Monday, June 25, 2007

Some Global Warming Facts

In his last post, Alex mentioned that PAWS will be taking on an important issue next year: the link between meat-eating and global warming.

Given the media and government silence on this link, the facts are pretty stunning.

According to the United Nations' very own Food and Agriculture Organization—about as unbiased a source as you can ask for—the livestock sector contributes to a whopping 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. That’s more than the entire transportation sector, including cars, planes, trucks, etc. Read the whole report here.

A University of Chicago study tells us more about individuals’ contributions to global warming. Authors Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin looked at five different diets, ranging from average American to vegetarian. They discovered that the average American diet yields an extra ton and a half of CO2 equivalent than a strictly vegetarian diet. The most interesting thing is putting this information in context of car use: reducing animal products in your diet from 20% to 0% is the same as going from a Camry to a Prius; going from a red meat diet of 35% animal products to a vegan diet is the same as going from an SUV to a Prius. That’s right: if hybrids are cool, than a vegan diet is even cooler.

So why haven’t we heard more about this clear link? Perhaps because policy-makers and global warming leaders don’t think the public is willing to make big sacrifices. Encouraging consumers to buy hybrids and compact fluorescent lightbulbs– that’s no problem. Taking away someone’s hamburger, on the other hand, is out of the question.

In an email leaked to the press from the British environmental agency to a vegetarian group Viva, a British official acknowledged “the potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact,” but admitted that would be a hard case to sell to the public, adding “it will be a case of introducing this gently as there is a risk of alienating the public majority.”

No government agency will actively encourage vegetarianism until it knows that its constituents care enough to reduce their meat consumption, no matter how many convincing reports stare them in the face. By going vegetarian, you’re not only contributing to a reduced demand for damaging animal products, you’re also showing policy-makers that people are willing to make sacrifices for animals and the earth.

Let's break the silence on meat and global warming - spread the word!


  1. What an excellent article. I had no idea that meat-eating had such an impact on global warming.

  2. I actually knew this, hence my vegetarianism, but it's still really amazing to read about.

  3. This is why I'm vegetarian, so thanks for writing about it so well to tell/remind people of the link!