What about meat and climate change?

3 February 2021

I have studied environmental science, and yet I am so tired of hearing that cow farts are causing climate change.

Again (see my previous post), the public are misinformed because they are fed their β€œscience” from news headlines.

Here are some facts based on real science.

Greenhouse gases are:

  • Carbon dioxide released during plowing, cutting trees and burning fossil fuels
  • Methane mostly from rice farming and cow belches (not farts – yes, I’m nitpicking)
  • Nitrous oxide from fertilisers

Because of the amount of heat each of these gases trap and the length of time each stays in the atmosphere, these can be measured in terms of greenhouse warming potential.

One of the first things we learn in environmental science is the carbon cycle.

Above, I acknowledged that cow belches emit methane. Methane contains carbon and is part of a natural carbon cycle – think about how many buffalo used to roam the plains.

Notice the word β€œcycle”. Cattle transform existing carbon from grass into methane as part of their digestive process. After about 10 years, the methane is broken down into water and carbon dioxide, which then get taken up by more grass to continue the cycle. This is how nature works!

On the other hand, fossil fuels come from ancient carbon that has been locked underground for millions of years and should stay there. When this carbon is released into the atmosphere, it stays for thousands of years.

Studies show that atmospheric methane has levelled off, even though the number of cattle has increased!

The plant-based industry want you to believe that 18%–51% of greenhouse emissions is due to cattle. It is not! The EPA states that it is 2%. All livestock is only 3.9%. Compare this with crops 4.7%, industry 21.6%, electricity 28.4% and transportation 28.5%.

You can find all the science that backs this up in Sacred Cow, by Diana Rodgers and Robb Wolf,Β as well as a whole lot more detail. If you read the book, you will also learn how cattle can actually benefit the environment! The book also addresses ethics and nutrition.

It’s time we stop blaming meat for what fossil fuels are doing, don’t you think?

About Tira

About Tira

Tira Cole is a nutritionist, researcher and educator. Her passion is meat-based nutrition and support of farming.

Learn more about Tira.

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