Posted by: ericgrimsrud | December 21, 2014

Don’t Eat Meat!! Uffda, what’s next?

Partially because of the fear of public backlash, governments and environmental groups have been reluctant to push policies that require major shifts in consumer behavior. An excellent example of this is one included in the art work I showed in a recent post ((see it at http://www.mindmapart.com/solving-global-warming-mind-map-jane-genovese). One of the messages on the painting provided there was “Eat less meat”. At the risk of being mocked as an unpatriotic, back-to-the-earth hippie type, I will make a few comments about this specific issue here.

First of all, is it real – are cows and cattle major producers of the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change? Unfortunately for the steak lovers among us and the huge international agricultural entities that provide those steaks, yes, it does indeed appear that all of this is true. Climate-impacting emissions are produced not just by the animals’ digestive systems (methane), but also by the fertilizers and manure (nitrous oxide) used to produce feed and the deforestation taking place to provide grazing lands. In addition, livestock animals consume large amounts of water and agricultural / land resources that could be used for other more energy efficient means of food production that are not accompanied by such huge emissions of greenhouse gasses.

A new research paper entitled Livestock—Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector (see it at http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/field/field_document/20141203LivestockClimateChangeBaileyFroggattWellesley.pdf?dm_i=1TY5,30JL0,BHZILT,AUGSP) explains why it may be necessary for a lot more people to go vegetarian or at least dial down their consumption of meat and dairy products. Global greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, the study says, account for about 14.5 percent of the global total, more than the total emissions of the transportation sector and more than all the emissions produced by the USA. And, they conclude, it’s probably impossible to keep global temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius, the commonly cited goal to prevent unstoppable global warming, without addressing livestock production—and global dietary trends.

So there you have it. One of our favorite foods appears to be contributing very significantly to global warming. Call me a trouble-maker if you like. But since I have spent about 40 years of my life in the fossil fuel and cattle-rich state of Montana, I have become used to being ignored or worse. So I will be OK, I guess – as long as the government keeps their hands off my Lutefisk!


Responses

  1. Eric,

    Nobody should have to eat Lutefisk, even at Christmas. Try grass fed beef.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/actually-raising-beef-is-good-for-the-planet-1419030738

    Swamp Man Yonson

    [ REsponse from EPG: Yo Swamp Man Ron Yonson, ya but Lefsa goes much better with Lutefisk than Beef, don’t you think? So with beef, how would you get to get your daily ration of Lefsa?
    And a note here to others who might not have had the benefit of a Norski background – a few definitions: Lutefisk and Lefsa are Norwegian delicacies served only on special occasions, such as Christmas. “Uffda” is an expression used at Lutefisk Dinners when you see someone using their Lefsa as a napkin!! Ya Yonson?]


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