Thursday, April 17, 2014
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New study: Meatless Every-other-day?

A new study has found that to even have a chance at stopping Nitrous oxide from increasing by 2030, those of us in the developed world who now eat meat every day will need to change to every other day, that is, only half the time.

New study: Meatless Every-other-day?

Cut your meat intake in half -- if you´re not up to cutting it out entirely -- to save the planet, a new study says.
Cut your meat intake in half -- if you're not up to cutting it out entirely -- to save the planet, a new study says.

To anyone who has embraced the 'Meatless Monday' concept, I say good for you. Huzzah, and all that. But from a climate perspective, I hope you're not planning on sticking to the one-day-a-week regiment.

Let's just consider one greenhouse gas: Nitrous oxide. A new study has found that to even have a chance at stopping it from increasing by 2030, those of us in the developed world who now eat meat every day will need to change to every other day, that is, only half the time.

Here's how the write-up in Discovery News summarizes the study:

Nitrous oxide is the biggest man-made contributor to stratospheric ozone destruction (the "ozone hole"), and the third most critical greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane.

About 80 percent of nitrous oxide emissions from human activity come from agriculture. Bacteria convert the nitrogen found in manure or excess fertilizer left in the soil into nitrous oxide gas.

Every pound of meat we eat requires multiple pounds of grain to produce, and the grain in turn requires the use of nitrogen-containing fertilizer, so the amount of nitrous oxide released per calorie of meat (and dairy) is much higher than that from eating crops directly.

Eric Davidson of the Woods Hole Research Center looked at several possible trajectories for future nitrous oxide emissions, including stabilizing atmospheric nitrous oxide levels this century. He considered what changes to emissions would be necessary to achieve this target.

Davidson's work showed that even if we can somehow manage nitrogen twice as eficiently in the future, it will still be necessary for Westerners to cut their meat consumption in half.

"If we want to get to the most aggressive reduction -- the one that actually stabilizes nitrous oxide -- we have to use all of the above, including dietary changes, to get there," Davidson said.

Oh, and if you're a longtime Earth to Philly reader, you may be asking yourself, "hey, didn't Earth to Philly make the point that reducing meat consumption would be necessary to mitigate nitrous oxide a few years ago when nobody else was talking about this?"

And the answer is, yes. Yes we did. I'm willing to toot the "E2P Pride" horn for that. I may be a vegetarian, but Cory Booker I ain't.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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