Claim: we should all be vegetarians to stop global warming

What do vegetarian zombies eat?

What do vegetarian zombies eat? Source: geekicorn.com

From the meatheads at the Carnegie Institution

Climate: Meat turns up the heat

Stanford, CA—Eating meat contributes to climate change, due to greenhouse gasses emitted by livestock. New research finds that livestock emissions are on the rise and that beef cattle are responsible for far more greenhouse gas emissions than other types of animals. It is published by Climactic Change.

Carbon dioxide is the most-prevalent gas when it comes to climate change. It is released by vehicles, industry, and forest removal and comprises the greatest portion of greenhouse gas totals. But methane and nitrous oxide are also greenhouse gasses and account for approximately 28 percent of global warming activity.

Methane and nitrous oxide are released, in part, by livestock. Animals release methane as a result of microorganisms that are involved in their digestive processes and nitrous oxide from decomposing manure. These two gasses are responsible for a quarter of these non-carbon dioxide gas emissions and 9 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions overall.

The research team, including Dario Caro, formerly of Carnegie and now at the University of Siena in Italy, and Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira, estimated the greenhouse gas emissions related to livestock in 237 countries over a nearly half a century and found that livestock emissions increased by 51 percent over this period.

They found a stark difference between livestock-related emissions in the developing world, which accounts for most of this increase, and that released by developed countries. This is expected to increase further going forward, as demand for meat, dairy products, and eggs is predicted by some scientists to double by 2050. By contrast, developed countries reached maximum livestock emissions in the 1970s and have been in decline since that time.

“The developing world is getting better at reducing greenhouse emissions caused by each animal, but this improvement is not keeping up with the increasing demand for meat,” said Caro. “As a result, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock keep going up and up in much of the developing world.”

Breaking it down by animal, beef and dairy cattle comprised 74 percent of livestock-related greenhouse gas emissions, 54 percent coming from beef cattle and 17 percent from dairy cattle. Part of this is due to the abundance of cows, but it is also because cattle emit greater quantities of methane and nitrous oxide than other animals. Sheep comprised 9 percent, buffalo 7 percent, pigs 5 percent, and goats 4 percent.

“That tasty hamburger is the real culprit,” Caldeira said. “It might be better for the environment if we all became vegetarians, but a lot of improvement could come from eating pork or chicken instead of beef.”

###

The Carnegie Institution for Science is a private, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with six research departments throughout the U.S. Since its founding in 1902, the Carnegie Institution has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.

[ADDENDUM]: My thanks to Anthony for pointing out this study. This might be a good time to recommend to people my previous posts on the relationship of plants and animals in the planetary food systems:

Animal, Vegetable, or E.O. Wilson

Vegans Are Not From Vegas

Finally, one of the larger methane sources on the planet, ironically, is … rice paddies. Lots and lots of organic materials decaying underwater, someone needs to put an end to that terrible practice immediately …

w.

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Gamecock

How much carbon is sequestered in livestock?

Old Hoya

I think all cattle should be fitted for emissions collection and the full contents sent to special collection points at Stanford and East Anglia. It will be important to collect the solid emissions as well, just because. We can ask Tom Steyer to build the transfer pipelines.

FergalR

Where is the methane they claim is being released by agriculture? About 90% of what the models expected isn’t showing up in the atmosphere.

Oldseadog

I thought water vapour was the most important greenhouse gas.
Has someone moved the goalposts while I’ve been away sailing?

earwig42

So.. That means that if we eat the vegetarians we would have less carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions… and there would be fewer obnoxious greens. sounds like a win-win to me.

Vegan extremism and its link to political extremism found in AGW advocates are worth researching. How do such sociological patterns form and reinforce themselves?
Red States and Blue States are one thing, journalists another, academics also self-segregated politically but why and how vegans? Does it start with an anti-industrial, pro-organic value structure …leading to a likely leftist viewpoint? Is that even a common theme among vegans as a rule?
Then again, it might be only the vegans who politically associate and perhaps a vast majority silent vegans who are largely invisible from debates and political comments. Vegan and green cross culture is worth a look.
Of course the papers claim are rubbish as it assumes a fact not in evidence, an unquantified claim regarding “greenhouse” gasses only assumed but never empirically defined.

mz

I would suggest that if a person believes in climate change, they should not have a pet. What would be the impact of a dramatic reduction in number of dogs/cats (e.g. producing and transporting food and supplies)? I’m not anti-pet, I just would like to see the outrage among climate warming pet owners if they were badgered to give up their pets for the good of mother earth.

Kurt in Switzerland

That should be CLIMATIC change.
The other type results from recurrent stimulation.

