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This week, hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world marched demanding action on climate change, and 120 world leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations Summit on Climate Change ("More talk, more action," Sept. 22). What can we do?

A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat production accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that the contribution may be closer to 50 percent.

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The meat industry generates carbon dioxide by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals. More damaging methane and nitrous oxide gases are discharged from the digestive tracts of cattle and from animal wastes.

In an environmentally sustainable world, wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources must gradually replace polluting fossil fuels. Similarly, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains must replace polluting meat and dairy products. The large variety of widely available plant-based entrees, lunch meats, veggie burgers, cheeses and ice creams can certainly help.

Our next trip to the supermarket is a great opportunity to start the transition to a sustainable world. Our favorite Internet search engines offer ample product lists, recipes and dietary tips.

Bill Canterbury, Baltimore

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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