Saturday, October 23, 2010

Getting to the ROOT of the Problem

Dug up this article with expressed information on the Carbon Footprint left behind when we deforest trees for livestock farming.

According to the UN Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, 70% of all deforested land in the Amazon rainforest is used for livestock grazing or for producing feed for farm animals (1). In fact a massive 30% of the entire land surface area of this planet is used to raise livestock in order to produce meat. According to the The World Bank stated that in order to achieve this goal, it is imperative to target the main economic drivers of deforestation, in other words the beef producers. (2)(3)

However the method known as “slash and burn”, a technique used to deforest the land so that it can be turned in to grazing land or used to grow livestock feed. Firstly, the useful trees are removed and sold, next the rest is left to dry out before it set on fire and scorched to the ground thus releasing huge amounts of incompletely combusted carbon, known as “black carbon” or soot. At the Arctic and Antartic it settles on the ice causing it to melt absorbing the solar radiation from the sun which would normally have been reflected back up in to the atmosphere by the reflective surface of the ice. What worsens the situation is that black carbon is hydrophobic. This means that these carbon particles do not like water, so instead of disappearing and sinking to the bottom of the ocean as the ice melts and turns in to water, instead it remains on the surface of the ice and thus increases in concentration overtime further warming the ice. According to a Greenpeace report “Slaughtering the Amazon”, a zero deforestation rate is essential in bringing climate change under control. (4)

Boverty is causal link between the poverty of a region/ country and the number of bovine livestock raised in the same area. In short, it is “the human impact of having too many bovines overwhelming the local biosphere’s ability to feed them”. However this problem is not limited to the Amazon, each year worldwide we burn deliberately burn 3.7 billion tones of dry matter, more than half of this, a staggering 2 billion tonnes and 200 million hectares is burnt by the livestock industry to maintain and create new pasture land in Africa. In Africa particularly in the sub-Saharan regions an approximate 260 million heads of cattle are raised annually but this does nothing to improve food security or provide nutrition for the citizens of these countries.
In a report by mathematician and computer programmer Geoff Russell entitled “Burning the Biosphere: Boverty Blues”, he states that “The areas doing so much of the burning are precisely the ones with the most cattle and the most chronically hungry people.(5)

Methane and Ozone
Methane gas has been greatly undervalued as to how much it contributes to global warming. Previously researchers worked with the assumption that methane has a global warming potential of 21, that is it is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a global warming gas over a 100 year period. However as Methane is a shorter lived gas it would be more accurate to average out its effect over 20 years, which would give it a Global Warming Potential of 72 rather than 21. In addition to this methane’s GWP was underestimated as aerosol interactions were not considered in these calculations. NASA scientists concluded that when factoring in aerosol interaction the warming effect of methane is one third higher than previously thought thus making methane almost 100 times potent than CO2 over a 20 year period. (6) (7) (8)
The solution is clear, it is now up to us, political parties & governments to implement strategies to save the planet and move society to a plant based lifestyle.

Note : For a full report on deforestation, go to the following link:

No comments: