FoodReference.com Logo

FoodReference.com   (Since 1999)

Food Articles, News & Features Section

 

  Home   ·   Food Articles   ·   Food Trivia   ·   Today in Food History   ·   Recipes   ·   Cooking Tips   ·   Videos   ·   Food Quotes   ·   Who's Who   ·   Food Trivia Quizzes   ·   Crosswords   ·   Food Poems   ·   Cookbooks   ·   Food Posters   ·   Recipe Contests   ·   Culinary Schools   ·   Gourmet Tours   ·   Food Festivals & Shows  

 

  You are here > 

HomeFood ArticlesMeats >  Cattle and Methane Gas

 

Culinary Schools & Cooking Classes
From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training & Degrees -  Associates, Bachelors & Masters
More than 1,000 schools & classes listed for all 50 States, Online and Worldwide

 

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals

Cattle and Methane Gas

 

EARTH TALK
January 2006

Dear EarthTalk: Someone told me that methane gas emitted by cows is a major contributor to global warming. I thought it was a joke, but is this true?  -- David Rietz, Goose Creek, SC

Accumulation of methane in the Earth’s atmosphere has nearly doubled around the globe over the past 200 years. Scientists believe that rising concentrations of this “greenhouse gas,” which absorbs and sends infrared radiation to the Earth, are causing changes in the climate and contributing to global warming.

Livestock animals naturally produce methane as part of their digestive process, belching it while chewing cud and excreting it in their waste. According to the Worldwatch Institute, about 15 to 20 percent of global methane emissions come from livestock. John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution and Diet for a New America, says that methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the culprit normally at the center of global warming discussions.

And there are plenty of sources of it: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that animals in the U.S. meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste produced, or five tons for every U.S. citizen. In addition to its impact on climate, hog, chicken and cow waste has polluted some 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, says that a food chain with meat at its top is unsustainable not only as a major contributor of greenhouse gases, but also with regard to inefficient dedication of large amounts of acreage to livestock grazing. The USDA, for example, says that growing the crops necessary to feed farmed animals requires nearly 80 percent of America’s agricultural land and half of its water supply.

In addition, animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90 percent of the country’s soy crop, 80 percent of its corn crop, and 70 percent of its grain. “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” says Cornell ecologist David Pimentel. He adds that irresponsible livestock farming is directly or indirectly responsible for much of the soil erosion in the U.S.

Unfortunately, environmental problems associated with livestock rearing are not limited to the United States. According to the international environmental journal, Earth Times, meat production grew more than fivefold worldwide during the latter half of the 20th century. And as intensive “factory” farming methods of raising livestock spread from the U.S. to other countries--many with regulatory monitoring and enforcement standards far worse than our own--this form of pollution is sure to play an increasingly larger role in environmental problems moving forward.

ET_logo_Sml_4colorCONTACTS: Organic Consumers Association, (www.purefood.org); Worldwatch Institute, (www.worldwatch.org)

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881 USA; e-mail: earthtalk@emagazine.com . Read past columns at: http://www.emagazine.com/article/category/earthtalk

 

 

RELATED ARTICLES

  Meats   ·   Kobe Beef   ·   Scrapple   ·   Grass Fed Beef Tips   ·   Bacon – The Next Health Craze?   ·   Beef, North America's Meat   ·   Beef, Where's the Beef?   ·   Belly of the Beast   ·   Best of Both Worlds   ·   Cattle and Methane Gas   ·   Chuck Wagon   ·   Cooking With Brains   ·   Elk, Wapiti   ·   Emu, Questions & Answers   ·   Goats   ·   Ham, Delicious and Nutritious   ·   Hamburgers, Un-Wimpy Burgers   ·   Holiday Beef Roasting Tips   ·   Lamb   ·   Legs, Get A Leg Up   ·   Marrow Bones: Throw'em A Bone   ·   Meat and Heat   ·   Meatless Mondays   ·   Meat, Red Meat, White Lies   ·   Meatloaf, Paradise by Stovetop Light   ·   Navarin of Lamb   ·   Ostrich   ·   Pork: This Little Piggy 1   ·   Pork: This Little Piggy 2   ·   Ribs: A Good Ribbing   ·   Round and Round   ·   Running Aground   ·   Sausages, Hams and Pates   ·   Shepherd's Pie   ·   Wild Boar, Winning Contest Recipe  
  Home   ·   About & Contact Us   ·   Recipe Contests   ·   Food Timeline   ·   Food Links  

Please feel free to link to any pages of FoodReference.com from your website.
For permission to use any of this content please E-mail: james@foodreference.com
All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2014 James T. Ehler and www.FoodReference.com unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved.
You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.
Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.
Please take the time to request permission.