Showing posts with label greenhouse gas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label greenhouse gas. Show all posts

Livestock Triangle

Meat Society: Number 23 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


There is a “triangle of industrial animal agriculture” that connects the world’s biggest players in the food animal and feed industries: the US, China, and Brazil. The three nations form three points of a triangle, with the US serving as a major exporter of mature, industrialized, livestock production chains.(514)

The US is one of the world’s top cow flesh producer and the second largest pig flesh producer, comprising 18.6 percent and 9.4 percent of world production, respectively.(515) Between 2002 and 2012, the number of animals on the biggest US factory farms swelled by 20 percent. Both US livestock exports and domestic consumption are projected to grow throughout the next decade.(516)

China is a rapidly growing economy with a huge appetite for livestock products and a major market for US production. China became the world’s largest importer of soybeans, used for livestock feed, in 2000, and the top animal carcass producer in 2009.(517) The rapid expansion of intensive animal farming facilities is part of an effort to catch up with the livestock production model now standard in industrialized countries. In 2014, China produced 56.7 million metric tons of pig and 6.9 million metric tons of cow flesh, representing 51.3 percent and 11.5 percent of world production, respectively.

Despite this, with restricted natural resources domestically, especially water, to meet the demand for livestock, China is heavily importing food animal carcass and live animals from other countries as well. Together, China and Hong Kong in 2014 were the top importers of cow and pig flesh. During the first half of 2013, Hong Kong became the largest export market for Brazilian food animal carcass.(518)

Brazil is the world’s largest chicken flesh and soybean trader, the second largest cow carcass exporter, and the fourth largest pig flesh dealer. Brazil is a country with intensifying conflicts between the economic returns of spreading livestock- and feed-centered agricultural production and the need to protect some of Earth’s most ecologically critical ecosystems.

Currently, upwards of 40 percent of Brazil’s soybean harvest is crushed domestically to create soybean meal, half of which is used in the country as food animal feed. Most of the rest are exported. A large percentage of the products of intensive agriculture in Brazil, like pig carcass, chicken flesh, and food animal feed, is exported. In contrast, China only exports a small fraction of these products.

Turning farms into factories has helped the US achieve huge agricultural yields, producing at low cost and high “efficiency” with regard to time, if not energy or environmental efficiencies. As the small players drop out or merge with the big players through vertical or horizontal integration, concentration in the food animal industry is exacerbated. As with energy, transport, communications, health and other vital sectors, the food system is increasingly controlled by fewer, larger transnational food corporations (TFCs).

With broadening market strength and dominance, food integrators are able to influence policy-making and policy implementation in favor of their bottom lines. Subsidies are a key case in point. In 2012, US government subsidies for livestock, soybeans, and corn were US$ 58.7 million, $1.5 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively.(519)

The US model of integration easily found a place in Brazil and has thrived there. Although the export of this model to China has encountered some obstacles, construction of large facilities by national and international agribusinesses is mounting with government policy support.

But this triangle of industrial animal agriculture is not sustainable, and is self-destructive for humans. The externalized costs of factory farming will put progressively heavier burdens on consumers, producers, and even on those who choose not to produce or consume factory farmed products or any food animal products at all.


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 138

Hidden Population: Obesity

Meat Society: Number 22 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


Considerable scientific attention is given to calculating the number of people and rate of population growth, but much less effort is expended on estimating average human mass. This disparity exists despite evidence that average body mass is climbing at a sharp pace. Weight is measured using body mass index (BMI). The overweight have a BMI over 25, and the obese have a BMI above 30.

For the first time in human history obese people outnumber underweight people. Almost 11 percent of men and 15 percent of women worldwide are obese, while under 9 percent of men and 10 percent of women are underweight, defined by a BMI of under 18.5. Severe and morbid obesity are associated with highly elevated risks of adverse health outcomes.(509)

Due to the rapid expansion in animal domesticates population and carnism in both industrialized and industrializing countries, human body weight is becoming a serious public health concern. Moreover, excess human population mass could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra half a billion people living on the earth. Obese populations need more food to support their extra mass, and thereby amplify climate-altering gases discharged from food production. Overweight bodies also need more fossil fuel to transport them in cars and planes. So maintenance of a healthy weight has crucial health and environmental benefits. Globally, BMI for both men and women have climbed sharply for four decades. 

In 1975, men had a BMI of 21.7 and women had a 22.1 BMI. In 2014, those figures ware 24.2 for men and 24.4 for women. This means that the average person became 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) heavier each decade. If present trends continue more women will be severely obese than underweight by 2025. 

According to the CDC, in 1960, the average American male weighed 166.3 pounds, which is the same as the average mass for American women in 2010 at 166.2 pounds. The average weight for women in 1960 was 140 pounds, so there was an 18.5 percent gain for females over half a century.(510)

In 2010, the average weight for men jumped to 195.5 pounds, adding almost 30 pounds, a 17.6 percent gain in 50 years. Over 35 percent of American females and males over the age of 20 are obese. An astonishing 70 percent of American adults, who are over 20 years of age, are either overweight or obese. On top of this, around 20 percent of American children between six to 19 years old are obese. 

In 2012, the US came in third, following the Pacific island nations Micronesia and Tonga, for having the highest average weight in the world. By comparison, Americans are 33 pounds heavier than the French, and 70 pounds bigger than the average Bangladeshi.(511)

In 2005, global adult human biomass was 287 million tonnes, of which 15 million tonnes came from being overweight. This extra mass is equivalent to that of 242 million people of average body mass, or five percent of global human biomass. Biomass from obesity was 3.5 million tonnes, the equivalent of 56 million people of average body mass.

North America has 6 percent of the world population but 34 percent of biomass from obesity. In contrast, Asia has 61 percent of the world population and 13 percent of biomass from obesity. One tonne of human biomass corresponds to 12 adults in North America and 17 adults in Asia. 

If all countries of the world had the same BMI distribution as the US, the added human biomass of 58 million tonnes would be equivalent to an extra 935 million people of average body mass. Further, they will have energy requirements equivalent to that of 473 million adults.

Compared with a normal population distribution of BMI, a population that is 40 percent obese requires almost 20 percent more food energy. In a population of one billion, the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) from food production and car travel due to increases in obesity is around 0.4 Giga tonnes (GT) and 1.0 GT of CO2e per year. This is equivalent to between 1 and 2 percent of the recent emissions from the total human population.(512)

A reduction of average weight by 5 kg (11 lb) could reduce transport CO2 discharges in the 34 high-income OECD countries by more than 10 million t. GHG pollution could be diminished another 4 million t through reduction of associated food waste in OECD countries. And, while the shift from cow flesh to other forms of animal flesh in industrialized and countries in transition has lead to food animal lifecycle emissions savings of 20 million t CO2e between 1990 and 2005, GHG releases due to obesity-promoting foodstuffs have increased by more than 400 million t CO2e in advanced developing countries.(513)

Overweight Americans and others in the global North are causing far more planetary heating than people with average body mass. Dietary changes are essential to reversing this dangerous trend. However, this issue is tricky to address since 'fat-shaming' can be a counter-productive strategy.


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 137

Hungry Masses

Meat Society: Number 21 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


Malnutrition affects one in every three people worldwide, afflicting all age groups and populations, and plays a major role in half of the 10.4 million annual child deaths in the developing world. And, malnutrition continues to be a cause and a consequence of disease and disability in the children who survive.(494) The most visible form of hunger is famine, a true food crisis in which multitudes of people in an area starve and die.

There are over 850 million people who are chronically hungry. This is the largest number and proportion of malnourished people ever recorded in human history. Plus, being underweight is a major problem globally. A quarter of women in India and Bangladesh are underweight. And a fifth of men in India, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Ethiopia are underweight.(495) Being underweight put a person at risk for multiple health problems including anemia, infertility and osteoporosis.

In the entire developing world, or Global South, hunger and poverty are intense and may worsen as economic growth across the world stalls. From 2005 and 2008 food prices almost doubled. To make matters worse, from 2007, there has been a sizable slowdown in food aid, bringing hunger reduction "essentially to a halt for the developing countries as a whole."(496)

As many as 2.8 billion people on the planet struggle to survive on less than $2 a day, and upwards of one billion people lack reasonable access to safe drinking water. There is an enormous and persistent food gap between the Global South and the developed North. To illustrate, the average person in the industrial world took in 10 percent more calories daily in 1961 than the average person in the developing world consumes today.(497)

The large numbers of poor and malnourished people in the world are unacceptably high, but these numbers may be much higher due to under-counting. Misleadingly, the UN set the threshold for hunger as the minimum calories needed for a "sedentary lifestyle." In reality, the number of hungry people could be as high as 1.5 billion, or in excess of 25 percent of the world's adult population if the threshold was set as the minimum needed for "normal activity."

And, numbers of the hungry would jump to 2.6 billion, or nearly 45 percent of the global adult population, for the minimum calories needed for "intense activity." Currently, 4.3 billion people live on less than $5 a day. Although higher than the World Bank poverty criteria at $1.25 a day, one report showed that a realistic poverty measure would be around $10 a day.(498) This standard indicates over three-quarter of humans live in poverty.

One-fifth of the Earth's 7 billion people have no land and possessions at all. These "poorest of the poor" are nonliterates lacking safe drinking water and living on less than a dollar a day. Many spend about 80 percent of their earnings on food, but are still hungry and malnourished. The average US house cat eats twice as much protein every day as one of the world's poorest of the poor, and the cost to care for each cat is greater than a poor person's annual income.(499)

Half of the world's population have enough food to provide energy, but suffer from individual nutrient deficiencies. Billions of people lack iron, iodine, vitamin A, and other vital nutrients. In addition, racial, caste, ethnic, and religious hatred, along with monetary greed, cause food deprivation for whole masses of people around the globe. And, food insecurity is about to get worse. 

The UN estimate that climate transformation will affect poor countries the most, and inflate food insecurity. Oxfam predicts world hunger will worsen as planetary heating inevitably affects crop production and disrupt incomes. The organization suggest the number of people in the peril of hunger might climb by 10 to 20 percent by 2050, with daily per capita calorie availability falling across the world.(500) 

Food inequality is also increasing. Worldwide, 2 billion people live primarily on an animal-based diet, while double that sum, or 4 billion people, live primarily on a plant-based diet. The UNEP estimated that calories lost from feeding cereals to animals could feed an extra 3.5 billion people.(501) Another analysis calculated that 4 billion people could be fed with the crops devoted to livestock. The single biggest intervention to free up calories would be to stop using grains for cow carcass production in the US. By far, the US, China, and Western Europe account for the bulk of the 'diet gap,' and corn is the main crop being diverted to animal feed.(502)

By moderating diets from food animals, choosing less resource-demanding animal products, and maintaining non-feed systems, around 1.3 and 3.6 billion more people could fed. And ending consumer waste of animal calories could feed an additional 235 million people.(503)

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the number of people fed in a year per hectare (2.5 acres) ranged from 22 individuals for potatoes and 19 for rice, to one and two persons, respectively for cow and sheep flesh. The agency added that the low energy conversion ratio from feed to carcass is a concern since most of the cereal grain being produced is diverted to livestock.(504)

A Bangladeshi family living off rice, beans, vegetables and fruit may live on an acre of land or less. In sharp contrast, the average American, who consumes around 270 pounds of animal carcass a year, needs 20 times that.(505) The current global average animal consumption is 100g (3.5 oz) per person per day, with about a ten-fold variation between high-consuming and low-consuming populations.(506)

For most people in developing countries who obtain their protein from plants, eating animal flesh is a luxury. A kilogram (2.2 lb) of animal carcass can cost from $2 to $5 in the local markets, which is several days’ wages. A typical African eats only 20 kg (44 lb) of animal flesh a year, well below the world average.(507)

These findings suggest that over-consumption and dietary habits are of the essence for understanding resource use and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, as opposed to expanding population being the primary driver as is popularly argued. That is, population's importance is related to lifestyle expenditures, and specifically to the over-consumption class.

A 2011 report concludes, “The mass consumption of animals is a primary reason why humans are hungry, fat, or sick and is a leading cause of the depletion and pollution of waterways, the degradation and deforestation of the land, the extinction of species, and the warming of the planet."(508)


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 135-6

Diet or Over Population?

Meat Society: Number 20 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


Substantial modifications in population size, age structure, and urbanization are expected in many parts of the world this century. These variations can affect energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) outflows. In particular, aging, urbanization and variations in household size can substantially influence GHG footprints in some regions. Aging will occur in most regions, due to declines in both fertility and mortality. 

Aging is expected to be particularly rapid in regions like China that have recently experienced sharp falls in fertility. On the positive side, slowing population growth could provide 16 to 29 percent of the GHG reductions suggested to be necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate transformation.(490)

There is an inverse relationship between the two main drivers behind increased land requirements for food – as socioeconomic development improves, population growth declines. At the same time, diets become richer. Typically, consumption of animal protein, vegetable oil, fruit and vegetable swells, while starchy staples become less essential.

With higher purchasing power comes higher consumption and a greater demand for processed food, animal flesh, cow milk products, chicken eggs, and fish, all of which add pressure to the food supply system. This over-consumption severely affects global sustainability, equity, and food security.(491) 

During a span of 46 years, from 1961 to 2007, a review of data from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that in most regions, diets became richer while available land for food diminished. In many regions, dietary change may override population growth as a major driver behind land requirements for food in the near future.(492)

Potential land savings through yield improvements are offset by a combination of population growth and dietary change. These dynamics were the largest in developing regions and emerging economies. Also, additions to the total per capita food supply is not occurring everywhere around the world. In some rich, developed regions, such as Northern Europe and Oceania, food supply levels remain constant.

In most developed regions, the share of animal products is extraordinary high. From 1961 to 2007, food animals constituted one-third of the available calories in the Global North, compared to 10 percent or less in many of the poorer regions in the global South. These dynamics are set to change. The FAO projects that world population will expand 34 to 41 percent by 2050 to reach 8.9 to 9.1 billion. Food demand will soar upwards by 70 percent, and daily per person calorie intake will rise to 3,130 calories.

Food is a major part of climate warming, but it is also essential for survival, security and equity. Although the consumption per capita of cereals is likely to stabilize, population growth will escalate the demand for both food animals (almost doubling) and cereals (50 percent) by 2050.(493)


Chapter 14: DIET OR POPULATION? page 134

2020 Climate Review

As the 2021 year begins, we review some important climate developments last year. First of all, 2020 tied 2016 for the hottest year on record globally. Second, 2020 continues a rapid heating trend as the last seven years have been the warmest in 150 years, and it concludes the warmest decade on record.  

Average global temperatures in 2020 were 1 degree Celsius (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than in the 30-year average between 1951 and 1980. Since 1980, warming has averaged around 0.2 degree C (0.32 degrees F) per decade. NASA Global Climate Change's Vital Signs of the Planet report that CO2 level is now 415 ppm, the Arctic ice minimum loss is 13.1 percent per decade, the ice sheets are losing 428 billion metric tons per year, and sea level is raising at 3.3 millimeters per year. 

The changing climate is contributing to stronger hurricanes, larger and more destructive wildfires, and heavier rainfall that can cause flooding. Rising temperatures are also causing loss of sea ice and ice sheet mass, sea level rise, longer and more intense heat waves, and shifts in plant and animal habitats.

There were record fires in Australia and California, and severe drought in central South America and the American Southwest. Notably, 2020 was a La Nina year, with cooler temperatures in the vast Pacific Ocean. Yet, Typhoon Goni made landfall in the Philippines as the strongest tropical cyclone in history with sustained winds of 195 mph. 

Europe and Asia had their hottest years on record, while South America and the Caribbean had their second-hottest. Europe had its warmest year ever in 2020, with heat waves lasting into September. The world’s oceans had their third warmest year. The Arctic and Siberia were among the hottest regions, around 6 degrees C warmer than the mid-20th century average. In South American, warming and drought resulted in fires across the vast Pantanal wetland.  

According to NOAA, the US experienced $95 billion in climate disaster damages, with major disasters like the western wildfires, a record-breaking hurricane season and the mid-summer Midwest derecho that caused extensive damage. There were 22 weather and climate disasters in 2020 that cost over $1 billion in damages, surpassing the annual record of 16 billion-dollar disasters in 2017. The Atlantic Basin produced 30 named storms, with 13 of those becoming hurricanes. This topped 2005, which previously had the most storms in a season, 28. And, a record-breaking 12 named storms made a US landfall in 2020. Six of the US landfalls were from hurricanes - Hanna, Isaias, Laura, Sally, Delta and Zeta - far above the average of one to two hurricane landfalls per year.

Phoenix, AZ, saw 145 days of 100-degree heat, breaking the previous record of 143 days set in 1989. Miami, FL, saw daily record temperatures (record warm highs, record warm lows) broken or tied a combined 64 times in 2020. The temperature in Death Valley, CA, reached 54.4 degrees C, the hottest in 80 years. Meanwhile, the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk reported a summer temperature of 100.4 degrees F, the first time recorded temperatures above the Arctic Circle have surpassed 100 degrees F.

As the 2020 year ends, some of the changes scientists are exploring include the weird fact that nights are warming faster than days, and how climate change is harming children's diets. Global warming is faster than evolution, and is making baby sharks smaller, undernourished and exhausted. Also, researchers found that global warming has profoundly transformed Arctic in just 15 years, the urban heat-island effect is turning cities into ovens, and that the warming already baked in will blow pass climate goals.

Although the political climate improved in the US at the end of the year, there has been decades of climate denial and limited action. This polluting legacy means that the new administration's climate policies may fall well short of what is needed to slow down abrupt climate change in 2021 and beyond.

Over-Consumption and GHGs

Meat Society: Number 16 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC


The stuff humans consume, like food, gadgets, toys and accessories, is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gases (GHGs), and around 50 to 80 percent of total land, material, and water use. Between 60 to 80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption.(476)

However, human shoe sizes are not identical, and it is the same with ecological footprints. Consumerism is much higher in developed countries than in poor countries. Those with the highest rates of consumerism have up to 5.5 times the environmental impact as the world average. The US have the highest per capita emissions with 18.6 tonnes CO2e. Luxembourg had 18.5 tonnes, and Australia came in third with 17.7 tonnes. The world average, for comparison, was 3.4 tonnes, and China had just 1.8 tonnes.

Lifestyle and consumption impacts are highly unequal within and between countries. For example, the carbon footprints of citizens in G20 developing countries like Brazil and India are far lower than those of their counterparts in the rich OECD nations like Germany and the UK. On top of that, there are significant differences in the consumption effects caused by rich and poor citizens in developed countries like the USA.

Overall, the world's rich are largely responsible for causing climate chaos. Moreover, climate warming is inextricably linked to economic inequality. A natural disaster crisis driven by climate-altering gases generated by the ‘haves,’ is affecting the ‘have-nots’ the hardest. 

Fifty percent of the world’s carbon outflows are produced by the world’s richest 10 percent, while the poorest half, 3.5 billion people, are responsible for a mere 10 percent of CO2 emission. Further exaggerated, the wealthiest one (1) percent of the world’s population emit 30 times the pollution of the poorest 50 percent, and 175 times the volume of carbon of those living in the bottom 10 percent.(477) 

The average GHG footprint of a person in the poorest half of the global population is just 1.57 tCO2. This amount is 11 times less than the average footprint of someone in the richest 10 percent of the world. The average emissions of someone in the poorest 10 percent of the global population is 60 times less that of someone in the richest 10 percent of the world.

The vast majority of the world’s wealthiest 10 percent are high emitters who live in developed 37 OECD countries, although this is slowly changing. In South Africa, the richest 10 percent of citizens already have average lifestyle consumption footprints ten times higher than the poorest half of the population. In Brazil, it is eight times as high. Still, around a third of the world’s richest 10 percent are from the US.

The per capita GHG footprints from the wealthiest 10 percent of Indian citizens are one-quarter of the poorest 50 percent of those from the US. The poorest 50 percent of Indians have a carbon footprint that is one-twentieth of the poorest 50 percent in the US. And, the poorest half of Indians, around 600m people, has a total emissions footprint about the same as the richest 10 percent of citizens in Japan, around 12m people.

While the total climate-altering gases produced in China divided on a per capita basis have now surpassed those of the European Union, the per capita lifestyle consumption footprint of the wealthiest 10 percent of Chinese citizens are considerably lower than the richest of their OECD counterparts. This is because a large share of China’s emissions is from the production of goods consumed in developed countries. The poorest half of the Chinese population, over 600m people, have a total GHG footprint that is one-third that of the wealthiest 10 percent of US citizens, around 30m people.

The richest citizens in the Global North and Global South can and should cut their GHG footprints through lifestyle modifications. Still and all, they cannot solve the climate crisis alone. Effectual solutions require reduced footprints from the vast majority of citizens in the Global North, who are distinctly part of the over-consumption problem.

One author, Oppenlander, argues, “Our civilization displays a curious instinct when confronted with a problem related to overconsumption - we simply find a way to produce more of what it is we are consuming, instead of limiting or stopping that consumption.”(478) This is certainly true for food animals, due to the combined efforts of governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and transnational corporations (TFCs).

For decades, the consumption of goods and services has risen steadily in industrial nations, by virtually any measure: (i) amount of household expenditures, (ii) number of consumers, or (iii) by extraction of raw materials. And, consumption is growing rapidly in many developing countries as well.

An emerging body of research is examining environmentally significant consumption, a broad term used to encompass consumption practices that have particularly serious environmental consequences. Stern notes that “(consumption) is not solely a social or economic activity but a human-environment transaction. Its causes are largely economic and social, at least in advanced societies, but its effects are biophysical.”(479)

Consumption is the result of social, economic, technological, political, and psychological forces. Global, private consumption expenditures - the total spent on goods and services at the household level - topped $20 trillion in 2000, a four-fold spread over 1960 (in 1995 dollars).(480)

There are in excess of 1.7 billion members of 'the consumer class' and nearly half of them are in the developing world. An over-consumption lifestyle and culture that became common in Europe, North America, Japan, and a few other pockets of the world in the 20th century, is going global in the 21st century.

Around 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe are responsible for 60 percent of private consumption spending. In comparison, the 33 percent of the global population living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent of private consumption.

US consumers are leaders in over-consumption. With less than 5 percent of the global population, Americans use about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources - 25 percent of the coal, 26 percent of the oil, and 27 percent of the world’s natural gas. On top of that, the UNEP calculated that 33 percent of the average US household's carbon footprint in 2010 was due to emissions caused abroad from the production of goods imported into the US market.

As of 2003, the US had a larger number of private cars than licensed drivers, and gas-guzzling sport utility trucks were among the best-selling vehicles. New houses in the US were 38 percent bigger in 2002 than in 1975, despite having fewer people per household on average.

China and India make up 20 percent of the global consumer class, with a combined population of 362 million. Notably, this Asian middle class is bigger than all of Western Europe. All the same, the average Chinese or Indian member consumes substantially less than the average European.

China and India’s large consumer class constitutes only 16 percent of the region’s population, whereas, in Europe the figure is 89 percent. This suggests that there is considerable room for growth in the developing world, and a vast opportunity to reduce over-consumption in Europe and the Global North.

Chapter 13: OVER-CONSUMPTION CLASS, pages 127-8


Sounding the Alarm on Carnism

Meat Society: Number 14 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC

Hundreds of ecologists and agricultural scientists are actively sounding the alarm by highlighting calls for action on animal-based agriculture. A growing body of research points out that eating animal products is inefficient from the perspective of land, water and energy. And, intake of food animals is equally undesirable from a socio-economic, health, biodiversity, climate warming, and animal welfare point of view.

There are hundreds of researchers investigating the link between climate warming and animal-based diets, and over four dozen studies are listed below. These papers are a limited sample of a large body of research encompassing diverse disciplines, from nutrition to environment. Several areas of this literature are beyond the scope of this article, like animal welfare and advocacy, but they are no less consequential.

(1) In 2001, the World Bank began to be critical of funding for large-scale livestock projects due to their impacts on the environment and on social equality. The World Bank strategy recommended that institutions should “avoid funding large-scale commercial grain-fed feedlot systems and industrial milk, pork and poultry productions”(376)

(2) In 2003, Pimentel contended that the dietary pattern in North America is unsustainable. Producing the equivalent measure of protein from animals takes 11 times the amount of fossil fuel and 100 times the volume of water than vegetable protein.(377) (3) In 2007, a group of health researchers concluded that to prevent greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, the worldwide consumption level of animal products and the intensity of emissions from food animal production must be reduced.(378)

(4) In 2008, Tara Garnet argued that animal-based meals must be rationed to four portions a week to avoid run-away global warming. Garnet concluded, "Efforts to encourage us voluntarily to change will not achieve what is needed in the time available. Regulatory and fiscal measures that change the context within which we consume are vital."(379)

(5) Gowri Koneswaran and Danielle Nierenberg concluded that to mitigate climate-altering gases from the food animal sector, immediate and far-reaching changes in production practices and intake patterns “are critical and timely.”(380) (6) The film, Meat the Truth, was presented in London in 2008, and is available in 13 languages in 16 countries. Meat the Truth was the first documentary to link livestock farming and GHG pollution. The book Meat the Truth, is the continuation of the documentary. The anthology contains papers by prominent food scientists, such as Geoff Russell, Elke Stehfest, Barry Brook and Harry Aiking. Researchers from Wageningen UR, who reviewed the calculations of the film, by request of a Dutch Minister, submitted to the collection as well.(381)

(7) In 2009, Marlow's team determined that a nonvegetarian diet required 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizer, and 1.4 times more pesticides than did a vegetarian diet. And the greatest contribution to the differences came from the consumption of cow flesh.(382) (8) Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review, on the cost of tackling planetary heating, and a former chief economist of the World Bank, stated that the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen should have called for a hike in the price of animal products and other foods that play a part in climate warming.(383)

(9) John Powles argued that finding paths to globally sustainable patterns of animal food production and consumption should be central to climate change policy deliberations. He wrote, “On grounds of geopolitical feasibility (as well as equity), there is no obvious alternative to a policy of ‘contraction and convergence’ - contracting consumption levels in rich countries to leave room for consumption in poor countries to converge upwards.”(384)

(10) A 2009 examination by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency determined that global food transition to less animal consumption, or even a complete switch to plant-based protein food, would have a dramatic effect on land use. Up to 2.7 billion hectares (about 10.4 million square miles) of pasture and 100 million hectares (about 386,000 square miles) of cropland could be abandoned.(385) If implemented, by 2050 universal veganism would cut agriculture carbon dioxide (CO2) by 17%, methane (CH4) by 24%, and nitrous oxide (N2O) by 21%. This would cause a large carbon uptake from regrowing vegetation and reduce the mitigation costs to achieve a 450 ppm CO2e stabilization target by about 50% in 2050.

