Posted by: ericgrimsrud | May 1, 2021

But where’s the beef in Biden’s climate plan?

While I have been very pleased to see that President Biden intends to give high priority to addressing the world’s greatest problem, climate change, I have also noted that he has not yet mentioned in his concerns the contributions of agriculture and, more specifically, our need to change a large portion of our diets from meat-based to plant-based foods. His reason for this omission is most likely due to political rather than scientific considerations. The agricultural lobby of the USA is very strong and firmly entrenched.  Asking them for their support in reducing beef production is probably about as difficult a task as asking the fossil fuel industries to support reductions in our use of gas, oil, and coal. President Biden is already facing strong push-back from the fossil fuel industries and, I am sure, would prefer that the agricultural lobby not add its great strength to those forces for non-action on climate change.

Nevertheless, in pondering an argument that would explain why changes in agricultural are needed, I happened to see an op ed by Stephanie Feldstein which serves this purpose very well. Therefore, I have included a portion of it below.  Her entire article can be found at the source cited.   

Opinion by Stephanie Feldstein in Washington Post, April 29, 2021

Stephanie Feldstein is the population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity.  A portion of her op ed follows.

“Americans eat four times the global average of beef. This is particularly troubling since domestic livestock animals and their manure are responsible for more U.S. methane emissions than any other industry. Those emissions, which have much higher warming potential than carbon dioxide, have been increasing, even as the importance of reducing methane gained recognition. Since 1990, methane emissions from manure alone have risen to 68 percent. We can’t meet climate goals without reducing meat and dairy consumption.

Among this week’s angry tweets claiming Americans were losing their right to a rib-eye, there was little argument over whether meat reduction is an effective and necessary climate strategy. That’s because the science is clear on the climate footprint of meat-heavy diets. But Republicans have an appetite for destruction when it comes to the climate, and they’re more than willing to ignore the facts in favor of fueling the culture war over occasionally eating one fewer burger.

The American way of life isn’t threatened by replacing a beef burger with a veggie version. But it is threatened by the climate crisis, which puts Americans at risk as temperatures and sea levels rise and as drought and disease diminish our ability to grow nutritious food.”  

So, there you have it.  It’s another case of a well-established custom facing a clear dictate from science – somewhat like the tobacco wars of previous decades except that in the present case, it’s all of us and our descendents and not just the offending individuals that are at risk.


Responses

  1. Another great post Eric, yet another great, science- based argument to hopefully convince our obstructionist Republican so called lawmakers. But I fear not, but “ we” have to keep trying!!Another red flag is the energy needed to fuel “ bit coin” mining and the NFT’s in the art world. When are people going to come to their senses!!! Appreciate your voice, keep up the good work!!!


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