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back to article 'Go veggie to save the planet' UN, EU plans debunked

Yet more United Nations analysis of the measures necessary to combat climate change has come under fire from scientists. This time, rather than the (in)famous 2007 assessment report from the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the criticism is levelled at a 2006 report called Livestock's Long Shadow issued by the …

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Anonymous Coward

In vitro

Best solution would be for in-vitro meat. Still in its early stages but give it 15 years and it shouldn't be too hard to produce lab meat farms.

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ewwww....

Sorry, but....<barf>.

If it's anything as bad/artificial as Quorn, I'll be fishing out my longest barge pole.

I know it's wikipedia, but browse here for a total gross-out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn

Doesn't most of the flavour/texture of "proper" beef come from the cattles' diet and activity regime anyway? Not something you can replicate in a vat, I suspect.

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@anon

I'm sure they could try to approximate physical activity with electrical current, like those free exercise belts for lazy people.

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Coat

The prof is speaking sense...

... so there's no chance the UN IPCC will take any notice whatsoever!

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Anonymous Coward

Talking Sense?

Is he? How can you tell? There's no data. Just assertions from one person who might be a chemist, but doesn't therefore necessarily know anything about anything. Even if the entirety of American Chemistry Magazine supports him ... so fucking what? More boffins don't. I know y'all don't like it, but science _is_ done on consensus (*). Maths might be objective - might - but tying maths to words ain't. I'm guessing he's talking "sense" because he agrees with your opinion, and I'm also going to guess that your opinion is based on a few articles you've read that agreed with your opinion, and so on, and so on. A science fail to you, the "boffin", the author, most of the non-scientific IT-tards one finds here, etc.

Or perhaps you all believe in Steady State theory and Hidden Variables, just because some other people do.

Right, I'm off to tell Physics that its nonsensical Quantum Mechanics is clearly leftist agit-prop. Although ... which one? Whither truth?

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Anonymous Coward

Howework

"The prof says that in the United States, the true picture is that transportation accounts for 26 per cent of greenhouse emissions and cattle and pig farming just three per cent. It makes little sense therefore for wealthy westerners ..."

Fun fact. The US is really big. USians like to drive a lot. USians will drive for fucking hours in a way that most other westerners don't and won't. Oh dear, I'm sorry, I appear to have broken your model.

Is he still talking sense? It took me five seconds of actual reading to spot that. Now you have a go.

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WTF?

Dumb

To be honest... if you really believe that eating a lot of meat is good for the planet, you should be taken out and shot.. or eaten. Fudd at it's best.

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@Dirk

Well, eating a lot of veggies reduces CO2 uptake, so you should be shot too. (Assuming of course that the CO2 footprint of the firearm discharge doesn't displace the savings.)

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Less Meat, Less Heat

Presumably if we turned that on its head and ate more meat, we'd eventually end up with self-cooking steaks.

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Bad science reporting

whether livestock is more or less harmful than transport is not in the least bit relevant.

I'm not sure why it was ever mentioned, and I'm not sure why this comparison being inaccurate alters peoples opinions about the environmental impact of eating meat.

Surely the only relevant comparison is between the environmental impact of x calories of animal based food (meat) against the same calorie value of vegetable.

Any other numbers mentioned are just there because people want to confuse the issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Honest presentation is vital

@Shaper: "whether livestock is more or less harmful than transport is not in the least bit relevant."

Understanding the relative harmfulness of any activity is of vital importance. Without this, the data will lead to the inevitable conclusion that humans are bad for the environment. Some people have actually come to that conclusion, but I think it's about as logical as believing that life is bad for your health (which is also true, but meaningless).

If we are destroying our planet - and we also need to be sure this is really the case - we must very clear about how and why it is happening. Otherwise, we will only exhaust our efforts on activities that assuage our guilt but do nothing to remedy the underlying problems. In other words, we will continue destroying the world but feel much better about it. Worse, we may fall victim to those who exploit any popular concern or belief for their own ends.

I am increasingly concerned that science is becoming a puppet in the hands of people who are either seeking power or peddling some ideology (or both). If the public is fed a constant stream of data presented as fact, and a significant proportion of that information is subsequently exposed as misleading or false, all scientific study will be tarred with the same brush.

