Burgers vs. The Climate

Salon magazine taps into the most important truth about climate change, which is that the single greatest change any human can make to help reduce greenhouse warming is to eat a lot less meat:

In their report, Goodland and Anhang note that when you account for feed production, deforestation and animal waste, the livestock industry produces between 18 percent and 51 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Add to this the fact that producing animal protein involves up to eight times more fossil fuel than what’s needed to produce an equivalent amount of non-animal protein, and you see that climate change isn’t intensified only by necessities like transportation and electricity. It is also driven in large part by subjective food preferences — more precisely, by American consumers’ unnecessary desire to eat, on average, 200 pounds of meat every year.

If you find it demoralizing that we are incinerating the planet and dooming future generations simply because too many of us like to eat cheeseburgers, here’s that good news I promised: In their report, Goodland and Anhang found that most of what we need to do to mitigate the climate crisis can be achieved “by replacing just one quarter of today’s least eco-friendly food products” — read: animal products — “with better alternatives.” That’s right; essentially, if every fourth time someone craved, say, beef, chicken or cow milk they instead opted for a veggie burger, a bean burrito or water, we have a chance to halt the emergency.

Here’s more from Goodland, who says that even the below video underestimates the massive contribution meat consumption makes to greenhouse warming. And the Daily Dish notes that others, like Mark Bittman and economist Tyler Cowen, are on board.

So it would be better to stop buying burgers than it would be to keep buying Priuses. Plus, you’ll be doing your heart a favor, too.

Climate Change And Grasslands

Some very hard (and welcome) pushback from Robert Goodland on Allan Savory’s popular TED talk about livestock and the restoration of grasslands.

From Goodland’s “Meat, Lies, and Videotape (A Deeply Flawed TED Talk)“:

From my long experience in environmental assessment, I can identify three key gaps in Mr. Savory’s assessment. First, what he proposes is unachievable. Second, he omits to incorporate a basic element in environmental assessment, and that’s analysis of alternatives. Third, he omits to say how long his recommendation would take to implement. Yet one expert group after another has projected that reversing climate change must begin in the next five years, or it will be too late.

Read the whole thing for the blow by blow deconstruction of Savory’s arguments, and approach. One additional key point Goodland makes is that Savory is important because his arguments are being used to help PERPETUATE the factory farm industry:

At least Mr. Savory promotes his approach to farmers, policymakers and academics — and not to consumers who must choose from foods available in the marketplace today. Indeed, few if any consumers seeking meat from their local grocers that’s produced using Mr. Savory’s approach will find any such product to be available today.

However, while Mr. Savory himself cautions that most livestock today are produced unsustainably, meat promoters can be seen spinning Mr. Savory’s claims as if they apply equally to factory-farmed meat. Yet it’s no new trick to promote factory farmed meat as grass-fed. A grassland producer has himself noted that most marketing of “grass-fed” beef is a hoax. Beef marketed this way commands a 200-300% price premium — so the incentive for producers to cheat is overwhelming, as evidenced in one videotape after another.

Here’s Goodland’s argument, presented in a much lighter way:

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