Is your hamburger really to blame for climate change?

Project Syndicate writes Quote.

For many environmental campaigners, eating meat is fast becoming as repellant as smoking – behavior to be discouraged or even banned. But is your hamburger really to blame for climate change, and would going vegetarian really help?

[…] Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations official responsible for the 2015 Paris climate agreement, has a startling vision for restaurants of the future: anyone who wants a steak should be banished. “How about restaurants in 10-15 years start treating carnivores the same way that smokers are treated?” Figueres suggested during a recent conference. “If they want to eat meat, they can do it outside the restaurant.”

In case you have missed this development: eating meat is fast becoming as repellant as smoking to many green campaigners. It is behavior to be discouraged or even banned.

That’s because your hamburger is being blamed for climate change. Meat production – especially raising cattle – emits methane and requires carbon-dioxide-intensive inputs. In the breathless language of recent reporting, a “huge reduction in meat-eating is essential” to avoid “climate breakdown.” end quote.

I have always had a bit of a giggle when Greenies have gone on about Cow farts. Quote.

Credit: Luke

I have been a vegetarian my entire adult life because I don’t want to kill animals, so I can empathize with the interest in promoting less meat in our diets. But I want to make sure the science is right. When you look beyond the headlines, those arguing for banishing meat-eaters from restaurants and calling on everyone to change their diets are often cherry-picking the data while ignoring basic facts.

[…]  the 50% reduction in emissions is achieved by going a lot further than vegetarianism. It requires going completely vegan

[…] If we turn to the academic literature on emission cuts from going vegetarian, a systematic survey of peer-reviewed studies shows that a non-meat diet will likely reduce an individual’s emissions by the equivalent of 540 kilograms (1,190 pounds) of CO2. For the average person in the industrialized world, that means cutting emissions by just 4.3%.

But this still overstates the effect, because it ignores an age-old and well-described economic phenomenon known as the “rebound effect.” Vegetarian diets are slightly cheaper, and saved money will be spent on other goods and services that cause additional greenhouse-gas emissions. In the United States, vegetarians save about 7%, and in the United Kingdom 15% of their food budgets. A Swedish study shows a vegetarian diet is 10% cheaper, freeing up about 2% of an individual’s total budget.That extra spending will cause more CO2 emissions, which the study concludes will cancel out half the saved emissions from going vegetarian.

[…] Figueres’s plan for meat-eaters is disturbing, because it suggests that the former UN climate chief is focused on banning behavior she doesn’t like, based on flimsy evidence

It also suggests a narrow focus on the world’s rich. It is incredibly self-obsessed to talk about banishing steak eaters from restaurants when 1.45 billion people are vegetarian through poverty, wanting desperately to be able to afford meat.

As a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I will be the first to say that there are many good reasons to eat less meat. Sadly, making a huge difference to the climate isn’t one of them. End quote.

So there you have it straight from the pen of a genuine vegetarian. You can save money by eating vegetables and make no real difference to the planet or you can help save the planet by eating one of those evil cows who without your intervention would be polluting the air with its farts.

The choice is yours.

 


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