Diet and Global Climate Change
Environmental Studies 166DC
UCSB, D.A. Cleveland
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2018 Winter class flier

The foods we eat can make us healthy, sustain our climate and environment, and nourish our communities—and be delicious!

Yet our diets are literally killing us, destroying our environment and driving global climate change, and doing this in ways that contributes to social injustice and unethical treatment of animals.

What can we do about it?



In Diet & Global Climate Change we analyze the global food-climate-health-equity crisis and the potential of diet change as a solution.

This course will empower you to participate in the important discussions and decisions about our diet and climate happening every day. We will analyze theories, data and values from different viewpoints, and test hypotheses about the relationship of diets to climate change, health, and social justice.

A basic assumption of this course is that anthropogenic global climate change (GCC) is the biggest threat to the living Earth as humans and many other species have known it. It is highly probable that if humans and many other species are to survive much beyond the next century, we will have to mitigate anthropogenic GCC. We need new approaches that reduce our total impact. It requires thinking beyond the Neolithic, including rethinking our diets.powerplate

“Diet” in this course means the combination of foods habitually eaten by individuals and populations. Diets vary by type, e.g. omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan, and by the quantity and quality of nutrients they contain, by their affect on our health, and by their journey to our plates, e.g. foods can be local v. non-local, processed v. unprocessed, organically v. conventionally grown, fair trade or not, grown on small or large farms, grown by workers treated justly or not, and inflicting suffering on animals or not.

The major questions we will address in Diet and Global Climate Change class are:

  • How can diet change reduce:
    • greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) in the agrifood system, from inputs like fertilizers, to food waste?
    • the risk for diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, and GHGE from health care?
  • How do knowledge, values, food environments, food corporations, and government policies, affect our diets?
  • What changes can we make on our UCSB campus and in our communities to support better food choices and diets?
  • How can we help to motivate diet change for friends and family, communities, and policy makers?

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