ourselves enough time (at least several decades) to tackle all of those other problems like overpopulation, overconsumption and our dependence on fossil fuels. Hopefully, no one will ask us to stop breathing to help stop climate change.

Linda, I hope this helps. Here are links to a few of my blogs that might help further:

The following six books can be purchased on Amazon for a grand total of less than $60—and will enable you to understand the overwhelming challenges we face—along with the single most-powerful solution of all.

Six-Pack from Hicks—for health, hope & harmony on planet Earth

  1. 4Leaf Guide to Vibrant Health, powerful new book by Kerry Graff, MD and yours truly
  2. Healthy Eating, Healthy WorldThe “big picture” about food (my first book)
  3. An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell; the primary book that influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.
  4. Primary cause of cancer is not bad luck. Stop Feeding Your Cancer, by John Kelly, MD
  5. A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
  6. Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unawareby Richard Oppenlander.

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

Want to find out how healthy you are eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes about two minutes. eCornell is now using our survey in their plant-based nutrition course.

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf Program website, which is now being used by an ever-growing army of enlightened medical doctors who are fed up with “disease care” and want to promote true health for their patients.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at

—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info:

Nutrition Certificate

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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