(11) Sonesson's team in 2010 noted, "One aspect that potentially is one of the most powerful in combating food’s impact on climate change is the choice of products, i.e. our diets. Since the differences in life cycle GHG emissions are so very large between products fulfilling similar nutritional functions, the scope for improvement is large."(386)

(12) A 2010 UNEP report stated: "Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."(387) The lead author of the UNEP report said: "Animal products cause more damage than construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as fossil fuels."(388)

(13) Katherine Richardson and her co-authors noted in their 2011 book that by contributing to global warming “livestock plays a significant role in effecting ecosystem services at global scales by changes such as modified precipitation patterns, warmer climates, carbon storage in soils, changes in extreme events and other predicted feedback changes of global warming with results from local to global scales.”(389)

(14) In 2011, an Australian team showed that the efficiency of grains are 146 to 560 times that of cattle on an emissions intensity basis, and cattle can emit up to 22 pounds of CO2e per pound of flesh.(390) (15) The lead editor of the European Nitrogen Assessment, Mark Sutton, said, “Nearly half the world’s population depends on synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizer for food but measures are needed to reduce the impacts of nitrogen pollution. Solutions include more efficient use of fertilizers and manures, and people choosing to eat less meat.”(391)

(16) A Swedish group calculated the GHG footprint of 84 common food items of animal and vegetable origin. It covered CO2e pollution involved in farming, transportation, processing, retailing, storage and preparation. The team observed that animal-based foods are associated with higher energy use and GHG outflows than plant-based foods.(392)

(17) Wirsenius concluded that reducing the intake of meat and cow's milk will be indispensable for reaching the 2°C (3.6°F) target with a high probability. He suggested that taxing animal flesh would lead to significant GHG reductions.(393) In a similar way, (18) Foley calculated that shifting to an all-plant diet could increase food calories by 50%, a staggering 3 quadrillion calories per year, and significantly lower GHG emissions, biodiversity losses, water use and water pollution.(394)

(19) Weiss and Leip suggested in 2012 that for effective reduction of GHG emissions from livestock production, releases occurring outside the agricultural sector need to be taken into account. And reduction targets should address both the production side as defined by IPCC sectors, and the consumption side.(395)

(20) A Union of Concerned Scientists report in 2012 warned, “Clearing forest for pastures makes money, but it also causes global warming pollution.” The effects of tropical deforestation are responsible for about 15% of the world’s heat-trapping emissions. And three-fifths of the world’s agricultural land is used for cattle that yields less than 5% of humanity’s protein.(396)

(21) Also in 2012, researchers at the University of Exeter argued that encouraging people to trim back the quantity of food animals they eat could keep global temperatures within the 2°C (3.6°F) threshold. Tom Powell said, “Our research clearly shows that recycling more and eating less meat could provide a key to re-balancing the global carbon cycle.”(397) Powell continued, “Meat production involves significant energy losses - only around 4% of crops grown for livestock turn into meat. By focusing on making agriculture more efficient and encouraging people to reduce the amount of meat they eat, we could keep global temperatures within the two degrees threshold.”

(22) Nijdam's analysis of over 100 protein foods ascertained that the carbon footprint of the most climate-friendly, plant-based protein sources is up to 100 times smaller than those of the most climate-unfriendly, animal-based protein sources.(398) (23) A 2012 UK study concluded that food policies must focus on demand rather than supply-side measures to address GHGs as a global issue.(399)

(24) One study found that a non-vegetarian diet uses about 2.9 greater volume of water, 2.5 greater mass of primary energy, 13 times the sum of fertilizer, and 1.4 extra volume of pesticides. And it generates GHG pollution to a far greater extent than a vegetarian diet.(400) (25) Another group calculated that 22% and 26% of GHG savings can be made by moving from the current UK-average diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet, respectively.(401)

(26) Shifting crops from animal feed to human food could serve as a 'safety net' when weather or pests create shortages. Davidson, director of the Woods Hole Research Center, reasoned that the developed world will have to cut fertilizer use by 50% and persuade many consumers to stop eating so many food animals in order to stabilize nitrous oxide (N2O) releases by 2050.(402)

In 2013, (27) Sutton and Dibb calculated that (i) almost a third of global biodiversity loss is attributable to livestock production, (ii) food animal intake is responsible for nearly half of the UK food GHG emissions, and (iii) the estimated cost to the National Health Service in early deaths is £1.28 billion ($1.82b).(403) 

On a global scale, (28) Emily Cassidy projected that a shift from crops destined for animal feed and industrial uses toward human food could increase available calories by 70% and feed an extra 4 billion people each year.(404) (29) A Swedish report stated that policy makers should discuss and try to influence what their citizens eat.(405) (30) And, a Danish study found that taxes are a low cost way of promoting climate friendly diets without large adverse health effects.(406)

(31) One more study concluded, “The emission cuts necessary for meeting a global temperature-increase target of 2° might imply a severe constraint on the long-term global consumption of animal food. Due to the relatively limited potential for reducing food-related emissions by higher productivity and technological means, structural changes in food consumption towards less emission-intensive food might be required for meeting the 2° target.”(407)

(32) In 2014, the "Meat Atlas" by Friends of Earth Europe, claimed that livestock directly or indirectly produces nearly 33% of the anthropogenic climate-altering gases.(408) (33) Also in 2014, the Chatham House report concluded that dietary change is essential if planetary heating is not to exceed 2°C (3.6°F).(409) 

(34) Researcher Aiking warned, "Under the current conditions of an unprecedented global population size it may be time to rethink issues such as consumer freedom (diet choice) compared with global food security, the use of 2.48 million tons of fish for cat food, and free trade."(410)

(35) Bajželj's model of agriculture related GHGs is one of the most robust experiments. The study warned that severe reductions in animal consumption are necessary, otherwise, agricultural GHG pollution will take up the entire world’s carbon budget by 2050, with animal agribusiness being a major contributor.(411)

(36) Tilman in 2014 projected that dietary trends, if unchecked, would be a major contributor to an 80% surge in global agricultural GHGs by 2050. This means all other sectors, like energy, industry, and transport, would have to be zero carbon by then, which is highly unlikely.(412) (37) Eshel's investigation showed that the biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints are not to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat.(413)

(38) West's team calculated agriculture emissions of climate-altering gases are between 20% and 33% of total manmade GHGs - from deforestation, methane, and fertilizers. In contrast, by not feeding crops to domesticates, using fertilizer where it is needed, and avoiding overuse, countries could bring down GHG outflows markedly.(414)

(39) Ripple and other scientists suggested that just like a carbon consumption tax, a tax on animal flesh could encourage people to eat less of them.(415) (40) Elin Hallström's team found that simply reducing carcass over-consumption to dietary guidelines will lower GHG pollution from livestock production in Sweden from 40% to 15–25% by 2050, and cropland use from 50% to 20–30%.(416)

(41) Soret's health-based 2014 study used a nonvegetarian diet as a reference, and found that reductions in GHGs for semi-vegetarian diet was 22%, and for vegetarian diets it was 29%. On top of this, the mortality rates for non-vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, and vegetarians were 6.66, 5.53, and 5.56 deaths per 1000 person-years, respectively.(417)

