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UN Report: Livestock Poop vs Your Tailpipe

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

hummer angus

A new report issued by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization confirms once again that raising livestock generates more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation sector.

In a sad comment on human nature, nowhere in the 400 page report is the easiest solution offered: reduce or stop your consumption of meat and dairy. It is 1600% more efficient to feed people a plant-based diet than to feed that grain to cattle.


  • The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent than transport (18% vs. 13.5%).
    It accounts for 9% of the CO2 derived from human-related activities.
  • It generates 65% of the human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. (Nitrous oxide mostly comes from manure. Just think about 56 billion “food” animals going to the bathroom every day!)
  • It’s responsible for 37% of all the human-induced methane, which is 23 times more warming than CO2. (Methane is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants.)
  • Livestock now use 30% of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly for permanent pasture but also including 33% of global arable land to produce feed for them.
  • As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation – some 70% of forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. (Note: when trees are cut down, all the CO2 they had absorbed gets released back into the atmosphere!)

Here’s more info about the environmental impact of meat and dairy — or visit the UN Site and see for yourself. Thanks to Mary Max for compliling some of these statistics together.


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