If we studied the problem honestly, we might discover that eating meat fits into the normal 'circle of life'. But we might also discover that our whole economic model of mass manufacture, consumption, and disposal doesn't add up - and then what would we do?

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Important

It is important to know the comparative impact of our actions to know where to target CO2 savings. If we don't do this we could end up spending a lot of time and effort on totally useless things like changing all the light bulbs in the world for mercury polluting ones.

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Anonymous Coward

Dodgy numbers.

The dodgiest bit of these dodgy numbers is that they included greenhouse gas emissions from every little step of the process of meat getting to your plate, even though most of those apply equally to veggies. After all the average carrot does not jump out of a field and fly to your plate, arriving magically prepared.

And as for cow farts, aren't they offset by vegetarian farts?

In all seriousness however I am getting sick of all the pseudo science surrounding the global warming debate. If we accept for a moment that human activity is causing global warming many of the methods we are encouraged to use to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions simply do not add up. And the main reason for this is that the people dreaming up these methods are either not qualified to do so or have a vested interest.

Surely everybody is aware that scrapping an old car and buying a new one will do much more harm to the environment in the short term than continuing to run the old one, even with it's higher emissions.We all know the manufacture and transport of the new car causes more harm to the environment than driving an older car for years, but somehow we allow politicians to push things like the scrappage scheme as an enviromental solution.

And then there's the fact that big business and politicians use the issue of global warming to sweep other environmental problems under the carpet. Remember when "pollution" meant all sorts of nasty emissions? These days it just means greenhouse gas. Or rather a very select group of greenhouse gasses. It seems that politicians and their pet scientists don't want us to know about some greenhouse gasses. Water vapour? Nah, that's not a greenhouse gas. Is it?

How long before the catalytic converter comes under fire because it reduces fuel economy and so increases the emissions of CO2? On the other hand we're expected to turn a blind eye to the mercury used in "low energy" lightbulbs. And if we don't we're told it's not a problem because there's a tiny amount of mercury in each bulb and they last for ages so disposal isn't a problem. Except they don't last nearly as long as is claimed. And what happens when a factory making the bulbs manages to spill it's entire stock of mercury into the water table? That's not a problem, because mercury isn't a greenhouse gas.

Maybe one day we'll be allowed an open and honest debate on global warming and the causes thereof where interested parties actually present us with facts and figures and not leave anything out. I'm not going to hold my breath while I wait.

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"we all know..."

Dodgy indeed. You're asking for it by starting a sentence with that phrase.

First, the manufacturing of a reasonably modern car accounts for < 10% of its total energy requirement over its lifetime, assuming recycled rather than new aluminium and a lifespan of 120,000 miles (1). So if you scrap after 60,000 miles instead and your new car is > 20% more efficient, teh back of my envelope says it should be a net win.

Second, CFL lights contain about 4mg of mercury - compare that to estimated lethal dose of 10-60mg/kg (2), and mercury in a kg of trout of about 1.3mg (3).

Open and honest debates start with you checking your figures before you spout off, sunshine.

(1) http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/433981.html - yes it's google answers, but don't knock it until you've read it.

(2) http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/advice/mercupd.pdf

(3) http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/lmmb/results/mercury/index.html

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There must be a tipping point, though

"Surely everybody is aware that scrapping an old car and buying a new one will do much more harm to the environment in the short term than continuing to run the old one, even with it's higher emissions.We all know the manufacture and transport of the new car causes more harm to the environment than driving an older car for years, but somehow we allow politicians to push things like the scrappage scheme as an enviromental solution."

That may be true for the short term, but what about the longer term? And don't forget that environmental issues are not the only concern.

I was chatting to a mate just last week about his >10 year old car and it turned out that he was getting less than half the mpg that I do with my ~2 year old car. So, yes, my car will have had a much greater environmental effect in the short term, but in the longer term his is using up a finite resource twice as fast as mine is and probably putting quite a few more bad things into the environment while it does it.

The scrappage scheme is intended to get cars like his off the road not just because of the general environmental impact but also to reduce the rate we use up our resources. The age limit is a rough estimate of when the average car starts causing more problems than are solved by building and running a new one.

