Crying over the carbon footprint of spilt milk

From the University of Edinburgh via Eurekalert, just scratching the surface of this press release suggests something’s gone sour, the numbers they cite don’t make for much concern in the larger context of things. See below.

Milk poured down Britain’s kitchen sinks each year creates a carbon footprint equivalent to thousands of car exhaust emissions, research shows

Scientists say the 360,000 tonnes of milk wasted in the UK each year creates greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 100,000 tonnes of CO2. The study by the University of Edinburgh says this is the same as is emitted by about 20,000 cars annually.

The research identifies ways that consumers could also help curb greenhouse gas emissions – by reducing the amount of food they buy, serve and waste. They also suggest the food industry could reduce emissions by seeking more efficient ways to use fertilisers.

Researchers also say halving the amount of chicken consumed in the UK and other developed countries to levels eaten in Japan could cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 10 million cars off the road.

Figures show that if average chicken consumption in developed countries fell from the current level of 26kg each per year to the Japanese average of about 12kg each by 2020, global emissions from poultry would fall below current levels, despite increased output from the developing world. This would cut the predicted global output of nitrous oxide, a key greenhouse gas, from this source by almost 20 per cent, based on current growth rates.

Demand for food, particularly meat, is expected to increase over the next few decades as the world’s population continues to grow and emerging countries consume more.

Agriculture is the biggest source of nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas that is emitted by soil and fertilisers. Producing meat produces more emissions than growing crops, as large amounts of cereals are grown to feed livestock.

Researchers arrived at their findings by examining data for global agricultural production of greenhouse gases together with consumption of food in various regions of the world. The study, carried out in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen and partners in Europe and the US, was published in Nature Climate Change.

Dr David Reay of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “Eating less meat and wasting less food can play a big part in helping to keep a lid on greenhouse gas emissions as the world’s population increases.”

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Well, wasting food is never a good thing, I agree with that, but is this a big problem or not? I decided to have a look at the numbers.

From DairyCo Datum in the UK, here’s a table of worldwide milk production based on FAO data, highlight mine:

The 360,000 tonnes of milk said to be wasted in the press release seems like a huge number, but when compared to 13.96 million tonnes of milk produced in the UK in 2010, it is literally a drop in the milk bucket. It works out to about 2.6%, which given such a perishable product, isn’t a bad number at all. I expected it to be much higher, like 25% the way the article was written.

And since they are concerned about global warming, the comparison globally:

Even if the UK stopped wasting all milk, the impact against the global milk carbon footprint is nil.

And while they bemoan the waste in the press release, they offer no solution. What are citizens supposed to do with spoiled milk? Drink it? I’ll bet this will go over well in UK schools like this program: Climate Craziness of the Week – let the kids freeze, all I want for Christmas is a zero carbon footprint

A headmaster at a British school decided a great lesson in sustainability would be to turn off the heat for a day. In December:

Pupils at Ansford Academy in Castle Cary, Somerset, were forced to grip their pens through thick gloves and wear their coats and hats in class as temperatures dropped to 1C. The school’s headmaster, Rob Benzie, shut down the radiators as an experiment to show students how the school could cut its carbon footprint.

The milk waste researchers also seem clueless about how the carbon cycle works, as if somehow that milk if consumed magically loses all of its carbon content via the other route that eventually ends up down the sewer.

Idiots.

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Steve in SC

Where are they going to get the fish?
The Japanese exist primarily on fish and rice so if the UK cuts chicken consumption to Japan levels, then somebody is going to starve. “Brilliant!!!!”

Alvin

My reply to the U of E? Prove it. Prove that 360,000 tons of milk was wasted. You can’t. Only milk that is thrown away by schools or business (that is if it is actually counted) or destroyed at the source is provable. This is fiction to create an advocate position.

Mike86

Imagine how low the carbon footprint would get if they could just get people to stop eating all together.

Lancifer

“Idiots.”
That pretty much says it all.
How much time and resources were wasted producing this “study”. Did these “scientists” receive public funds to come to there idiotic conclusions?
Someday there will be a study that calculates the resources wasted on the non-problem of “climate change”.
I am sure the numbers, unlike this bovine excrement, will be staggering.

otter17

Quote from article:
“The milk waste researchers also seem clueless about how the carbon cycle works, as if somehow that milk if consumed magically loses all of its carbon content via the other route that eventually ends up down the sewer.
Idiots.”
_________
Isn’t the point that by wasting the milk, more would be consumed over a given period, and thus that is where the additional energy inputs and CO2 would come from in their study?
In any case, the value of the paper seems more in a rigorous attempt at quantifying the life cycle emissions due to agricultural production, of milk it seems in this case. Life cycle analyses are useful for total cost and evaluation. I know from my engineering work that the US Navy does analyses on full life cost on their ships, including fuel consumption and taking into account GHG emissions as well.