(42) In 2015, Elin Röös's team assessed three animal-based diets - a diet corresponding to Nordic recommendations, the current average Swedish diet, and a low carbohydrate-high fat diet. They determined that all three diets are above the sustainable level of climate impact.(418) (43) Another Swedish study determined that taxes on animal flesh and cow's milk could reduce emissions of GHG, nitrogen and phosphorus, by up to 12% from this sector.(419)

(44) The 2015 Chatham House report concluded, “Interventions to change the relative prices of foods are likely to be among the most effective in changing consumption patterns.” The report adds that countries should aim "to increase the price of meat and other unsustainable products" through a carbon tax.(420) And (45) Hallström's 2015 review found that dietary change can reduce the sector's GHG emissions and land use demand by up to 50%.(421)

(46) Talia Raphaely's edited collection of articles in 2015 includes one by Robert Goodland, who argued that food animals contribute 51% of GHGs. Raphaely describes how carnism impacts all aspects of human life and humanity's long-term survival prospects. Yet, society continues to ignore the negative impacts of consuming animal flesh and the sector's high contribution to global GHG emissions.(422)

(47) In 2016, a large-scale study showed that methane (CH4) from manure, ruminants, landfill, and waste, and nitrous oxide (N2O) from crop cultivation, are offsetting the land carbon dioxide (CO2) sink by two-fold.(423) (48) Another 2016 study concluded, “Deep cuts, by 50% or more, in ruminant meat consumption… is the only dietary change that with high certainty is unavoidable if the EU climate targets are to be met.”(424)

(49) Chalmers' team determined that livestock carbon consumption taxes in Scotland can reduce household demand for food animal products and result in a 10.5% reduction in Scottish food GHG emissions.(425) Also in 2016, (50) Springmann found that adhering to health guidelines on food animal consumption could cut global food-related emissions by nearly a third by 2050. Moreover, widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63%, and veganism by 70%.(426)


Chapter 11: WHAT CRISIS? pages 108-111

Livestock's Emissions Denial?

Meat Society: Number 13 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC

Science raises above religion and politics most of the time, but not when it comes to economics and the treatment of food and experimental animals. Then, science takes a back seat. The social and political contexts of animal-based diets and climate change shape engagement of both of these issues, and it is hard to get a truly balanced view.

Mirroring carnism in the general population, probably close to 95% of climatologists are consumers of animal products. And, while there is agreement on the manmade causes of global warming, this inherent conflict of interest in climatology fosters the denial of dietary footprints. As a result, even scientists who focus on methane's short-term impacts on abrupt planetary heating are largely dismissive of the voluminous discharges from animal agriculture.

Regardless of the peril, food and climate scientists, animal advocates, and health experts all face a public backlash if they are perceived as being too invasive by telling individuals what to eat and how to live their lives. These agents of change risk disapproval in trying to save the public from themselves. Yet, if climatologists continue to minimize and ignore diet-related dangers, this sets a bad example for the general public to do nothing as well.

To their credit, many environmental, food-focused, and animal protection NGOs in the US, Canada, and Sweden do mention the contribution of food animal production to climate warming on their websites. Yet, few of these NGOs have formal campaigns to reduce animal consumption, or seek to promote national-level polices to reduce the consumption of animal products.

Linking food animal consumption to climate is outside the core missions of many intergovernmental agencies as well. Moreover, many environmental organizations prefer tactics other than behavior modification promotion. Not surprisingly, then, animal protection organizations are advocating for larger reductions in animal-based consumption than environmental groups.(362)

In contrast, climate scientists and activists alike are sounding the alarm regarding fossil fuel pollution. In a controversial statement, James Hansen, arguably the world's most famous climate scientist, compared coal trains to Nazi death trains. In particular, Hansen and other climatologists call for radical and transformative modifications in the energy system. They even argue that energy producers and consumers should pay for the social cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

Hansen writes, "If fossil fuels were made to pay their costs to society, costs of pollution and climate change, carbon-free alternatives might supplant fossil fuels over a period of decades. However, if governments force the public to bear the external costs and even subsidize fossil fuels, carbon emissions are likely to continue to grow, with deleterious consequences for young people and future generations."

While climatologists are calling for a radical transformation in fossil-based economies, few even view animal-based agriculture as relevant. Nevertheless, the mounting consumption of food animals is similar to the widening use of fossil fuels. And, the endangerment and effect on global temperature are the same. Additional anthropogenic CO2 is going to cause extra climate warming, irrespective of whether the source of CO2 is a car or a cow.

If the food animal industry and consumers were made to pay their costs to society for ill health, pollution, and global warming, plant-based alternatives might supplant animal flesh over a period of decades. But, if governments continue to force the public to bear the external costs and subsidize livestock, GHGs will proliferate with severe outcomes for children and future generations.

Unlike his views on coal, Hansen does not see cattle trains as death trains, but he does admit that one of the best actions an individual can take is to stop eating animals. “I've almost become a vegetarian,” he claimed in an interview.(363) But Hansen has never publicly discussed plant-based diet as a climate solution.

Scientists, NGOs and activists alike point out that the food animal industry is vital to incomes, employment, labor, and economies across the globe. These same arguments for jobs and economic growth are made by the fossil fuel industry. Yet, the benefits of oil, coal and gas are viewed as not enough to overcome the perils of pollution and climate warming.

In contrast, scientists and environmentalists consider the arguments made for people to go vegetarian or vegan in order to stop climate warming, and to reduce pressure on forests and food prices, as hyperbolic and bound to fail. These 'experts' have rarely inspected livestock's GHG pollution. And, they deflect the western livestock over-consumption problem by focusing on how plant-based diets would fail in the developing world.

The vast majority of the global South are primarily plant-based, though they still depend on animals for food and products such as leather and wool, for manure, and for help in tilling fields to grow crops. Subsistence and small farmers are not the main culprits of planetary heating. The lion's share of the industry's GHG pollution and growth are from industrialized factory farms.

Yet, one denier of food animals' GHGs concluded, “The notion that cows and sheep are four-legged weapons of mass destruction has become something of a distraction from the real issues in both climate change and food production."(364) This framing minimizes and trivializes the over-consumption crisis. Furthermore, it inherently provides an endorsement for large-scale livestock production, while ignoring its pollution and endangerment to humans and biodiversity.

Western livestock over-consumption patterns are a far bigger problem than animal use by the billions of poor in the under-developed world. To boot, a large part of the developed world's animal flesh and feed is imported from the under-developed world, so casting blame on them is doubly cruel. To make matters worse, environmentalists and climate activists routinely use animal husbandry among third world subsistence farmers as an excuse to reject dietary modification as a strategy for reducing climate-altering gases.

The effects of animal consumption on climate are rarely acknowledged as an issue by climate journalists or by many of the world's leading climatologists, leaders, and activists. From Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore, Renate Christ, James Hansen and Michael Mann, to Susan Solomon, Gavin Schmidt, Bill McKibben, Neil deGrassse Tyson, Bill Nye, Michael Bloomberg, Naomi Klein, Richard Tol and Bob Ward, there is mainly silence.

