Archive for category Climate Change

Food, Climate Change and Choices


Background

This post is prompted by a number of things coming together:

  • The diagram from the Times online Where’s the beef diagram? and this article Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet.
  • The Mythbusters show on Saturday, again cows and methane.
  • Methane is a much worse greenhouse gas than CO2 . (3 times as bad, but I’m probably wrong on the factor).
  • And a couple of little facts (or maybe assertions which need to be researched and proved )
    • North American Bison produce far less methane than cows,
    • Kangaroos (pound for pound) produce far less methane than cows or sheep.
    • Alpacas and Lamas (pound for pound) produce far less methane than cows or sheep.
  • Shellfish shells are made of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3Wikipedia – Calcium Carbonate ) – That’s 3 CO (as in CO2 ) used making it.
  • Bioengineering is making progress in producing “red meat in a Petri dish”. Acceptance of this technology as a food source is probably the biggest hurdle confronting the introduction of the technology.

My Personal Preference

  • I love read meat. I’m NOT giving up having red meat in my diet to save the planet. Not that I eat red meat daily, but I do enjoy it when I do eat it.

Flaws in the arguments

  • The proposition that one must become a vegetarian to save the planet is obviously fallacious. There are other sources of red meat which do far less damage to the environment (methane production) than cows and sheep. Switching to these would allow anyone to remain omnivorous and ease the impact of a vital source of protein in the human diet on the environment.

Strategy to “save the planet” and keep red meat in your diet.

Start switching to lower methane red meat (kangaroo, buffalo/bison, lama, alpaca, and there are bound to be more), but do it gradually.

As the market economists will tell you. You will be sending a signal into the market that alternatives to beef are starting to gain greater acceptance in the market. The greater consumption of the non-beef red meat alternatives prompt producers to start switching to produce more of non-beef alternatives.

Start eating more shellfish like mussels or oysters. Once again maybe only once a week to start with. Again a gradual increase in consumption should prompt the cultivation of more of the shellfish. Throw the shells into the bin, they will end up being buried, and by burying the shells we storing some of those nasty CO’s in the ground, locked up for quite a while.

Actions Required Personally

  • In Australia eat kangaroo meat in preference to beef (once a week to start with).
  • In the US eat buffalo in preference to beef (once a week to start with).
  • Treat yourself to shellfish (mussels or oysters) (once a week to start with).

Conclusion

  • Red meat from cattle may well be a big source of methane, and methane is a very bad greenhouse gas.
  • There are alternatives to beef which can be produced from animals which produce significantly less methane than cattle.
  • Starting to switch way from beef, gradually, is possible today.
  • Increasing, or adding, shellfish to your diet will help reduce the quantity of greenhouse CO2  in the atmosphere.
  • Keep an open mind to trying “synthetic meat” when it becomes available.

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