I know the politicians are touting it as an environmental idea, but that's only part of the overall picture.

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Scrappage scheme is a pile of shite...

I'd bet your mates car is twice the size of your car, or has way more power.

My small family sized diesel car is ten years old and manages about 50mpg. While not a class beater any more, you have to search quite far to actually find one that's doing much more than 60mpg.

Even then most of the time, the modern figures are actually so far out it's laughable.

I regularly drive hire cars for my job. I recently discovered it's possible to achieve 30mpg out of a so called brand new Eco fiesta.

I really see no evidence that modern cars are really any more efficient than cars from 20 years ago. Regardless of what the published MPG figures are showing.

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Anonymous Coward

Official MPG

The "official" mpg figures are, as you say, laughable. The reason for this is that the simulated cycle has to apply to all vehicles. It matters not whether a vehicle will do 0-60 in under four seconds the simulated cycle calls for the car to accelerate very slowly. I don't recall the actual figures, but it's something like accelerating to 50mph in 25 seconds.

You might think this favours high performance cars, but it does an awful lot for economy cars. In everyday driving you seldom get to drive pedal to the metal. Normally you accelerate at a speed dictated by the traffic, so a high performance car will be accelerating on a whiff of throttle and there will be little difference between the official figure and the real world figure. An supposedly economical car will often need to be thrashed to keep up with the traffic and will, as a result, achieve worse economy in the real world than the official figures would lead you to expect. Stand a hundred yards downstream of a busy junction and the cars you hear revving hard will be economy models, most larger cars will be emitting little more than tyre noise. Until recently we had two cars, a Daihatsu Cuore and a Mitsubishi Lancer. The Lancer generally achieves 37-40mpg, which is similar to the official figure. The Daihatsu, however, only managed 40-44mpg which is a long way short of it's official figure. Why would that be then? Well driving the two cars at the same constrant speed would require a similar amount of power (slightly more for the larger, heavier Mitsubishi) modern engines being as efficient as they are the SHC would be very similar. Accelerating the two cars at the same rate would also require a similar amount of power, this time the weight of the Mitsubishi would be more telling. Most people drive at the same rate whatever vehicle they are in and nobody, except the drunk old feller I was following last night, drives at the rate dictated by the official simulated driving cycle.

Remember when the emphasis was placed on mpg at a constant 56mph? What happened hthen was that manufacturers who wanted to sell economy would set up their cars to be most efficient at that speed, fiddling with gearing and ignition timing and fueling to achieve it. I remember one small french car that had a hole in it's power deliver in the mid fifties in top gear. Probably not a coincidence.

The search for ever higher official mpg figures also means that gearing is getting higher and higher. I recently had a brand new coutesy car which according to most of the spec should have been reasonably nippy, however I found that on the motorway it would not accelerate at all in top gear under most circumstances. Similarly it could not hold top gear on any uphill sections. Any acceleration or hill climbing at all required that I change down a gear or two. Checking the specs in more datail showed that it was geared so high that even the engine fro top of the range hot hatch could not have hit peak power in top. I wonder if this stupid effective overdrive and it's attendant requirement to use the lower gears resulted in real world economy figures that were worse than they would have been had a more sensible gear ratio been installed. Luckilly I only had the car for two days so I didn't get to do any measurements of mpg. Just as well though, I couldn't have lived with it any longer. You may find it hard to believe but switching on the air con at seventy actually made it slow down.

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Wrong

"I'd bet your mates car is twice the size of your car, or has way more power."

Actually, no. His is a small hatchback and mine is a large saloon. We calculated the figures from miles travelled and amount of fuel put in at the pump.

So none of this was from published MPG figures.

And before you ask, neither vehicle has any modifications, they're both standard trim.

I get between 44-48mpg and he gets 21-24mpg. Undoubtedly we're not comparing like-for-like conditions and driving styles, but I'd really expect the figures to be the other way around (or even somewhere in the middle).

N.B. He doesn't use his car for work, he isn't driving in heavy traffic conditions. He's generally using it to ferry family members around in the evenings and weekends. Also his wife does not drive so he's the only one using the car.

