Dietary revolution to save the Earth from global warming? (1)

This post is inspired by a poster in the dormitory lift as seen below. It is done up by a student interest group called PAVE (Practice and Awareness of Vegetarian Ethos), which aims to raise the awareness of the environmental impact of meat consumption. In their poster, they claim that animal commercial farms produce more Greenhouse gases (GHGs) than all the transport combined. And thus this blog post.

PAVE poster

Poster by PAVE

Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, nitrogen and fluoride gases, and methane.

Breakdown of the GHG composition. While methane makes up only 9% of the total composition, it is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a GHG.

Seen above, the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas is methane, and the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture. Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together as it is extremely potent to the ozone layer. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. While atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen by about 31% since pre-industrial times, methane concentrations have more than doubled (Mohr, 2005).

Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year, and methane emissions will continue to rise as global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years (Mohr, 2005; Epa.gov, 2015) . About 85% of this methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock. While a single cow releases a relatively small amount of methane, the collective effect on the environment of the livestock animals worldwide is enormous(Epa.gov, 2015).

Not to mention, animal farming is also a major source of nitrous oxide (NO2) emissions, another GHG. It is a staggering 310 times more powerful than CO2. 73% of U.S. emissions of nitrous oxide come from animal grazing, manure management, and crop growing practices—with half of U.S. crops grown for livestock feed.

In the next post, I will be looking at the properties of Methane and how does changing the diet affects global warming.

Stay Tuned 😀

Work Cited:

Mohr, N. (2005). A New Global Warming Strategy How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes. [online] Earthsave.org. Available at: http://www.earthsave.org/news/earthsave_global_warming_report.pdf [Accessed 21 Mar. 2015].

Epa.gov, (2014). Sources | Climate Change | US EPA. [online] Available at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources.html [Accessed 21 Mar. 2015].

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