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Meat and Dairy Create More Emissions Than Miles

Meat and Dairy Create More Emissions Than Miles

A study in the April 15 edition of Environmental Science & Technology by the prolific Carnegie Mellon University researcher Christopher Weber found that food transport accounts for only 11 percent of food-associated greenhouse gas emissions, while production contributes a whopping 83 percent. Specifically, nitrous oxide and methane — mainly byproducts of fertilizer use, manure management and animal digestion — make up a far bigger piece of the emissions pie than emissions from transporting our food from faraway places, the study found.

Weber and colleague Scott Matthews conducted a life-cycle assessment of greenhouse gases emitted during all stages of growing and transporting food consumed in the U.S. (using Department of Commerce data) and calculated that the average U.S. household generates 8.1 metric tons (t) of greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) annually as a result of food consumption. By comparison, driving a car that gets 25 miles per gallon of gasoline for 12,000 miles per year (the U.S. average) produces about 4.4 tons of CO2.

Even more surprising, the study noted that U.S. consumers can do more to reduce greenhouse gases by eating one-seventh of a week’s calories from chicken, fish or vegetables instead of red meat or dairy than buying all local foods.:: Via Science News

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

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also by Robyn, selected from TreeHugger

48 comments

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6:19AM PST on Dec 12, 2009

im not complaining

8:02AM PDT on Aug 24, 2009

Thanks Howard, for including me - and well said.

"Not only isn’t God on your side, the angels weep for your intolerance" - wish I'd said that!

7:00AM PDT on Aug 24, 2009

Rezi, by any chance did all of your English teachers take their own lives midway through the school year?

6:57AM PDT on Aug 24, 2009

On behalf of Valerie C, Blurider, myself and most of the world, I’ll avoid confusing you zealots with satire. Newsflash: veganism is a dietary choice, not a religion. Not only isn’t God on your side, the angels weep for your intolerance.

Most animals eat other animals; it’s called a food cycle. Our nearest relatives, chimps, eat meat. Would you food bigots be happier if we ripped monkeys to pieces alive? BTW, tofu isn’t food, it’s an industrial adhesive, which explains the current condition of your sphincters.

How many cows, chickens etc do you think there’d be on this planet if you got your way? Will you take in a flock of rescued chickens? When you see how many bugs chickens eat, will you indulge in the ultimate cruelty and lecture them to death?

We have 4 dogs and 14 cats, all strays or otherwise unwanted, who eat meat. Tell them they’ve made an immoral nutritional decision. Plan on being scratched, bitten and pissed on.

There are people on these sites who actually care about saving this planet and protecting its inhabitants from needless suffering. Sadly, you lot often drown them out in your quest to cast your choices as the only moral ones.

As I peruse the comments, it’s clear that a lack of protein in your diet manifests itself as borderline illiteracy. Which explains why you think TS Eliot said “This is the way the world ends: not with a bang, but a cheeseburger.

Grow up, eat what you want, let oth

6:29PM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

Rezi,

I'll quit worrying about saving the earth after you prove or demonstrate thru logic and critical analysis, that all your remarks are factual.

w a i t i n g . . . . . . . .

5:48PM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

Robyn,

GOD created the world for man & gave man dominion over it including over all the animals.

GOD the CREATOR permits the eating of animals by each other & by men.

GOD has plan that is playing itself out.

NOTHING man can do will destroy the earth because GOD IS IN CONTROL.

earth will remain until JESUS returns to claim HIS followers & judge those who rejected HIM.

quit worrying about saving the world & start worrying about saving your soul!

3:21PM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

We would be 'forced' by the economics to consume less meats - and we should eat less of everything - meat would be a special treat.
Livestock would mostly be raised on grasslands and in areas where soil conditions , access, and water made them more suitable for pasturing livestock. We could buy locally, transport them less, kill them in the most stress free ways - superior to the way they would usually die in nature if it's all about compassion and they would definitely require little or no antibiotics, growth hormones or chemical fertilizers.

Ever wonder why the west became ranching country while the midwest became thousands and thousands of acres of crop lands?

We could do away with all factory farming (including veggies and grains), stop moving our food millions of miles daily. A mango,a salmon, an oyster or a steak could be an expensive and very rare treat, but add gusto to life and be treated respectfully too - even the mango!

I'm a lifetime cowboy and devoted omnivore but moderate in my habits and raising children and grandchildren with respect for the earth and life. Thanks to me they've all been exposed to the alternative lifestyles and to my years of vegetarianism and still to my occasional vegetarian days.

I happily raise my own food and buy locally what I can't. I've done my best - exposing them to health, healthy eating and environmentalism and by setting a good example, now leave it to my grandchildren to become the future vegans if they wish!

3:01PM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

We could give up all meats, fish, poultry and dairy, set free all the domesticated animals that we have, stop feeding our pets and 'send them away', release the animals in zoos and immediately stop using and release any animals that are used in science.

We could continue the factory farming operations that are growing just veggies and grains and continue the mono cultures of limited grain crops we have in the mid west.
(For compassion's sake) We could even restrict our own breathing - say by half? - so all those tiny, living micro organisms didn't have to die in our respiratory systems and adopt the extreme Buddhist practice of sweeping the ground ahead of our steps so our walking didn't kill any tiny fauna (or even flora)- EXCEPT for the ones we missed which we couldn't see!!

Can you imagine the world if we did? Do you think the lives of sentient animal beings would actually be improved?

OR, instead we could learn, adopt and apply an attitude of reverence for life and our place in the chain of life and an appreciation for what we 'demand' just to live. We could 'have a life' as they say but modify where practicable to lessen our impact in the scheme of things and become more rational, more spiritual (not necessarily in the religious sense) and more in touch with nature, animals, plants, our environment in the bigger picture and our relationship one to another.
We could begin now to eat only healthier meats, raised in sustainable ways, dealt with sensitively.

11:30AM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

I happen to like certian kinds of meat. I do wonder about the whole meat eating thing. I believe that even plants & minerals, have "feelings" & "souls" - I love trees yet I live in a house made of dead trees. I think our whole universes, Earth, animals, plants, people, air, water all of this has energy and we all survive because of the other elements. How this all fits in the grand scheme WOW I sure can not know nor can I judge someone else for how they believe about it.

9:02AM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

I would not give up meat.

But I am against factory farming and mass-production, not just because of the effects on the environment, but because the animals are not raised healthily anyway, and eating them would hardly be good for humans nutritionally also.

However, large-scale commercial farming developed in the first place because of demand, and economies of scale.

What we really need is a solution whereby the demands of meat-eaters are met, yet not through a method that damages the planet and the animals involved.

Is there such a solution though? We would have to reinvent the entire economic system.

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