As you may have noticed, this was not a scientific experiment carried out under rigorous test conditions, we merely compared how much fuel he had used for how far he had driven to my own figures because during a casual conversation we spotted that he was spending around the same on fuel that I was despite not driving nearly as much.

So, going back to my original point, your car would indeed be a poor example to put in the scrappage scheme, but his would not. Do you see how this works?

As I said, this was intended to be a "best guess", they could just have easily picked 12 years, 15 or even 8.

Yes, there is no guarantee that if my mate scrapped his car for a new one that he would do any better, but since he commented that he seemed to be spending a lot more on fuel these days it seems likely that he would, he doesn't think there is much change in the driving he does do so it looks like a problem with the car itself - which may, of course be fixable.

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Said prof is playing accounting games

Because the "lifecycle" GHG footprint for beef is large, rather than take the trouble to equalize the comparisons by computing the lifecycle cost of transport, he instead omits it altogether.

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FAIL

Report misses the point

The ACS report shows that the UN got the denominator wrong - the amount of greenhouse gases resulting from transportation. But it has not changed the figures for greenhouse gas production from meat production - the numerator. The ratio has changed, but the damage from converting 10 tons of vegetable protein to 1 ton of beef is unchanged.

The correct comparison is between CO2 + CH4 emissions from all stages in meat production, to that from eating vegetables directly, without feeding them to animals first.

The correct response is to eat meet from animals grazed on grassland (we cannot eat grass), but to avoid meat fed on feed that we could eat directly: such as a typical Chinese diet with small amounts of meat providing variety in vegetarian dishes.

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Badgers

closer but not quite there

The correct comparison would be which of the following generates how much GHG:

a. Wilderness of various kinds including wetlands.

b. Arable farming

c. Livestock farming based on grassland suitable for arable

d. Livestock farming based on grassland unsuitable for arable

e.Livestock farming based on grain fed livestock.

As I understand it wet wilderness generates a great deal of GHG. We call methane "marsh gas" because that is how methane occurs in nature. Clearly draining wetlands, which has occurred extensively to provide agricultural land removes natural sources of GHG, as well as destroying a great deal of biodiversity. But we do need scientifically motivated and full comparisons here, not religiously motivated selective ones coming from those who imagine vegetarianism to be holier than meat eating so report science selectively in order to impose their religious views upon others.

Badgers, because badgers, rabbits and wild animals fart too.

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Paris Hilton

Speaking as a militant carnivore

I for one welcome this rubbishing of the limp-wristed, namby-pamby views of the veggie minority

However I don't like this bit: "A better plan, he argues, would be to encourage more efficient animal farming techniques as developed in the rich world" - in other words let's get the developing world to bring in battery farming. In my (totally unscientific opinion with no basis in fact other than my own experience) this usually results in poor quality meat with virtually no flavour - you might as well be eating tofu.

Paris because - she knows what it's like to put some meat in her mouth

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Happy

Knock it off!

I'm a six foot tall, built like a brick-outhouse Veggie, weighing around 16st.

I avoid meat simply to keep my weight under control and it helps maintain a more health digestive system ( the gas aside!! ).

Please drop this crap about Veggies being palid, 8 stone wimps, there are a lot of us who will drink and fight with the best and happily give ass-whooping to anyone who calls us wimps! We just don't like eating the fluffy baa-lambs or moo-cows, in fact anything with a face basically!

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Happy

I have to report that

we carnivores are still both bigger and more efficient, requiring less mass per day than a veggie to operate. This means I can be hitting more people throughout the day than you.

Oh, and being four inches bigger helps with reach, too ;)

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Stop

Bloody veggie crap

Of course McCartney was only peddling this crap for the good of the planet, and nothing to do with his late wife's business of flogging disgusting meatless pap.

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Grenade

Never mind the CO2 argument...

‘ "Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries," Mitloehner says’

Really ??? Not according to other scientists...

