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Livestock and Greenhouse Gas Expert Says McCartney Has it Wrong

Discussions at the climate change summit in Copenhagen are aimed at combating global warming. A meat free Monday campaign is one idea that has come up. Former Beatle and vegetarian Paul McCartney says the production of food from farm to fork accounts for 20 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and livestock production is responsible for half of these emissions. But University of California-Davis Associate Professor Dr. Frank Mitloehner, an expert on livestock and greenhouse gases, says those numbers are inaccurate.

Mitloehner says, “We’ve just published a paper in a scientific peer-reviewed journal. It’s called Clearing the Air, Livestock’s Contribution to Climate Change, and we have shown that in the United States livestock contributes a total of three percent of the overall carbon volume. Three percent of all greenhouse gases are associated with animal production and another three percent to crop production.”

Mitloehner adds that in undeveloped countries like Ethiopia livestock is causing a higher percentage of greenhouse gases than they would in developed countries like the U.S. and England. The main reason is England and the U.S. are becoming more efficient in raising livestock, where underdeveloped countries haven’t been able to do that yet. “A cow can be twenty to thirty years old over there until she falls over from age. But she is not efficient, and a steer is not efficient either, and a pig is not efficient, and poultry is not efficient. So they should learn from the developed countries how to produce as much meat and animal protein as possible, with as few resources as necessary.”

Mitloehner says global demand for animal protein will double in the next 30 years because of China and India.

 

Last Updated: 12/15/09 10:04
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2 people have commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below.
by Awesoman : Atlanta, GA December 17, 2009 1:47 AM EST (FUNsite member)
While I find the whole "climate change" debates to be silly more than anything else, McCartney can say whatever the hell he wants; that doesn`t make him an expert on scientific studies. It`s just another opportunity for McCartney to use his rock legend status to shove his beliefs and opinions (namely vegatarianism) down your throat. McCartney is an entertainer (and a damn good one); but I ain`t givin` up McDonald`s for him. Sorry, Paul.
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by Worldwatcher : Copenhagen, Denmark December 16, 2009 1:52 AM EST (Guest)  click to register
Mr. Mitloehner`s assessment makes no sense. For example, ot is incorrect for him to say that his paper has just been published. In fact, publication of his paper preceded publication by Worldwatch in November 2009 of an assessment that at least 51% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the life cycle and supply chain of livestock products. Macca has been using the older estimate of 20-30%. Mr. Mitloehner uses a suspect figure of 3% for the U.S. alone - whereas greenhouse gas emissions and their effects are transboundary, so no one country should be examined in isolation. However, it makes sense for Mr. Mitloehner to discuss possible growth in demand for meat in China and India. But it makes better sense to do as Macca does, and recommend that demand be reduced rather than increased.
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Livestock and Greenhouse Gas Expert Says McCartney Has it Wrong


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News Summary

Discussions at the climate change summit in Copenhagen are aimed at combating global warming. A meat free Monday campaign is one idea that has come up. Former Beatle and vegetarian Paul McCartney says the production of food from farm to fork accounts for 20 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and livestock production is responsible for half of these emissions. But University of California-Davis Associate Professor Dr. Frank Mitloehner, an expert on livestock and greenhouse gases, says those numbers are inaccurate.