Drop That Burger
Matthew Herper, 11.12.09, 12:20 PM EST
Forbes Magazine dated November 30, 2009
Biotech whiz Pat Brown makes the global-warming case against animal farming.
Patrick O. Brown, a Stanford University biochemist, has changed science twice by giving stuff away. In the early 1990s Brown invented the DNA microarray, a tool that measures how cells make use of their DNA; he then showed researchers how to make their own, transforming genetic research. In 2000 he was one of three scientists who launched a free, online scientific journal called the Public Library of Science (PLOS); it has already broken the stranglehold of $200-a-year scientific publications like Science and Nature.
Now he is tackling an even bigger foe. Over the next 18 months Brown, 55, will take a break from his normal scientific work (finding out how a small number of genes are translated into a much larger number of proteins) in order to change the way the world farms and eats. He wants to put an end to animal farming, or at least put a significant dent in our global hunger for cows, pigs and chickens.
Brown, who has been a vegetarian for more than 30 years and a vegan for 5, notes that while livestock accounts for only 9% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, it accounts for 37% of human-caused methane (most of it emanating from the animals' digestive systems) and 65% of human-caused nitrous oxide, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Both are far better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, meaning that cows, chickens and their ilk have a larger greenhouse effect than all the cars, trucks and planes in the world.
The green cognoscenti are choosing animal husbandry as their new enemy. Read More
I don’t know why it’s so hard for such smart people to understand the fact that forcing a vegetarian only diet on society would be a much bigger environmental and social disaster than the one they perceive we have today. Turning your back on the resources of 3/4 of the land mass of the world that is currently used for grazing would spell doom. Not only would there not be enough food for everyone to eat, but it would also force us to try farming on land that isn’t suitable for that type of activity. Cattle turn an un-usable natural resource into something that can sustain human life. Not to mention the valuable nutrients they produce that we use to fertilize crops.