Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Modern beef farming makes driving more energy efficient than walking

26.07.2007
New research suggests that one kilogramme of beef adds 36 kilogrammes of CO2 and other climate changing pollutants to the atmosphere. One implication of this is that it takes less energy drive than to walk – if you are a beef eater.

Says Chris Goodall, author of How to Live a Low-carbon Life, “Driving a typical UK car for three miles adds about 0.9 kg of CO2 to the atmosphere. If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You'd need about 100grammes of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6 kg of emissions, or 4 times as much as walking. ”

Recent research, summarised in the New Scientist magazine (18th July 2007), suggests that modern methods of intensive beef production generate large amounts of greenhouse gases. This is not a new hypothesis: we have gradually become aware of the huge amounts of grain needed to feed our animals, and of the troublesome amounts of energy needed to produce the fertiliser needed to get our cereals to grow. The scientist David Pimentel has suggested that it takes seven times as much grain to feed all meat animals in the US as it does to directly feed the human population. The new research suggests that one kilogramme of meat creates the equivalent of over 36kg of global warming gases.

The average person in the UK eats about 12 kilogrammes of beef a year. So eating a typical amount of beef generates 0.4 tonnes of emissions. After including the impact of international aviation, each UK citizen is responsible for about 12 tonnes of emissions from all sources, including industry. A simple sum shows that beef, a relatively small part of many people's diet, accounts for between 3 and 4% of the typical UK person's carbon footprint.

This is bad enough. But looked at another way, the impact of our food production becomes even clearer. A simple calculation shows that industrial food production is more destructive of the global atmosphere than driving a car. In particular, if one walks to the shops, and eats something after the walk to put back the calories lost in the exercise, then it would generally be better to drive instead of walk. The greenhouse gas content of the top-up food may well be greater than the emissions from the car.

An example

Walking three miles uses about 180 calories. Replacing the energy used, assuming you don’t want to lose weight, would mean eating about 100 grammes of beef. Of course, it depends on the cut of meat, and how much fat it contains, but this figure is reasonably typical of beef in British shops. The scientists in Japan give a figure of 36 kg of emissions for a kilo of meat, so a portion of 100 grammes equates to about 3.6kg. This is the first part of the calculation – it shows that one 3 mile walk generates 3.6kg of emissions if one replaces the energy lost with beef.

What if one drove the 3 miles instead, and so didn’t need the extra food? The average UK car emits about 290 grammes (0.29kg) of CO2 for every mile travelled. A 3 mile trip therefore generates 0.87 kg of emissions. This is about a quarter of the equivalent emissions from walking. And if there are two of you, and you share the car, then walking would be eight times as bad for the climate.

The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better.

Modern agriculture is extraordinarily energy intensive. And it is not just energy. Cows belch gallons of methane every day and methane is a fiercer global warming gas than CO2. Manure and fertiliser also give off smaller quantities of nitrous oxide, which has over 300 times the impact of CO2.

Intuitively we recognise that major industries such as aluminium smelting generate climate changing emissions. But making a kilogramme of aluminium – one of the most energy intensive processes used today – creates only about 6kg of CO2 if fossil fuel is used compared to 6 times as much for food.

Says Goodall, “We need to become accustomed to the idea that our food production systems, particularly those involving ruminant animals and their methane burps, are equally damaging. As the man from Ryanair says, cows generate more emissions than aircraft. Unfortunately, he is right. Of course this doesn’t mean we should always choose to use air or car travel instead of walking. It means we need urgently to work out how to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of our foodstuffs.”

Gudrun Freese | alfa
Further information:
http://shop.earthscan.co.uk/ProductDetails/mcs/productID/773/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>