Beef: As Bad For the Environment As the Hummer?

by | Feb 17, 2009

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beefWhen it comes to global warming, Hamburgers are the Hummers of food. That’s because beef is an inefficient food to produce and cows release a large amount of methane into the atmosphere, according to Nathan Pelletier of Dalhousie University in Canada, AP reports.

Although beef only accounts for 30 percent of meat consumption in the developed world, it’s responsible for 78 percent of the emissions. A single kilogram of beef produces 16 kilograms CO2 equivalent emissions: four times higher than pork and more than ten times more than a kilogram of poultry, said Pelletier.

If meat consumption in the developed world was cut from the current level of about 90 kilograms per year, to the recommended level of 53 kilograms annually, meat associated emissions would drop by 44 percent, Pelletier told Science News.

“Switching to no red meat and no dairy products is the equivalent of (cutting out) 8,100 miles driven in a car,” Chris Weber, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University told AP.

Last summer, the EPA warned the dairy industry that it would soon start regulating GHG emissions. Farmers began lobbying fiercely against the potential “cow tax” which would tax them for the methane that livestock emit.

In the UK, some farmers have put their cows on a special diet in order to reduce GHG emissions.

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