Ending Our Love Affair with SUV Burgers

We shouldn't be blaming biofuel production for rising food prices and environmental degradation while ignoring the immense harm of industrial meat production, writes Frances Cerra Whittelsey.

"Biofuel critics...often frame the problem as a choice between feeding people and feeding SUVs; they blame rising food prices on diverting food crops to fuel production. But it's false to frame the biofuel debate as a choice between people or SUVs.

The shocking fact is that production of beef, pork and poultry is a bigger part of the climate problem than the cars and trucks we drive, indeed of the whole transportation sector...the meat industry is a giant source of greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide is only one, and not the most dangerous one. All those steer feedlots and factory buildings crammed with pigs and chickens produce immense amounts of animal wastes that give off methane. On an equivalent basis to carbon dioxide, methane is twenty-three times more potent as a greenhouse gas. When you add in the production of fertilizer and other aspects of animal farming (including land use changes, feed transport, etc.) livestock farming is responsible for nearly one-fifth of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transportation sector, according to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Reducing our addiction to meat may not be popular, but we need to view our love affair with burgers and barbecue in the same frame as gas-guzzling SUVs."

Full Story: Eating Meat Is Worse Than Driving a Truck ... for the Climate

Comments

Comments

Misleading Claim About Meat Versus Cars and Trucks

"The shocking fact is that production of beef, pork and poultry is a bigger part of the climate problem than the cars and trucks we drive, indeed of the whole transportation sector"

I have heard this claim many times, and it is based on a UN report that compares world-wide emissions from motor vehicles and meat. Of course, most people in the world don't drive cars and trucks.

This claim is not true of America, where most people do drive cars or trucks. It is particularly misleading here, because the article doesn't even state that the claim applies to world-wide emissions. Saying "the cars and trucks we drive" to an American audience implies falsely that this applies to America.

Charles Siegel

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Woman wearing city map tote bag

City Shoulder Totes - New Cities Added!

Durable CityFabric© shoulder tote bags available from 7 different cities.
$22.00

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $50.
$369 includes free shipping!