“Most of the cereal production in the United States, Canada, Russian Federation and Australia ... is used to feed livestock which are used for dairy products, eggs or slaughtered for meat. This process of creating food is highly inefficient...the efficiency of animals to assimilate food energy is less than 10 %. In fact, it takes about 16 kg of grain and soybeans to produce 1 kg of edible beef. “ (Source : http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~kagan/phy367/P367_articles/Agriculture/210-4-4-3.html )

So, let’s assume that the 350 million Americans all eat meat all the time (a reasonable assumption, I’d say). If they all went veggie, the amount of grain/soy freed up would feed 16 x 350 million people = 5.6 billion (fairly close to the current world population).

Therefore, my conclusion is that there aren’t “too many people on the planet” (as the ‘maximum population’ axegrinders allege). The problem is, there are too many Americans.

(Ok – “people living an Americanised lifestyle”, which includes most of us Brits and Yurpeans.)

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IR

Selective data

You've pretty much ignored the fact that there is a lot more energy in 1kg of beef than there is in grain. So you are going to have to cut your population numbers by at least two thirds. And it ignores the actual nutritional needs of people.

Why is everyone concentrating so much on beef anyway? Chicken is far more efficient use of grain to meat. The cattle farms around me all use grass-fed cows, at least from spring to autumn, on land that is useless for growing crops.

I'm doubting that the cow-efficiency report included the reduction in CO2 caused by the growing plants too.

However, I do agree on your last point - too many Americans.

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One scientist's counter-opinion == debunk?

Is El Reg now the climate-sceptic version of Auntie Beeb's unquestioning one-sided climate-change propaganda? Or is this just an example of lazy reporting and a leftover from Copenhagen kept for a slow-news day?

El Reg brought valuable balance to reporting of Climategate, but some analysis of how Mitloehner's methodology and funding compare to the 2006 IPCC report instead of simply repeating his criticisms and conclusions as 'truth' would have been welcome

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FAIL

The Reg Denial Desk strikes again!

When choosing your basis selectively, you can probably prove what ever you want. It's plain, though, that the methods used to raise meat have a direct effect on how much effluent is produced. Industrial methods are worse for the environment than traditional methods — adding in not just greenhouse gases, but things like manure lagoons (manure that might otherwise be spread on fields as fertilizer).

Then there is the matter of how many pounds of grain (industrial meat is grain-fed, traditional is usually grass-fed, which is what cattle evolved to eat) it takes to make a pound of meat.The number varies between 2 and 20 lbs, depending on how you count. There is a good analysis at http://www.extension.org/faq/4027.

A detailed 1978 study sponsored by the Departments of Interior and Commerce showed that the value of raw materials consumed to produce food from livestock is greater than the value of all oil, gas, and coal consumed in this country.[1] Expressed another way, one-third of the value of all raw materials consumed for all purposes in the United States is consumed in livestock foods [2]

As for whether transport is better or worse, can't we just agree that we have problems with both?

===========

[1] Raw Materials in the United States Economy 1900-1977; Technical paper 47, prepared under contract by Vivian Eberle Spencer, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Mines, p. 3.

[2] Ibid. Table 2, p. 86.

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Boffin

Speaking of choosing your basis selectively...

You've conveniently selected OUT the value of end product from your comparison.

From the website you linked to, the majority of cattle (industrial or traditional) is fed grass, not grain, for the majority of their weight, only being grain fed for "finishing" (~1/4 to 1/2 of their weight.) The article also points out the illogicality of using pound-of-grain to pound-of-meat comparisons, because even food cattle is used for more than food: "We utilize the entire animal, but not all for food..." -- to lay all of the raw materials cost on only one end product is an accounting fallacy.

Finally, 1/3 of the value of all raw materials used in the US between 1900-1977 went into livestock foods. But how much value came out of it? In other words, did 1/3 of raw materials go into livestock foods because they're expensive in terms of resources, or because livestock foods equates to about 1/3 of the value of US production of that time period? I believe a general understanding of capitalism will suffice to answer that question without the need for detailed research.

The facts you've presented simply prove that livestock food production was, between 33 and 110 years ago, a significant part of US GDP. They say little to nothing to the efficiency or ecological effects of that industry, either then or now, which was the primary tenet of your secondary premise.

So you chose your basis selectively and still failed to prove anything, which contradicts your primary premise.

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And yet....

The debunking doesn't examine the other, less contentious threat: water.

