Are cows the cause of global warming?

A cow does on overage release between 70 and 120 kg of Methane per year. Methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide (CO2). But the negative effect on the climate of Methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. Therefore the release of about 100 kg Methane per year for each cow is equivalent to about 2'300 kg CO2 per year.

Let's compare this value of 2'300 kg CO2: The same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) is generated by burning 1'000 liters of petrol. With a car using 8 liters of petrol per 100 km, you could drive 12'500 km per year (7'800 miles per year).

World-wide, there are about 1.5 billion cows and bulls. All ruminants (animals which regurgitates food and re-chews it) on the world emit about two billion metric tons of CO2-equivalents per year. In addition, clearing of tropical forests and rain forests to get more grazing land and farm land is responsible for an extra 2.8 billion metric tons of CO2 emission per year!

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases world-wide (this is more than the whole transportation sector). Cattle-breeding is taking a major factor for these greenhouse gas emissions according to FAO. Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO's Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report: "Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."

Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth's entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.


Are cows to blame for global warming? Are cattle the true cause for climate change?

We cannot deny that farming has a major impact on global warming. Since farming is basically serving the consumer's demand for food, we should look at our nourishment. With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.

A Japanese study showed that producing a kilogram of beef leads to the emission of greenhouse gases with a global warming potential equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2). It also releases fertilising compounds equivalent to 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate, and consumes 169 megajoules of energy (Animal Science Journal, DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2007.00457.x). In other words, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days (New Scientist magazine, 18 July 2007, page 15 ).

The following tables indicates the CO2 production in kg CO2 equivalents per kg of meat depending on the animal:

1 kg of meat from
produces kg CO2e
 beef 34.6
 lamb 17.4
 pork 6.35
 chicken 4.57

Source: Environmental Impacts on Food Production and Consumption.


Conclusion: Eat less meat and dairy products

The most important conclusion for ourselves is: Eat much less meat and dairy products. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce our personal carbon footprint and to generally reduce our personal negative impact on the environment.

Finally a quote from Albert Einstein (Nobel prize 1921): Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.


Report from FAO: LIVESTOCK'S LONG SHADOW, environmental issues and options




Okay, good point about the cows and such. But alot of people are noe going to cut down on their meat and dairy intakes. Plus, it is ridiculous to ask people to change their everyday lives like that. Some people cannot afford to eat anything other than cheap meat.
What really needs to be done, is more public transportation, less cars and gas stations, and people should not leave their computers, lights, cell phones, televisions, radios or anything else on at night when they goto bed. If people will start to do this(which I believe is reasonable to ask of them), then it will dramatically decrease the amount of energy Americans consume annually.


YOu didn't read the article?

I'm sorry, but you are incorrect in your statements....
It's NOT ridiculous to ask people to change their everyday lives like that... Especially when it could lead to a huge reduction in the Greenhouse gases that can do the most damage to the atmosphere/environment. In Times of war we are asked or even forced to change our way of every day life and that's not considered ridiculous.

Although I agree that we should cut down our energy consumption this article just proved that the methane gases produced by livestock and the other gases produced in deforestation for grazing and feeding said livestock can be much more dramatic to the environment and the REDUCTION of theses gases would more greatly reduce and benefit our fight on global warming and the environment.

Your ability to just write off the main part of this article because you think most people can't cut back on meat, or that you can't cut back on meat consumption, is appalling. I am not a vegetarian either, but I have reduced my dairy and Meat intake and also do the things that you suggested as well. You completely missed the point of this article and, sadly like someone of a religious faith, will pick and choose those things that are most Suitable for them and discard all other things and call them extreme or ridiculous. That reminds me of the "good christians" who go to church every sunday and say they are living the way of the bible because they donate money to the church and don't believe in swearing, but will gamble, mutilate their own body, and have no problem with the death penalty.

Visit a chicken "factory"(since they aren't farms) or a pig factory and see what they do there and see if you would even still want to eat meat that has been slaughtered and processed the "Business" way.