The following can similarly be added to the list of people in climate science who ignore and deny livestock's GHG pollution: Suzanne Goldenberg, Joe Romm, Dana Nuccitelli, Alice Bows-Larkin, Max Boycoff, Simon Buckle, Mike Childs, Tan Copsey, Susannah Eliott, Sam Geall, Will Grant, Fiona Fox, Leo Hickman, Brendan Montague, Tim Nuthall, James Painter, Chris Rapley, John Timmer, and James Wilsdon.

When they do talk about diet, climate leaders dangerously under-estimate animal agriculture’s impact. Case in point, McKibben of 350.org admits that he does not eat animal carcass that often, but claims animal agriculture can be done sustainably.(365) This reductionist position can be summed up as: “we need to move away from factory farming, adopt a modified form of grazing, and buy locally.”(366)

Nobel Laureate Al Gore, it his 2006 film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” gave minimal mention to diet in terms of its contributions to GHGs and what people can do to lower their footprints. Gore did go vegan in 2013, but he did so quietly and rarely talks of diet's link to climate change.

Dozens of climate organizations have called for divestment from fossil fuel companies. And, prompted by student activism on campus, many college endowments have started to divest from oil, coal and gas companies. Even fossil fuel heirs, like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, have pledged to divest a total of $50bn from fossil fuels.(367)

In the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014 Synthesis report, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon specifically addressed investors and pension fund managers. Ki-moon pleaded, “Please reduce your investments in the coal- and fossil fuel-based economy and (move) to renewable energy.” Similarly, UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, urged faith groups to tell followers not to invest in fossil fuel companies.(368)

Pope Francis of the powerful Catholic church issued the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change, following a visit in March 2015, to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by Typhoon Haiyan. (369) The edict urges 1.2 billion Catholic followers to take climate action and was sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who distributed it to their parishioners. 

Even Prince Charles of the UK called out corporate lobbyists, saying “Climate change skeptics are turning Earth into dying patient.”(370) Top climatologists, a Prince, and the Pope, all understand the seriousness of climate alteration, and some are even confronting the fossil fuel industry with calls for divestment. However, they are largely silent on food animals' GHGs. There is a dire need for experts and those with influence to take on animal-based agribusiness and call for zero-use and divestment from livestock production as well.

One example of this denial was evident at the UN Climate Change Conference, Lima COP20 in 2014. At the event, two of Peru’s most famous chefs give lessons in sustainable cooking to the Conference of the Parties (COP) president and the head of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The chefs helped the VIPs prepare vegetarian ceviche using a cleaner, wood-fired cook stove. Tellingly, the press and photo opportunity event centered almost exclusively on reducing emissions by using the wood stove, rather than through dietary modifications.(371)

Chapter 11: WHAT CRISIS? page 104-5

GHGs: A Tale of Two Sources

Meat Society: Number 12 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC

The food animal sector plays an often unrecognized role in planetary heating. Animal agriculture specifically drives global warming and is linked to proliferating greenhouse gasses (GHGs), the food crisis, and water emergencies. Animal agribusiness has large footprints on the air, land, water, energy, materials, health, and other areas. These GHG footprints are part of food animals' life-cycle and their byproducts' supply chains.

Ominously, livestock's footprints consist of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and other GHGs, that have a larger cumulative effect on climate warming than from each gas added up individually. And, unless food animals' GHGs are reduced along with fossil fuels, they may set in motion various environmental feedbacks that result in surpassing climate tipping points. 

According to one study, by 2050, the food animal sector may alone account for 72% of the total “safe operating space” for human-caused GHG pollution, 88% of the safe operating space for biomass use, and 300% of the safe operating space for the mobilization of nitrogen compounds in soils and elsewhere. This would lead to irreversible changes, irrespective of efforts to mitigate GHGs in other sectors.(356)

For reducing carbon-based emissions, an argument can be made that fossil fuels are not essential for human survival and that many non-carbon sources of energy already exist, and should be used instead. Oddly, this argument is often inverted when dealing with animal agribusiness GHGs. Animal-based diets are routinely viewed as non-negotiable and indispensable to human survival. And, the common perception is that other protein sources are not as good or available.

All the same, a World Bank review of the connection between consumption of animal products and health determined that in many situations, the partial displacement of carbohydrate staple source of energy with animal products may have neutral or no beneficial health effect. Another socioeconomic inquiry noted, “the use of plant source of protein and fat, such as soy products, nuts, and vegetable oils, may provide even greater health benefits and should therefore be considered simultaneously when considering investments in development.”(357)

Red meat consumption is associated with an enhanced hazard of cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality. In contrast, substitution of other healthy protein sources for red meat is associated with lower mortality.(358) Similar to pollution from fossil fuels, animal-based diets have profoundly negative effects on human health and the environment. And, in turn, animal-based diet related illnesses and animal waste pollution, generate immense quantities of CO2 in health care, habitat restoration, and so on.

Interestingly, Pope Francis's 183-page encyclical on the environment, released in June 2015, discusses the environmental crisis and the immorality of capitalism. It argues passionately for economic and cultural equality. For all that, the encyclical remains completely silent on animal agribusiness GHG pollution.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is headquartered in Rome, not far from the Vatican. The agency has acknowledged numerous times the significance of livestock's GHGs and the sector's contributions to planetary heating. Despite this, the Pope and the Church refuse to call out the exploitative and destructive practices of the animal flesh, cow's milk and chicken egg industries in their encyclical to save humanity from escalating temperatures.(359)

In October 2015, the FAO's director and the French Minister of Agriculture both called for targeted policies and investments in food security and agriculture, to be at the center of debates on climate. They warned that failure to do so would unravel recent progress made in combating world hunger.(360)

The FAO's director indicated that there was a need to reduce deforestation and overfishing, and to improve soil fertility, to achieve lower emissions. He said the FAO was ready to assist countries through agroecology, 'climate-smart' agriculture, integrated coastal management, sustainable land management, and forest landscape restoration. Curiously, the director did not call for a reduction in food animal production or suggest that stepping up animal-based consumption was unsustainable and self-destructive.

The animal carcass, chicken eggs, and cow's milk lobbies are well-organized, and many politicians minimize and ignore animal agribusiness GHGs due to conflicts of interest. Case in point, a European Parliament member belittled the problem by saying, "I don't believe that the world will come to an end because of cows burping and farting."

A senior member of the staff of the German Environment Minister confessed, "We have exempted agriculture from the climate protection strategy in order to limit the number of potential sources of conflict.” While, the chairman of the German Advisory Council on the Environment was explicit in stating, "No one dares to say that we ought to eat less meat and more plant-based protein."(361)

Carbon and food based emissions are both real and dangerous. While one is increasingly being placed under a policy microscope, the other remains completely untouchable by priests and politicians alike. Fear of a public backlash and neoliberal attack by transnational food corporations (TFCs) prevents the powerful solution of dietary change from seeing the light of day.

