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shader

Meat and global warming -

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(This is not a thread to discuss whether global warming is happening)

It’s very popular today for vegans to claim that going vegan will save the planet.
 

In fact, there are claims that livestock emissions produce half of man made emissions:

http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html

When I read this article, despite its impressive nature, I immediately felt it was disingenuous, though I had no scientific basis for thinking that.
 

The following article showed how some of the figures in the above article were very misleading.

https://theconversation.com/yes-eating-meat-affects-the-environment-but-cows-are-not-killing-the-climate-94968

 

Like any other debate on this internet, vegans and non vegans rage about this. 
 

For me, I can’t seem to logically get behind the idea that if I skip meat on Mondays, I’m helping the environment.  
 

To me, there are so many other ways to help.  Drive a car with better gas mileage.  Don’t drive as much.  Don’t fly as much.  Try to use less electricity.  These seem like obvious ways to make a big impact.  Eating meat, to me, seems like something that is a natural part of life and even restricting it a bit would have a small impact.

But I’m willing to change if I can be convinced.  This board, when not political, has some smart guys.  What say you? 

Edited by shader

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I think it can be pretty straightforward - the methane farm animals produce would go way down if we didn’t use them for food and we stopped having them reproduce.  I say this as a meat eater who has no plans to be vegan.  

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Americans are already eating less red meat.   Been that way for awhile.

Beef production is going down and chicken production is up.  Alot. 

The whole cattle industry is still very wasteful.  Haul cows across the country to feed lot them for three weeks.   

Would save a ton of the impact simply not doing that.   

Whether or not some study screwed up some assumption is really not interesting.  

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Out of the 27 meals I eat every week, I’d say 24 of the are vegetarian (not vegan). It’s not anything I’m uppity about, I just don’t like the idea of creating a creature just to cage it and slaughter it. The entire industry needs an overhaul.  I don’t buy that eliminating meet would save the environment, but every little bit helps. 

Edited by bigmarc27
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I think it is irrelevant and the environmental issues will be resolved naturally when economics and technology dictate.  LED light bulbs, EV's, and countless other technologies are now being accepted, widely adopted, and reduce energy use so significantly that the adoption of these technologies alone will reduce our carbon footprint immensely in the coming years. Just like everything, the timing has to be right and the solution can't be forced.  I think we can leave the cows alone.

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1 hour ago, AAABatteries said:

I think it can be pretty straightforward - the methane farm animals produce would go way down if we didn’t use them for food and we stopped having them reproduce.  I say this as a meat eater who has no plans to be vegan.  

I don’t get why cows simply being alive is bad for the environment.  Admittedly I haven’t done any scientific research, but that doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

 

Now as for the industry as a whole being wasteful?  100% in agreement.  I’m sure lots of waste happens. Of course we fly vegetables and vegan products all over the world too...

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39 minutes ago, bigmarc27 said:

Out of the 27 meals I eat every week, I’d say 24 of the are vegetarian (not vegan). It’s not anything I’m uppity about, I just don’t like the idea of creating a creature just to cage it and slaughter it. The entire industry needs an overhaul.  I don’t buy that eliminating meet would save the environment, but every little bit helps. 

That’s the discussion me and a friend are having.  He claims “every little bit helps”.  I’m trying to establish how true this is.  For me to give up meat is a much bigger quality of life downgrade than turning my thermostats a few degrees in the right direction, buying cars that get better gas mileage, etc.

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2 minutes ago, shader said:

I don’t get why cows simply being alive is bad for the environment.  Admittedly I haven’t done any scientific research, but that doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

Define “bad”.  I’m just telling you what the science says that I’ve read.  I’m not making any judgement on whether it’s bad or good.  Most of the time that lense is squarely on whether it’s good for humans anyway.  If you are asking me if letting cows live is going to make the planet become uninhabitable then my answer would be no.

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If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat. 

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9 minutes ago, shader said:

He claims “every little bit helps”.  I’m trying to establish how true this is. 

It's pretty self-evident that doing a little bit is better than doing nothing.  Whether or not that little bit is worth it to you probably isn't something science can answer. 

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26 minutes ago, shader said:

That’s the discussion me and a friend are having.  He claims “every little bit helps”.  I’m trying to establish how true this is.  For me to give up meat is a much bigger quality of life downgrade than turning my thermostats a few degrees in the right direction, buying cars that get better gas mileage, etc.

