Monday, March 22, 2010

Eating less meat will not help the climate

We know that PETA and Paul McCartney may not agree, but eating less meat will not reduce global warming.
You remember Paul McCartney, the well known vegetarian, and his "Less Meat, Less Heat" campaign?
For a refresher, see video below:

The report by Frank Mitloehner, (an air quality expert at the University of California-Davis) says such claims about meat and climate change are distracting society from finding real ways to beat climate change. 

"McCartney and others seem to be well-intentioned but not well-schooled in the complex relationships among human activities, animal digestion, food production and atmospheric chemistry," said Mitloehner.

"We certainly can reduce our greenhouse gas production, but not by consuming less meat and milk," Frank Mitloehner said on Monday as he presented a report on meat-eating and climate change at a conference of the American Chemical Society in California.

Mitloehner, not an entertainer but an air quality expert at the University of California-Davis, said blaming cows and pigs for climate change was scientifically inaccurate.

He also dismissed a 2006 report by the United Nations, which he said overstate the role that livestock play in global warming.

The UN report - Livestock's Long Shadow - which said livestock cause more anthropogenic greenhouse gases than all global transportation combined, merely distract from the real issues involved in climate change and was a distraction in the quest for true solutions to global warming, said Mitloehner.

The notion that eating less meat will help to combat climate change has spawned campaigns for "meatless Mondays" and a European campaign launched late last year, called "Less Meat, Less Heat".

"Smarter animal farming, not less farming, will equal less heat...

"Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries."

Developing countries "should adopt more efficient, Western-style farming practices, to make more food with less greenhouse gas production," added Mitloehner.

Rather than focusing on producing and eating less meat, Mitloehner said developed countries "should focus on cutting our use of oil and coal for electricity, heating and vehicle fuels."

In the United States, transportation creates an estimated 26 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, whereas raising cattle and pigs for food accounts for about three per cent, he said.

The UN report, issued in 2006, said global livestock rearing was responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalents.

The UN report said that was more than the greenhouse gases produced by transport.