Meat-Eaters Aid Global Warming


19th c Jodhpur miniature, Krsna with Devotee Prince

Apr 24, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (ABC) — Your personal impact on global warming may be influenced as much by what you eat as by what you drive. That conclusion comes from a couple of scientists who have taken an unusual look at the production of greenhouse gases from an angle that not many people have thought about.

Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, assistant professors of geophysics at the University of Chicago, and both vegetarians, have found that our consumption of red meat may be as bad for the planet as it is for our bodies. If you want to help lower greenhouse gas emissions, they conclude in a report to be published in the journal Earth Interactions, become a vegetarian.

Eshel and Martin collected data from a wide range of sources, and they examined the amount of fossil-fuel energy--and thus the level of production of greenhouse gasses--required for five different diets. The vegetarian diet turned out to be the most energy efficient, followed by poultry, and what they call the "mean American diet," which consists of a little bit of everything.

In terms of energy required for harvesting and processing, fish and red meat ended up in a tie for last place, but that's just in terms of energy consumed. When you add in all the those other factors, such as bovine flatulence and gas released by manure, red meat comes in dead last. Fish remains in fourth place, some distance behind poultry and the mean American diet, chiefly because the type of fish preferred by Americans requires a lot of energy to catch.


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