NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change.
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?