Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Largest Ever. Our Meat Addiction has a Role.

August 5, 2017


When this country was colonized by Europeans, ten thousand years of Buffalo migrations across the Great Plains left some 6 feet or more of the world’s most fertile soil in America’s bread basket region.
Now that legacy is down to 6 inches, and a lot of what was lost found its way into the Mississippi and down the the Gulf of Mexico, where those nutrients, along with other agricultural and industrial effluents, have created a “dead zone”, anoxic area where life does not survive.

Climate change, of course, makes it worse.


Scientists have determined this year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone,” an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life, is 8,776 square miles, an area about the size of New Jersey. It is the largest measured since dead zone mapping began there in 1985.

The measured size is close to the 8,185 square miles forecast by NOAA in June.

The annual forecast, generated from a suite of NOAA-sponsored models, is based on nutrient runoff data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Both NOAA’s June forecast and the actual size show the role of Mississippi River nutrient runoff in determining the size of the dead zone.

This large dead zone size shows that nutrient pollution, primarily from agriculture and developed land runoff in the Mississippi River watershed is continuing to affect the nation’s coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf.

These nutrients stimulate massive algal growth that eventually decomposes, which uses up the oxygen needed to support life in the Gulf. This loss of oxygen can cause the loss of fish habitat or force them to move to other areas to survive, decreased reproductive capabilities in fish species and a reduction in the average size of shrimp caught.

The Gulf dead zone may slow shrimp growth, leading to fewer large shrimp, according to a NOAA-funded study led by Duke University. The study also found the price of small shrimp went down and the price of large shrimp increased, which led to short-term economic ripples in the Gulf brown shrimp fishery.

A team of scientists led by Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium collected data to determine the size of the dead zone during a survey mission from July 24 to 31 aboard the R/V Pelican.

“We expected one of the largest zones ever recorded because the Mississippi River discharge levels, and the May data indicated a high delivery of nutrients during this critical month which stimulates the mid-summer dead zone,” said Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D., research professor at LSU offsite linkand LUMCONoffsite link, who led the survey mission.

“Having a long-term record of the size of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone is vital in forecasting its size, trends and effects each year,” said Steven Thur, Ph.D., acting director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “These measurements ultimately inform the best strategies for managers to reduce both its size and its impacts on the sustainability and productivity of our coastal living resources and economy.”

Previously the largest Gulf of Mexico dead zone was measured in 2002, encompassing 8,497 square miles. The average size of the dead zone over the past five years has been about 5,806 square miles, three times larger than the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force target of 1,900 square miles.


Toxins from manure and fertiliser pouring into waterways are exacerbating huge, harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, according to a new report by Mighty, an environmental group chaired by former congressman Henry Waxman.
Nutrients flowing into streams, rivers and the ocean from agriculture and wastewater stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which then decomposes. This results in hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, in the water, causing marine life either to flee or to die.

Some creatures, such as shrimp, suffer stunted growth. Algal blooms themselves can cause problems, as in Florida last summer when several beaches were closed after they became coated in foul-smelling green slime.

America’s vast appetite for meat is driving much of this harmful pollution, according to Mighty, which blamed a small number of businesses for practices that are “contaminating our water and destroying our landscape” in the heart of the country.

“This problem is worsening and worsening and regulation isn’t reducing the scope of this pollution,” said Lucia von Reusner, campaign director at Mighty. “These companies’ practices need to be far more sustainable. And a reduction in meat consumption is absolutely necessary to reduce the environmental burden.”

The Mighty report analyzed supply chains of agribusiness and pollution trends and found that a “highly industrialized and centralized factory farm system” was resulting in vast tracts of native grassland in the midwest being converted into soy and corn to feed livestock. Stripped soils can wash away in the rain, bringing fertilisers into waterways.

Arkansas-based Tyson Foods is identified by the report as a “dominant” influence in the pollution, due to its market strength in chicken, beef and pork. Tyson, which supplies the likes of McDonald’s and Walmart, slaughters 35m chickens and 125,000 head of cattle every week, requiring five million acres of corn a year for feed, according to the report.