Chapter 11: WHAT CRISIS? page 103


Mitigating Demand for Animal Protein


(Global meat consumption 1961-2009)

Meat Society: Number 11 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC

Eliminating subsidies for domesticates and feed crops would increase the price of livestock products and lower the intake of food animals. Placing limits on advertising and warning labels, as with tobacco products, would likewise curb demand. On average, a 10% spike in the price of cow flesh results in a 7.5% lowering of intake, and around 35% of carnists admitted that when chicken prices rise, they simply eat more vegetables.(652)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a report in 2013 on reducing carbon emissions in livestock production FAO 2013 authors admit that with the burgeoning volume of domesticated food animals, complementary measures may be needed to ensure that overall greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is curbed. Yet, oddly enough, the report provide few details on how to achieve this reduction, thereby ignoring a vast body of research that shows how mitigating demand for animal flesh could feed larger numbers of people with less GHG pollution. 

For over five decades, numerous institutes and research reports have demonstrated that cutting consumption can significantly reduce climate-altering discharges from the animal agribusiness sector. There were stacks of books published from the 1960s to the 1990s on animal-based diets and the environment. For instance, Ruth Harrison, in 1964(653); Frances Lappé, in 1971(654); Robbins, in 1987(655); Fiddes, in 1991(656); and Rifkin, in 1992.(657) These early works were influential and clearly linked carnism with environmental devastation.

Less well-known, but equally critical academic analysis was conducted by Joan Gussow and Katherine Clancy in 1986(658); Ehrlich, Ehrlich and Daily, in 1995(659); Burning and Brough in 1991(660); Joan Gussow, in 1994(661); Robert Goodland, in 1997(662); Michael Fox, in 1999(663); and Subak, in 1999.(664) These early investigations were based mainly on narrative, demographic, and ethnographic data since there was a general lack of primary research on the sector's climate-altering gases.

At the beginning of the 21st century, a flurry of scientific papers began to probe the impact of diet and livestock on ecosystems, providing the missing primary data. Namely, in 2000, research by Renault and Wallender,(665) and Dutilh and Kramer(666) were published on water productivity and energy use in the food animal sector.

In 2003, Wirsenius,(667) Leitzmann,(668) Pimentel and Pimentel,(669) and Reijnders and Soret(670) conducted primary research on metabolism, nutrition, water use, protein choices and other aspects of livestock production. In 2004, Rattan Lal measured carbon outflows on farms(671), and in 2006, Eshel and Martin calculated the climate-altering pollution from various diets.(672)

This valuable body of pertinent scientific research was widely available before FAO's 2006 and 2013 assessment of GHG emissions from animal agribusiness. Peculiarly, the popular environmental literature and volumes of primary data on demand-side analysis were both ignored by the UN authors. Moreover, since the vast majority of people on the planet already eat a climate-friendly, plant-based diet, then it makes sense for the FAO to concentrate on transforming livestock over-consumption.

By way of illustration, a team of Italian researchers noted that a plant-based diet based on organic products has the smallest environmental impact. Their findings, published online in 2006, showed that cow carcass had the greatest impact, along with cheese, fish, and cow's milk.(673) This and many other studies were ignored by the FAO. The mitigating demand approach, based on personal action, helps to solve the food crisis, and social inequalities as well. The UN food agency refuses to come to grips with the larger issue of the inefficiency of animal-based diets, and by all odds, the Earth could support larger numbers of people for a given area of land farmed if humans ate lower on the food chain.(674)

In 2007, McMichael's team investigated ways to reduce the impact of livestock production on the environment and concluded that current efficiency measures were not producing the magnitude of amendments required to sufficiently impact GHG footprints. The most equitable way was a constriction and convergence policy. The team concluded that Western countries should considerably reduce their red meat consumption, and developing countries should not surpass this lower target.(675)

Demand-moderating policies are vital because of the overall low potential for reducing agricultural GHGs by technological means. Besides, there are inherently large land requirements for ruminant flesh production. So what humans eat does matter.(676)

Based on improvements in scale, the FAO's strategies for 30% GHG reduction have increased vulnerability and negative side-effects. Even if, somehow, efficiency improves and yield gaps are closed, the projected demand for food animals will continue to drive agricultural expansion.(677) Mitigating demand is an effective way to reduce the sector's climate-altering gases, but is not entertained by the leading food authority in the slightest.

FAO 2006 projects that the global agricultural area may expand by 280m ha (1m sq mi) in 2030, from the current 5.1b ha (20m sq mi) to 5.4b ha (21m sq mi). One team used these estimates and assumed a minor transition towards vegetarian food, with a 25% diminution in animal consumption, and a somewhat lower food wastage rate. In this scenario, land use drops to 4.4 billion ha (17m sq mi), and land use in high-income regions dwindles down further by about 15%.(678)

Demand-side measures offer a greater potential of 1.5 - 15.6 Gt CO2e per year in meeting food security and GHG emission challenges, than do supply-side measures. The latter offers only 1.5 - 4.3 Gt CO2e per year at carbon prices between $20 and $100.(679) At the national level, in the UK, for instance, the average diet embodies 8.8 kg (19.4 pounds) CO2e per person every day. Eliminating food animals from the diet will lower food-related climate-altering discharges by 35%.(680)

The UN food agency encourage public subsidies for the cattle industry to increase efficiency, but to help mitigate the escalating environmental impacts of cow carcass production, the FAO should instead call on governments to should stop subsidizing cow flesh production, and cease the promotion of cattle consumption. Governments should also regulate and control the future expansion of soybeans and extensive grazing.(681)

In an evaluation of processed protein food based on soy-beans and animal protein, researchers observed a variety of environmental impacts associated with primary production and processing. Notably, the impacts for animal flesh were four to 100 times greater than that vegetable protein, while the comparison of cheese impacts ranged from 5 to 21 times greater than vegetables. And, the energy use for fish protein was up to 14 times larger than protein of vegetable origin.(682)

Mitigating demand for animal protein is an effective way to reduce GHGs, but the FAO and other UN climate reports ignore this approach. The German consumer protection organization, Foodwatch, calculated that shifting from a conventional diet based on animal flesh and cow's milk, to a conventionally-raised vegan diet would reduce GHG pollution by 87%, while shifting to an organic diet containing animal carcass and cow's milk would only reduce emissions by 8%. By contrast, a 100% organic vegan diet would reduce GHG pollution by 94%.(683)

If humans restricted their diet to primary producers – eating plants, instead of eating the herbivores, fish and other animals that eat plants - the Earth could support much larger populations of people. Plus, there would be comparatively less land degradation because fewer acres would be needed for food production. 

For demand-side animal protein measures to work, given the difficulties in implementation and lag in their effectiveness, policies and reforms should be introduced quickly. Also, mitigation programs could be integrated with other plans of actions, such as improving environmental quality and dietary health.

Chapter 17: THE POLITICS OF MEAT, pages 173 - 4.


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