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Scientists Urge The World To Plan For Peak Meat

Yessenia Funes writes

Abandoning meat isn’t easy. Believe me: I ate a beefy-arse bolognese for lunch yesterday and later munched on some chicken wings. Unfortunately, the meat industry is a growing source of carbon pollution, and continuing to let meat consumption grow could eat up a huge chunk of the world’s carbon budget by 2030. So, well, we gotta chill with the steak dinners.

Scientists from around the world are calling on middle- and high-income countries to set a deadline for the meat industry’s growth. In a letter published in the Lancet Planetary Health Journal Wednesday, researchers highlight the role the livestock industry must play in meeting the pledges set forth in the Paris Agreement, which world leaders are contemplating in Madrid right now.

The Paris Agreement saw governments agree to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and keep it under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) if possible. To do that, the world will need to draw down emissions rapidly this decade. That means shifting away from business as usual.

And for the livestock sector will be a huge part of that. Emissions from raising animals is responsible for 14.5 per cent of all greenhouse gas pollution globally. Meat consumption has risen globally with China fuelling a large part of the more recent rise (as well as Brazil to a lesser extent). If the world continues on this path, emissions from livestock will eat up nearly half of the world’s carbon budget by 2030.

That’s why the letter is calling on government leaders in middle- and high-income countries such as the U.S. and China to establish a timeline for “peak livestock,” the point after which production of certain livestock species could not increase. From there, countries need to reduce emissions from this sector by identifying the largest sources, the companies using the most land, or both. What might prove most challenging, however, is figuring out how to shift the food sector away from meat and toward more climate-friendly foods. I’m talking about beans, fruits, vegetables, and seeds.

This type of societal transformation won’t be simple, but the authors argue it’s necessary. It doesn’t mean leaving behind burgers completely. This letter and what it’s calling for isn’t trying to shame consumers for their meal choices. It’s about systemic change, author Helen Harwatt, an environmental social scientist at Harvard University’s Animal Law and Policy Program, told Earther in an email.

“I think [individual actions] will help to shift the markets generally via signalling and is a positive action,” she wrote, “but to achieve deep transformation of agriculture, we need system-level change, and that requires policymakers to act.”

The climate world has been giving this sector, in particular, more and more attention as experts begin to envision what a diet on a hotter planet could look like. Fast food joints like Dunkin Doughnuts and Burger King are even incorporating plant-based “meats” into their menus, showing it’s also a business decision as much as it is a climate one.

The reality is, though, that we’ll need to do more than change what we buy at the grocery store or eat for breakfast. The ones with power need to transition the agriculture industry toward a more sustainable model that doesn’t use up massive amounts of land, send pollution running off into waterways, and emit harmful greenhouse gases.

Otherwise we risk “potentially catastrophic [consequences] depending on how far temperature rises and how ecosystems respond to that and feedback between each other,” Harwatt said. In short, we’ll be fucked if leaders don’t step up to the task.

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  1. don’t like fish much, Don’t like noodles and funny foods from weird countries, Don’t like to be stuffed full of sheep/cow/rabbit food, Guess I will just have to keep eating meat.
    You lot can quit and the price will be better for me.

    Go for it.



  2. In a way I’m glad I’m at the tail end of my life so that I won’t have to live through the final stages of the destruction of human civilisation.

    This kind of thinking isn’t some nutty idea that sane people can just laugh off and ignore and get on with their lives. No…. this represents shitloads of governmental and non governmental organisations who are literally hellbent on obliterating civilisation and human progress. And they have both the political power and somehow the financial muscle to achieve this.

    What’s even worse is that I can’t act to save civilisation for my children and grandchildren’s sake from these madmen – because our children all seem to have bought into this garbage to varying (some of them extreme) degrees.

    Maybe thinking the world has gone mad is just the consequence of getting old…. I dunno. But at least when my parents confronted Nazism and Communism they were clearly defined enemies and people had the vision and determination to fight them. This is different. Now we face a terrifying destructive force which is eating out our very civilisation from within and it seems to have no national boundaries. It’s like a cancer which has gripped the whole human race.



    • I feel exactly the same Dave. It seems that the world has gone mad and there is nothing we can do about it. All the returned service men and women would be rolling in their graves, and wonder what the hell they fought the wars for. So many restrictions on everything now life is no longer joyful we have to watch what we say and do and its very sad. In 20 – 30 years should we be alive we will not recognise everyday life I am sure.



    • But in 10-12 years time when the climate apocalypse has failed to arrive and the coastal suburbs are still intact and Greenland is full of glaciers, our kids and grandkids might just remember the bullshit they were being fed in the first couple of decades of the 21st century.



  3. **Excellent** article here –

    Quote – “The most important assumption behind the AGW theory is that an increase in global atmospheric CO2 will cause an increase in the average annual global temperature. The problem is that in every record of temperature and CO2, the **temperature changes first**. Think about what I am saying. The **basic assumption** on which the entire theory that human activity is causing global warming or climate change is **wrong**. The questions are how did the false assumption develop and persist?

    The answer is the IPCC needed the assumption as the basis for their claim that humans were causing catastrophic global warming for a political agenda. They did what all academics do and found a person who gave historical precedence to their theory. In this case, it was the work of Svante Arrhenius. The problem is he didn’t say what they claim. Anthony Watts’ 2009 article identified many of the difficulties with relying on Arrhenius. The Friends of Science added confirmation when they translated a more obscure 1906 Arrhenius work. They wrote,

    Much discussion took place over the following years between colleagues, with one of the main points being the similar effect of water vapour in the atmosphere which was part of the total figure. Some rejected any effect of CO2 at all. There was no effective way to determine this split precisely, but in 1906 Arrhenius amended his view of how increased carbon dioxide would affect climate.

    The issue of Arrhenius mistaking a water vapor effect for a CO2 effect is not new. What is new is that the growing level of empirical evidence that the warming effect of CO2, known as climate sensitivity, is zero. This means Arrhenius colleagues who “rejected any effect of CO2 at all” are correct. In short, CO2 is not a greenhouse gas.”
    – end quote



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