The Greenhouse Hamburger

Page 1 of 2  
The Greenhouse Hamburger
February 2009 Scientific American
Most of us are aware that our cars, our coal-generated electric power and even our cement factories adversely affect the environment. Until recently, however, the foods we eat had gotten a pass in the discussion. Yet according to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), our diets and, specifically, the meat in them cause more greenhouse gasescarbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and the liketo spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. (Greenhouse gases trap solar energy, thereby warming the earth's surface. Because gases vary in greenhouse potency, every greenhouse gas is usually expressed as an amount of CO2 with the same global-warming potential.)
The FAO report found that current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of "CO2-equiva-lent" greenhouse gases the world produces every year. It turns out that producing half a pound of hamburger for someone's luncha patty of meat the size of two decks of cardsreleases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.
In truth, every food we consume, vegetables and fruits included, incurs hidden environmental costs: transportation, refrigeration and fuel for farming, as well as methane emissions from plants and animals, all lead to a buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Take asparagus: in a report prepared for the city of Seattle, Daniel J. Morgan of the University of Washington and his co-workers found that growing just half a pound of the vegetable in Peru emits greenhouse gases equivalent to 1.2 ounces of CO2as a result of applying insecticide and fertilizer, pumping water and running heavy, gas-guzzling farm equipment. To refrigerate and transport the vegetable to an American dinner table generates another two ounces of C02-equivalent greenhouse gases, for a total CO2 equivalent of 3.2 ounces
But that is nothing compared to beef. In 1999 Susan Subak, an ecological economist then at the University of East Anglia in England, found that, depending on the production method, cows emit between 2.5 and 4.7 ounces of methane for each pound of beef they produce. Because methane has, roughly 23 times the global-warming potential of CO2, those emissions are the equivalent of releasing between 3.6 and 6.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for each pound of beef produced.
Raising animals also requires a large amount of feed per unit of body weight. In 2003 Lucas Reijnders of the University of Amsterdam and Sam Sorer of Loma Linda University estimated that producing a pound of beef protein for the table requires more than 10 pounds of plant proteinwith all the emissions of greenhouse gases that grain farming entails. Finally, farms for raising animals produce numerous wastes that give rise to greenhouse gases.
Taking such factors into account, Subak calculated that producing a pound of beef in a feedlot, or concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) system, generates the equivalent of 14.8 pounds of CO2pound for pound, more than 36 times the C02-equivalent greenhouse gas emitted by producing asparagus. Even other common meats cannot match the impact of beef; I estimate that producing a pound of pork generates the equivalent of 3.8 pounds of CO2; a pound of chicken generates 1.1 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases. And the economically efficient CAFO system, though certainly not the cleanest production method in terms of CO2-equivalent greenhouse emissions. is far better than most: the FAO data I noted earlier imply that the world average emissions from producing a pound of beef are several times the CAFO amount.
Solutions?
What can be done? Improving waste management and farming practices would certainly reduce the 'carbon footprint" of beef production. Methane-capturing systems, for instance, can put cows' waste to use in generating electricity. But those systems remain too costly to be commercially viable.
Individuals, too, can reduce the effects of food production on planetary climate. To some degree, after all, our diets are a choice. By choosing more wisely, we can make a difference. Eating locally produced food for instance, can reduce the need for transportthough food inefficiently shipped in small batches on trucks from nearby farms can turn out to save surprisingly little in greenhouse emissions. And in the U.S. and the rest of the developed world, people could eat less meat, particularly beef.
The graphics on the following pages quantify the links between beef production and green-house gases in sobering detail. The take-home lesson is clear: we ought to give careful thought to diet and its consequences for the planet if we are serious about limiting the emissions of green-house gases. -------
Nathan Fiala is a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of California, Irvine, focusing on the environmental impact of dietary habits. He also runs evaluations of development projects for the the World Bank in Washington, D.C. In his spare time he enjoys independent movies and sailing. In his study of the environmental impact of meat production on which this article is based was recently published in the journal of Ecological Economics.
--

Billy
Republican and Democratic "Leadership" Behind Bars
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Billy wrote:

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to mention the article and then post a link to it? Copying and reposting an entire article without permission is a violation of the author's and publisher's rights. Besides, it's good netiquette.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

True, true, but I didn't make the graphs available, those that make the best argument. So you'll either have to buy the magazine, which is on your news racks as we communicate or borrow it from your local library. In any event, it gives you information that you can act on. You want a planet that your descendants can live on? Right?
And what kind of anally retentive type goes around telling people how they should communicate?
If I want to communicate with you, I'll let you know. Dumb . . .
--

Billy
Republican and Democratic "Leadership" Behind Bars
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Billy wrote:

What kind of person goes around stealing other people's work? You might not realize it, but the author makes a living by publishing original work. When you steal it, it's no different than if I walked into your house and took whatever I felt like.
Finally, I should point out that I do not need your permission or anyone else's to state my opinion on the internet. If you aren't interested, don't read it. At least I'm civil, unlike yourself.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have never had an original thought. However I have combined those other thoughts into a new format. Not always better I'd add.