It’s like trying to lose weight. Not drinking that soda today isn’t going to make a huge difference, but say you gave up one soda every day.  That’s 140 calories a day, 51,100 calories a year, which equates to nearly 15lbs in a year. So yeah, it’s just one soda today, but if I told you it was 15 lbs lost in a year you’d be on board. 

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58 minutes ago, shader said:

I don’t get why cows simply being alive is bad for the environment.  Admittedly I haven’t done any scientific research, but that doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

 

Now as for the industry as a whole being wasteful?  100% in agreement.  I’m sure lots of waste happens. Of course we fly vegetables and vegan products all over the world too...

This isn't black and white. Only super militant vegans are saying no cows.

Most scientists agree that (what we call) greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere trap heat that would otherwise be radiated to space. Currently we have approx 411 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere (up from 325 in 1970 and about 290 in 1880). Some greenhouse gas emissions are indeed natural, some man made. Some greenhouse gasses trap more heat than others, methane about 25 times more than CO2. Current levels appear to be heating up the globe (up 0.8C since 1880 per the IPCC)

One cow emits approx 250 lbs of methane per year (according to timeforchange.org ), at 25 times more efficient at trapping heat than CO2 that is the equivalent of 6,250 lbs of CO2 per year

What's that equivalent to?

Driving 5500 miles in a 2019 Ford 150 2wd gasoline model

So, it seems there are more ways than one to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Edited by msommer
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2 hours ago, shader said:

In fact, there are claims that livestock emissions produce half of man made emissions:

Great.  So now humans are getting blamed for what the livestock does?  

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43 minutes ago, Ignoratio Elenchi said:

It's pretty self-evident that doing a little bit is better than doing nothing.  Whether or not that little bit is worth it to you probably isn't something science can answer. 

Of course, I totally agree! I was on a plane and quickly sent that off without diving into it deeper.

I suppose my question is whether is actually does help.  If it does help the environment to not eat meat, than you’re 100% right.

But is it really helping things to shed meat?  That’s, I believe, the root of my question.

If it is helping a tiny bit, is rather make my adjustments in other areas.

If it’s more significant than downsizing to a Prius from an SUV, perhaps that is a different conversation.

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9 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

Great.  So now humans are getting blamed for what the livestock does?  

We are breeding quite a lot of them solely for our consumption

Edited by msommer
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3 minutes ago, msommer said:

This isn't black and white. Only super militant vegans are saying no cows.

Most scientists agree that (what we call) greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere trap heat that would otherwise be radiated to space. Currently we have approx 411 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere (up from 325 in 1970 and about 290 in 1880). Some greenhouse gas emissions are indeed natural, some man made. Some greenhouse gasses trap more heat than others, methane about 25 times more than CO2

One cow emits approx 250 lbs of methane per year (according to timeforchange.org ), at 25 times more efficient at trapping heat than CO2 that is the equivalent of 6,250 lbs of CO2 per year

What's that equivalent to?

Driving 5500 miles in a 2019 Ford 150 2wd gasoline model

So, it seems there are more ways than one to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Awesome info, thanks!  So is the solution to kill a bunch of cows?  Cows actually being alive seems to be the issue here?

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4 minutes ago, msommer said:

We are breefing quite a lot of them solely for our consumption

I don't think we've ever breefed any for consumption.  

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2 minutes ago, shader said:

Awesome info, thanks!  So is the solution to kill a bunch of cows?  Cows actually being alive seems to be the issue here?

Cows being alive is opportunity cost to have pastures full of trees, primarily in South America where they are burning forest to make room for more cows.  

Pigs and Chickens don't require huge pasture space to feed.  Though pigs and chickens promote monoculture crops to feed them, which is a whole another issue.

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7 minutes ago, shader said:

Awesome info, thanks!  So is the solution to kill a bunch of cows?  Cows actually being alive seems to be the issue here?

Breeding fewer of them to eat seems a smart thing to do (as is moving to smaller cars with better milage, stopping to burn coal/oil etc).

There are approx 1.5 bn cows in the world (some say 1 bn, not sure who's right), so it seems going cow-light would help a lot. 

