Could eating less meat save the planet? There’s scientific evidence saying just that.
The issue has hit the headlines again this month following singer Morrissey’s comments in his new autobiography about the meat industry’s role in climate change.
“Autobiography”, Morrissey’s new book and, self-evidently, his life story, features comments about global warming on a scale one would expect from the outspoken recluse and Pope of Mope.
“Environmentally, the meat industry damages the earth’s resources more than any other known threat, and 80 per cent of global warming has been attributed to meat production. Yet people are still encouraged to eat death, and to have death inside their bodies – long after tobacco warnings have cautioned people into fits of fear.”
Not sparing on the morose, the former Smiths front-man waxes on wider attitudes towards the environment and animal welfare:
“Although many people are certain that the planet is for human use only, and that sea life should be called seafood, the British judiciary continues to label animal protectionists as ‘extremists’, whilst being unable to consider the Holocaust carnage inside every abattoir to be extreme. If the RSPCA were a credible organization they would not allow abattoirs to exist.”
Is Morrissey right on his facts?
A 2006 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) puts the meat industry’s contribution to carbon dioxide levels at between 14 and 22 percent. In fact, production of meat is responsible for more CO2 emissions than any other industry.
The debate over whether we should be eating meat or not doesn’t serve the focus of this article. The world isn’t about to go vegan. The arguable task for environmentalists, then, is to consider how the production and transportation of meat can best be curtailed.
Given that meat consumption is evidently the biggest polluter, it’s logical to say that eating less meat would measurably slow climate change.
Yes, it’s similarly resource intensive to harvest and transport vegetables. Eating less meat would mean greater activity in agriculture as an industry. However, less meat consumption would mean reduced demand for cattle.
Life-stock are fed, arguably force-fed, a huge amount of vegetables in order to fatten them for the market place. Were fewer animals in such a position, pollution from vegetable harvesting would lessen and significantly.
All in all, less meat, less global warming. But environments ought to exercise caution. Eating meat is a moral issue and those seeking a reduction in pollution are more likely to succeed through compromise with the meat industry than a war on meat in entirety.
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