• NRI Herald

1 Kg of beef produces 60 Kg greenhouse gases - shocked! Time to change your food habits- Read

Article by Anubhav Singh (USA) published by NRI Herald Australia 3 Jan 2022

Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface. Normally this radiation would escape into space, but these pollutants, which can last for years to centuries in the atmosphere, trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter. These heat-trapping pollutants—specifically carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor, and synthetic fluorinated gases are known as greenhouse gases that cause greenhouse effect.

Why are we discussing this here? Our planet has never been hotter.

Nine of the 10 warmest years since 1880 have occurred since 2005—and the 6 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2015.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the global annual temperature increased in total by a little more than 1 degree Celsius, or about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 1880—the year that accurate record-keeping began—and 1980, it rose on average by 0.07 degrees Celsius (0.13 degrees Fahrenheit) every 10 years. However since 1981, the rate of increase has more than doubled: For the last 40 years, we’ve seen the global annual temperature rise by 0.18 degrees Celsius, or 0.32 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade.

Now climate scientists have concluded that we must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040 if we are to avoid a future in which everyday life around the world is marked by its worst, most devastating effects: the extreme droughts, wildfires, floods, tropical storms, and other disasters that we refer to collectively as climate change. These effects are felt by all people in one way or another but are experienced most acutely by the underprivileged, the economically marginalized, and people of color, for whom climate change is often a key driver of poverty, displacement, hunger, and social unrest.

Deadly wildfires have plagued the state since last few years. California’s latest crisis builds on years of record-breaking droughts and heatwaves. The rest of the world, too, has had more than its fair share of extreme weather. The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change in 2017 mentioned that 157 million more people were exposed to heatwave events in 2017, compared with 2000.

The Northeast USA warmed more than any other region in the lower-48 over the last five decades, according to data from NOAA. Rhode Island is heating up faster than any of the other lower 48 states and has already passed the U.N. threshold of 2-degrees Celsius of warming. Several other states in the Northeast follow not far behind. Global temperature averages don't necessarily reflect average temperatures locally because the impacts of climate change are unevenly distributed.

But the question is if this is enough?

Though the governments across the world barring a few are coming forward with drastic solutions but clearly it's not enough. We need more efforts from common man and the answer lies in our food problem. Food production is responsible for 1/3rd of all planet-heating gases emitted by human activity, with the use of animals for meat causing twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods.

The usage of farming machinery, spraying of fertilizer and transportation of products, causes 17.3bn metric tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, according to the research. This enormous release of gases that fuel the climate crisis is more than double the entire emissions of the US and represents 35% of all global emissions. And the biggest culprit is the raising and culling of animals particularly beef for food.

The use of cows, pigs and other animals for food, as well as livestock feed, is responsible for 57% of all food production emissions, with 29% coming from the cultivation of plant-based foods. The rest comes from other uses of land, such as for cotton or rubber. Animal grazing requires lot of land, resulting in clearing of forests, as well as vast tracts of additional land to grow their feed.

Most of all the world’s cropland is used to feed livestock, rather than people. Livestock also produce large quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Beef alone accounts for a quarter of emissions produced by raising and growing food. Infact just 1 kg of beef leads to 60kg of greenhouse gases.

One reason is cows and sheep produce large quantities of methane as a byproduct of the ruminant digestive process, relying on specialized bacteria that can break down grass. The biggest challenge is global demand for beef has been surging and it surged 45% last year. There are other food like dark chocolates, and coffee which have adverse effect on climate.

Scientists have consistently stressed that if dangerous global heating is to be avoided, a major rethink of eating habits and farming practices is required. Hope we realize sooner before it’s too late.