HGW xx/7

And here I thought all the tree-hugging, sticker-festooned Leaf drivers here in Seattle were unjustly sanctimonious. Now, I know that they’re merely trying to save us from climate change. The time I see a bumper sticker that reads, “Stop Global Warming, Be a Vegan” (not a joke, they exist here), I’ll embrace them with open arms.
Naked social engineering.

David Larsen

Agriculture, manufacturing and petrochemicals are still the three most energy intensive industries in the US.

Matt L.

Catastrophic Bovine Global Warming is upon us. My redheaded girlfriend and her two redheaded kids are begging you for their lies. Won’t you please help by not eating beef?
(Plus, if you all stop eating beef, my t-bone steaks will be much cheaper.)

Did they consider that if we ate nothing but vegetables, our methane emissions would increase? It is well known that herbivores produce more methane than carnivores.

Save the world! Eat more Meat to stave off the next Glaciation!

Hot

Thank God all those bison are gone. Just think of all that warming that must have occured during the little ice age.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

“Climate Change” has simply become the all-purpose Trojan Horse for activist groups to push their particular agenda. I’m surprised we haven’t seen the claim that “climate change” is behind the surge in illegal immigration; that claim is no more absurd that others that have been made.
It’s gotten to the point where real scientists trying to do actual serious work don’t stand out any more from all the charlatans pushing junk.

Great. I hope they all stop eating bacon and beef.
That way prices would drop for the rest of us.

chesmil

“Carbon dioxide is the most-prevalent gas when it comes to climate change.”
Sorry, that’s as far as I could read.

mkelly

So does this mean that the early settlers were helping the environment when they hunted the buffalo nearly to extinction?

Resourceguy

Will the President and presumptive candidate now taunt the meat eaters too?

PhilCP

Guess I’ll switch to vegan and eat only beans from now on. Only way to avoid those nasty cow farts…
Wait a minute…

bonanzapilot
Sean Peake

Based on my experience of being around veg-heads, if this measure were adopted the amount of methane humans would exhaust from a diet of 7-bean salads, lentil burgers, Brussels sprouts etc. would certainly exceed the amount produced by cattle. It is my unique belief that all vegans wear special shirts/jackets that say “pesticide-, herbicide-, GMO- and additive-free human” so when the end comes I’ll know who to aim for. 🙂

Joe Public

@ earwig42 July 21, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Brings a whole new meaning to the exhortation “Eat your Greens”

Dave The Engineer

Being a Paleo diet convert this is deeply distressing to me. I consider grains to be poison. I am much more healthy since I gave up grains and beans. 30 pounds lighter, no arthritis, no GERD, better cholesterol values. They will have to pry the greasy steak from my cold dead fingers!

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

They found a stark difference between livestock-related emissions in the developing world, which accounts for most of this increase, and that released by developed countries. This is expected to increase further going forward, as demand for meat, dairy products, and eggs is predicted by some scientists to double by 2050. By contrast, developed countries reached maximum livestock emissions in the 1970s and have been in decline since that time.

OMG! People in developing countries are improving their diet by adding meat! It’s much worse than we thought.

Joe Public

‘Blazing Saddles’ scene:

krischel

They bury the lede – you can’t just top eating livestock, you need to kill all the livestock you have. It’s their *life* that is the problem, not their death.
Taken a step further, this is an argument that wiping out species reduces global warming.

ossqss

I am going to protest and go get big steak for dinner 🙂
I wish I knew how to embed this image,,,,,,
http://i.imgur.com/eYXMSFA.gif

M Courtney

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says at July 21, 2014 at 12:37 pm

“Climate Change” has simply become the all-purpose Trojan Horse for activist groups to push their particular agenda. I’m surprised we haven’t seen the claim that “climate change” is behind the surge in illegal immigration; that claim is no more absurd that others that have been made.

Actually. the claim is being made.
But here in the UK (where I think you are also?) it isn’t considered a bad thing.

I cannot find any figures mentioned, just meaningess percentage increases. A 50% increase of a small number is still a small number. This is what’s called an argument without data. Meaningless from what I can see.

Michael D

This article highlights a key problem with the Western media’s fixation on carbon. If there had been a calm, rational campaign to encourage people to burn less deep-earth carbon (coal, oil, natural gas) so that there would be plenty left for future generations, I would have been on-board. But this focus on CO2 and now CH4 is a) incorrect and b) confusing for the layman. For example: whether grass rots on the ground or rots in a cow’s stomach, it releases the same amount of Carbon into the atmosphere, so cows are pretty much carbon neutral. The only impact will be minor changes in how long it takes the carbon to return to the gaseous phase.

bonanzapilot

I think humans started migrating long before they invented carbon hysteria.