Down with Libraries!! And lets get those geeks that try to find out what a wonderful tool can do. Share Ideas sure Music is a hot topic but I give a guess those pirates bought more than most. Like what if Dilemma is not on limewire? What to do?

Some things below to ponder.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement>
<http://www.eff.org/
Bill
--
Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA






Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Very close relatives to those who tell people how they should eat.
cheers
oz, taking my protein in a convenient way
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

<snip>
sighhhhh.......it seems that your effort to educate the Great Unwashed yet again results in disparagement and attempted diversion from the importance of the message, re: dave a.
'Twas ever thus.
In response to this particular study, we have discovered, and availed ourselves of, a local (26 miles) source of bison that is entirely grass fed. Butchered at two years of age. (You ever have bison nuts? Damn, they are good!!)
This here buffalo flesh is some good stuff, Billy. The omega ratios are proper. Fat content is minimal and of the proper composition, so that "saturated fat" is of no concern. Having said this, our red flesh consumption is way down, as is flesh consumption overall.
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. " ....Pollan
Yer old pal, peering out from unner the log
Charlie
--
"I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated
sufficiently to reason incorrectly."
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I wish I had words :O)
Hi!
--

Billy
Republican and Democratic "Leadership" Behind Bars
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article

Hmmm ....
I have questions.
Carbon dioxide CO2 is that the gas we humans exhale (Good)? Do not plants take in CO2 and keep the carbon and release oxygen O2 (Good)? Do not cars exhale carbon monoxide CO (Bad)? I am not sure but comparing machines to living things different? Is CO2 a green house gas also? If so should we limit the growth of the human population to save the planet also?
My chemistry is week. However, this "Nathan Fiala" is an economist not a chemist or biologist. After all, Does any economist of this world know what they are saying, let alone how this world operates?
Just wondering ........ Dan
--
Garden in Zone 5 South East Michigan.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

of it, our blood would acidify and we would die.

back and forth. The plants use the CO2 to make sugar, which is turned into wood.

organic.

Instead of suppressing gay marriages, maybe we should encourage them as a way to reduce population growth ;O)

Tell everyone you meet not to fart, because if they do, the terrorists win ;O)

--

Billy
Republican and Democratic "Leadership" Behind Bars
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article

So the human/animal and plant relationship is strong. So we, as gardeners can grow more plants which will help our environment. Then the natural Carbon dioxide CO2 can be countered with more plants.
Tax the hell out of fossil fuels and tax breaks and subsidies for clean energy (if such a thing exist). As far as I know there nothing that can counter carbon monoxide CO.
As for population growth, I lean towards economic means, the more kids you have, the higher your taxes for the rest of the parents lives. I do like the phrase "Good ideas are where you find them". However, One persons "good idea" maybe a "bad idea" to others. I am sure the person who just had 8 kids on top of 6 more kids will hate my tax idea of raising taxes on the more kids parents have (In her case "the more kids ONE have").
As for gay marriages or singles, should they be allowed to have kids; cloning, adoption or envitro? I say yes, if they have the money and raise their taxes! Single people that never had kids, pay little to no taxes.
One note: Taking the Master Gardener class this winter, has to be one of the best decisions I made in the last few years. Learning allot about gardening and most of it is in the area in which I live within. The massive book alone was worth the money, It has to be the best book on gardening I have ever read.
Enjoy Life ....
--
Garden in Zone 5 South East Michigan.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Sort of reminds me of 1500 Italy nobility or there about. Seems they thought the world was close to ending and upped to be childless. They self imposed extinction.
I have 5 kids. My brother 2 children and my sister 2. My wife has two brothers and one sister. One brother has 1 and other brother has 2 and sister has none.
So my 5 kids vs.
My brother 2 My sister 1 due to car accident Wife brother has 1 Wife brother has 2 Wife sister 0
So it is 5 to 6 in favor of propagation.
Only if it was just math.
My 35 and youngest 25 are not married and have no children and time and economics seem more effective than planned parenthood. I really do not think I will be a grandparent.
I want grand kids. So far just one grandchild but not in my line.
Kiss off :))
Bill
--
Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA






Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Nothing finer in life than stirring up a hornets nest :)
I expected most people would hate the tax idea. After all who wants to be taxed? The true answer to over population is that most people will have to suffer starvation and die in poverty. Like every one else, we live in a selfish world, not to give up anything for the betterment of the world. It is basic Darwinism, survival of the fittest.
Enjoy Life ... Dan :)
--
Garden in Zone 5 South East Michigan.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population>
--
Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA






Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

it in the atmosphere, we would all be dead.

suffer from her monumental, egregious, egotistic stupidity. We may have to emulate the draconian measures that the Chinese took to save the planet from selfish people like this woman.

gays.
that in America, we are all supposed to be equal. Single people and childless couples already pay property taxes which support schools.

Care to share any of your learning? What was the cost?

Hoping to start germinating this week end.
--

Billy
Republican and Democratic "Leadership" Behind Bars
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article

Cost $250, this includes the 800+ page local book, 12 four hour classes and try to volunteer 40 hours of public garden service to the community.
Classes; Plant Science, Soils, Vegetable Culture, Plant Diagnostics, Flowers, Woody Ornamentals, Backyard Fruits, Lawn, Household Pest, Indoor plants, Composting/Water Quality, Plant Health Care and Volunteerism.
The best part the information is mostly local. So far, I am half way. I learned a little about; Botany, taking soil samples, when and how to prune, fertilizers (Good and Bad), tools and their uses and care and what grows well here. Also tends provide local sources for garden supplies. The course also cover organic methods and chemicals methods.
A very enjoyable and informative course. I should have taken this course years ago. Also includes first year membership into the local Master Gardener club. Looking forward to attending my first meeting next week.

I do believe I read somewhere here, you (Billy) also attend Master Garden meetings?
Enjoy Life ... Dan
--
Garden in Zone 5 South East Michigan.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've not had the pleasure of attending Master Gardeners classes but they are a phone call away if I want their input on some question. Unfortunately, they are 0 for 2 so far. 1) What would grow well with potatoes and blueberries both of which like a low pH (4.5 - 5.5)? I got a list of plants and their pH requirements but nothing else seems to go this low. 2) My second question had to do with the potential of soil contamination from fish emulsion (mercury, PCBs, DDT, PBDEs, and dioxins).
It sounds as if you are taking interesting and practical classes, good for you :O)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co-operation_(evolution)
Here in northern California, spring is gone and winter has returned. Predicted to be overcast and rainy until the 27 of February.
--

Billy
Kleptocrats Behind Bars
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dan L. wrote:

Yes, it is essential that we do so, the same with other animals.

Yes. Put very simply animals and plants consume each other's by products, it's a good system.

Only small amounts, mainly they burn hydrocarbons (petrol, diesel) with oxygen to give carbon dioxide. The CO2 has the major greenhouse effect compared to CO.

You can compare living and non-living things in their contribution or consumption of greenhouse gasses (well any gasses really) in the atmosphere. Rather than say one is 'good' and the other 'bad' you need to look at the numbers and evaluate the net effect. Which isn't at all easy. Net effect of balance and stability = things go much as they are Net effect of imbalance and instability = rapid change = collapse human society as we know it.

Yes indeed. So is methane which is more significant per molecule, it is produced by bogs, ruminants (cattle) and coal mines amongst many things.

In the long term this is an essential part of the solution because we have many effects on the earth other than greenhouse gasses, many resources that we need are running out and many pollutants that we make, including greenhouse gasses, are harming the environment. You can reduce the rate of using up resources and generating pollutants per head but unless you do something about the number of heads too you are only delaying the date of collapse as you cannot reach stability.
Those who suggest that there is no need to limit human population (say because of technological advances) will find that it is limited for them, or for their descedants, nontheless. It will be limted by the Four Horsemen.

You do have to wonder.
David
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

We can not damage the earth, we can only damage ourselves. The planet will heal itself its just a matter of time.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I totally disagree with that statement. Humans can most certainly damage the Earth! I believe it is possible with modern technology to slam the moon into the Earth and say "bye bye Earth". Other methods may be possible as well. Now where did I put that ice-nine? (A Kurt Vonnegut Fan).
Enjoy Life ... Dan
--
Garden in Zone 5 South East Michigan.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.