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Beef: As Bad For the Environment As the Hummer?

beefWhen it comes to global warming, Hamburgers are the Hummers of food. That’s because beef is an inefficient food to produce and cows release a large amount of methane into the atmosphere, according to Nathan Pelletier of Dalhousie University in Canada, AP reports.

Although beef only accounts for 30 percent of meat consumption in the developed world, it’s responsible for 78 percent of the emissions. A single kilogram of beef produces 16 kilograms CO2 equivalent emissions: four times higher than pork and more than ten times more than a kilogram of poultry, said Pelletier.

If meat consumption in the developed world was cut from the current level of about 90 kilograms per year, to the recommended level of 53 kilograms annually, meat associated emissions would drop by 44 percent, Pelletier told Science News.

“Switching to no red meat and no dairy products is the equivalent of (cutting out) 8,100 miles driven in a car,” Chris Weber, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University told AP.

Last summer, the EPA warned the dairy industry that it would soon start regulating GHG emissions. Farmers began lobbying fiercely against the potential “cow tax” which would tax them for the methane that livestock emit.

In the UK, some farmers have put their cows on a special diet in order to reduce GHG emissions.

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11 thoughts on “Beef: As Bad For the Environment As the Hummer?

  1. Oh, here we go. Next thing you know, they’ll be restricting what we can eat or drink. The nanny governments and those who worship in the church of environmentalism are doing their dead level best to rid the world of productive industries, but apparently that isn’t good enough for them. I suppose they want everyone to be as miserable as they are.

  2. The types of “global warming” analyses that are now being carried out such as reported in this article about the horrors of beef consumption or others about orange juice or video games are absurd. As a lifelong environmental scientist and head of an state environmental regulatory bureau (KS Bureau of Waste Management), I am frustrated and saddened by the waste of time and efforts to deal with this issue. I believe time will show this fear to be a non-issue similar to what happened with the Y2K scare. Everywhere we turn we see articles about the doom that awaits us if we do not save ourselves from this threat. People who are so infatuated with global warming/climate change generally fall into two primary categories: (1) those who truly believe in the theory and have adopted and are promoting various irrational behaviors to save ourselves from the coming doom, and (2) those who see this as an opportunity to make money. In a conservative state like Kansas, most people do not believe in Global warming, but many are playing the game nonetheless because they want to cash in on the carbon credits system that is forming. All of those “carbon” dollar must be coming out of someone’s pocket and during this time of economic hardship it will only worsen conditions.

  3. It only makes sense. Cows are bad for the environment, and the bottom line is that we must take care of the environment. Keep in mind that the main culprits are disgusting corporations such as McDonalds and their ilk. Why not make them illegal? On reading the comment below… of course governments will be controlling what we eat and drink. Unless you grow your own food, you will have to expect that. Learn to be self sufficient – the time has come!

  4. When people don’t get the big picture and movements have to be sold one regulation at a time, is it really that surprising that we are now measuring the carbon output of everything? We just need to consume LESS… of everything, including beef and the substitutes for beef. We are a species that does not see long-term, gradual destruction. If we did we would inherently be efficient creatures and wouldn’t need articles like this. Glennis, way to sound like an early 20th century oil tycoon.

  5. Beef Its whats for Dinner! You know only 50% of those are actually for the food, the rest are for by-products. By-Products which go every-where, into medicines, dog foor, motor-oil, tires, antifreeze, asphalt, crayons, clothing, toothpaste, Brake Fluid, soap, rubber gloves, candles,glues, candies, bubble gum, wallpaper, sand paper, linoleum, paint brushes, emery boards, combs, and many more. Beef also provides healthy nutrients, like zip (zinc, iron and protien), vitamin B12, riboflavin, choline( beef is the best source for this, according to the fda), selenium, phosphhorus, niacin, and Vitamin B6. Also Global Warming is a cycle, it has to do with pangea, and the moving of the continents, global warming, is in fact the polar regions moving towards the equator, where they will get more sunlight and temperatures shall rise. We cannot stop that. And its my Job, no my duty, purpose, and honor to promote the beef industry, because I am a junior beef ambassador! If you have any more questions, or comments feel free to email me at JrKcAmbassador@aol.com

