Today Good magazine launched its 30-day Challenge for June which is to not eat meat for the month. Regardless of whether someone thinks it is wrong to kill and animal for human consumption, eating less meat is better for the environment. As Henning Steinfeld, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official, said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”
An FAO report from a few years ago titled, Livestock’s Long Shadow states that the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, more than transportation. Livestock are responsible for nine percent of carbon emissions, according to the FAO report, 37 percent of methane (which has a warming affect 23 times greater than carbon), 65 percent of nitrous oxide and 64 percent of ammonia emissions (responsible for acid rain and acidification of ecosystems).
Livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of carbon a year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, according to the Worldwatch Institute, which believes that 25,048 million tons of carbon from livestock have been undercounted or overlooked.
Livestock production has increased by 60 percent since 1961, according to the WI. The amount of poultry raised for human consumption globally almost quadrupled since 1961. Beef and pork consumption in the U.S. has tripled since 1970, and doubled in Asia. The FAO report projects that global meat production will more than double from 1999 levels by 2050.
If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 20 percent it would be equivalent to switching from a standard sedan to a hybrid, according to calculations by geophysicists Gidon Eshel and Pamela A. Martin.
“In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity,” said Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease it from there.” Pachauri is a vegetarian.
“Urgent action is required to remedy the situation,” Steinfeld said.
Be someone who takes action: stop eating meat for a month, and sign the Care2 petition, Go Vegetarian!
Photo from maraker via flickr
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