Shocking new report on the effects of meat consumption
In 2006, a widely cited report by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimated that 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to livestock farming for human consumption (cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, pig and poultry). That amount is more than all transportation combined, and would easily qualify livestock for a hard look in the battle against global warming.
A recent report, however, builds on the FAO report and finds that meat production actually accounts for at least 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions! According to the authors of this report, 51% is actually a conservative number because they strove to minimize the sums of greenhouse gases they used. This new report, by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, co-authors of Livestock and Climate Change, may be accessed at:
Humans consume over 380 million animals a day – over 140 billion a year – requiring an enormous amount of water, food, and land. The livestock sector impacts our environment chiefly through deforestation, pollution of our oceans with pesticides, chemical fertilizers and excretion, and greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane and nitrous oxide.
This is extremely significant because contrary to popular belief, we only have two to three years left to stop adding to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere if we want to avoid the tipping point (explained later), for reasons cited in the next section. Green actions like recycling, shopping local, buying hybrid cars, as well as technologies to mitigate greenhouse gases such as wind and solar power take too long to be effective for this crisis.
What this new report means is that the single most effective action individuals can take to save the planet is to reduce or eliminate meat and dairy consumption.
If a significant number of people in the world adopts the simple but most powerful practice of an animal-free diet, then we could reverse the effects of global warming in time to avert the impending catastrophic events.
This will give us the time needed to adopt longer-term measures such as more green technology and clean energy sources that will further decrease the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
In fact, if we continue with our current rate of meat production, all other green efforts will be cancelled out in effect, and we will lose the planet before we have the chance to implement any effective green technology.