A Climate Realist’s (not so) short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change. Question 5 (of 16) Will reducing meat in my diet help the climate?

NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.

 Answers to Question 1: How much is the planet heating up?

Answers to Question 2. How much trouble are we in?

Answers to Question 3. Is there anything I can do?

Answers to Question 4. What’s the optimistic scenario?

Justin Gillis answer to  Question 5. Will reducing meat in my diet help the climate?

Yes, beef especially.

Agriculture of all types produces greenhouse gases that warm the planet, but meat production is especially harmful – and beef is the most environmentally damaging form of meat. Some methods of cattle production demand a lot of land, contributing to destruction of forests; the trees are typically burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other methods require huge amounts of water and fertilizer to grow food for the cows.

The cows themselves produce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes short-term warming. Meat consumption is rising worldwide as the population grows, and as economic development makes people richer and better able to afford meat.

This is worrisome: Studies have found that if the whole world were to start eating beef at the rate Americans eat it, produced by the methods typically used in the United States, that alone might erase any chance of staying below an internationally agreed-upon limit on global warming. Pork production creates somewhat lower emissions than beef production, and chicken is lower still. So reducing your meat consumption, or switching from beef and pork to chicken in your diet, are both moves in the right direction. Of course, as with any kind of behavioral change meant to benefit the climate, this will only make a difference if lots of other people do it, too, reducing the overall demand for meat products.

My answer to  Question 5. Will reducing meat in my diet help the climate?

It will do very little for the climate, but it might help your personal economy to switch your eating habits. Beef used to be cheap, but no more. Bacon, baby pork ribs, beef tenderloin, veal cutlets, chicken wings are at premium prices, and switching from beef to chicken and turkey is already under way thanks to the wonderful regulator called the free market. However, there is one thing that will help the environment and indirectly the climate:

Switch from feed-lot beef to grass fed beef. Release more grasslands for responsible grazing to preserve the environment. Here is an interesting video:

What do you think?

Answers to Question 6. What’s the worst-case scenario?

Answers to Question 7. Will a tech breakthrough help us?

Answers to Question 8. How much will the seas rise?

Answers to Question 9. Are the predictions reliable?

Answers to Question 10. Why do people question climate change?

Answers to Question 11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?

Answers to Question 12. Will anyone benefit from global warming?

Answers to Question 13. Is there any reason for hope?

Answers to Question 14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

Answers to Question 15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

Answers to Question 16. Is it really all about carbon?

Published by

lenbilen

Engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, and chip manufacturing. Presently adjunct faculty at PSU, teaching one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

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