-Activist against Blatant Ignorance


i agree totally with you. if we change our life styles cause of war, then we should if our world can come to an end. yes, everyone is telling us to cut down on our electric use, but this is what really is effecting our earth. we should pay more attention to what greenhouse gases we are emmiting not just the electricity. same here. im not a vegatarian but i've cut back on my meat consumption just because this article made me open my eyes to how bad it really is. im not saying to stop eating meat, just to be more aware and try to cut down. yes i am a christian but i do not go to church every sunday, but i understand catholisim but i also understand that somethings are wrong, and this is you should try ur hardest to cut down on meat consumption please u dont no what it does cause u guys missed so much of the article commenting on how ridiculos it is

bottom line please try and cut down for our earths sake

Umm.. for the Earth?

Whatever you are doing will neither help nor harm the earth over the long term. Only species living on earth will be affected, including humans. Earth will abide, and will outlive humanity by a long shot. We are a passing fancy on the timeline of the earth. The arrogance that humans have-- that we control the long term fate of the earth itself-- is laughable. If you want to save the planet for humans... fine. But don't pretend that the earth won't re-make its landscape thousands and millions of times during its existence.

It will and the human race

It will and the human race won't be part of the remake.

farmer rodger

i'm a farmer

ur point buddy

u got something else to say to us besides I'M A FARMER

I am a farmer too

I am a farmer too


I'm into bio-mass (farming) too.


I be da bio-mass man (farming) too.

I'm a farmer

I'm Spartacus


Cheese is good. Whoever agrees, say MANGO

cheese is killing humans.

cheese is killing humans.





my name jeff

im a farmer

Wow why you got to pick on us Christians

I totally agree with you. Those Factorys are horible we all should start by having one meatless day a week. That would be huge. Why did you have to bring the christian thing into it. Im catholic and I didnt have to put down your religion. Maybe you should look at some better christians instead of the ones that misrepresent us. Your not very nice mister Ignorance.

Not all Christians follow the book!

They weren't putting down your religion. Only making a point that some people say they are something but only choose to follow the parts they want to... as in give money and go on sunday but not ALL the rules. Thats all, no down on your God, just those who pick and choose the rules that are convenient for them.

"no down on your God?"

Yes I agree with you that it was not intended to put down Christians. But, let us be reminded we only have one God.
It was just giving a simple example of an attitude of a human. Regardless of what religions we belong. The bottom line is that we are the one who do the actions and decide what we think right and good for us. However, we Christians has this Holy Bible book to guide us what is right and what is wrong in the face of our Creator. Let us face the fact that we people are sinners and we are hard headed individuals that we choose comfort over suffering. The "thinking" of why suffer if we can afford? Why ride a bicycle if you can drive luxury car with AC free from dust. "If" we can only give to our mother earth what is due to her our future generations will enjoy this earth which God created for us to enjoy it, And at the same time our grandsons grandsons will live a better life. "Thanks to our Generations who start saving our mother earth" Lets protect our environment hand in hand regardless of our race, language, and religion. .

don't ruin the earth

I've just got to say one thing, people should learn to try and not destroy the wonderful earth that god gave us to live on.

Don't destroy it

I've got to say one thing, people should learn to try and not destroy the wonderful earth that god gave us to live on.

wow all a bit of subject

Only one god....and mother earth in one statement, who is she his wife? Perhaps sticking to the thread in hand instead of confusing ideas of ancient pagan religion and Christianity might be better.

Life should be lived lighter not longer!


What about our grand daughters?

I bet you say womankind too.

I bet you say womankind too. Its an expression take off your feminist cap for a moment.

Actually, the usual and

Actually, the usual and correct expression is grandchildren, not grandsons. Using grandson in this context exudes sexism, ignorance, or both.

meatless day a week?

too late for that. It is not a matter of religion.

Said it for me!

