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. http://www.defra.gov.uk/science/project_data/DocumentLibrary/EV02007/EV02007_4601_FRP.pdf

 

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

 

Comments

Response

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.

-TeenActivist

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

ya

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.

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

Farmer

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

Farming

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

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!

Grandsons

What about our grand daughters?

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

hey,

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

From:
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.

Uh...

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.

Vegetarianism

Same here.

I totally agree.

I totally agree.

same!

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 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

why

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.

Juerg

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?

Belching

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

wats up

so do we just like wipe cattle off the earth or do we keep them in 1 area. or maybe your wrong ever think of that? or maybe were all wrong about the cows. whos to say were not all cows, whos to say were not animals, whos to say were not the problem, there could be something were doing wrong. like people litering, or cars could be the problem why r u blaming cows!!!!!

Vegitarianism

I belive that you are quite wrong and a little insane you sound like a 13 year old trying to act cool. i am not blameing the cows i blame people. People's high demand for a stake dinner is causeing the cow produsers to make too many cows. there are far too fast food productions and we should exchange them all for vegan resturants. If the people stop eating cows than there will be less cows. Therefor, the diets people choose effect the atmosphere along with all of the other things that we do.

It's Not Telling You To Become A Vegetarian.

Although doing all of those things you mentioned can and will make a difference in the emission of greenhouse gases, it will still not be enough. And it wouldn't be a HUGE change in peoples' lives to cut back a little on meat, the article isn't stating "if you are not a vegetarian Earth is going to be destroyed!" it advises "try to eat less".

cheap meat?

Pork and chicken are cheap meat and they do have less of a carbon footprint. While I agree that the other ideas you suggested will work, it is possible to cut down on more energy by eating more of the meats with less of a carbon footprint. Eat less cow and more chicken, duh.

KFC

That's where KFC comes in. DOUBLE DUH.

global warming

yeah, sure turning off lights and stuff like that would help, but it would help even more with the cow thing. and also people dont have to change thier lives like that, but if they want a earth to where you dont have to breath in all that bad pullution and are not in a situation like global warming and really care about the earth and what kind of enviorment they live in which alot of people care about, then im sure they would be willing to change their life style a little bit. and really is that to much to ask for. so choose, live on a crapy earth, or change your life style a little bit, you choose.

turn stuff off

Why would people leave TV's, lights and radios on at night in the first place?

By the way, most people have their computers set up to update, defragment and scan for viruses at night. Good luck keeping that thing running if you turn it off at night and don't change your settings. And want to buy a new power supply every 1-3 months (turning a computer off and back on is very hard on a power supply, and many of the more powerful ones are $100+, so you would actually lose money if you turned them off every night).

TV's and radios would most likely be turned off anyway. Lights...maybe in a different room...? Yeah. Turn those off.

Though, this guy is correct. And they are working on these things (take a loot at PRT, AKA Private Rapid Transit - it's pretty awesome).

turn devices off - reduce energy consumption

Just a quick reply to your comment about power supplies: It is not problem to switch the computer on and off several times per day. The power supplies can easily handle this. 

PLEASE help saving energy and switch these devices off whenever they are not used. 

 

response to your response

I can agree with you in the cars and how we need to start car pooling and stuff. This person does make a great point though. We do need to start cuttind down on meat look at what the world is turning into, we are just a ice cube melting and right now it is to the point were animals are dieing too. I am a huge animal lover and know that they are dieing because we can't cut down on meat that is a little much. You can always go to the grocery store and get some lettuce and make a salad that is a lot cheaper than buying 2 pounds of meat to make burgers. I also love to eat meat but lately I have started to eat a lot more veggies instead of meat. These are just things that we can all do to make our world a better place. Think, we are going to hand this planet of to or children I don't want to leave them sitting on a little island wishing we did something, because we decided to do nothing about it.

Sincerely Teen Genius

responce

well this was interesting point,although we were were not aware about such fact...

Methane: Fuel?

What would also be a good idea: install collection apparatuses in barns at cow & chicken farms to collect the methane. It's been proven that methane can be used as a fuel source, so it could potentially replace petroleum. After all, we're always producing it, so it's always renewable. The only thing holding such an idea back is the presence of oil lobbyists in congress who's livelyhood is oil profits, so they'll oppose it & create speculation doubting its sustainability.

Methane:Fuel?

Well burning methane will just produces more carbondioxide

metahn vs carbon dioxide

Under Kyoto Protocol you could get carbon credits for trapping methane and burning it off (producing CO2 and H2O)
Methane is regarded as being about 20 times more harmful than CO2.
You could earn more carbon credits by burning the methane as a fuel and replacing a fossil fuel.

can`t afford to change diet

that was an excuse i always used and everybody uses,i`m vegan and it`s actually cheaper and way healthier then when i ate meat.everyone wants to change the world but no one wants to change.

i agree with you

i agree with you that it is ridiculous to ask to change your everyday life. you have a really good point .

Cheaper to eat meat?

First of all, I've been a vegetarian my whole life and have been buying my own groceries for almost 10 years now. For the past year I've been living with my meat-eating boyfriend, for which I occasionally buy meat for. I have NEVER spent so much on groceries! Unless you're going to buy nothing but super cheap ham-hocks for some sort of broth, then meat is FAR more expensive then vegetables!!! I usually get my protein from beans (about $.90/can) or sometimes meat substitutes like morningstar products (around $4 for 4 servings), there are also home made meat substitutes you can make for very inexpensive as well ("wheat-meat", seitan).
I'm thinking you should probably do some research before assuming such a thing....

asdf

You eat so much meat because of Industry messing with your brain

Right..

Clearly meat is so much cheaper than vegetable..