Thursday, May 03, 2007

Does Your Burger Cause Wildfires?

On ABC World news for Tuesday, I heard this year's wildfire season is supposed to be pretty harsh. I couldn't find a write-up at the recently redesigned ABC News homepage, but I did find this at USA Today.

As far as fire danger, "an average or above-average year is likely," reports USA Today. This follows 2006, the "worst fire season in a half-century." Of course, "summer heat" is a potential factor

That in mind, I thought I'd type a bit on the connection between what we eat and how it affects the earth's temperature.

Last month, the UN quietly released a study identifying "the world's rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate," according to
a report at The Independent (UK). As it turns out, livestock crank out 18 percent of all greenhouse gases on earth. The problem there is that gases from livestock are particularly nasty. Methane, for example, "warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide."

Of course, it gets worse. According to the Independent, "Livestock also produces more than 100 other polluting gases, including more than two-thirds of the world's emissions of ammonia, one of the main causes of acid rain." Oh, ranching is also cited by the UN Report as the "major driver of deforestation." And in the oceans, pollution from feedlots create "dead zones" where aquatic life, including coral, is wiped out.

The animal "most to blame?" The UN report cites cows (there are an estimated 1.5 billion cattle around the world). But I say, if any animal is to blame, it's the one whose steady appetite for beef has created the massive, global heard and its brutal environmental impact.

Not-so-fun fact: In the Independent article, I learned that it takes 260 gallons of water to create one quart of milk.

And it gets worse: The UN reports "the massive damage done by livestock" will double by 2050 as "demand for meat" climbs.

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About Me

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.