You took the words right out of my mouth! I understand were she/he was coming from but just under informed or lack of info. And just so you know, cheap meat is way more expensive than vegetables and high protein foods that are offered by the Wick program for under privileged families. They don't even recommend beef as a protein in diet (the main reason beef is produced).

I appreciate she/he's concern and interest in this blog but I feel she/he need to do more research! Education is the key!

-just someone who wants the world to get better, physically and mentally


pal, all we need is PROPER DISCIPLINE, that's it, don't argue.

I am proud to be Filipino!
(Gawad Kalinga)Member.

um excuse me? how did the

um excuse me? how did the "good christians" get into this? you have NO idea what you are talking about.


If we stop processing meat in a "Business" way, is it okay to eat?

Rock on! I have been a

Rock on! I have been a vegetarian now for over a year and will never go back and I hope one day u and the rest will do the same.


Same here.

I totally agree.

I totally agree.


me too, I have been a vegetarian for over a year, I think 2 now, and am happy :)

Vegetarians are weak as fuck

I bet your physique is undesirable, and your health is declining. Lets compare physiques and strength and see why human beings thrived on meat for almost 200,000 years prior to the past 5,000 years of agriculture.


I am a vegetarian who is on swole. Bench over 300. Over 30 straight pullyps. Beans and rice. Tofu. Nuts. Lentils.
What up


Oh ya I'm 180 lbs. Pure muscle!!! You might be swole I'm not denying that but your a fucking idiot!!!!


I am vegetarian 180lbs. can bench over 300 do 30 plus pull-ups and I'm ripped. Beans,lentils,nuts, and tofu dummy.

meat is murder

And you support murder

Being a vegetarian isn't enough

I'am agree with you

I'am agree with you we can decrease meat consumption.. You can't prove anything if we cut back meat consumption It will reduction in the Greenhouse gases.. suplemen fitness

Thank you laaawd someone said it



Bravo! People can and should cut WAY down on their meat and dairy consumption as a means to a healthful way of life. I don't eat meat, poultry or fish and I'm the healthiest I've ever been at 58.


its dairy not diary!

CO2 emission of food

Thank you for the hint. I've corrected it.

What will we eat?

If you are telling people to cut their meat and dairy intake doesn't that mean that they will eat more vegatables? More vegatables means more land ploughed which we are also told that causes global warming unless you want people to starve. Another thing cattle have been around a long time how come they haven't caused global warming before now? Don't forget how heavily populated America was with buffalo in the 1800's.

CO2 emission of food / meat as cause for global warming

Your reasoning about vegetables is wrong. It requires much less land to produce enough vegetables to feed a person. Producing meat to feed a person requires much much more land! The table below shows the amount of food required to gain 1 kg additional weight for main species:

Food conversion for main species

On the land required to produce 1 kg of meat, about 200 kg of potatoes could be produced! If all Americans would consume only 10% less meat, the amount of economized corn could feed 1 billion people!

The cattles you mentioned have indeed been around a long time ago. But they were grass fed, sustainably raised in a natural and environmental friendly way. Today's cattle breeding however is factory farming (feedlots) causing a lot of additional problems (e.g. nitrous oxides from fertilizers, etc).

There is nothing wrong with naturally grown, grass-fed cattles. But these are very rare species! At least 95% of all meat is produced in feedlots (factory farming).

But let me repeat again: Much less meat can be produced per square meter land with grass-fed grazing cattles compared to feedlots. So the rich western world need to dramatically cut their meat consumption to make the change back from feedlots into grazing, environmental-friendly and outdoor-living cattles realistic.


Can you explain why the

Can you explain why the government want cattle numbers reduced in my country even though they are 95% fed on grazed grass and why they say that the land released with the reduction in cattle numbers cannot be ploughed because ploughing land releases C02?


They're working on a way to stop cows producing methane with bacteria identified in kangaroos, what are your thoughts on that?

Juerg Grass fed beef doesn't work either