Climate Change Weight Loss

Show-Me Life

Sign me up for the climate change diet.

Published on: June 25, 2013

Today, I am eager to try the new climate change weight loss program that is so widely successful in bison. Apparently, as the temperature rises, bison lose weight. In this sweltering Missouri heat, I should be good for losing a few pounds—I think.

Researchers at Kansas State University examined how climate change during the next 50 years will affect grazing animals such as bison and cattle. Joseph Craine, K-State research assistant professor led the study which included 22 bison herds throughout the U.S. He collected data on weights, ages, and sexes of animals in these herds. Based on the information, Craine asserts that during the next 50 years, future generations of bison will be smaller and weigh less. He states that the weight is a result of the reduction in the nutritional quality of grasses, causing the animals to grow more slowly.

Sign me up for the climate change diet
Sign me up for the climate change diet

"We also know that warmer grasslands have grasses with less protein, and we now know that warmer grasslands have smaller grazers," he says. "It all lines up to suggest that climate change will cause grasses to have less protein and cause grazers to gain less weight in the future."

Weight loss results
His research suggests that the results of climate change can already be seen by comparing bison in cooler, wetter regions with those in warmer, drier regions. He points out that the average 7-year-old male bison in South Dakota weighs1,900-pounds, while an average 7-year-old male bison in Oklahoma weighs1,300-pounds.

"The difference in temperature between those two states is around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about three times the projected increase in temperatures over the next 75 years," Craine said. "That's a pretty extreme difference and beyond the worst-case scenario. But it is a clear indicator that long-term warming will affect bison and is something that will happen across the U.S. over the next 50-75 years."

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A little Show-Me sense
While I am one who appreciates sound science, I also think there needs to be a little common sense. For instance, when it is hot, I do not feel like eating. There could be the most nutritious meal of steak and potatoes and if it is hot, I am not taking a bite. So, weight loss can occur if you do not eat.

As for the bison being fatter in South Dakota, well, this is a cold state. Bison need to have that extra layer of "protection" or fat to remain warm in winter. Surely, there is something to be said for genetics and adaptation in this argument.

There is truly no excuse for my extra layers. Despite living in a warmer state, I have not experienced the weight loss results similar to that of the bison. Maybe it is because when I sit down for a summer meal, it is often in an air-conditioned restaurant or home. Perhaps, I should move my eating venue outside for the summer months to reap the benefits of the climate change weight loss program.