Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, is convinced that the solution to cooling our planet’s ever-warming climate is to put humanity on a diet.
Atkins? South Beach? Jenny Craig?
Try "The Firefly Fast," "The Caterpillar Cleanse," or "The Stinkbug Slimdown."
Those names are jokes, but the theory is van Huis's, and he’s not making fun. In fact, no less a body than the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is formally considering his proposal.
The cultivation of livestock such as cows, pigs and sheep accounts for two-thirds of the world's farmland and generates 20 percent of all greenhouse gases, reports The Guardian.
"There is a meat crisis," van Huis told the Guardian. "The world population will grow from six billion now to nine billion by 2050 and we know people are consuming more meat. Twenty years ago the average was 20kg, it is now 50kg, and will be 80kg in 20 years. If we continue like this we will need another Earth."
The climate killer in a meat diet is methane.
Emitted mostly by cows—yes, that’s via burps and farts—the gas is 23 times more harmful for the climate than carbon dioxide.
But a world with less methane isn't the only value of an insect diet.
According to the Guardian:
The insects also produce 300 times less nitrous oxide, also a warming gas, and much less ammonia, a pollutant produced by pig and poultry farming.
For his part, van Huis is fairly realistic about getting the Western world to cannonball onto the bug bandwagon.
"Most of the world already eats insects,” van Huis told the Guardian, referring to the fact that 80 percent of nations dine on at least some form of bug. "It is only in the western world that we don't. Psychologically we have a problem with it. I don't know why, as we eat shrimps, which are very comparable."