In the modern times, the world has seen a shift in public opinion as well as government policy concerning emissions. The two main areas that are emphasized are the Energy sector as well as transportation. One example of how government policy is changing is President Obama’s National Fuel Efficiency Policy. It states that the average fuel economy must be 35.5 mpg in 2016 .
However, there is one sector that very few Americans think about when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, that is the Agricultural Sector. Just living in the US it is easy to see that we live a life of luxury compared to most places. As a result of that we are able to afford large quantities of food that we inevitably waste. This waste of energy was detailed in a post by HIRSCH2013 titled “When we waste food we waste energy” (link provided below) . However the energy used, and the resulting emissions, from that energy production needs to be accounted for as well.
From the ten years spanning 2002-2011, the United State averaged more than 27.2 billion pounds of annual beef consumption . In a life cycle analysis of greenhouse emissions for common foods conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Beef was shown to have emission of about 27.0 kg of CO2e (Carbon Dioxide equivalents) per kilogram of beef. The following graph was also produced by the EWG . Those 27.2 billion pounds of beef translates to 462.4 billion pounds of CO2e per year.This source of emissions in never really talked about, yet adds significantly to the about of greenhouse gases produced. Now, while the US government will not likely mandate how much food we eat, we Americans can take it upon ourselves to be conscious about our food choices. Now, I love steak as much as anyone else, but research shows that eating too much read met can have harmful side effects. Eating read meat could increase the risk getting heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. This risk increases as people being to eat more processed meat such as bacon and hot dogs . In a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, they found that each additional serving of meat increased the chance of death among the participants, and advised that people should eat red meat only about two to three times in a week .
Based on health and energy research, changing ones diet to reduce the intake of red meat in favor of poultry or fish (or other protein providers) would aid in keeping ourselves healthy and reducing our carbon footprint, both of which can be taken as very positive things.
1: President Obama Announces National Fuel Efficiency Policy. (2009, May 19). Retrieved February 17, 2013, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-announces-national-fuel-efficiency-policy
3: USDA ERS – Cattle & Beef: Statistics & Information. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2013, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/cattle-beef/statistics-information.aspx
4: Climate and Environmental Impacts. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2013, from http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/climate-and-environmental-impacts/
5: Are You Eating Too Much Meat? (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2013, from http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/are-you-eating-too-much-meat.html#b
6: Harding, A. (2012, March 13). Study: Too much red meat may shorten lifespan. Retrieved February 17, 2013, from http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/12/health/red-meat-shorten-lifespan