Eating less meat may not reduce global warming after all, according to a new study. UC Davis professor and air quality expert Frank Mitloehner, who presented his findings at a conference of the American Chemical Society in California on Monday, said the focus on meat consumption only distracts from finding real climate change solutions.
"We certainly can reduce our greenhouse gas production, but not by consuming less meat and milk," Mitloehner said, dismissing earlier assertions that link livestock to global warming. One such report, "Livestock's Long Shadow," came form the United Nations and concluded that livestock cause more greenhouse gases than all global transportation combined. Mitloehner, however, is not convinced.
"Smarter animal farming, not less farming, will equal less heat," Mitloehner said. "Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries."
Mitloehner also dismissed campaigins like "Meatless Monday," an effort to get people to voluntarily give up meat each Monday, and Europe's "Less Meat = Less Heat" campaign, backed by former Beatle and renowned vegetarian Paul McCartney.
"McCartney and others seem to be well-intentioned but not well-schooled in the complex relationships among human activities, animal digestion, food production and atmospheric chemistry," said Mitloehner.
The solution? Mitloehner said that rather than focusing on meat, developed countries "should focus on cutting our use of oil and coal for electricity, heating and vehicle fuels." He went on to point out that transportation creates an estimated 26 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., whereas raising cattle only accounts for about three percent.