Thursday is Earth Day, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is using the opportunity to push its animal-rights agenda. Yesterday, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk penned an op-ed claiming that whenever we “consume meat, eggs or dairy foods, we contribute to ecological devastation.” (Not true.) And today in Birmingham, Alabama, scantily-dressed PETA fem-bots will hold an outdoor shower protest to allege that one pound of beef requires the same amount of water as six months’ worth of showers. (Also not true.)
These animal-rights eco-talking points are like non-eroding garbage— they won’t go away, and they stink like crazy. One of Newkirk’s complaints is that meat contributes significantly to global warming. Not so in the United States. The EPA’s 2008 inventory of greenhouse gases found that the entire U.S. livestock industry accounts for less than 3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. And in February a British study found that “going veg” could actually hurt the environment by forcing more land into cultivation and raising the risk of forests being bulldozed.
As for PETA’s shower claim, this loony logic is water soluble. PETA used to claim that one pound of beef took a whole year’s worth of shower water—before quietly changing its claim to “six months.” But even this revised figure is still a gross miscalculation. According to a 1999 estimate from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, a group made up of actual agriculture scientists, it would take fewer than 18 ten-minute showers to consume the amount of water required to produce a pound of lean American beef. (That includes all the water consumed by cattle, and the water used to irrigate feed crops and process the meat.)
We couldn’t resist raining on PETA’s parade, so we’re telling the media today that PETA’s Earth Day antics are all wet. Here’s what our Director of Research said in a press release:
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If these PETA protesters are only showering 18 times every 6 months, I guess a Birmingham intersection is as good a place as any to catch up. We've always said that PETA stinks, but now we know why.
One good way to protect the planet this Earth Day is to encourage meat producers across the globe to catch up to American efficiency standards. Another way is to stop buying what PETA is selling.