The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says, in a new report, that raising livestock are causing more greenhouse gases than does the entire transportation sector:
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.”
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.
As a further indicator of danger, according to the report, the livestock sector is growing factor than any other agricultural sector.
Livestock production produces 9% of global CO2 emissions, but this translates into 18% of “CO2 equivalents” as
[I]t generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.
And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.
The report also details land devastation, damage to water resources, and other damaging effects from livestock production.
Now, I’m not a vegetarian, but this report suggests that these problems will have to be addressed as part of any global strategy to address global warming, not to mention to preserve the land and water systems upon which we, and all life, depend.
December 6th, 2006