  6. Come on people let’s use a little common sense. Grazing animals have been part of the natural ecosystem for millions of years. And as part of a natural cycle do not harm the local environment unless allowed to overgraze an area which is usually a management problem caused by man. Yes, cows produce methane but so do we and every other creature that consumes fiberous (includes vegetables) materials as food. Removing all the cattle on the planet would not reduce the amount of methane produced annually by any significant amount. Grasses and legumes would continue to grow upon our prairies producing fiberous material that if not eaten by grazing animals and broken down ( by bacteria in their stomachs which is the source of the methane cows fart) to produce a food product for man would simple be digested by bacteria in the natural decomposition process which would produce roughly the same amount of methane gas. The only way to reduce methane production would be to eliminate the growth of grasses and legumes which happen to be the main food supply for both man and animals on this planet. If you want to be concerned about methane then worry about the warming of the northern latitudes and the methane that is currently trapped in peat bogs around the world. This is methane currently sequestered but rising temperatures will allow bacteria to decompose the peat releasing huge amounts of methane that is not natural to our present climatic system. So sorry vegans but no net gain in terms of reducing methane is achieved from a vegetarian diet although I will concede we would probably be healthier by limiting our intake of red meat to grass fed animals and not the unnatural corn feed beef which is prevalent today.

  7. Bill, Larry, and others are just plain wrong.

    Bill merely “believes” that time will show anthropogenic climate change to be a “non-issue”. Well, Bill, beliefs are great – but they don’t solve any problems. They often don’t even reflect reality. And in this case, your “beliefs” have been contradicted time and again by solid, peer-reviewed science. Science that is overwhelmingly accepted as valid by the relevant scientific communities. So I and many others (including many from Kansas) choose to act on the scientific conclusions, rather than on “beliefs”.

    And by the way, regarding your comment about “all of those carbon dollar must be coming out of someone’s pocket and during this time of economic hardship it will only worsen conditions”? Guess what – to the extent that you, I, or anyone else, has to pay any increased fee, energy price, tax, or other similar amount; such payment will go directly to pay someone else’s salary, support some other industry, etc. The economy as a whole will not suffer. Money will merely be changing hands in a different pattern than previously. And in that process, the harm we are currently causing to the environment will begin to be ameliorated.

  8. And as far as grazing animals are concerned, Larry is off-base.

    Ruminants have been around for millions of years. But in all that time, they have never even come close to the hundreds of millions, or even billions, of individual animals that mankind now foists onto the environment. The massive change in runimant numbers caused by man has direct consequences on the environment. Of that there can be no doubt.

    Whole forests have been, and are now being, cleared specifically for increased cattle farming. The lost forests no longer contribute to carbon or methane cycles. The pastureland that replaces them contributes in different ways. The overall change is for the negative, in terms of the tonnages of carbon and methane that reside in the atmosphere.

  9. Well, global warming is a true threat, but this is just frigin S-T-U-P-I-D!!! Just goes to show you how selfish people are, they can’t reach the public about keeping their cars off of the road, so the government and big industries are on there last limb trying to save the earth, which you know isn’t gonna happen because of all the frigin idiots out there! I mean, now people are trying to put the message of global warmimg in teen books! Maximum Ride, The Final Warning by James Patterson, the book is all about global warming!

  10. Have you ever looked up nutrition facts on a typical hamburger? Unbelievably high amounts of saturated fat. Do yourself a favor and cut back on *all* meat and dairy consumption. You don’t have to cut it out completely. Just try to minimize it where you can. Your health will benefit, I promise. Some lobby groups may try to convince you that their products (like milk) will make you skinny, but a quick glance at the nutrition facts will speak for itself! EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!

  11. Global warming is pangea and the polar ice caps moving to the equator? Did you seriously say that? Look up Venus for a good start. In short, Increased CO2 in the atmosphere leading to an increase in surface (and all around) temperature is what causes global warming. However, I wouldn’t expect a jr. beef ambassador to comment in any accurate or truthful manner. About the only thing that was true in that fictitious story is that we can not stop it. Keep making that money.

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