Edited by msommer
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1 minute ago, msommer said:

We are breefing quite a lot of them solely for our consumption

To me the logic in comparing what one cow emits in a year with 5500 miles in a car is a bit iffy so allow me to walk myself through it a bit more.

For instance, if I drive a car, I directly pollute the air and use up fuel.  If I decided to ride my bike, I’m directly lowering the amount of emissions that hit the atmosphere.

With a cow it doesn’t seem so easy. First of all, you’re eating a dead cow that isn’t producing methane.  It already lived its life and probably had its offspring.  So you literally aren’t changing a thing when you decide to not buy meat, other than affecting supply and demand.

It’s very hard for me to figure out how one person turning vegan is going to impact the life of one cow. 

In fact, if a sudden large number of people stopped eating meat, I’d imagine that more cows would temporarily be alive and methane would increase.

So this is one of those things where a large number of people would have to agree to stop eating meat, and then the cow farmers would respond by lowering their cow herd levels. 
 

One of the original articles I posted showed how cow numbers are actually down due to improved science, but I’ll have to investigate that further.

 

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Obviously we want to have some heat trapping gasses in the atmosphere because otherwise it would get rather cold, so there probably is a low end value that we want to keep above.

Looking at the ppm from ice cores 150 years ago it was pretty steady at 270-280 ppm. We know we can live on earth everywhere we live now with that level of trapped heat. So that looks like a good number for a lower range

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BTW, I was just making a snarky joke.  I didn't know it would be taken seriously.

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1 minute ago, shader said:

other than affecting supply and demand

If people buy less beef, prices are going to drop, fewer cows will be bred for slaughter as farmers migrate to better paying stuff (this may not be a painless transition)

If people use less fossil fuels, prices are going to drop, less oil is going to be pumped, refined, burned etc. This may not be a painless transition either 

Same mechanism, though

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Is this sarcasm that eating less meat will increase greenhouse emissions because cows live longer? 

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2 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

BTW, I was just making a snarky joke.  I didn't know it would be taken seriously.

I know (and knew that you didn't know) ;)

 

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8 minutes ago, msommer said:

Breeding fewer of them to eat seems a smart thing to do (as is moving to smaller cars with better milage, stopping to burn coal/oil etc).

There are approx 1.5 bn cows in the world (some say 1 bn, not sure who's right), so it seems going cow-light would help a lot. 

I would agree with that.  This seems like a top down policy thing.  If cows are really bad for the environment, then the cow farmers need to cut back.  One guy simply won’t change the numbers, at all, imo.

To be fair, one car’s emission won’t really help the environment all that much, but at least that is a direct impact you can have, where reducing beef seems very indirect. Imo

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2 minutes ago, Brony said:

Is this sarcasm that eating less meat will increase greenhouse emissions because cows live longer? 

I thought the same thing.  Imagine if 10 million heavy beef eaters suddenly stopped eating beef.  What would the impact be?  Immediately, zero impact other than rotting beef or huge sales as grocery stores sell out of their beef.

Id imagine if this trickled down, the farmers would slaughter a few less cows, which would lead to an increase in emissions.

Its difficult to imagine where in the process farmers would actually reduce their herds, but it would take some time. In the meantime, there would be cheap beef for everyone and the beef guys would go crazy with 4.99 T-bones.  

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there’s a difference between “cows being alive” and “cows being bred as a major food source”.

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions - here’s one link from the EPA that shows agriculture at 9% Of emissions. That seems low to me, I’ve definitely read places that show it as a higher percentage.  Hard to know on an individual basis what would have more effect, eating Vegan or driving an EV.  My guess is the latter, but the former isn’t negligible.

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7 minutes ago, shader said:

I thought the same thing.  Imagine if 10 million heavy beef eaters suddenly stopped eating beef.  What would the impact be?  Immediately, zero impact other than rotting beef or huge sales as grocery stores sell out of their beef.

Id imagine if this trickled down, the farmers would slaughter a few less cows, which would lead to an increase in emissions.

Its difficult to imagine where in the process farmers would actually reduce their herds, but it would take some time. In the meantime, there would be cheap beef for everyone and the beef guys would go crazy with 4.99 T-bones.  

This is actually a point I bring up a lot when people say things like this.  On paper, yes, the numbers all work out.  But there's so much more going on.  The strain of the economy.  On people's lives.  These are all things that the numbers can't show.  I'm not saying that means one way or another, but I always try to explain to people that there's more to what the debate is than just 'numbers.'

