The Impact of Livestock on Climate Change

Spurned by our brief discussion on the impact cows and methane have on the climate, I wanted to learn a little bit more about their impact.  I came across an article on “time for change” that elaborates on the issue.   The big talking point of the article for me was the fact that “agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases world-wide.”  This is a big number, and I never realized the scale of the impact livestock had on greenhouse emissions.  This is a tricky subject, as humans are unlikely to decrease their meat consumption, and cows are used for other products such as milk as well.  As the population of the world goes up, this number is likely to increase, as a larger population means there is a larger demand livestock.

The article explains that “global meat production is expected to double from 229 million tons to 580 million tons in 2050.”  Furthermore “a kg of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount emitted by a European car for 250 km.” They put forth a table that breaks down where the CO2 comes from.  The message of the article: humans need to consume less meat and dairy in order to lower these numbers and the impact of climate change.

4 thoughts on “The Impact of Livestock on Climate Change

  1. I did not realize the extent to how much C02 beef emits, and that is it even comparable to 250 km in a car. It is interesting because humans use our best agricultural land for meat production rather than harvesting crops despite the detrimental effects it has on the environment. However, due to your point about agriculture contributing to 18% of fossil fuel emission, it is too simple to say that eating less meat and growing more crops instead would lower the effects of greenhouse gases.

  2. This is something I found incredibly shocking and thought provoking. With people taking on new dietary trends such as veganism and a more plant based diet, many think that these practices are done so to have a more healthy diet. However, I personally never connected this thought to just how much it impacts the environment we live in. What do you think would be the tipping point to show people just how much livestock and agriculture contribute to our changing global climate? Do you think it’s because people simply don’t see the effects, or because they are not educated enough to know that eating meat and supporting this lifestyle is what’s causing a great deal of the problem?

  3. It is shocking to see how greatly cows contribute to CO2 emissions. How our consumption of one animal and its by-products are so negatively affecting our globe. Although I was aware of how much of an impact there is, I still eat meat and dairy products. However, many of my friends and people I know are vegetarians not because of dietary restrictions or because they want to protect the cow necessarily, but solely from an environmentalist point of view. Many of my friends will not consume or purchase beef products in order to try and reduce their carbon footprint. Although I commend them for doing so, I also agree with you that generally people are unlikely to change their eating habits for environmental change.

  4. This topic interests me a lot and is very similar to my blog post. I am very glad to see how much you focused on this topic because it not only illustrates how much CO2 and CH4 is emitted by cattle specifically, but it also shows the broader effect of the livestock industry on the environment. This issue is especially pressing where I am from so I am very happy to see that the news is spreading about how detrimental the livestock industry really is to our planet.

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