Study: Beef Consumption Must Be Cut Dramatically to Control Climate Change

March 4, 2016 05:34 PM

European scientists want consumers to stop eating so much beef and dairy, saying the methane and nitrous oxide being emitted is to blame for global warming.

In a recent paper, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden assert that cutting beef consumption by 50% would help the European Union reach its target of limiting global climate change to 2°C by 2050.

An analysis was performed to determine what sectors of agriculture play a role in greenhouse gas emissions and if any changes could be made to slowdown global warming. According to the study, beef production accounts for 36% of greenhouse gas emissions and 48% of emissions for both methane and nitrous oxide.

Production of dairy products like milk, cheese and butter was estimated to account for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions and 28% of emissions for both methane and nitrous oxide. The study put 90% of dairy cow emissions into the creation of dairy products and the remaining 10% into beef production.

“Technologically, agriculture can improve in productivity and through implementation of specific mitigation measures. Under optimistic assumptions, these developments could cut current food-related methane and nitrous oxide emissions by nearly 50%,” the researchers wrote.

The scientists recommend consumers reduce their beef consumption to help curtail the effects of climate change. Eating pork and poultry does not seem to make as much difference; researchers say the environmental targets could still be met even with high  consumption of pork and poultry. As for dairy, high levels of consumption could be maintained, but technological changes will be needed, according to the study.

Scenarios were laid out by the researchers of what food demand and major diets could do to impact change on global warming by 2050. The diet changes included the following:

  • Less meat
  • Dairy beef
  • Vegetarian
  • Climate carnivore
  • Current diet (based on Swedish eating habits)
  • Baseline (increasing meat consumption, with less dairy and carbohydrate)


In the researchers’ analysis of the various scenarios, protein consumption could be maintained in the “less meat” diet if legumes, oil and cereals are consumed at levels to balance the diet.

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Spell Check

Nick Schroeder
Colorado Springs, CO
4/16/2016 04:47 PM

  “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H. L. Mencken Earth’s carbon cycle contains 45,000 Gt +/- 850 GT of stores and reservoirs with a couple hundred Gt/y flowing between those reservoirs. Mankind’s net contribution of carbon/carbon dioxide is 4 Gt/y +/- 96%. (IPCC AR5 Table 6.1) IPCC et. al. says natural variations can’t explain the increase in CO2. With those levels of uncertainty how would anybody even know? Mankind’s alleged atmospheric CO2 power flux contribution between 1750 and 2011 was 2 W/m2 of radiative forcing. Incoming solar RF is 340 W/m2, albedo RF reflects 100 W/m2 +/- 30, 160 W/m^2 reaches the surface, latent heat RF from the water cycle’s evaporation is 88 W/m2 +/- 8. Mankind’s 2 W/m2 is obviously trivial. What really counts is the net RF balance at ToA which 7 out of 8 re-analyses concluded was cooling, not warming. Every year the pause/hiatus/lull/stasis continues (IPCC AR5 Box TS.3) IPCC’s atmospheric and ocean general circulation models diverge further from reality. As Carl Sagan observed, we have been bamboozled.

3/5/2016 02:01 PM

  humans need to slow down on reproduction! if people all became vegitarians emissions would go up with added fossil fuels used in planting. my god !crack down on the countries like china that have zero policies in place for air quality. the greater population thinks all food comes from the grocery store

Swanton, VT
3/6/2016 07:26 AM

  How about millions cars which CO in the air. If you stop all the cars at the exit on Champlain bridge in montreal during on wheek,roll over the car and take out the gas tank pile the tank on the bridge during all the weekend and at the and of the weekend the bridge Will be full of gas tank what Will append if you pût the fire in all the tanks at saterday night at the end of the weekend?maybe no more bridge and a lot CO in the air . Sorry but it Is exact l'y what append in all the city a round the worldwide. I am a farmer and i am FED up to ear so much stupidités from studies if you farm a 1000 âcres the corn takes your carbonmonocide and pût it in soil as carbon it Is natural law


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