SIXTEEN KILOS OF CO2 TO GET ONE KILO OF BEEF ON THE TABLE CANNOT BE SUSTAINED
Excerpts from a segment on Horizons. Michael Mosley seeks to establish the truth about meat. Every year humans raise and eat 65 billion animals, nine animals for every person on the globe. We are eating twice as much meat as we were 50 years ago, but it comes at a price. The average British citizen consumes 80 kilos of meat every year and 120 kilos is eaten in the USA. China who once consumed four kilos of beef per head per year are now averaging 55 kilos. What is the environmental impact if we want to eat meat? Is there a way to do so without destroying the planet? 300 million cattle are slaughtered every year, 1.4 billion pigs, one billion sheep and goats, 5 million horses, two million camels, 3.5 million ducks and
turkeys and 60 billion chickens. for this there are serious environmental issues, the amount of earth resources devoted to raising these vast numbers of animals is both controversial and difficult to measure. Fortunately the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation have put together some very comprehensive reports on the scale of the livestock industry. The grazing areas account for more than a quarter of the earth’s ice free areas. A third of the earth’s total land mass is given over to the animal we either eat or milk…that is 70% more of land than a century ago. With meat production set to double in the next few decades we could rapidly run out of space. It is not just cattle and the land they occupy but keeping such large number of animals has much less obvious effects on the environment.
The average cow produces the same effect on the global warming as an average family car. There are 1.5 million cows today, as a result cattle have become a major threat to the global climate. The methane emitted from cattle is equivalent 2.8 billion tons of CO2, managing the manure creates another 700 million tons and the effect of clearing forests for grazing also contributes 700 million tons. Crop production to feed these animals creates 2.6 Billion Gigatons of CO2 and transporting produces a further 100 million tons.
The total impact according to the UN is estimated around 14.5% of all man made gas emissions, the same amount produced by the entire world’s cars, planes, trains and boats put together.
Manningham Council have cancelled plans to mandate wind turbines and solar panels on top of high rise apartments and are unable to provide a site for a Yarra Valley Water sewer mine to recycle water for laundry and toilet flushing which was part of the Doncaster Hill low CO2 development “green” policy.
It will be interesting to read Geoff Gough’s report when he returns from the Seoul conference on global warming and to discover whether there was any discussion on what effect livestock has on climate.