Researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research recently found that reducing meat and dairy product consumption, combined with improvements in agricultural practices could reduce global warming gases by over eighty percent. Specifically, the two gases are methane and nitrous oxide, which can contribute to global warming more than carbon dioxide. This source states methane is twenty times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Nitrous oxide, traps even more heat in the atmosphere. According to the EPA, “Nitrous oxide is about 310 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 100-year period. ”
Methane and nitrous oxides are generated by current agricultural practices. One source says, “According to the U.N., the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for a staggering 65 percent of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions. ”
The research calculations show the amount of gases like nitrous oxide and methane will rise until 2055 if food energy consumption and diet preferences remain at the same level they were in 1995. However, if efforts are made now to reduce consumption of meat and dairy by 25 percent each decade from 2015 to 2055, then the gases will decrease to 1995 levels or even less. Changes in agricultural practices could also reduce emissions of the gases. Combined with conscious consumer food choices, together they could reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions by 84 percent by 2055, the researchers say.
Dr. Alexander Popp, of the Potsdam research institute said, “Meat and milk really matter”.
Image Credit: Cordey