Whether anthropogenic or merely part of the Earth's natural cycle, the climate is changing and water is becoming harder to get in many parts of the world (just ask a Cypriot). (Of course, a lot of our water use is again for everyday things like washing and healthcare...) Anyhow, the water cost of livestock rearing is higher than the producing the equivalent amount of edible vegetable matter.

I'm not a veggie and I don't intend to turn veggie, but I do recognise that our meat consumption is much higher than in previous generations. Some people now even have meat in every meal -- sausages for breakfast, burger for lunch, lamb curry for dinner. I don't consider it turning "part veggie" if I have a bowl of porridge for breakfast and a pasta salad for lunch. I don't consider it turning "part veggie" if I go for a whole day -- or even two days, or three -- without meat.

Sustainability is not a matter of forcing ourselves to underconsume, but rather a matter of not allowing ourselves to overconsume.

No-one is advocating stopping washing, just not having two or three showers a day.

Very few people advocate not having cars, just not using them to go half-a-mile down the road for a carton of milk or on a route with a perfectly good bus or train service.

Same should apply to meat and dairy.

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WTF?

o rly?

"Anyhow, the water cost of livestock rearing is higher than the producing the equivalent amount of edible vegetable matter."

Where did you get this data? A quick séance with Linda McCartney?

It's true, in a climate which is regarded as "temperate". It's horribly untrue anywhere else. Generally, meat crops in the Middle East and North Africa are about 30% more efficient in terms of water usage. And please bear in mind that all those hot countries are where the poor people live.

Unless they don't matter, of course.

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FAIL

Doesn't add up

"Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries," Mitloehner says. "The developed world should focus on increasing efficient meat production in developing countries where growing populations need more nutritious food. In developing countries, we should adopt more efficient, Western-style farming practices to make more food with less greenhouse gas production."

This sounds reasonable if you're unaware of the problem that farmed cows and pigs eat more food than they produce. Keep a few chickens, a goat, maybe a pig fed on scraps, and you can increase the amount of available food, but commercially farm large mammals and you end up using more food to feed them than they produce. Grow food and feed it directly to people and you get much, much more.

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Coat

By-Product of Vegetarianism

Anyone wonder why cows fart so much?

Anyone have any ideas about "the stink-, er, dirty little secret" of the vegetarian diet?

If we all go veggie, will that actually decrease emissions, or just force us all to imbibe more fresh air by having to roll down the windows?

...mine's the one with the scorch marks in the back...

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Badgers

Sunk carbon costs?

Existing roads/factories have already been built, so their carbon cost is a sunk cost and surely irrelevant?

Maintenance of existing roads/factories is a relevant carbon cost, as is the impact of building new ones.

From a road transport point of view (as has been mentioned above), vegetables/tofu/soya beans do not fly to one's plate in the same way that cows/pigs/chickens don't, and so transport/harvesting/preparation icannot be a key differentiator

Steve

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So obvious it's wrong.

"as obvious as recycling or hybrid cars" - neither of which are particular good solutions. They both only seek to mitigate poor practice.

Rather than recycling rubbish we should try to limit the amount of rubbish we produce in the first place.

Rather than trying to reclaim wasted energy we should seek not to waste it in the first place.

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FAIL

How dumb is that?

It's been very clear that transportationa ccounts for more emissions than meat production.

However, this in no way changes the fact that meat production causes more emissions than production of vegetable foods.

This article is the equivalent of buying a SUV because air transport causes more emissions than car transport. "Obviously" the SUV is fine as long as you don't fly.

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Inefficient? Yes

No shit is feeding an animal, raising it, then slaughtering it less efficient than simply consuming the feed directly.

Doesn't take a study to figure that out.

That said, we do a lot of things that are inefficient just because we bloody well want to

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I have my food prepared in India

I buy superfluous body parts from Indian vegetarians. I could be sustained by eating vegetables myself but I choose not to. The meat is lean and generally free from developed world pollutants such as JCBs. An arm does meals for a whole week, and a leg, up to a month. Of course you can only do this if you've got a freezer. That probably has its own carbon footprint.

