Researchers have long issued warnings about the consequences of our livestock-dominated food system. After the Sars outbreak in 2003, an essay in the American Journal of Public Health lamented that “changing the way humans treat animals – most basically, ceasing to eat them or, at the very least, radically limiting the quantity of them that are eaten – is largely off the radar as a significant preventive measure.” In 2016, the UN Environment Program warned that the “livestock revolution” was a zoonotic disaster waiting to happen.Yet meat consumption continues to rise. Now, just as experts predicted, eating animals is coming back to bite us.
It’s frustrating how often I read “What you can do about global warming”-style articles that don’t mention vegetarianism. So I’m happy that Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is now highlighting meat production’s role in climate change in his speeches.
UN data says that meat production accounts for about 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, topping even transportation, which accounts for 13% of worldwide emissions. The UN included all aspects of meat production, when arriving at the 18% figure: clearing land, creation and transportation of fertilizers, burning fuels in farm vehicles, and the emissions coming directly from cows and sheep.
Here’s a nice gallery of houses in majestic natural locales.
Ivette Perfecto of the University of Michigan in the US and her colleagues found that, in developed countries, organic systems on average produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture. In developing countries, however, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms. Perfecto points out that the materials needed for organic farming are more accessible to farmers in poor countries.
The Economist on the most cost-effective ways of cutting carbon emissions.
My friend Sara is in the Globe today, fightin’ the good wetlands fight.