When people talk about destroying the environment, automobiles often lead the conversation. Everyone is aware of the simple fact driving is harmful to the planet, but what about a burger? We don't normally associate beef consumption with climate change, but we should, because the meat industry is giving cars a run for its money.
Here at Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA we care about the environment here and all over the world, so that's why we're presenting this question--which is actually worse—cars or cattle?
The bottom line is that livestock emissions make up somewhere between 14.5 and 18 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. In comparison, the transportation sector is responsible for approximately 14 percent of all emissions. Those numbers are scary, no doubt, but what's even worse is that while transportation creates a significant amount of CO2, livestock farming is hugely responsible for producing methane, which is 23 times more potent when it comes to warming the planet.
Yes, driving cars is not good, but meat production is even worse for the environment. On top of all of the fertilizer and cow waste products that release methane into the atmosphere, the meat itself has to be transported in refrigerated trucks from feedlots to slaughterhouses and then onto processing centers before finally reaching your local grocery store.
So, what is the solution? If everybody enjoyed one meatless day a week, livestock emissions could be significantly reduced. Unfortunately, a spike in sustainable farming, while more humane and necessary, will not greatly alter the rapid rise of emissions caused by livestock. This is more true than ever, because meat consumption is growing all over the world and projected to increase by around a full 70 percent by 2050.
So, the next time you're driving your car to a fast food place to pick up a burger and fries, maybe just order the fries and next time, why not just bike or walk to the restaurant.
I am not very confident that humans will ever stop eating meat completely, but I have seen that automotive technology has helped us to burn less oil. Electric cars and other green forms of transportation are coming our way, so hopefully we can give the environment some much-needed relief. If we can find a healthy balance between our consumption of both gasoline and meat, the world will last longer for many generations to come.
Sources: American Scientific, AOL and MSN