Backyard Talk

Red Meat and Climate Change

By: Amelia Meyer
Climate change is a serious issue for the health and the future of our ecosystems and society. Most of the focus from politicians, media, and scientists is on pollution from coal, cars, and sources of energy. Also the focus for the future is on renewable energy, conserving water, sea level rise and electric cars. But a significant contributor to climate change and the future of our food resources is the consumption of red meat. Red meat contributes a significant amount of more CO2 than vegetables, chicken, and pork.
One way to make a large difference is to actually involve society in making a change towards climate change. People are not educated about how the raising of cattle destroys forests worldwide. Including being the leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon destroying over 700 thousand km2 so far. The amount of manure produced and resources needed to care for cattle is enormous as you can see in the graphic below it emits almost four times the amount of greenhouse gasses than chicken does and over thirteen times the amount that broccoli does. Producing one ¼ pound hamburger uses about a hundred and ten gallons of water. People are informed that showering for a less amount of time is good for the environment and water supply but eating less red meat would make a larger impact.
The consumption of red meat worldwide is excessive but in America alone we eat three times more than the global amount of meat intake a day. This is not only negative for the environment but also for the health of our society. Research has proven that red meat can lead to breast cancer, heart issues, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. A way to make a significant difference would be to become a vegetarian. However I know this would be a hard switch for a lot of people. Another way to make an impact is to eliminate your meat intake besides chicken because as you can see chicken is significantly lower on the amount of CO2 that it emits. In addition even a small change such as reducing the amount of red meat that you eat every week from four times to two times can help the environment significantly and the health of yourself and society.
Food shortage is already a serious issue worldwide and it will be a more significant problem by 2050. By that time in order to provide food for the projected population at that time our food production needs to increase 40 percent from what we currently have right now. This is not an easy goal to reach because of changes in landscapes, climate change, and agriculture that are occurring now and will continue to happen for the next fifty years.