Wednesday, March 24, 2010

UN Report Debunked Again

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.


Mz.Many Names said...

Well now here we go again Troy. You can argue the "fine points" of the UN Report but there is no denying that Big-Ag is ruining our lands and is up there in the top 10worlds biggest polluters. Most all available cropland is use to grow food for cattle, and the fertilizers they put in the barren dirt (instead of adding more rich soil) the chemicals leech into our water systems, oh and the waste, the sludge "lagoons" were all the watery waste gets shoved off, back onto the land and into the water. Ag is a dirty business and is wasting our land that could be used to feed people. Just wait until the Frankenmeat craze takes off. We wont need to kill any cows to have meat....and, whats better yet, will go GREAT with Yellow-Tail Wine! !

Unknown said...

Just because it is comparing the entire cycle of livestock to the combustion of oil in cars doesn't really change anything. It does not address the fact that 17% of greenhouse gases come from livestock. The only issue that scientist had was the claim that it "creates more GHGs than transportation," if the report had said "creates more GHGs than the combustion of fossil fuels in cars and trucks," it would have been 100% accurate...

Anonymous said...

I'm not much of a fan of the UN, and most things they produce are heavily politicized, but the general idea that livestock production contributes to a healthy chunk of greenhouse gases is not really debatable. More or less than transportation? Who cares. A negative impact that we need to consider carefully in formulating public pollution/externalities policy? Yes, it is. [By the way, we don't produce livestock 'to feed the world.' Feeding the world corn porridge would be much easier/cheaper. We produce livestock to feed relatively well off people food they prefer to eat, instead of eating corn porridge.]

Star Light said...

This 126 page report by top scientists funded by the Steering Committee on Livestock and backed by the UN, the FAO, and LEAD, including livestock leaders from around the world is a real scientific report. FOX news, however, is proven to have the #1 most misinformed audiences. Tallying the total resources used for livestock DOES = 18% of all greenhouse gases. Whatever the traffic total, that does not change the fact that livestock are among the top 3 worst problems for every single environmental issue possible to examine: Soil loss, desertification, water eutrification, hormone and antibiotics in our water, etc. Grow up, America! Other nations are owning up to the problem and implementing proceedures to remedy. We are blinded by greed so much, that we cannot reach for abundance. A permaculture system of yeild will give us more than everything we need. Grass farming can save the cattle industry. But the MegaMarkets have to GO!

Anonymous said...

soy is indigestible? from which planet are YOU from? you are proud to be a part of the hard working team to destroy the planet. Tell THAT to your kids.

Troy Hadrick said...

@ Anon - I never said soy wasn't digestible. Our cattle eat grasses and legumes along with silage in the winter in order give them enough energy in the diet to stay in good condition. You would starve to death with a belly full of those feed ingredients. That's the really cool thing about ruminants. It's a fantastic mechanism to convert these useless resources into something we can eat.

Gareth Hewer said...

Hi Troy,

The thing is that the UN do suggest limiting our intake of meat in the west in order that it can actually be increased in poorer countries where malnourishment is a big issue. However, organic and free range farming of meat is being celerated rather than vilified. It is the intensive style of meat farming that is bcoming ever more prevalent that is the real enemy here.

What's more, eating less meat is actually healthy. On average a person in the US consumes 342g of meat per day, when recommendations sggest that this number should be more like 90-100g. Meat consumption is also closely linked to heart disease, obesity and certain cancers.

In short, eating less meat means less animal suffering, less deforestation for pasture or animal feed, less intensive high yield appraches which damage soil and integrity and biodiversity, and ultimately less CO2 emissions.