Author Topic: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases  (Read 739 times)

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Offline RaisyDaisy

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Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« on: May 19, 2019, 10:19:45 AM »
Got into a discussion last night with friends.  I explained I would like to go mostly vegan to do my part for climate change.  I had heard on the podcast that meat consumption by humans is the #1 cause of Greenhouse Gases.  I made the point of saying over cars and power.

Now I want to be sure I'm correct. I know I heard that but never actually saw any studies.

Am I correct or misinformed.  If correct does anyone have any link to the repritable study or article about it?

I'm having a hard time finding anything outside the parent cause (fossil fuels)

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Online CarbShark

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2019, 10:24:35 AM »
This claim does not enjoy the broad consensus among experts that most of the other Global Warming claims do.


 There is broad consensus among vegans that it’s true.




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and Donald Trump is President of the United States.

I'm not a doctor, I'm just someone who has done a ton of research into diet and nutrition.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2019, 11:29:00 AM »
Raising cows for slaughter is a very large contributor to environmental degradation. It consumes a huge amount of fresh water and fossil fuel. The vast majority of cows raised for slaughter are fed corn, which they convert to protein very inefficiently, and which itself is grown with high inputs of nitrogen from natural gas, water from ancient aquifers, and tractor fuel. The cows themselves produce an enormous amount of methane. Pasture-fed cows raised on marginal land that could not support crops or forest are not nearly as bad, but still consume a huge amount of water and produce methane, and they are a tiny fraction of the cows eaten in the industrial countries, especially the U.S.

It would surprise me if animals raised for slaughter are the number one source of greenhouse gasses. But they are most definitely a significant source, and this (as well as the cruelty and your own health) is a good reason to eat less meat.

The question should not be "Which is number one?" It should be, "What are the principal ways in which I can decrease my carbon footprint?" Going vegan or simply eating less meat is certainly one of those.

And welcome to the SGU forums, RaisyDaisy.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2019, 10:48:44 PM »
Meat consumption by humans is not the #1 cause of Greenhouse Gases.

Did you hear that on the SGU podcast? If so, then it might be a good idea to write them a message asking for clarification. Be sure to include the episode number.

According to NASA, the EPA, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, fossil fuel burning and deforestation are the largest contributors to global climate change. Agriculture causes about 9% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

But raising animals for meat—including the growing of feed for those animals—is a major driving force behind global deforestation. It occupies around 80% of all agricultural land worldwide, which amounts to 45% of global land area (!).

So while it may come in at a distant second to fossil fuel burning, animal agriculture is still a significant contributor to global warming. It also causes many other negative impacts on the environment. It consumes about one third of all potable water, causes massive air and water pollution, and occupies a huge majority of farmland area which could be put to far more efficient use in growing food directly for human consumption.



Whether you want to go vegan or vegetarian is totally up to you, but there are plenty of good reasons to minimize your consumption of meat.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 11:25:05 PM by John Albert »

Online lonely moa

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2019, 04:53:59 AM »
Just eat sustainably raised meat.  Our cattle and sheep eat only pasture (after weaning) and the pasture is deep rooting herbs and grasses that receive only rainwater and occasional elemental mineral applications.

Not all meat in the world is produced as poorly as in American feed lots.  That said, I think that livestock production in the US is a rather small proportion of total greenhouse gas emissions.  Broadacre arable agriculture has a very significant GHG effect; from production of soluble N, transport, machinery storage and loss all the way to manufacture of product and retail sales.  It is very difficult to measure but just eating enough to survive is contributing to climate change. 

Worldwide, rice production easily matches beef and sheep in methane production.
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Offline 2397

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2019, 05:16:37 AM »
The number one cause of emissions is reproduction, since having children leads to all the other problems, including more children in the future. Any child not born marks an end to the vast potential of future emissions it could've led to.

Meat consumption is still one of the major problems, for all the land, energy and water it requires, compared to other sources of food. Ultimately, we could do without it. I'm all for people making the choice to give up meat, as long as it doesn't prevent them from having enough variety in their diets.

Overall I think that we depend on meat substitutes, and alternative ways of growing meat cells, becoming routine and cheap to scale up, before we can expect to be shutting down farms for causing too much emissions. But I also think that implementing an emissions tax would make it happen faster, giving the less resource intensive ways of producing food a significant edge. A fair edge, because currently we're giving subsidies by not charging for the environmental damage.

Offline earbrass

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Re: Meat Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2019, 05:50:37 AM »
I think the source of all environmental problems that affect life on earth (other than geophysical forces, e.g., plate tectonics) is human reproduction.  Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in a recent article in The New Yorker that in terms of biomass, humans now outweigh all other life forms, (except fish) by a factor of eight to one; and that counting humans' domestic animals, mainly cattle and pigs, the ratio rises to twenty-three to one.  Homo sapiens will be the cause of its own extinction, and no other creature will miss us, except our dogs. Good riddance, I say.  Homo sapiens are noteworthy and exceptional only in the eyes of other homo sapiens.  "Live long and die out" should be our motto.

Offline earbrass

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2019, 05:56:26 AM »
Is there such a thing as sustainable in the context of a constantly increasing human population?

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2019, 04:57:40 AM »
Is there such a thing as sustainable in the context of a constantly increasing human population?

IMHO, no.
"Pull the goalie", Malcolm Gladwell.

Online Rai

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2019, 05:03:15 AM »
You can't have infinite expansion in a finite space.

Online Noisy Rhysling

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2019, 05:12:00 AM »
Is it just meets or do meets-and-greets count as well?
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Offline Gigabyte

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2019, 06:07:15 AM »
Is it just meets or do meets-and-greets count as well?
I laughed as well at the topic title.

I can certainly reduce my meetings if it will help the planet.

The number one cause of emissions is reproduction, since having children leads to all the other problems, including more children in the future.

If people would stop reproducing everything would be fine.  To speed up the solution we should also just kill ourselves. 
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Offline 2397

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2019, 11:14:15 AM »
Personally, I consider abstinence, birth control, and abortions to be in a completely different category to suicide and homicide.

Although I am pro-assisted dying, as long as that doesn't become an excuse not to have public welfare services.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2019, 11:43:32 AM »
Just eat sustainably raised meat.  Our cattle and sheep eat only pasture (after weaning) and the pasture is deep rooting herbs and grasses that receive only rainwater and occasional elemental mineral applications.

Not all meat in the world is produced as poorly as in American feed lots.  That said, I think that livestock production in the US is a rather small proportion of total greenhouse gas emissions.  Broadacre arable agriculture has a very significant GHG effect; from production of soluble N, transport, machinery storage and loss all the way to manufacture of product and retail sales.  It is very difficult to measure but just eating enough to survive is contributing to climate change. 

Worldwide, rice production easily matches beef and sheep in methane production.

Sustainably-raised animals are a tiny percentage of all the animals raised for slaughter. Sustainably-raised meat, like organic vegetables, is a luxury of the wealthy who can afford it, and those fortunate enough to own enough land to raise their own. And most people who eat meat prefer the higher fat content of animals fattened with grain, thus multiplying the environmental impacts. Any detrimental impact of grain farming is multiplied many times over when that grain is fed to animals.

Personally, I find meat substitutes extremely unappealing because they taste too much like meat. I much prefer plant-based sources of protein for what they are, not converted into something intended to resemble meat. Artificial meat will always be less sustainable than the plant products it's made from. Not to mention the barbaric cruelty of murdering billions of animals, just to be able to eat food that's less healthy and more environmentally destructive.
Daniel
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Meet Consumption highest contributor to Greenhouse gases
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2019, 11:49:31 AM »
Personally, I consider abstinence, birth control, and abortions to be in a completely different category to suicide and homicide.

Although I am pro-assisted dying, as long as that doesn't become an excuse not to have public welfare services.

And yet, in the thread about Thanos, when I advocated mandatory birth control, The great majority, if not everyone in the thread, made it quite clear that what I was advocating was the moral equivalent of randomly murdering half the population.
Daniel
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