Weather Makers: Meat Consumption and Climate Change

husevesEven if connection between meat consumption and climate change is a clear fact according to scientific researches, it does not get appropriate publicity and attention. Meat production is one of the major reasons of climate change. Animal breeding farms and factories produce several million tons of CO2 and methane per year. These are the two major greenhouse gases (for example they give more than 90% of the US’s greenhouse gas emission). According to UNEP research 21 % of human CO2 emission is produced by animal breeding aimed for human consumption (Physics World, July, 2005). Another fact is that animal husbandry, which serves meat consumers, emits more greenhouse gases than the entire transport industry together.
According to researchers, 1.5 hectares of arable land, which is enough to supply the food requirements of only one meat consumer, can produce the necessary food for 6 lacto-vegetarians. All over the world jungles are continuously deforested because stock farming needs more and more pastures and croplands. For example, thanks to meat production and factory farming huge rain forests became deserted regions in South-America. Rain forests of Central-America decreased with more than three-quarters within 25 years. As scientists calculated each person who shifts to vegetarian diet saves 0.5 hectare of forest per year. Considering threat of drinking water crisis as well another important fact is that meat consumers indirectly use twelve times more water as vegetarians, because of the water requirement of forage production.
Therefore it is obvious that through meat consumption millions of people are connected directly to the meat production sector, which is a major reason for global climate change. Gidon Eschel and Pamela Martin, geophysicists of Chicago University got to the following conclusion: to shift to vegetarian diet is a more effective personal act against climate change than changing a big petrol eater car to an economical hybrid car. Global climate change is truly an “inconvenient truth” as Al Gore presented convincingly, but time has also come that people face the fact that extreme meat consumption is one of the most serious reasons of world crisis.

András Kun

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The 2010 Sustainability Conference financed by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund co-financed.