Eating Less Meat Helps Reducing Global Warming
IRVINE, CA. (ConCienciaNews) – We all know that the gases emitted by cars and factories pollute the environment and contribute to the Earth’s global warming. But did you know that food, specifically the production of meat we eat in our diet, generates more greenhouse gases than those generated by industry or transportation?
A recent study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that current meat production contributes to between 14 percent and 22 percent of the 36 trillion tons of GHG - whose effects are expressed in equivalent amounts of CO2 - that are produced worldwide each year. Preparing a hamburger generates the same amount of GHG as driving a car that weighs 1.3 tons for nearly 16 kilometers.
In fact, all the food we consume, including fruits and vegetables, contributes to the GHG increase in the atmosphere. Much of these gases come from food transportation and refrigeration, or the methane produced by plants and animals. The transportation and refrigeration of vegetables for feeding an American family generate nearly 100 grams of GHG equivalent to CO2. But this is nothing compared to meat. When bacteria from a cow’s stomach digest food, they produce methane gas. This greenhouse gas is approximately 23 times stronger than CO2, which means it traps twenty three times more heat than CO2.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia in England found that in general, cows emit between 70 and 135 grams of methane for approximately each half kilogram of meat they produce. These methane emissions are equivalent to between 1.6 and 3 kilograms of CO2 released into the atmosphere. In comparison, the production of the same amount of chicken generates half a kilogram of GHG equivalent to CO2.
Worldwide meat production emits more GHG than any form of transportation or industrial process. Based on data obtained from the FAO and the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research project (EDGAR), Nathan Fiala, a PhD student in economics at the University of California at Irvine, estimated that current meat production levels generate 18 percent of the annual worldwide production of GHG equivalent to CO2. Only energy production generates more GHG (21 percent) than meat production. Interestingly, contrary to what many people believe, the transportation industry, which generates 14 percent of annual worldwide production of GHG equivalent to CO2, is not at the top of the list of polluters.
In our fight against global warming, we can take several measures to reduce CO2 emissions. Reducing the use of cars, choosing efficient appliances and replacing incandescent lamps with fluorescent lamps are some examples. But do not forget that changing our eating habits can greatly contribute to a reduction in global warming. Reducing the consumption of meat in our diet is not only good for our health, but could help save our planet.
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