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Must Read

Opinion

May 26, 2017

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Climate deniers

Most environmental/  conservation  groups are Climate  Change deniers.  Specifically, I am talking  about the numerous  organizations that give lip  service to the threat posed by  climate change, but don’t  even mention to their membership  the contribution that  livestock production has with  regards to rising global temperatures.  While most organizations  are calling, climate  change the environmental  issue of our time, they avoid  discussing the contribution  of animal agriculture in climate  change.  It is one of those topics  that is avoided in any climate  change discussions. We  hear about the need to reduce  fossil fuels and switch  to renewable energy. We are  encouraged to drive more efficient  vehicles or insulate  our homes. We are told to  turn down the thermostat in  winter.  Not that these ideas aren’t  worthy of action. However,  the single easiest and most  effective way to reduce one’s  personal contribution to  global warming is to change  one’s diet. Consumption of  meat and dairy is one of the  biggest contributors to Green  House Gas Emissions (GHG)  but few organizations are  willing to even discuss this  problem, much less advocate  for a diet change.  Indeed, many groups advocate  and promote ranching  and animal farming, especially  if it’s ‘local’ as if locally  produced GHG emissions are  better than ones produced far  away.  Here’s the problem. Livestock,  particularly, cows and  other ‘rumen’ animals have  bacteria in their guts that assist  in the breakdown of  grass and other forage. A byproduct  of this biological decomposition  is methane.  Methane is a potent

greenhouse  gas and is far more effective  at trapping heat than  carbon dioxide. So, it takes a  lot less methane to have a  disproportional effect on rising  temperature. Methane  breaks down over time to  carbon dioxide, but initially,  its ability to trap heat is 100  times more efficient than carbon  dioxide.  This is an important nuance  because the time factor  affects how you view  methane. If you use a 100-  year timeline, the ability of  methane to trap heat is only  approximately 20 times  greater than carbon dioxide  (because much of the  methane has been converted  to carbon dioxide), but if you  use a 20-year horizon which  is far more meaningful in our  current situation, then  methane is far more powerful  and destructive.  Any number of recent  studies have shown that livestock  contributes anywhere  from 14.5 percent of global  GHG emissions (in a UN  Food and Agriculture Organization  report) up to a World  Watch assessment that includes  more of the collateral  impacts of livestock production  estimates that as much  as 51 percent of all GHG  emissions are the result of  livestock production.  And worse for the environment,  many organizations  promote ‘grass fed’ beef and  dairy as if that somehow  negates the environmental  impacts of livestock. Ironically,  because consumption  of grass and other ‘free range’  forage is more difficult for  rumen bacteria than converting  higher quality forage like  corn, silage, or soy into energy,  grass-fed beef/dairy  cows emit more methane  over their lives than CAFO  (Confined Animal Feeding  Operations) produced  beef/dairy.  This is not an endorsement  of CAFOs, rather it  demonstrates that meat/dairy  consumption no matter what  the source may be, is  counter-productive if your  goal is to reduce GHG emissions.  Either way what these  studies suggest is that eating  less beef and dairy is one of  the dietary changes that anyone  can implement to reduce  the personal contribution to  climate change. But most environmental  organizations  while they might be willing to  fund campaigns like ‘keep it  on the ground’ or advocate for  solar panels, refuse to discuss  how a meat and dairy diet is  destroying the global climate.  This article has been excerpted  from: ‘Environmental Groups as  Climate Deniers’.  Courtesy: Counterpunch.org        

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