This consumption resulted in Tyson generating 55m tons of manure last year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with 104m tons of pollutants dumped into waterways over the past decade. The Mighty research found that the highest levels of nitrate contamination correlate with clusters of facilities operated by Tyson and Smithfield, another meat supplier.

This pollution has also been linked to drinking water contamination. Last week, a report by Environmental Working Group found that in 2015 water systems serving seven million Americans in 48 states contained high levels of nitrates. Consuming nitrates has been linked to an increased risk of contracting certain cancers.

“Large parts of America are being plowed up for corn and soy to raise meat,” said von Reusner. “There is very little regulation so we can’t wait for that.

“The corporate agriculture sector has shown it is responsive to consumer concerns about meat production so we hope that the largest meat companies will meet expectations on this.”

The report urges Tyson and other firms to use their clout in the supply chain to ensure that grain producers such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland employ practices that reduce pollution flowing into waterways. These practices include not leaving soil uncovered by crops and being more efficient with fertilizers so plants are not doused in too many chemicals.

The US is an enormous consumer of meat, with the average American chewing through 211lbs in 2015. A study released earlier this year found that US beef consumption fell by nearly one fifth from 2005 to 2014, possibly due to concerns over health or the environment. A new increase is now expected.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, beef and pork production is forecast to grow significantly over the next decade, driven by lower feed costs and healthy demand. By 2025, the average American is expected to eat 219lbs of meat a year. Just 3% of Americans follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

This voracious appetite for meat has driven the loss of native forests and grasslands in the US and abroad, releasing heat-trapping gases through deforestation and agricultural practices. Agriculture produced 9% of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, according to the EPA.

A spokesman for Cargill said the company was an “industry leader” for sustainable practices, pointing to its efforts with environment groups to address air, water and soil quality in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.

“Protein consumption is growing globally and we are working to meet increased consumer demand with sustainably and responsibly produced foods and supply chains,” said the spokesman. “We are dedicated to protecting animal welfare, reducing environmental impact, increasing transparency and keeping workers and consumers safe.

“We also continue to improve livestock feed efficiency. Over the last 15 years we have seen an overall trend in reducing the volume of feed for each pound of beef produced.”

And not just the Gulf of Mexico.

Climate Central:

For two days in early August 2014, the 400,000 residents in and around Toledo, Ohio, were told not to drink, wash dishes with or bathe in the city’s water supply. A noxious, pea green algae bloom had formed over the city’s intake pipe in Lake Erie and levels of a toxin that could cause diarrhea and vomiting had reached unsafe levels.


The bloom, like the others that form in the lake each summer, was fed by the excessive amounts of fertilizer nutrients washed into local waterways from surrounding farmland by spring and summer rains. Efforts are underway around the Great Lakes ­— as well as other places plagued by blooms, like the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay — to reduce nutrient amounts to control the blooms, which can wreak havoc on the local ecology and economy.

But new research shows that climate change is going to make those efforts more and more difficult. As warming temperatures lead to increases in precipitation, more nitrogen, one of those nutrients feeding the blooms, will be washed into the nation’s waterways, the work, detailed in the July 28 issue of the journal Science, finds.

The biggest increases in such nitrogen loading will likely come in the Midwest and Northeast, areas already seeing the biggest uptick in heavy downpours.

The findings show the urgency of coming up with policies to reduce nutrient overloads, and the importance of keeping climate change in mind when devising them.

“It really drives home the point that we need to do something now,” Tim Davis, who studies algae blooms at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, said. He was not involved with the study.

Costly Blooms

Algae blooms are vast mats of microscopic organisms that, like plants, need sunlight, water, and nutrients to flourish. When an overabundance of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen from fertilizers are washed into lakes and coastal areas by rains, they can cause an explosive burst that forms a bloom.

Such blooms form each year in the Great Lakes, particularly in shallow Lake Erie, the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay, as well other areas. They can pose serious risks to public health from the toxins they release and can be poisonous to marine and lake life. When a bloom finally dies, it can also suck up all the oxygen in the water, creating what is called a hypoxic, or dead zone, that can also kill fish.






