Saturday, August 25, 2012

The impact of the meat industry on global warming

This took me about two hours to research and write, but it's just a reply to reply to a comment I made on an article about vegetarianism. I should probably feel bad that I spent so much time writing something that will probably make no impact on anyone whatsoever, but that's what I do here, if I'm being honest with myself (not that I've written anything here in a long time). I don't feel bad about it because I was trying to expand my knowlege about something I care about. It's also important to me to be informed about the opinions you have- if your opinions are based on something feeble, then how can you feel strongly about them or act on them?
The origional comment that I wrote was that eating meat doesn't just harm the animals that you eat, it also contributes to global warming. The person who replied to my comment said that the article that I quoted wasn't valid because it was written by someone who is a vegetarian- and therefore biased. Here is the origional article,8599,1839995,00.html They went on to write this,
"If you look at world charts of greenhouse gas emission statistics, produced by non-biased reputable sources, you will see completely different figures. In the US in 2009, Transportation was 27.5, Industry was 20.2, and all of agriculture was 7.4%." They didn't provide a source for this data.

Anyway, here's the comment I made, because I wanted to put it somewhere where I might read it again someday. It's good to keep track of where you learn things because sometimes something seems credible and becomes a belief and when we go back later, we realize that our beliefs were based on something of questionable truth. I don't think I'll feel that way about this particular thing though.

(Here I wrote the name of the person I was responding to), I want to know your reputable non-biased source for the figures you gave. It is possible that the source I gave was incorrect, but at least I referenced one. I know that not all deforestation is for livestock Too much of what is produced goes uneaten or is eaten by those of us in first world countries who eat far more than what is necessary to sustain us. However, even if livestock production was a small part of deforestation, eating less meat would be a small improvement- which is better than nothing. Most commercially raised cattle is fed corn instead of just grazing on grass. It makes sense to me that it makes less impact on the environment to eat that corn ourselves rather than spend months feeding a cow to get it fat enough to eat. Unfortunately, if population growth continues the way it has been, I don’t think the planet can sustain us all even if we were all vegetarian. There are just too many of us. But I think we stand a better chance at survival if we use less resources in as many areas of our lives as possible- diet being one of them.

As to the article that I referenced last time, I don't think it necessarily discredits the argument if the source is a vegetarian. Is it possible that a person might become vegetarian after researching causes for global warming? It seems logical that if you learn that a behavior is potentially destructive you would cease doing it. If you considered the last source I cited as biased, I found this article referencing research from the Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative (LEAD) based at FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). “More than two-thirds of all agricultural land is devoted to growing feed for livestock, while only 8 percent is used to grow food for direct human consumption, LEAD reported. If the entire world population were to consume as much meat as the Western world does-176 pounds of meat per capita per year- the global land required would be two-thirds more than what is presently used, according to Vaclav Smil, professor of environment and geography at the University of Manitoba and participant in the EVP study.” The article was in Scientific American magazine. If you want to know about the author, here is his website ( An organization affiliated with the United Nations seems like a reputable source to me, especially since the research comes from multiple people of different nations and beliefs doing their own independent research. Here is more info about them (

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