Eat Less Meat, Reduce Global Warming -- or Not
Reducing consumption of meat and dairy products might not have a major impact in combating global warming despite claims that link diets rich in animal products to production of greenhouse gases.
Save the planet, eat less meat ... right? That's what the U.N. said, anyway, but one scientist has a grade A beef with that claim.
The largely reported link between global warming and cattle farming -- propagated by a United Nations report on "Livestock's Long Shadow" -- was also largely inaccurate, explains one scientist.
In a presentation before the 239th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California said the misleading claims emanate from a 2006 U.N. report, which said that livestock was "responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions," describing the figure as "a larger share than transportation."
According to Mitloehner, the claim is inaccurate because the numbers for livestock were calculated differently from the transport figures.
In the report, the livestock emissions included gases produced by growing animal feed; animals' digestive emissions; and processing meat and milk into foods. But the transportation analysis factored in only emissions from fossil fuels burned while driving, and not all other transport-lifecycle related factors.
"This lopsided analysis is a classical apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue," he said. Read More
Since the UN report came out, we have been telling anyone who would listen that the claims of livestock destroying the planet weren’t accurate. Finally, as more of the claims about global warming continue to be debunked, so do the claims about the role of livestock. Livestock aren’t destroying the planet, they are feeding the planet. They are turning raw, human-indigestible products and turning them into an incredibly nutrient-dense consumable protein source. That’s the real story that needs to be told and celebrated. Every time I think about this incredible process it makes me proud to be part of it.