18 Responses to “Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Largest Ever. Our Meat Addiction has a Role.”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    “Formerly we thought of a hierarchy of taxa–individual, family line, subspecies, species, etc.–as units of survival. We now see a different hierarchy of units–gene-in-organism, organism-in-the-environment, ecosystem, etc. Ecology, in the widest sense, turns out to be the study of the interaction and survival of ideas and programs (i.e., differences, complexes of differences, etc.) in circuits.

    Let us now consider what happens when you make the epistemological error of choosing the wrong unit: you end up with the species versus the other species around it or versus the environment in which it operates. Man [sic] against nature. You end up, in fact, with Kaneohe Bay polluted, Lake Erie a slimy green mess, and “let’s build bigger atom bombs to kill off the next-door neighbors.” There is an ecology of bad ideas, just as there is an ecology of weeds, and it is characteristic of the system that basic error propagates itself. It branches out like a rooted parasite through the tissues of life, and everything gets into a rather peculiar mess. When you narrow down your epistemology and act on the premise “What interests me is me, or my organization, or my species,” you chop off consideration of other loops of the loop structure. You decide that you want to get rid of the by-products of human life and that Lake Erie will be a good place to put them. You forget that the eco-mental system called Lake Erie is a part of your wider eco-mental system–and that if Lake Erie is driven insane, its insanity is incorporated in the larger system of your thought and experience.

    You and I are so deeply acculturated to the idea of “self” and organization and species that it is hard to believe that man [sic] might view his [sic] relations with the environment in any other way than the way which I have rather unfairly blamed upon the nineteenth-century evolutionists.”

    Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p 483-4

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    Urge *great caution* here about believing this has anything whatsoever to do with meat.

    This is a ‘report’ by a couple of folks at a politically-motivated website. It is not peer-reviewed. They are not, AFAICT, good scientists or even trained.

    There are gigantic gaps in evidence, very bad gaps in logic, and a consistent theme – supposed guilt by very sloppy geographical correlation. Notice that all statements are from the communications director from “Mighty”, an eco-group.

    This is not even bad science, it is bad propaganda. And yet another greasy stain in the smear campaign against meat.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      fair enough. some pretty good scientists have made the point that the meat-climate connection needs more firming.
      I don’t think it’s overstated to say that meat, beef in particular, is quite resource and water intensive compared to plant based protein, that factory livestock operations are cruel, and too often foul air and water resources.
      My understanding is that large swaths of rainforest in South America have been cut in order to provide pasture for beef aimed at a North American market.
      Also, probably not an overstatement to say most Americans would probably realize a net health benefit by decreasing meat and increasing plant based foods.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        “I don’t think it’s overstated to say that meat, beef in particular, is quite resource and water intensive compared to plant based protein…”

        Have to disagree.

        Water intensity charges stem from a much maligned report called “Livestock’s long shadow”, whose authors have apologized for certain mistakes made. For example, they counted toward beef’s water use, the rainfall that fell on grasslands and croplands. Many of those crops were corn fields where the corn grain went to feed humans and the corn stalks went to feed cows. The report overestimated water use by as much as 5 X.

        As far as resources used, what we must remember is that ALL beef cows are grass-fed. Most of their mass is from grazing on pasture lands, land which, in general, is NOT suitable for raising vegetable crops. Most beef is then “grain”-finished, but a lot of that “grain” is not grain but chaff. Yes, a lot is actual corn kernels, but huge amounts of corn is raised in this country for ethanol, not beef.

        And also, please remember that beef is not just meat. It is also milk and cheese, leather, and a hundred other products that would otherwise need to be synthesized with all the pollution that would entail.

        Furthermore, we don’t have a grain shortage or a food shortage problem. Raising beef, even with its grain-finishing, is not taking food out of the mouths of anyone on the planet. What we DO have, is a food distribution problem.

        Re other resources:

        the majority of fossil fuels used in food production is for raising vegetables, not meat. Yes, rainforest WAS destroyed by South American farmers for beef production, but that is a one-time thing. The vast majority of rainforest destruction world-wide is to make vegetable oil.

