New Scientist Magazine reports that researchers from the Netherlands have concluded that cutting back on meat could save $20 trillion off the cost of fighting global warming.
According to the study (published Feb. 2009), if the world were to adopt a low-meat diet (defined as 70 grams of beef and 325 grams of chicken and eggs per week) there would be a 50% reduction in costs to stabilize carbon dioxide levels at 450 parts per million, a level that some scientists say is needed to help prevent dangerous droughts and sea level rises.
The savings would be a result of:
- A drop in livestock numbers which would significantly decrease methane levels and livestock feed levels ( to produce a kilogram of beef, or 2.2 pounds, farmers also have to feed a cow 15 kg of grain and 30 kg of forage).
- The availability of 15 million square kilometres of farmland which could be used instead for vegetation to absorb and reduce CO2 levels and to plant bioenergy crops to displace fossil fuels.
Elke Stehfest, one of the researchers, says the environmental cost of meat should be included in the purchase price. Journal reference: “Climate benefits of changing diet” (DOI: 10.1007/s10584-008-9534-6)
This is huge news. $20 Trillion dollars is a lot of money (duh). But I think most of us would agree that it isn’t easy for people to switch to low-meat or no-meat diets. So why not take the time and resources to show people that such a diet is necessary?
What if more people took the time to teach each other about how to adopt a low-meat diet? What if nonprofits, businesses, and governments invested in education programs (i.e., cooking classes, t.v. shows perhaps) to teach citizens about low-meat diets?