A few weeks ago, one of our County Farm Bureaus sent us a letter to the editor that was published in their local paper.
In the letter, the author blamed agriculture — mainly livestock production — for increased greenhouse gas emissions. The author quoted a 2006 U.N. report titled, “Livestock’s Long Shadow.”
The report says that the meat industry accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. The only problem with the report — and the resulting letter to the editor — is that it’s wrong.
In fact, a study by Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., an associate professor and cooperative extension specialist in air quality from the University of California at Davis, proved the U.N. study’s information was far from correct, especially considering the emissions figures in the U.N. report were calculated differently for the meat sector than they were for the transportation sector.
Yet, the U.N. study is still quoted again and again. It just keeps turning up like a bad penny.
According to Mitloehner, meat and milk production generates less greenhouse gas than most environmentalists claim. In 2007, only 2.8 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions came from animal agriculture, compared with 26 percent from the transportation sector, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This number has remained consistent since 1990, which is impressive considering the U.S. increase in meat production of almost 50 percent over the same period of time.
Given Mitloehner’s research, the U.N. has admitted their researching linking livestock to global warming was exaggerated. In fact, a quick search on the internet turns up article after article documenting the U.N.’s mistake.
Moral of the story? If you’re looking for information about anything — agriculture or not — take the time to check the facts. It’s easy Google a question and take the first answer the pops up, but it may not always be the best or correct answer.