April 10, 2009

Livestock contributes more to climate change than previous estimates.

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization had estimated that animal agriculture was responsible for 18% of global warming. However, it is becoming increasingly clear to scientists that the industry is playing a more significant role.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chief of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) hinted at this during a talk he gave in September 2008 on the role of reducing meat consumption in addressing global warming.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri – Chair of United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, VEGETARIAN (M): Since people found out about this talk that I was going to give here today, I’ve received a number of emails from people that I respect saying that the 18% figure is an underestimate; it’s a low estimate and in actual fact it’s much higher.

VOICE: Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a renowned researcher and internationally bestselling author of “The China Study,” also indicated that livestock’s role in heating the planet is much bigger.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell – Renowned nutrition researcher, Cornell University, USA, VEGAN (M): I just had some information just recently, that the new figures now indicate that at least half of the greenhouse gases that are up there now, not that 15 or 20%, at least half – and maybe considerably more – are due to livestock production.

VOICE: The United Nations’ 18% estimate follows virtually every step of the meat producing process, including enteric fermentation and manure, deforestation for grazing and feed crop production, transport, processing, refrigeration, and more.

1. Enteric fermentation
2. Manure management and application
3. Nitrogen fertilizer emission
4. On farm fossil fuel use to raise livestock
5. Deforestation of pasture
6. Deforestation for feed crops
7. Feed crop production
8. On farm fossil fuel to produce feed
9. Nitrogen deposition
10. Soil carbon losses due to burning, erosion, harvests, and grazing
11. Transporting animals to slaughter
12. Processing the meat
13. Refrigeration
14. Transporting the meat

VOICE: Accounted for are the three major greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, the latter two of which are shorter-lived but while in the atmosphere cause much more damage than carbon dioxide. However, what is unaccounted for is the fact that methane may be as much as 100 times more effective at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide, compared to a 23 times estimate used in most reports – including that of the United Nations. Dr. Kirk Smith is a professor at the University of California – Berkeley in the United States, as well as a member of the IPCC and the US National Academy of Scientists.

Dr. Kirk R. Smith – Professor, University of California – Berkeley, USA (M): Already livestock is 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions, excuse me, the meat system, which includes the animals, includes growing the food for the animals, includes the transport of the meat, includes the fertilizer to grow the food to feed the meat. And that’s with not treating methane any more than the sort of normal way it is used.

VOICE: Dr. Smith believes that by factoring in methane’s truer global warming potential, livestock emissions would be calculated to be higher.

Dr. Kirk R. Smith (M): If you treat it more, then that 20% will go up to maybe 30%. So the 30%, in the next 20 years, is going to be due to meat production.

VOICE: In addition, according to US physicist Noam Mohr, livestock have an even larger share of emissions when yet another unaccounted factor is acknowledged: aerosols, or particles released along with CO2 from burning fossil fuels that actually have a cooling effect.

Voice of Noam Mohr – Physicist with degrees from Yale University and University of Pennsylvania, USA, VEGETARIAN (M): When you consider aerosols and consider the net effect of burning fossil fuels, the carbon dioxide released heats the planet, the aerosols cool the planet, and the net effect roughly cancels each other out. That means that most of the warming we have seen historically and are likely to see in the future comes from other gases, namely methane.

VOICE: We thank the distinguished scientists for this revealing information. May your research continue to be updated and illuminate our decisions in the wisest direction. We pray that humanity’s bold action to reduce meat consumption and meat production will quickly bring us to a safer situation.

In a July 2008 videoconference with our Association members in Thailand, Supreme Master Ching Hai revealed through her deep insight the reality of animal agriculture’s cumulative cause in global warming.

Videoconference with Supreme Master Ching Hai
With Bangkok, Thailand Center – July 24, 2008

Supreme Master Ching Hai: Because meat producing causes 80% of global warming. Transportation, water, deforestation, refrigeration, medical care for animals and humans, and etc, etc. All kinds of pollution coming from meat production. It’s not just the land that they use, it’s not just the methane gas and nitrous oxide that they produce, it is all its by-product; there’s no end to the list. We cannot rely on green technology alone to save the planet. Because the worst cause of it is from the meat industry. Everybody knows it; all the scientists already report it to us.

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