Killer Cow Emissions

Nice to see the LA Times taking up the links between vegetarianism and the environment: “Killer Cow Emissions

Now I actually have reason to use my digg and newsvine accounts. 😉


All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, according to the U.N. — more than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet. And it’s going to get a lot worse. As living standards rise in the developing world, so does its fondness for meat and dairy. Annual per-capita meat consumption in developing countries doubled from 31 pounds in 1980 to 62 pounds in 2002, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which expects global meat production to more than double by 2050. That means the environmental damage of ranching would have to be cut in half just to keep emissions at their current, dangerous level.

It isn’t enough to improve mileage standards or crack down on diesel truck emissions . . . Eventually, the United States and other countries are going to have to clean up their agricultural practices, while consumers can do their part by cutting back on red meat.

. . .

A recent report in the Lancet led by Australian National University professor Anthony J. McMichael posits that available technologies applied universally could reduce non-carbon dioxide emissions from livestock by less than 20%. The authors advocate another, fringe approach that has long been embraced by dietitians and vegans but is a long way from going mainstream in the United States: eating less meat.

I do wish they could focus on not just the “emissions” piece – too easy to degrade into jokes about cows farting. There are other environmental impacts of livestock production as we – for example, the amount of grain raised to feed those livestock which would be more effectively consumed directly by humans. The waste runoff from containment style pig factories is a serious industrial pollutant

But at least they are paying attention to the issue, which is more than I can say for most mainstream media.

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1 Comment

  1. I just came across your blog as I sit home tonight also blogging on the topic of being vegetarian.

    That statistic about greenhouse gases is so amazing, and what is more shocking is the lack of media attention surrounding it.

    I recently got back from Spain, and being vege there is really tough!

    Great posts!