How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Few Interesting Pieces of Trivia About Food and Climate Change

Here are a few tidbits to ponder:

Industrial agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change. This is because everything about industrial agriculture is based on fossil fuel. Fertilizer is made with fossil fuel. Pesticides are made from fossil fuel. Herbicides are made...You get the picture. Then there is the mechanized planting and harvesting of crops. To top it all off, industrial agriculture is not intended for local markets, so grain and soybeans grown in the Midwest (and the Amazon rain forest) are shipped (using fossil fuel) across the world. The rain forest problem is another contributor. Large land areas are currently being deforested in the Amazon to grow soybeans. These soybeans are primarily destined for American and European markets where they are used primarily as feed for livestock.

Which bring us to the next tidbit of interesting trivia. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, meaning it is very effective at absorbing infrared radiation (heat). As a greenhouse gas, it is 20 times more powerful than our old nemesis carbon dioxide. Methane doesn't come out of your car's tailpipe, but it does come out of the tailpipe of a certain ruminant that we are very fond of eating, cows. Here's the shocker: the western diet's lust for cheap hamburgers is a leading contributor to global warming. Estimates of the cow effect range from 18% of total contributions to greenhouse gasses to up to 50%, if one factors in the combined effect of the grain diet, transportation, etc. Factory beef is so detrimental, in fact, that giving up beef in one's diet is equivalent to trading in your car for a bicycle. I would offer a caveat here (and the jury is still out on this) that pasture raised cattle probably are not as detrimental to the climate. Factory beef is obscene on many levels, and greenhouse gas production is just one of them. So if you must eat beef, buy it from the farmer down the road who lets his cows live like cows. Otherwise, ride a bike and do some major karmic mitigation.

A final piece of trivia for today is that much of the corn crop grown in America does not go to feed the world (as rumored). It is turned into high fructose corn syrup and inserted into almost every faux food on the planet. Your taxpayer dollars are subsidizing obesity, type II diabetes and global warming while our government is telling us we need to tighten our belts. What is wrong with this picture?


  1. "Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."
    "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

    Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Prize 1921

  2. Great quote Concernicus. I didn't realize that Einstein was an advocate for vegetarianism. Interesting.

  3. Have you ever heard of permaculture? I believe it to be a great alternative to the industrial agriculture we have now. Although I am not too sure it is the solution to our problem, but it is certainty a solution. In fact there is a very interesting video on youtube where it shows the people changing a part of a desert in a self-sustainable ecosystem for growing food called Greening the Desert. Here's the link if you're interested:

  4. kalivon, most experts now think that permaculture and other sustainable agricultural models, grown for a local market, are going to be the only way to feed the world in the coming years of environmental instability. Great link. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Really? I was unaware that a lot of experts were for this kind of thing. I had thought only a very few was for it. It's good to hear this. It gives me hope.