DaveG

The UK has always been ahead of the pack – The lunatic fringe is live and well in a festering economy and a feeling of hopelessness has griped the population. I say this sadly as an ex-pat who saw the writing on the wall when I was a kid, I knew I would get out even then. The only problem the madness has spread throughout the western world.

Dave N

There should be a study of how much carbon footprint all these pathetically useless studies generate.

Roger

Mainstream press does not realize that these type of articles are skeptics best friend, slowly erroding away at AGW belief. lets hope they keep churning them out…

nimbunje

[snip – too far off color -Anthony]

dp

Only one thing to do – drink the koolaide. Lets start with the believers. Cut their power, issue them ration cards, feed them CO2-free meals. 100% sustainable. Oh – no more toilets. They’re worse than bad milk.

Simple solution, ban kitchen sinks.

Marian

“Alvin says:
May 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm
My reply to the U of E? Prove it. Prove that 360,000 tons of milk was wasted. You can’t. Only milk that is thrown away by schools or business (that is if it is actually counted) or destroyed at the source is provable. This is fiction to create an advocate position.”
Yeah it does smell of a load of cow crap to me.
If you want real waste. The dairy industry here in NZ had to dump milk last year due to a gas pipeline leak.
50m litres of milk dumped after gas leak
http://www.independent.ie/farming/news-features/50m-litres-of-milk-dumped-after-gas-leak-2921734.html
Maui gas leak: Farmer close to tears over spilt milk
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/agriculture/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=10761957
Gee we may aswell blame the NZ dairy industry for having a milder Autumn this year then. It must be all the extra CO2 released from all that wasted milk 🙂

This would cut the predicted global output of nitrous oxide, a key greenhouse gas…
Hold the phone. First CO2 was a key greenhouse gas, then water vapor was a key greenhouse gas, then methane was a key greenhouse gas, now nitrous oxide is a key greenhouse gas. What’s the next key greenhouse gas going to be — argon, maybe?

Have these idiots looked seriously at the carbon footprint (which really doesn’t matter anyway) of the Japanese fishing fleet?

Michael J

It must be hard to be a researcher and have to produce evidence every year that you have been productive. For most of us, we can cite actual work that has been done — projects completed, products sold and such, but these researchers need to produce some nonsensical study to validate their existence.
It’s a tough life. 🙂

The carbon in ‘off’ milk came from cows.
The carbon in milk in cows came from grass.
The carbon in grass came from the atmosphere.
The carbon in the atmosphere came from ‘off’ milk.

Alex Heyworth

Dr David Reay of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “Eating less meat and wasting less food can play a big part in helping to keep a lid on greenhouse gas emissions as the world’s population increases.”
No it can’t. The (net) greenhouse gas emissions from all food production are insignificant compared with those associated with electricity production and transport.

Gail Combs

Bill Tuttle says:
May 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm
This would cut the predicted global output of nitrous oxide, a key greenhouse gas…
Hold the phone. First CO2 was a key greenhouse gas, then water vapor was a key greenhouse gas, then methane was a key greenhouse gas, now nitrous oxide is a key greenhouse gas. What’s the next key greenhouse gas going to be — argon, maybe?
___________________________________
No, NO, It is Radon cuz Radon is nukewler. So Radon is the one gas that rules them all.

higley7

Next they will determine the carbon footprint of human waste and make equally useful suggestions what to do about it. Roughage is definitely just more carbon and constipation will be desirable. If we were eating right, there should be no waste; such would be the logic of the semi-brained. Exercise leads to more urine waste, so all are to aim for basal metabolic rates only.
The bottom line is that there would be no carbon footprints if there were no people. Want to know the direction they are going? I think it was Stalin who said, “You have a man, you have a problem. No man, no problem.”

littlepeaks

Hmmm — I waste zero milk. I hate milk when it is too old and starts to go sour. Every morning, I have a big bowl of cereal and milk. So I buy a large box of powdered milk every few months. It never goes bad, and I use the entire box. Problem (if there is one) solved?

