Global food production accounts for about a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the use of animal meat for meat production doubles pollution.
The overall food production system, such as the use of agricultural machinery, fertilizer spraying and transportation, generates 17.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to the study. This huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions, more than double the total U.S. emissions and represent 35% of the world’s emissions, say researchers.
“The release was higher than we expected, it was a little shocking,” said Atul Jayne, a climate scientist and co-author of the paper at the University of Illinois. “This study shows the overall cycle of the food production system, and policymakers may want to use the results to think about how to control greenhouse gas emissions.
Raising and cultivating animals for food is worse for the climate than producing and processing fruits and vegetables for humans to eat, and previous findings confirm the widespread impact of meat production, especially beef, on the environment.
The use of cows, pigs and other animals for food, as well as animal feed, accounted for 57% of all food emissions, and 29% of the study was based on plant-based diets. The rest came from other land uses, such as cotton or rubber. Only a quarter of the beef is produced by raising and producing food.
Grazing animals require a lot of land, often cutting down forests and requiring more land to grow their food. The paper estimates that much of the world’s agricultural land is used to feed animals rather than humans. Animal husbandry also produces large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
“All of these factors add up,” says Ziamong Choo, a researcher and lead author at the University of Illinois. “To produce more meat, you need to feed more animals, and then more emissions. You need a lot of biomass to feed animals to get the same amount of calories. Not very effective. ”
The emissions gap between meat and plant production is very high – to produce 1 kg of wheat, 2.5 kg of greenhouse gases are released. One kilogram of beef produces 70 pounds[70 kg]. Researchers say that communities need to be aware of this significant difference when it comes to solving climate change.
“I am a strict vegetarian and the purpose of this study was to determine my own carbon footprint, but it is not our intention to force people to change their diet,” he said. “This is a lot of personal choice. You can’t just post your opinion on others. But if people are worried about climate change, they should think seriously about changing their eating habits.
The researchers collected data from more than 200 countries and built a database of 171 crops and 16 animal products. They recognize that South America is the region with the largest share of animal emissions, followed by South and Southeast Asia and China. Riches and cultural changes have led many young people in these countries to resort to meat-based diets, and food-related emissions have grown rapidly in China and India.
The paper’s impact on meat climate is higher than previous estimates – the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says 14% of emissions come from meat and notebook production. Climate crisis is itself a cause of hunger, and a recent study found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, one-third of the world’s food supply will be in jeopardy.
Scientists have repeatedly suggested that dietary practices and farming practices need to be reconsidered in order to eliminate dangerous global warming. Meat production has now expanded to the point where there are approximately three chickens per person on the planet.
Luis Ziska, a plant physiologist at Columbia University, said the paper, which did not participate in the study, was a “cursed good study” that should be given “due attention” at the upcoming UN climate change conference in Scotland.
“One of the most important factors in global agriculture is the impact on greenhouse gas emissions,” says Ziska. “Despite previous estimates, this effort represents a gold standard that will serve as an important reference in the coming years.