Meat eating and global warming

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It is well known how much our cars, the coal-generated electric power and even our cement factories adversely affect the environment. Now the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), says that our diets and, specifically, the meat in them spew more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and the like into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry.


[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

  • A 2006 United Nations report found that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. [1]
  • Production of the annual beef diet of the average American emits as much greenhouse gas as a car driven more than 1,800 miles.
  • Beef consumption is rising rapidly, both as population increases and as people eat more meat. Pound for pound, beef production generates greenhouse gases that contribute more than 13 times as much to global warming as do the gases emitted from producing chicken. For potatoes, the multiplier is 57. [2]

[edit] All about meat eating and global warming

Apart from meat, every food that we consume, even vegetables and fruits, incurs hidden environmental costs: transportation, refrigeration and fuel for farming, as well as methane emissions from plants and animals. Everything leads to buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

  • In 1999 an ecological economist at the University of East Anglia in England, found that, depending on the production method, cows emit between 2.5 and 4.7 ounces of methane for each pound of beef they produce. Because methane has roughly 23 times the global warming potential of CO2, those emissions are the equivalent of releasing between 3.6 and 6.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for each pound of beef produced.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme’s Unit on Climate Change has also indicated a strong link between human diet and methane emissions from livestock. The 2004 State of the World has estimated that belching, flatulent livestock emit 16 percent of the world’s annual production of methane.
  • The July 2005 issue of Physics World states: “The animals we eat emit 21 percent of all the CO2 that can be attributed to human activity.” Eating meat directly contributes to this environmentally irresponsible industry and the dire threat of global warming.

[edit] Vegan vs. hybrid car

According to a 2006 study done by researchers at the University of Chicago, most Americans can reduce more greenhouse gas emissions by becoming a vegan than they can by switching to a hybrid electric car.

They found that eating a vegan diet prevents the equivalent of 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions every year, more than the 1 ton of CO2 emissions prevented by switching from a typical large sedan to a Toyota Prius. [3]

[edit] Major source of land and water degradation

According to the FAO, cattle-rearing is also a major source of land and water degradation.

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

And it accounts for respectively 37 per cent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 per cent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain. [1]

[edit] CopperBytes

  • Producing half a pound of hamburger with meat the size of two decks of cards releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles. [2]
  • Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes. [1]
  • Livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 per cent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock. [1]
  • Herds cause wide-scale land degradation, with about 20 per cent of pastures considered degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. [1]

[edit] User Contribution

[edit] More on Meat eating and global warming

[edit] What can I do to help

[edit] Additional information

[edit] References:

  • Global warming
  • How Meat Contributes to Global Warming
  • Another Inconvenient Truth: Meat is a Global Warming Issue

[edit] Source

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 UN News Centre
  3. New Scientist