Nerd

Hmm…. Is that one of another lame excuse to be vegetarian? After having studied nutrition for a long time fighting that stupid dogma of saturated fat and cholesterol consumption causing heart disease, these liberals always seem to look for any excuse why we should be vegetarians because they “feel” that it’s wrong to kill animals for food despite the fact studies proved them otherwise.
They’ve been known to leave a lot of things out… For example China Study…
This person Denise Minger who only had a degree in English but obviously is very good with numbers. She pretty much destroyed Dr. Campbell of China Study like others did to Mann, Hansen, et al over global warming scare. http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/08/06/final-china-study-response-html/
Plus milk is a decent fertilizer. Dump outside when it gets spoiled.

rogerknights

Maybe there could be a weekly household hints program that would suggest ways people could avoid spoilage, such as by “home-brewing” yogurt whenever a surplus of pre-sour milk develops. It’s simple–just drop in a dollop of store-bought yogurt and stir it in vigorously, then set aside for a couple of days.

Jimmy Haigh

As soon as anyone mentions the phrase “carbon footprint” I know they are full of BS.

Willis Eschenbach

Now, I drink a whole lot of milk. More than most folks. And I do not remember pouring any milk at all down my kitchen sink in the last years … why would I do that?
Meanwhile, according to the article, each average UK citizen, man, woman and child, is responsible for a gallon and a half of milk “poured down Britain’s kitchen sinks” … so for a family of four, they’re pouring six gallons, twenty-three liters, of milk down the sink every year.
I fear I don’t understand what’s happening. Why are the Brits pouring their milk down the sink? My working hypothesis is that it’s spoiled milk from power interruptions to their refrigerators when the wind isn’t blowing … but heck, maybe it’s some kind of UK cultural thing, what do I know?
w.

Truthseeker

Littlepeaks, I just use Soy Milk. Do not have to mix anything …

Philip Bradley

I don’t drink or otherwise consume milk. Where are my carbon credits?

John Blake

When better coprophagic proctocranials are made, the University of Edinburgh will make them.

Lew Skannen

Yes, I also see that my existence on this Earth should be totally dedicated to worrying about my ‘carbon footprint’ and nothing else. I am not really concerned by any event on the planet as long as the CO2 generated is minimal.
If there is a bomb somewhere my first concern is whether it was made of bad old carbon based gunpowder or good new organic sustainably produced tofu-plastic explosive…
/sarc

don penman

Well I don’t waste any milk because I have switched to using sterilised milk rather than pasteurized milk and it keeps longer.

TomRude

Perhaps if we stopped eating and drinking altogether… we may reach that paragon of greenhouse emission virtue that is North Korea…

alan

Compassionate, Utopian socialists just don’t want us to live as well as we do in the West!

I can understand some of this now. I was recently on a university website looking for someone and found I could search by keyword. The response from “climate change” went on for 12 pages!
I don’t think anyone didn’t jump onto this bandwagon….and so they have to “research” SOMETHING about CC, or cry ‘uncle’?

Ken Chapman

If “Carbon” is short for gaseous carbon dioxide, then it is well nigh impossible to see a footprint made with it. (OK, it seems that extra-terrestrial warriors a.k.a. “Predators”, have some sort of LWIR enabled vision that can selectively scan for the spectral emissivity of carbon dioxide molecules which, I believe, was cloned by Hanson et. al CRU) I’ve never heard of anyone drinking carbonated milk. Is that some unique tradition at the U of E?

trbixler

So What!

Next we will be told not to eat beans, as they cause the gut to produce methane, an even more important greenhouse gas. Sniff, sniff must be ripe BS.

To put this into perspective:

The Coal Oil Point seep field offshore from Santa Barbara, California is a petroleum seep area of about three square kilometers adjacent to the Ellwood Oil Field, and releases about 40 tons per day of methane and about 19 tons of reactive organic gas (ethane, propane, butane and higher hydrocarbons), about twice the hydrocarbon air pollution released by all the cars and trucks in the county in 1990. The liquid petroleum produces a slick that is many kilometers long and when degraded by evaporation and weathering, produces tar balls which wash up on the beaches for miles around.
This seep also releases on the order of 100 to 150 barrels (16 to 24 m3) of liquid petroleum per day. The field produces about 9 cubic meters of natural gas per barrel of petroleum.

