Beef and greenhouse gases: Are we cooked?

The current issue of Scientific American has a sobering article about the environmental cost of beef.

I'll quote come the key concepts: 

  • Pound for pound, beef production generates greenhouse gases that contribute more than 13 times as much to global warming as do the gases emitted from producing chicken. For potatoes, the multiplier is 57.
  • Beef consumption is rising rapidly, both as population increases and as people eat more meat.
  • Producing the annual beef diet of the average American emits as much greenhouse gas as a car driven more than 1,800 miles.

The article also has great graphics of worldwide consumption, our growing appetite for beef and how beef production leads to greenhouse gases (32 percent is from methane emissions of the cows themselves and their wastes).  

It's written by Nathan Fiala, a doctoral candidate in economics at UC Irvine, who focuses on the environmental impacts of dietary habits.

Since Jan. 1, I've been logging my beef consumption, and I've found I don't eat as much as I thought. Once a week, max.  And that's on the decline.

But cheese? That's another thing. Gulp. I wonder if sheep cheese results in fewer emissions than that made from cows. Any thoughts, anyone?