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9 minutes ago, joffer said:

there’s a difference between “cows being alive” and “cows being bred as a major food source”.

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions - here’s one link from the EPA that shows agriculture at 9% Of emissions. That seems low to me, I’ve definitely read places that show it as a higher percentage.  Hard to know on an individual basis what would have more effect, eating Vegan or driving an EV.  My guess is the latter, but the former isn’t negligible.

That does look low. The estimate in DK is approx 20% (And we eat way more pork than beef). By comparison in DK the estimate for transport is 30%

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14 minutes ago, joffer said:

there’s a difference between “cows being alive” and “cows being bred as a major food source”.

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions - here’s one link from the EPA that shows agriculture at 9% Of emissions. That seems low to me, I’ve definitely read places that show it as a higher percentage.  Hard to know on an individual basis what would have more effect, eating Vegan or driving an EV.  My guess is the latter, but the former isn’t negligible.

In my initial research, I read that there was once an article that had the percentage at 50%.  But then one scientist showed how that number was entirely inaccurate.  Yet that original 50% is still used quite a bit.  

Many industries infringe on the others and make it difficult to get accurate percentages?

Edited by shader

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16 minutes ago, joffer said:

there’s a difference between “cows being alive” and “cows being bred as a major food source”.

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions - here’s one link from the EPA that shows agriculture at 9% Of emissions. That seems low to me, I’ve definitely read places that show it as a higher percentage.  Hard to know on an individual basis what would have more effect, eating Vegan or driving an EV.  My guess is the latter, but the former isn’t negligible.

One question, why is there a difference in cows being bred as a major food source and just being alive?  Struggling to understand what you’re talking about here.

 

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3 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

This is actually a point I bring up a lot when people say things like this.  On paper, yes, the numbers all work out.  But there's so much more going on.  The strain of the economy.  On people's lives.  These are all things that the numbers can't show.  I'm not saying that means one way or another, but I always try to explain to people that there's more to what the debate is than just 'numbers.'

Totally agree - there is also a large amount of Pandora's Box going on here. Beef tastes good. It is extremely convenient to fly (overseas?) on vacation. We have a LOT of power plants that burn coal and currently provide a base load cover that solar and wind (currently) can't do etc, etc.

Greenhouse gas emission reduction (maybe even sequestration on day) isn't a matter of one silver bullet (Thorium reacotrs! Fusion!) but more the death of a thousand cuts.
We have to do some o' dis and some o' dat to get ahead

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2 minutes ago, msommer said:

That does look low. The estimate in DK is approx 20% (And we eat way more pork than beef). By comparison in DK the estimate for transport is 30%

I’m sure it comes down to how you classify something.  Does power generation used specifically for agriculture fall under one or the other?  Same for transportation.  I have read and watched a lot of industry experts on the subject and quite a few say the single biggest thing an individual can do is go Vegan.  Seems like a hard calculation/estimation to make.

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1 minute ago, joffer said:

I’m sure it comes down to how you classify something.  Does power generation used specifically for agriculture fall under one or the other?  Same for transportation.  I have read and watched a lot of industry experts on the subject and quite a few say the single biggest thing an individual can do is go Vegan.  Seems like a hard calculation/estimation to make.

And that’s the point if the thread.  I seriously doubt this is true and don’t understand how anyone can promote this idea intellectually.

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1 minute ago, shader said:

One question, why is there a difference in cows being bred as a major food source and just being alive?  Struggling to understand what you’re talking about here.

 

95 million head of cattle currently in the US.  You think if the amount of beef consumed starts to decline that number stays there?

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2 minutes ago, msommer said:

Totally agree - there is also a large amount of Pandora's Box going on here. Beef tastes good. It is extremely convenient to fly (overseas?) on vacation. We have a LOT of power plants that burn coal and currently provide a base load cover that solar and wind (currently) can't do etc, etc.

Greenhouse gas emission reduction (maybe even sequestration on day) isn't a matter of one silver bullet (Thorium reacotrs! Fusion!) but more the death of a thousand cuts.
We have to do some o' dis and some o' dat to get ahead

And again, I'm not discouraging anything.  I just think sometimes people look at numbers and think they see an easy solution.  It's like that old joke or whatever where a town gets bats to get rid of all of their insect problems.  But then they have a bat problem, so they get a bunch of mountain lions to get rid of them.  But now they have a mountain lion problem.  Or however it goes.  But the point is, we should all be aware that there are unforeseen consequences to our actions.  And numbers aren't always cut and dry.  And I'm not accusing anyone here of this.  Just saying it. 

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13 minutes ago, shader said:

One question, why is there a difference in cows being bred as a major food source and just being alive?  Struggling to understand what you’re talking about here.

A cow is generally slaughtered after 18 months of life in the US (as an example - it varies a bit, cows that are bred to provide milk e.g. live approx five years, produce 2500 gallons of milk and the beef is usually used for ground beef, but I digress). The best quality beef is from cows that are less than 36 months old but that too varies a bit on feed and marbling and such.

So, as an extremely simplified example lets say that consumption dropped by half overnight. You'd slaughter half as many as you normally would for two years and only then breed half the old number of cows* to put supply and demand in balance again.

* as I understand it it's mostly artificial insemination these days.

ETA: Lots of farmers would likely go bust in these two years (but probably not half)

ETA2: This would drop greenhouse gas emissions from cows by 50% as from the beginning of year 2

Edited by msommer

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4 minutes ago, joffer said:

95 million head of cattle currently in the US.  You think if the amount of beef consumed starts to decline that number stays there?

Eventually yes of course 

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1 minute ago, shader said:

Eventually yes of course 

you lost me.  You don’t think we’d raise fewer cows?

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3 hours ago, shader said:

Try to use less electricity.  

Man, this is one that seems to be would be the easiest to do and make a decent impact.

And while we can all do it day-to-day on a residential scale simply by turning off the light switch, think about all the commercial businesses in our country and the wasteful electricity that happens there. 

Think about the light pollution in the US alone. Drive around your city at night and look around. Almost every business keeps lights on all night even when they are closed. Every large office building has lights on at every floor level (I understand people clean offices at night, but every floor doesn't need to be on at all times).

Every parking lot has extra lighting that is on all night every night.

And I understand lighting = security. But we don't need to use this much electricity. So wasteful. 

Edited by ChiefD

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1 minute ago, joffer said:

you lost me.  You don’t think we’d raise fewer cows?

Sorry man stepping into a meeting and not able to give a comprehensive answer.  I’ll catch  up again later 

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What percentage are cars/truck/all vehicles contributing?  I would think they are doing much more harm than farting hiefers.

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3 minutes ago, ChiefD said:

Man, this is one that seems to be would be the easiest to do and make a decent impact.

And while we can all do it day-to-day on a residential scale simply by turning off the light switch, think about all the commercial businesses in our country and the wasteful electricity that happens there. 

Think about the light pollution in the US alone. Drive around your city at night and look around. Almost every business keeps lights on all night even when they are closed. Every large office building has lights on at every floor level (I understand people clean offices at night, but every floor doesn't need to be on at all times).

Every parking light has extra lighting that is on all night every night.

And I understand lighting = security. But we don't need to use this much electricity. So wasteful. 

:goodposting:
The best KWh is the one you stop using. Incandescent lightbulbs have e.g. been banned in the EU. I used to have my house lit up by 60W bulbs. I think the LEDs I use now are about 4W

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3 minutes ago, eoMMan said:

What percentage are cars/truck/all vehicles contributing?  I would think they are doing much more harm than farting hiefers.

Burping.

HTH

;) 

Edited by msommer
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If we replace horses with cars, all of those horses are just going to take over this country with all of that free time. 

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It goes way beyond methane. Look at land use and water use and food that could otherwise go to humans for cows and other meats vs. not meat sources. 

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3 minutes ago, eoMMan said:

What percentage are cars/truck/all vehicles contributing?  I would think they are doing much more harm than farting hiefers.

In the EU it's apparently 13% (agriculture) and 29% (transport incl ocean/air) respectively. 

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1 minute ago, Northern Voice said:

It goes way beyond methane. Look at land use and water use and food that could otherwise go to humans for cows and other meats vs. not meat sources. 

Let's not complicate matters further.

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Just now, msommer said:

Let's not complicate matters further.

Well when the first post contains this "For me, I can’t seem to logically get behind the idea that if I skip meat on Mondays, I’m helping the environment." We should probably discussing the bigger factors, not cow burps. 

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