Friday, January 26, 2007
Weiners & Burgers Heating the Planet More than Cars
Animal farming is a bigger contributor of greenhouse gases and global warming than transportation is. So says a new report from the United Nations FAO or Food and Agricultural Organization.
Raising livestock accounts for 18% of all green-house gas emissions worldwide, including 9% of all carbon dioxide produced by human activities. Most of that CO2 is from the burning of forests for livestock pastures or to grow feed for farmed animals.
In addition, 37% of all methane due to humans is from livestock. Methane is 23 times more potent as a greenhouse gas, molecule for molecule, than CO2 is.
Farmed animals, says the FAO report, now comprise 20% of all land animals. The proliferation of animals we keep for meat, eggs, and milk is displacing and endangering wildlife species. The report says that 30% of land which is now occupied by livestock was at one time prime wildlife habitat. [It seems to me this figure should be closer to 100%.]
The FAO proposes, as a partial solution, that the true environmental costs inherent in animal agriculture should be passed along to livestock farmers. This would include the cost of attempting to restore habitats damaged by livestock, including the cleaning of rivers polluted by the liquid effluent from waste lagoons. The farmers then would be forced to pass those costs along to retailers and on to consumers. Sounds good to me.
But some costs can't be recouped. There is no technology to remove CO2 from the air, for example. I know this because my community has just had a couple of public hearings to consider our local power company's request to build more coal-fired power plants. That point was brought up again and again as I and others protested the construction: there is no technology to remove CO2 from the air. So the real solution to animal farming will have to be consuming fewer animal products. There is no other true fix.
Science News, January 13, 2007
Keywords:: GREENHOUSE GASES GLOBAL WARMING CLIMATE CHANGE ANIMAL AGRICULTURE FACTORY FARMING ANIMAL PRODUCTS FARMED ANIMALS TRANSPORTATION SUVS CARS TRUCKS EMISSIONS CARBON DIOXIDE BURNING FORESTS BURNING WOODLANDS PASTURES LIVESTOCK FEED ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS CONSUMER LIVESTOCK FARMER TRUE COSTS