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Apr 13, 2012

Woods Hole Director - Reversing Climate Change Requires Less Meat Consumption

On 13 April 2012 The Guardian published an article reviewing Eric Davidson's article in Environmental Research Letters, which concluded that reversing global climate change requires the reduction of meat consumption in developed countries. Davidson is director of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. He notes that global meat consumption is on the rise. According to Davidson, not only does this trend need to be reversed, meat consumption needs to be cut by 50% from current consumption levels to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Davidson's article researches the agricultural carbon footprint of the cattle industry. It requires large quantities of animal feed. Higher yields of animal feed are achieved by using ever-increasing amounts of fertilizer. According to Davidson, fertilizer is a major cause of climate change. "Nitrous oxide, released by fertilizers and animal manure, is the most potent of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. The UN's climate body has called for deep cuts to those emissions."

Davidson makes recommendations to change farming practices that reduce the use of fertilizer. He suggests growing cover crops to absorb nitrogen from being released into the atmosphere. While he acknowledges it will be difficult to cut meat consumption, he suggests this could be achieved by switching from cattle and pork to chicken or fish and reducing portion sizes and frequency of consumption.

For more see:

Goldenberg, Suzanne. "Eat less meat to prevent climate disaster, study warns," The Guardian, 13 April 2012.

Davidson, Eric A. "Representative concentration pathways and mitigation scenarios for nitrous oxide," Environmental Research Letters, 2012.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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