Web Bytes: global impact of food production

From the Web

Articles from the web based on the 2018 Oxford University study and Greenpeace’s 2019 report that highlight the impact meat consumption has on the environment.

Veganism is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce our environmental impact on planet, study finds

Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent. Meanwhile, if everyone stopped eating these foods, they found that global farmland use could be reduced by 75 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined.

The new study, published in the journal Science, is one of the most comprehensive analyses to date into the detrimental effects farming can have on the environment…

The findings reveal that meat and dairy production is responsible for 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the products themselves providing just 18 per cent of calories and 37 per cent of protein levels around the world.

By Olivia Petter on 1 June 2018 in the Independent – independent.co.uk

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

field with sheepThe study, published in the journal Science, created a huge dataset based on almost 40,000 farms in 119 countries and covering 40 food products that represent 90% of all that is eaten. It assessed the full impact of these foods, from farm to fork, on land use, climate change emissions, freshwater use and water pollution (eutrophication) and air pollution (acidification).

“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.

By Damian Carrington on 31 May 2018 in The Guardian – theguardian.com (with graphics)

No flights, a four-day week and living off-grid: what climate scientists do at home to save the planet

recicked stuffWhat matters for climate change is how much greenhouse gases we emit to the atmosphere. A lot of people have started to use keep-cups and reusable water bottles.

These choices reduce waste, but are not high-impact climate actions – they have a much smaller effect compared with the big three: flying, driving and eating meat.

For example, eating a plant-based diet for one year saves over 150 times more greenhouse gases compared with a year of using a reusable shopping bag. And you would have to recycle everything in your household comprehensively for almost eight years to equal the greenhouse gas emissions saved by skipping just one round-trip flight from London to New York.

By Dr Kimberly Nicholas on 29 June 2019 in The Guardian – theguardian.com

It’s Time to Replace Slaughterhouses With Greenhouses

highland cattle in snowOne of the most popular justifications for eating animals that we encounter from the “ethical meat” crowd is that “livestock can be grazed in areas where crops can’t be grown,” a.k.a. “marginal lands.”

Innovations in greenhouse technology are making it increasingly possible to grow plant foods sustainably and abundantly in regions where they have not previously grown well or at all, including Antarctica, Iceland, Holland, and Las Vegas, to name just a few. And greenhouse farming can be done using only a fraction of the land, water, energy and other resources animal agriculture uses.

For any who might argue that greenhouse farming isn’t “natural,” consider that farming animals isn’t any more “natural” in this sense, nor is domesticating them; far from it. What is “natural” about forcibly breeding billions of animals into a brief, captive existence in order to exploit them for their flesh, breast milk, and ovulations, none of which we need to survive?

By Ashley Capps on 3 December 2018 in Free From Harm – freefromharm.org

Countdown to Extinction

cover of PDF fileWe’re living through a climate and ecological emergency.

Ecological and climate breakdown share many of the same drivers: notably, the destruction of forests and other natural ecosystems by industrial agriculture. Some 80% of global deforestation is a result of agricultural production, which is also the leading cause of habitat destruction. Animal agriculture – livestock and animal feed – is a significant driver of deforestation, and is also responsible for approximately 60% of direct global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture.

Halting deforestation and restoring the world’s forests is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce GHG emissions and ensure rapid carbon uptake.

The onus is on brands that use high-risk commodities like beef, palm oil, and soya to demonstrate that their supply chains are free from deforestation. Brands must also slash their use of meat and dairy, leading to a more than 70% reduction in per capita consumption in high-consuming areas such as North America and Europe by 2030. This means replacing industrially produced milk, pork, beef, and poultry products with healthy and affordable plant-based foods.

Greenpeace International, 10 June 2019 – greenpeace.org

For further reading: Countdown to Extinction report by Greenpeace (PDF)

Forest twice size of UK destroyed in decade for big consumer brands – report

combined harvestersGreenpeace estimates 50m hectares cleared by 2020, warning companies must evolve to prevent ‘climate breakdown’

In 2010, members of the Consumer Goods Forum, including some of the world’s biggest consumer brands, pledged to eliminate deforestation by 2020, through the sustainable sourcing of four commodities most linked to forest destruction: soya, palm oil, paper and pulp, and cattle.

But analysis by Greenpeace International suggests that by the start of 2020, an estimated 50m hectares (123m acres) of forest are likely to have been destroyed in the growing demand for and consumption of agricultural products, in the 10 years since those promises were made.

By Karen McVeigh on 11 Jun 2019 in The Guardian – theguardian.com

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