“Now should be environmental vegetarianism’s big moment,” writes Ben Adler in the article “Are Cows Worse Than Cars,” found in The American Prospect. “Global Warming is the single biggest threat to the health of the planet, and meat consumption plays a bigger role in greenhouse gas emissions than even many environmentalists realize.”
Generally speaking, the environmentalist movement has largely downplayed, if not ignored, the impact that dietary choices have on global warming.
On the one hand, we can support cleaner energy, buy more efficient cars, and reduce our consumption of products derived from petroleum, and yet with our other hand, eat a burger that has a carbon footprint bigger than most SUVs.
Mike Tidwell, director Chesapeake Climate Action Network similarly has a negative view of environmentalists’ awareness of dietary impact. “I think it’s amazing that even the greenest of green liberal environment activists, the vast majority of them tend to consume meat at the same rate as people who think global warming is a hoax,” he says. “Meat consumption seems to be the last thing that progressive people address in their lifestyle. If I had a nickel for every global warming conference that had roast beef on the menu, I’d be rich.”
The beef industry is driven largely by corn subsidies (over 5 billion dollars last year alone). If feedlots had to pay the true cost of feeding the cows all of that corn, or if they had to offset all of the fuel and emissions produced from calf to slaughter, most of them would probably have been out of business long ago.
We’ve been bailing out the meat industry with subsidies and price supports for years, and for what? For greenhouse gas emissions that out-pace the levels from cars and other transportation.
Considering the large carbon footprint for animal agriculture, why is it that we’re so stubborn to give up meat?
Cutting meat out of the diet is not a very catchy campaign. Owning a hybrid vehicle with Sierra Club stickers on the back is way more sexy than cutting the flesh out of our diets.
“I don’t know of anyone in the environmental community that has taken a stance of ‘we support no meat consumption because of global warming,’” says Tim Greef of League of Conservation Voters.
Until the connection between CO2 emissions, global warming, and our diet is accepted, you can be sure that people will be rolling through the drive-thru for Big Mac, in the biodiesel or hybrid, feeling like they’re really making a difference.
Read the entire article by Ben Adler in American Prospect for more juicy tidbits on dietary choices, climate change, and global warming.
Check out how garlic is being used to cut methane gas emissions from livestock.