Nik

How many emmissions did 60 million bison and many otehr ungultes emit before they were reduced? Till we gat that answered these “findings” are meaningless.

Alan Robertson

Protein deficient peasants are less able to rise up against the rulers.
It’s all part of the plan…

So what are we going to eat? Beans, broccoli & cabbage?
Stupid.

Michael D

Here’s an interesting TED talk on why grass needs cows.

Michael D says:
July 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm
This article highlights a key problem with the Western media’s fixation on carbon.
===================
Yes, we should re-brand CO2 emissions as “oxygen emissions” since there’s twice as much oxygen as carbon in CO2.

Hawkward

“Carbon dioxide is the most-prevalent gas when it comes to climate change. It is released by vehicles, industry, and forest removal and comprises the greatest portion of greenhouse gas totals.”
They left out quite a few sources of CO2 (which dwarf those they listed), and CO2 certainly doesn’t comprise “the greatest portion of greenhouse totals”.

MarkW

If cows produce methane, then surely we should be eating cows as quickly as we can.

MarkW

CO2 is nowhere close to being the most-prevelant greenhouse gas, however you care to define that term.
Water vapor is, by a huge margin.

cd

The religion now has a diet to add to its dogma.
How do they account for that produced during anaerobic plant decay, natural gas leakage etc. Furthermore, CH4 is photoreactive is it not? So therefore has a short residence time.

SasjaL

Here in Sweden, it is well known within the healthcare that vegans sooner or later will get a vitamine B12 deficiency disease. Two of the first common symtoms are low blood count and reduced brain activity …
Why don’t they mention anything about the large number of wildebeests and other herbivores in Africa?
Also, I have never met or heard of any genuine vegan, as they whould remove their canine teeth … I would like to hear a discussion about eating meat between a vegan and an Inuit on traditional food …

Plain Jane

Go big game hunting, Save The Planet. You need to kill as many of those wildebeast as you can to stop the planet overheating!

Mike M

Gamecock says: July 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm “How much carbon is sequestered in livestock?”
Well that’s exactly the point! Has anyone bothered to challenge these nitwits with the fact that 99% of the carbon in the methane these animals emit was pulled OUT of the atmosphere by the plants used for animal feed? What is the difference between this claim and claiming that burning bio-fuel emits GHG’s? They are purposely masking over the other side of the equation; probably to assure future funding.
And they ignored the question… if humans all start eating mostly vegetable matter.. what about the increase of OUR methane emission?

Alan Bates

Better dig out Michelle Obama’s spinach pie recipe. Not forgetting (much as I would like to) her non-cream creamed spinach.

Just Steve

BTW, if vegetarianism or veganism is so great, why do they keep inventing “foods” that look like mine……veggie burgers, soy bacon, etc.

There is nothing wrong with carbon dioxide from energy generation and personal transportation, and there is nothing wrong with nitrous oxide from crops, nor nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous for plants, and there is nothing wrong with building a fire, and there is certainly nothing wrong with methane from dairy and beef cattle.
At least cow flatulence produces milk, cheese, yoghurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, beef, leather, medicine, hormones, fertilizers, paint, paint brushes, tire additives, nicely grazed fields that support wild bees and reduce fire hazards, and violin strings. Whereas ill-considered, toxic hippy paradigms produce nothing of the sort.
And speaking of Organic-only Boomers, Where will all the flowers go? — There already wasn’t enough composted bull%$#@ to fertilize the cereal crops alone, let alone the vegetables, with the millions of head of cattle we have in this country now. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous meet the needs of the cereals, vegetables, and orchard trees in nice clean tanks, shipped any time, any where.

Brute

This is an old one. From the same people that claim that all problems can be solved by breeding the “defective Y chromosome” out of humanity. Meanwhile, it remains a simple thing to spot the vegetarians around us by the trail of flatulence they emit.

asybot

Just in:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month’s average global temperature was 61.2 degrees (16.2 Celsius), which is 1.3 degrees higher than the 20th century average. It beat 2010’s old record by one-twentieth of a degree.
NOAA climate monitoring chief Derek Arndt said the record was driven by unusually hot oceans, especially the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Heat records broke on every continent but Antarctica, especially in New Zealand, northern South America, Greenland, central Africa and southern Asia.
The United States had only its 33rd hottest June.
Global temperature records go back to 1880 and this is the 352nd hotter than average month in a row.
The Canadian Press
Re

Mike M

Ken Caldeira’s email address kcaldeira@carnegiescience.edu