Naked Science Forum

General Discussion & Feedback => Radio Show & Podcast Feedback => Topic started by: thedoc on 18/02/2016 06:50:01

Title: Feedback: Food Security, eating less meat
Post by: thedoc on 18/02/2016 06:50:01
Jeff Kirtland asked the Naked Scientists:
   Reducing meat consumption and green house gases.  The idea that if we simply ate less meat we'd lower total green house gas emissions is, to be frank, simple minded.  The problem's two fold.  First, you'd have to replace the calories obtained from marginal farmland--we call them range lands.  This new land would include a commensurate increase in diesel for equipment, methane for nitrogen fixing and irrigation pumps.  This would be very large because we'd be using marginal land. Second, this assumes that the animal feed now used, dominantly corn, would be either not grown or diverted to human food.  Farmers will sell their crops to those who will pay the most.  In-terms of corn, this will be to produce fuels--ethanol--not corn chips or other human food products.  This is a fundamental economic reality that less meat people always ignore.  Before you think that ethanol, as a bio-fuel, is green remember this: it takes a barrel of oil energy equivalent (i.e diesel, methane, petrol not to mention the NO2 emissions) to produce 1.1 to 1.5 barrels of oil energy equivalent as ethanol.  And remember, the product from corn, ethanol, can not be used as source of energy to produce more corn so your green house gas savings are almost non-existent. Tar sands are cleaner than ethanol because they yield 2 to 4 barrels of energy, which can be used to produce more oil from tar sands, for every barrel of input.

The real solution is, as your show noted, is to reduce waste or divert waste to a new product.  The idea of eating insects also misses how they will be used.  Insects are unlikely to be consumed directly but fed food waste and fed to live stock and fish.
What do you think?