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 Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>