Feedback: Eating less meat

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Offline thedoc

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Feedback: Eating less meat
« on: 20/05/2016 05:50:01 »
Jeff asked the Naked Scientists:
   The idea that an all vegetarian planet will have a measurable impact on the environment is based entirely on overly simplest assumptions. The most important being, that all the food used for livestock feed would either not be grown or would be used as human food.  That assumption is demonstrably false.  First, much of the land used to graze livestock or grow livestock feed is suitable for nothing else.  So if we all became vegetarians the area under cultivation would have to expand dramatically to compensate for the area taken out of production.  Second, the corn now used for animal feed is also very unlikely to end up as human food because the farmers will make more money selling the corn to make ethanol.  Now bio-fuels sound good until you realize that most agriculture is energy negative--we put more energy in the form of hydrocarbons that we get back as calories.  Bio-ethanol is dirtier than than tars sands oil because you only get 1.1 to 1.5 units of energy for every 1 u!
 nit of input. Tar sands return 2.0 to 2.5 units of energy for every 1 unit of input.

We need to eat less meat, but for health reasons not environmental.  The auto fill function tells me that I have written this to the Naked Scientist before, so why did you not check your facts before repeating this blatantly obvious fallacy?

We need to keep the solutions to climate change and over population real. Assuming that a small-scale individual change will scale linearly is faulty and not founded in good science. I think you know this.
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 20/05/2016 05:50:01 by _system »


Offline alancalverd

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Re: Feedback: Eating less meat
« Reply #1 on: 20/05/2016 18:30:24 »
The most important being, that all the food used for livestock feed would either not be grown or would be used as human food.

No. Most of the argument derives from a paper I published in 2005 (Phys. World 18 (7) 56) in which I calculated that 25% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is generated by farm animals. Others have extended the calculation to include the energy involved in processing, transporting and preserving meat.

Substantial areas of land have been cleared of trees in order to graze farm animals. If left to the less intensive grazing of wild animals, land that cannot be tilled for arable crops will in general revert to forest and scrub, which has a capacity for carbon sequestration.

It's arguable that farm animals eat bits of green plants that we can't digest, but it's equally arguable that all lowland grazing meadows would be more productive of human food if they were turned over to starch and pulses, and unless you have a great appetite for goat and camel flesh, you won't get much return on feeding wheat straw to sheep and cattle. And if you want to turn green crops into protein, locusts are several thousand percent more efficient at doing so than cows, or even chickens.

The recent rapid rise in farmed meat consumption in Asia shows that it isn't essential, just a previously unaffordable luxury.

helping to stem the tide of ignorance