Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brazilian beef – greater impact on the environment than we realize

04.03.2011
Increased export of Brazilian beef indirectly leads to deforestation in the Amazon. New research from Chalmers and SIK that was recently published in Environmental Science & Technology shows that impact on the climate is much greater than current estimates indicate. The researchers are now demanding that indirect effect on land be included when determining a product’s carbon footprint.

“If this aspect is not taken into consideration, there is a risk of the wrong signals being sent to policy makers and consumers, and we become guilty of underestimating the impact Brazilian beef has on the climate,” says Sverker Molander, Professor Environmental Systems Analysis and one of the researchers responsible for the article.

In Brazil, beef production is the major cause of deforestation in the Amazon. The consequence is not only that valuable rainforest disappears – deforestation also adds to the greenhouse effect. When the carbon-rich forest is burned down to clear land for farming, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released. An estimated 60-70 per cent of the deforested land is used for cattle ranching.

Brazil has emerged as the largest beef exporter in the world over the course of the 2000s. However, very little of the exported beef comes from the deforested parts of the Amazon. In the international surveys performed to estimate a product’s impact on the environment – known as carbon footprint standards – this beef is calculated as causing zero emissions from deforestation, while causing regular emissions from the cattle’s digestion and feed production. Beef from deforested areas also only constitutes a small portion of total production, about six per cent.

“The snag is that this six per cent of beef production causes about 25 times more carbon dioxide emissions than beef produced in the rest of Brazil. This means that the average for carbon dioxide emissions caused by beef production in Brazil is twice as high as that in Europe,” says Sverker Molander.

The article in Environmental Science & Technology shows that growing export is a major driver behind increased production of beef in Brazil, which means it has indirectly contributed to an expansion of pasture in the Amazon. As it stands today, only land whose use is directly changed is included when estimating a product’s carbon footprint, which is misleading.

“We have calculated in many different ways in the article, and no matter how we do it, we arrive at the conclusion that Brazilian beef is a heavy producer of carbon dioxide.”

Carbon dioxide emissions in conjunction with deforestation are currently responsible for ten per cent of all emissions globally. Increasing demand for more feed, biofuel and food, primarily meat, creates a need for more farming land, which leads to deforestation and even greater emissions.

“The basic problem is that we are eating an increasing amount of meat. For every new kilogram we eat, the risk of deforestation increases,” says Christel Cederberg, one of the article’s co-authors and a researcher at both Chalmers and SIK.

The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture has set a goal to double the country’s beef export over the next decade. At the same time, global demand for biodiesel and ethanol, which are produced from soy and sugar cane in the southern part of the country, is increasing. This has resulted in rising land prices. Many cattle ranchers sell their valuable grazing land to soy and sugar cane farmers, and then buy big land areas in the less expensive northern regions.

“By 2050, global meat consumption is expected to have increased by almost 80 per cent, which will require more grazing land and increased soy cultivation. Added to this is increased demand for land to produce bioenergy. Yields cannot just continue to increase. No matter from which angle you look at the forecasts, changed and increased land use is the result,” says Christel Cederberg.

More information: Sverker Molander, Professor Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers; sverker.molander@chalmers.se; +46 (0)31-772 21 69

Christel Cederberg, researcher at Chalmers and SIK, the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology; christel.cederberg@sik.se; +46 (0)708-71 03 74

Christian Borg | idw
Further information:
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es103240z
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>