In other words, the milk that is poured down the drain is of absolutely no consequence to what nature pours down the drain every day, day in and day out, in just that one seep field. The seepage into the Gulf of Mexico is at least an order of magnitude larger.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_Oil_Point_seep_field
California will not drill for oil or gas there but is perfectly happy with 40 tons a day of natural gas seepage. This isn’t REALLY about emissions or pollution. This is about destroying our economy using false “environmental” concerns as the vehicle.

CodeTech

Ok, this is a ridiculous thing to worry about.
Fact: the vast majority of milk ends up at the sewage processing plant, whether it has gone through a human along the way or not.
So, we have to assume that the problem here is that it is simply waste of energy in producing, processing and delivering the product that they’re worrying about. If you want to start tallying food waste, you’d best be including packaging. In many cases packaging is a far larger portion of energy and processing than the product itself. In fact, ban 4-color printing on any food products, just have a simple black stamp on the package indicating what’s inside.
I’d continue, but… the entire topic is insanely retarded. It smells like someone just searching for something to worry about. Let’s worry about cigarettes, after all, we simply burn 5 cents worth of plant matter and the rest is filter, packaging, printing, wrapping, marketing, etc.

Strangely enough the Japanese diet consists of a fair amount of fish and other seafood. Those freaks are trying to stop fishing as well. They just hate people, Gaia would be a better place if no humans existed..

Dr. Dave

Perhaps a minor quibble here, but what about tossing millions and millions of tons of feedstock into the folly venture of ethanol production? The fermentation alone has to produce a LOT of CO2 and then you have to factor in the “CO2 footprint” of growing all that corn or cane in the first place.
Every day I smell desperation in the air. The BS pronouncements are becoming increasingly ridiculous (e.g. imaginary sea ice attenuation, an increase in extreme weather events, tipping points, diminishing finite resources). Now we have spilled milk. In the US a large scale milk spill (like say on a dairy farm) is classified as a toxic waste spill by the EPA due to the fat content in milk.
Animal source protein is absolutely critical for human health. Sure…you can subsist on a vegan diet…but it ain’t easy. We can’t grow enough soy and the various other grains and legumes necessary to maintain health and provide essential amino acids to supplant animal protein in even 20% of the world’s population. Keep in mind that most “vegetarians” are not vegans. They consume eggs and dairy to provide essential amino acids. So we still gotta raise cattle and chickens.

johanna

How did they establish how much milk was poured down household sinks? Also, what about other milk users? For a start, food processors use large quantities of milk (usually milk solids) and presumably they discard some. Then what about cafes, hotels etc – where you get milk with your tea and coffee, and they are supposed to throw out any that is not used? It sounds like another guilt trip on ordinary punters to me.
I have come across a few neurotic individuals who refuse to use yesterday’s milk, and throw it out. But these figures work out to about a pint a week per household, which seems unlikely. I would be struggling to throw out a pint a year.
Apart from the whole carbon footprint thing being baloney, what they claim is economic and logical nonsense as well. Unused milk cannot be converted to or from motor cars by any physical or economic process. According to their logic, if everyone used every drop of milk purchased, the world would be a better place because there would be less CO2 emissions. If they can explain how that works, several Nobel Prizes await them.

Mike Bryant

Milk is mostly water, about 80-90 percent water. The rest is mostly composed of fat, protein, sugar, and other nutrients, but varies depending on if it’s whole milk, skim milk, etc.
The study is ridiculous.

davidmhoffer

As alarmist papers go, this one seems… dairy say it?
Vanilla.

Hardly the cream of the crop, this research.

Taphonomic

dp says:
“Only one thing to do – drink the koolaide.”
God yes. It will probably be determined that disposing of it leads to global warming, obesity, and cancer.

Phillip Bratby

My tax is being spent on this garbage. And I don’t ever waste any milk. Who are these people pouring milk down the drain?

Huth

I reckon vegans wrote that article.

Phillip Bratby

My farming neighbour had to pour his milk production for a whole week down the drain because the milk tanker couldn’t get through to collect it due to a large dump of white global warming that our wonderful Met Office said wouldn’t happen. I blame most of the wasted milk on the Met Office.

Brian

This stuff is getting embarrassing. These people shoot themselves in the foot time and time again.

Latimer Alder

As a UK taxpayer I am increasingly convinced that acdemia is becoming little more than a job creation scheme for otherwise unemployables. And this study is a great further illustration of that sad fact.

Jenn Oates

I’m planning my first trip to England to visit my daughter, and I promise to not pour ANY milk down the sink while I am there.