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Hang on

I'm no vegetarian, but this article seems to imply that animals do contribute to CO2, just not as high a % as originally stated when compared to transport. Therefore whether or not going veggie is as eco friendly as might first be thought, it does still reduce CO2 emissions.

Also I think transportation of goods is ignored far too much by governments. If something has to be shipped 15,000 miles in refrigeration containers (e.g. New Zealand lamb) then it obviously has more environmental impact than something sourced locally.

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Nope, wrong again.

Weehee, I'm on a roll today. To be fair this surprised me as well when I first heard it., but there's nowt obvious about this one either:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3294448.ece

Best link I could find but I've heard the same conclusion from different sources. Sea miles are actually pretty efficient, especailly when you take into account lower production costs (naturally occurring grass vs artificial feedstock).

Come on, who's next? Someone state another obvious fact!

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Hmm

Interesting article but I'd have to read the report rather than summary to understand how they reach their conclusions.

I wonder how lamb raised in Wales or elsewhere could possibly contribute more CO2 than lamb raised in New Zealand. I assume livestock in both countries would eat similar quantities of grass, crap similar quantities of crap, be reared in similar ways, be killed at similar points in their lives, be butchered in similar ways, be distributed in similar ways and be cooked in similar ways. Where does the higher contribution come from?

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Basically, we're f*cked.

We clear the rainforests of Indonesia to grow palm oil to make bio-fuel. clear the Amazon to create pasture land for beef, build huge boats to get every last fish out of the sea...

Climate scientists - had handy smokescreen for big business.

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Sir Paul went to the EU?

As one who has just returned from 3 days in Paris with a vegetarian, and various other trips to the continent in the past, I can safely say that telling a European to become a vegetarian is like telling them that English will become the only language of the EU...

Western vegetarianism seems to be the preserve of the English-speaking countries... not surprising, with our cultural ties to India and commonly-held views on how lovely our cuddly fluffy animals are.

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Pirate

May I nominate

the cowpocalypse graphic as "Graphic Of The Year"? Great work to whoever got the cow to stand that close to a flame.

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Deforestation?

I didn't see any mention of deforestation effects. It's mostly down to current trends in usage rather than any kind of underlying 'laws' of theoretical food production, but it should still be considered.

In Indonesia, huge tracts of rainforest are being cleared to farm soy. In Argentina, similarly large tracts are cleared for beef production, and they account for a weirdly large proportion of the world's beef. How do the two measure up against eachother in terms of environmental impact?

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Flame

lolz

except most that soya ends up as KFC farmed in poland!

flame for spicy hot wings...damn you hot wings!!!! i would be a veggie if it wasnt for you!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Riiight...

Has anyone done a study to see what the "emissions" of a vegitarian are? methane being the greenhouse gas in question...

This is total crap like saying riding your bike is green, when in fact it is not when you factor in the energy and food consumption required by humans to do it, not forgetting punctures and replacing tyres.

Why do people always think other ways are 100% green...

If goverments were really concerned about it they would be using nuclear power exclusivly or building hydro electic/geothermal power plants (forget wind it's crap). Either that or start killing the population with wars... that will take down the energy use.

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But in fact riding a bike IS green

And if you believed this article, that would make it only more green. Math omitted, but if you think a substantial amount of GHGs go into the manufacture of a tyre patch compared to what it takes to produce, maintain, and fuel a car, there's really no point bothering you with math anyway.

(The claims that cycling is "not green" depend upon (1) assuming that the cyclist eats only factory-farm beef for travel-fuel calories and (2) including the lifecycle costs of factory-farm beef in the GHG charge for that beef. Many foods, for example peanut butter, yield a 300-600 bicycle-passenger-miles-per-gallon energy equivalent (this includes the production cost of the peanut butter, which is low). The production costs of a bicycle itself are roughly proportional to the weight of the bicycle, hence 50-100x less than an automobile.)

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Can you provide a link?

"This is total crap like saying riding your bike is green, when in fact it is not when you factor in the energy and food consumption required by humans to do it, not forgetting punctures and replacing tyres."

I have never heard of any scientific study that suggests cycling is environmentally damaging. Can you cite something to back up your claim?

Any human activity will have some environmental impact, it's just cost/benefit analysis and working out who pays the cost and who gets the benefit.

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