Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use
Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:42 pm
LeftieBiker wrote:The reasoning on pork vs beef is this: while grain-fed beef is bad, pigs are also fed grain. (Chickens are also fed grain and suffer terribly from close confinement.) In addition, pigs are usually (inhumanely) confined and thus produce huge amounts of concentrated sewage. Some of it is treated and used as fertilizer, but it's much more dangerous than cow manure, and a lot of it ends up in waterways. In addition, cattle can be raised on grass alone, with much less confinement. So eating grass-fed beef is better than eating pork from an environmental perspective, an animal welfare perspective, and a human food requirement perspective. Cattle may emit more methane, but pig confinement operations are usually environmental and animal welfare disasters. I genuinely can't think of a reason to choose pork over beef, because while cattle operations use much more land, pig "farms" combine the production of dangerous effluent with a breeding ground for pathogens that can easily move to human hosts - like influenza. The latter is also true of chicken confinement operations. Remember "swine flu" and "bird flu"?
Re pigs etc., do you have a source with numbers? I'll need to get Smil's book back, but he and other sources I've read compared emissions, food requirements to slaughter, land use etc. Pigs used to be fed food scraps, but intensive livestock raising practices have obviously changed that. From an energy/resource perspective, IIRR the advantage was wholly in favor of pork and even more so poultry, as they could be raised to slaughter in much shorter periods of time while providing more meat per lb. of feed. Once I get the book back and have checked the numbers I'll post some, and we can pick this up again. Meanwhile, as an example of the conclusions reached by the studies I'm familiar with, here's a news article reporting a study from 2014: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-most-p ... k-poultry/California Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, was on the ballot in California as an initiated state statute on November 6, 2018. The measure was approved.
A yes vote supported this initiative to:
A no vote opposed this initiative, thus:
- establish minimum space requirements based on square feet for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens and
ban the sale of (a) veal from calves, (b) pork from breeding pigs, and (c) eggs from hens when the animals are confined to areas below minimum square-feet requirements.
- keeping in place minimum space requirements based on animal movement—not square feet—for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens and continuing to ban the sale of shelled eggs from hens—but not liquid eggs from hens, veal from calves, or pork from breeding pigs—that are confined to areas not meeting space requirements based on animal movement standards.
Did California pass a similar ballot initiative in 2008?
In 2008, the Humane Society developed a ballot initiative, titled Proposition 2, to ban the confinement of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in a manner that did not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. Proposition 2 did not provide specific square feet when defining prohibited confinement. Rather, the size restrictions were based on animal behavior and movement. Opponents, such as the Association of California Egg Farmers, claimed this was too vague. Voters approved Proposition 2, and the law went into effect in 2015.
Proposition 2 did not ban the sale of veal from calves, pork from breeding pigs, and eggs from hens. The California State Legislature approved a law that banned the sale of shelled eggs from hens confined to areas that did not meet Proposition 2's standards. Regulators interpreted the law as requiring producers who wanted to sell shelled eggs in California as needing to provide hens at least 0.8 square feet per hen.
What did Proposition 12 change about farm animal confinement in California?
Proposition 12 of 2018, unlike Proposition 2, prohibited the confinement of calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens in areas below a specific number of square feet, rather than restrictions based on animal behavior and movement. Proposition 12 also banned the sale of (a) veal from calves, (b) uncooked pork from breeding pigs, and (c) shelled and liquid eggs from hens when the animals are confined to areas below minimum square-feet requirements.
Beginning in 2020, Proposition 12 was set to ban the confinement of:
Beginning in 2022, Proposition 12 was set to ban the confinement of:
- calves (young domestic cows) in areas with less than 43 square feet of usable floor space per calf and
egg-laying hens (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) in areas with less than 1 square foot of usable floor space per hen.
- breeding pigs and their immediate offspring in areas with less than 24 square feet of usable floor space per pig and
egg-laying hens in areas other than indoor or outdoor cage-free housing systems based on the United Egg Producers' 2017 cage-free guidelines, which define cage-free housing as areas that provide 1.0 to 1.5 square feet of usable floor space per hen and allow hens to move around inside the area.
Oh, just found this review by Bill Gates of "Should we eat Meat?" , who like me is a fan of Smil's interdisciplinary approach:Raising beef for the American dinner table does far more damage to the environment than producing pork, poultry, eggs or dairy, a new study says.
Compared with the other animal proteins, beef produces five times more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out six times as much water-polluting nitrogen, takes 11 times more water for irrigation and uses 28 times the land, according to the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Cows are not efficient at converting feed to protein for human consumption, said lead author Gidon Eshel, an environmental physics professor at Bard College in New York.
Eshel used U.S. government figures to calculate air and water emissions and how much water and land were used in the lifetime production of beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs.
While other studies have looked at the issue, this is one of the most comprehensive pieces of research quantifying and comparing the U.S. environmental costs of different meats and other animal protein. . . .
In the study, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs all had comparable environmental footprints, so close there were no statistically significant differences among them, Eshel said. But cows were off-the-chart different. The study did not look at plants or fish raised for human consumption.
Cows burp major amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is dozens of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Their digestive system makes them produce considerably more methane than pigs, chickens or turkeys do, Eshel said. The manure used to grow feed for cows also releases methane, as does their own bodily waste.
Because they are bigger and take longer to put on weight for meat, cows eat more food over their lifetimes than other animals raised for protein.
Nitrogen, from fertilizer runoff, can harm rivers, lakes and bays, causing oxygen-depleted "dead zones." The use of irrigation water is a major issue out West when there are droughts, like the current one in California. So much land used for farming changes the biodiversity of a location, Eshel said.
"It really looks like beef is a lot worse environmentally than these other meats," said Ken Caldeira, an environmental scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Caldeira wasn't part of this study, but has a separate study of beef's greenhouse gas footprint around the world, published this month in the journal Climatic Change.
Eshel calculates that the average American who switches from beef to pork would reduce the equivalent of 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, which is about nine days' worth of the nation's per capita greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA calculates that it is the same as the emissions from 61 gallons of gas or what comes out of the smokestack from burning 580 pounds of coal.
Caldeira said his calculations found that "eating a pound of beef causes more greenhouse warming than burning a gallon of gasoline."
Even though pigs have the reputation for being dirty, the data shows that they "come out pretty clean" when compared to cows, Eshel said.
The message from the study is "whenever possible try to replace beef with other sources of protein from animal sources," said Eshel, who said he doesn't eat meat now but used to raise cattle on a kibbutz in Israel. . . .
https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Should-We-Eat-MeatIs There Enough Meat for Everyone?