HOST: Welcome, concerned viewers, to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. The Worldwatch Institute, a renowned US environmental think tank recently posed the question “Are livestock emissions killing the planet?” on the cover of the November/December 2009 issue of its periodical World Watch Magazine.
Retired World Bank Group lead environmental advisor Dr. Robert Goodland and research officer and environmental specialist for the Group’s International Finance Corporation division Jeff Anhang addressed this question in their article “Livestock and Climate Change.” Their answer was a resounding “yes” as they concluded that the livestock production cycle and supply chain produce at least 51 percent of human-caused, global greenhouse- gas emissions.
Source: Livestock and Climate Change
The 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” concluded that the livestock industry is responsible for 18 percent of such emissions. Even this figure is significant considering that global emissions from the transportation sector, the focus of many current government reduction programs, accounts for only 13 percent of greenhouse gases released worldwide.
The report is even more remarkable for the fact that it was written by the Livestock group within the FAO. Dr. Goodland and Mr. Anhang base their study on the FAO’s calculations, expanding on them by including emissions they believe were missed, undercounted or misallocated. On today’s program we will explore
their landmark paper and hear the views of several scientists and an environmental economist on livestock emissions.
Livestock’s Long Shadow examined the end-to-end emissions attributable to the livestock industry, including those from producing fertilizer, growing food crops for livestock and raising, killing, processing, refrigerating and transporting animal products. The report found that livestock produce nine percent of human-
caused carbon dioxide, 37 percent of methane and 67 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The study also stated that over a hundred-year period methane has 23 times the global warming potential, or potency, of carbon dioxide, while nitrous oxide has 296 times the global warming potential. ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf
Based on the data, the report made the following recommendation: “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale, from local to global.
The findings of the report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity.”ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf