cows-grazing-out-to-pasture

Global Warming: A Growing Greenhouse Gas Problem

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Oct 23, 2013    •    658 Views

As most of us know, cow burps add to global warming.

The problem is that the demand for cows and other livestock is soaring in developing nations. Producing nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, livestock production and distribution have a substantial impact on greenhouse gases (GHG). A 2013 FAO Report presented an overview of the problem and potential mitigation approaches. The graphs (below) from the FAO Report convey the global warming challenge.

My concern? Concentrated in the poorest regions of the world, emerging market farmers are likely to resist incentives to change livestock technology–even if those methods will be win/win–more productivity and GHG mitigation.

These are the animals that produce GHG:

From: GLEAM. Emissions by species

From: GLEAM. Emissions by species

And these are the regions of the world from which livestock related GHG will grow:

From: GLEAM. Regional GHG production from livestock.

From: GLEAM. Regional GHG production from livestock.

This is the Global Livestock Environment Assessment Model (GLEAM):

From: Gleam. Calculating the data.

From: Gleam. Calculating the data.

From: Goildman Sachs. The consumer spending ladder of an emerging market nation.

From: Goildman Sachs. The consumer spending ladder of an emerging market nation.

Sources and Resources: If you just look at the graphs, diagrams and papers and the Chapter summaries in the FAO report, an analytic framework for understanding the livestock emissions that affect global warming clearly emerge while this 2010 NY Times article on Australian methane problems complements the more general FAO report. Hat tip to Quartz for alerting me to the FAO paper.

 

« »