Meat isn’t as bad for the environment as previously thought: study

Meat isn’t as bad for the environment as previously thought: study

(Image: SpecialKRB) 

Slate.com’s Green Lantern column is reporting that farm animals might not be “the global warming bogeymen…previously imagined.” Back in 2006, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) published a paper that accused livestock of producing 18 per cent of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions—more than the entire transportation sector. Frank Mitloehner, a researcher from the University of California-Davis, claims that while the figure may be accurate, it doesn’t apply to the United States (where transport accounts for 26 per cent and livestock 2.8). The question is, Does this mean that people should be cutting back on meat consumption?

Mitloehner thinks so. He believes that Americans could do more to reduce the use of fossil fuels for heating, electricity and transportation. Yet the green people at Slate are not entirely convinced, pointing out that even cutting out 2.8 per cent means a reduction of 198 million metric tons of carbon dioxide—that is equivalent “to all of Venezuela’s energy-related CO2 emissions in 2008.”

Meanwhile, the FAO is prepping for a deeper analysis of livestock’s carbon footprint by the end of the year, with a breakdown of the emissions from different animals, farming systems and regions. Stayed tuned for which animal’s burps will destroy the planet first: the cow or the pig.

• Three studies raise brand-new environmental dilemmas [Slate]