Meat – environment’s massacre

cirnat_l.jpg“Meat is murder on the environment” is a science article written by Daniele Fanelli

Published on 8 July 2007 on the news service.

The article contributes to the present discourse of ‘global warming’ by provide surprising information about how beef causes more greenhouse gas. It is one of the best science-related news feature has come out in the recent past days. (The issue 2613 of New Scientist magazine, 18 July 2007, page 15.)

According to the article, a team led by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, calculated the environmental cost of raising cattle through conventional farming, slaughtering the animal and distributing the meat.

The result of the study is that a kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home. As the writer simplifies, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometers, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days. It is in deed surprising to know that the Beef causes that much of green house gas emission.

The article is very interesting for the people who are interested in learning about global warming. I would personally like to thank the editor of New Scientist for the priority given to this article on the website, as this has been the very hot topic today, and we are hearing about it from various sources.

The article is totally based on the empirical results of a study done by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan. The research team has done this study by looking at calf production, focusing on animal management and the effects of producing and transporting feed.

“By combining this information with data from their earlier studies on the impact of beef fattening systems, the researchers were able to calculate the total environmental load of a portion of beef”. Daniele Fanelli writes. But, he fails to provide clear information on what the earlier studies on the impact of beef fattening systems are? It would have been clearer to the readers better if he had briefly provided that information.

However, he in the end of the article he slightly reefers to an earlier study on ‘organic beef’ to relate to the article. It says “the organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 per cent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 per cent less energy”. But, it is not clear whether it is the earlier study used by the researchers to do the study. The article should have explained more clearly about this.

The other small weakness of this article is not informing the readers with other relevant information.

For example, there is an interesting study result on “Cattle and global warming” which was released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in November 2006.

The result is that Livestock-rearing generates more greenhouse gases than transportation according to a new report from the United Nations (U.N.), which adds that improved production methods could go a long way towards cutting emissions of gases responsible for global warming.

The report notes that the contribution of livestock to global warming will likely increase in coming years as global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million ton from 1999/2001 levels to 465 million metric tons in 2050 and milk output is expect to jump from 580 to 1043 million metric tons. The report says that worldwide, the livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector, providing livelihoods for about 1.3 billion people and contributing about 40 percent to global agricultural output. It adds that in poor countries, livestock are also a source of renewable energy and fertilizer. (For more details visit Cattle produce more global warming gases than cars,

Otherwise, this news article has a merit. The writers’ background in analyzing and comprehending the issue is commendable. The Article is informative to the readers, and inducing them to searching for more information. The following were the related articles appeared on the other websites on the same day.

Selvarajah Mathangie

Colombo, Sri Lanka