Look, there are plenty of things in life to argue about. Which power ranger is the best, whether chocolate or vanilla is better (chocolate, by the way), what really happened at the end of Inception…
You know one thing we don’t need to argue about? Whether or not Americans contribute significantly to meat’s impact on global warming.
And yet the meat industry and its front groups (like the Center for Consumer Freedom) love to perpetuate the myth that Americans have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to meat and global warming, especially after beef consumption dipped in 2014.
Their argument is that the US has a more efficient livestock production system and US agriculture produces less than 6% of the US greenhouse gases, while globally, 18% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock. In order to stay competitive, we need to keep consumption and production patterns the same.
Ummmm… ok. Here are just two facts to set the record straight about whether Americans are still contributing to meat’s impact on global warming.
- Americans eat more meat than every country in the world except Australia, according to 2015 research done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And in 2018, they’re set to reach a record high of meat consumption (the average consumer will eat 222.2 pounds of meat this year). As consumption grows, production has to keep up. The more we produce, the more GHG we emit. It’s a simple equation.
- The US contributes the most greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere than any other country, with the exception of China. China officially surpassed the US in producing GHG, but China has 4 times the population size (China has 1.3 billion people, US has 300 million people). But historically speaking, we’ve been emitting greenhouse gases (especially CO2) for years and years and years — making Americans the biggest contributors to emissions. Just check out the image below, which shows CO2 responsibility PER CAPITA by country between 1950-2000.
So what does this have to do with meat’s impact on GHG emissions in the United States? Well, given population size, we can predict that X% of US GHG per capita is far greater than x% of China’s GHG per capita.
Look, I’m not asking everyone in America to go vegan (but that’d be nice). I am asking that we don’t bury our heads in the sand about our impact on greenhouse gas emissions. As long as Americans continue to crave meat and fuel demand for the livestock industry, the United States will continue to be a major contributor to meat’s impact on global warming.