        One last thing – there is a near constant barrage of anti-meat writing taking place. It accomplishes nothing beneficial at all, but it does do one thing really well – it distracts us all from doing the only truly important things we must do – build and deploy renewable energy infrastructure so we can stop burning fossil fuels. The Koch brothers LOVE to see our attention diverted from this by the shiny squirrel of beef cows.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          “Yes, a lot is actual corn kernels, but huge amounts of corn is [sic] raised in this country for ethanol, not beef.”

          Irrelevant.* We need to stop both kinds of waste. Yes, some meat is raised on land that’s too dry, too high, or too cold to produce a plant-centered diet for large numbers of people there. And it should be. But those lands are unproductive no matter what’s grown there. Much meat and the grain that yes, does feed them, regardless of the other uses some of it’s put to, is produced on land that could feed more people (or be wild and unharmed by runoff, energy production for food production, etc.) if used for plant-centered production in permaculture systems. Small amounts of animal products can come out of plant-centered production systems, in fact non-slaughter products (the interest on the interest) more than meat (the interest in permaculture, otherwise the principle). Permaculture systems based on perennial plants, incorporating small numbers of animals dedicated to using waste products and in service of the mostly plant production are useful, but wise use of such systems involve a drastic reduction in eating meat from US average, for example.

          “we don’t have a grain shortage or a food shortage problem. ” Exactly the point. We already grow enough food to feed 10 billion and could do better, growing all the food we need on less land and keeping or returning a lot to nature, but instead, land, water (especially groundwater), energy, fossil fuel-based and other mined fertilizer, biocides and other resources are used to produce animal products, fuel, etc. for the globally rich.

          It’s not a “distribution” problem, which is a euphemism for the theft of land, energy and other resources by the rich from the rest of the world. It’s a psychological problem involving inequality and abuse of power, and is the ultimate cause of climate catastrophe, the larger ecological crisis and almost all our other problems. Regardless of how much time animals spend in feedlots, most of the meat produced for the rich is industrially produced on land that would more healthfully feed more people if it were used for plant-centered permaculture production. (And pastured beef emits more methane and ultimately more CO2e than feedlot beef. Both are bad in the amounts we produce.) We trade wildland destruction, and impacts on other land and water, for high meat production that makes a small part of the world’s population less healthy. What an insane system! We need to eat less meat.

          “Yes, rainforest WAS destroyed by South American farmers for beef production, but that is a one-time thing. ” No, it wasn’t. The combination of logging, meat and feed production, and sometimes development is what makes rainforest destruction economically viable in many places; it would happen a LOT less without all those parts. After declining for a while, it’s increasing again. While some of it’s for oil production (largely palm oil, another product for people whose emotional emptiness compels them to fill up with fat) a lot of it’s for meat and feed for meat. If we want civilization and millions of threatened species (most of which are in tropical forests) to survive, we need to stop both of these, and many other wasteful products and practices by and for rich people, and profit by large multinational corporations.

          ”the majority of fossil fuels used in food production is for raising vegetables, not meat.” Again, no. Vegetables (and fruits) take a minuscule part of the energy and emissions used for food. Meat and grains take most of it. And like those who try to defend meat production by blaming methane production on rice, the meat overfeeds a tiny percentage of the world’s rich; the rice (and similarly, other plant foods) feeds billions, with lower cost of all the resources involved. The most efficient use of productive land, energy, labor, and other resources is plant production for most of the productive lands on Earth. Groundwater and rainwater, yes, need to treated somewhat differently but are largely fungible and intimately connected, and need to be treated carefully to avoid the runoff problems this article is about, as well as other problems.

          “there is a near constant barrage of anti-meat writing taking place.”

          There is a completely constant ”barrage” (a contradiction, btw) of pro-meat ads, writing, and other media that needs to be countered, and a massive barrage of meat-defensive writing every time the true solution “Eat less meat” is mentioned. The latest example:

          * And wow, the same kind of argument frequently used by climate-denying delayalists—sleight of hand/distraction/deflection of blame. No one is saying meat is the only problem; that’s a straw person argument you hint at (Koch bros) that’s not worthy of you, ginger. But it certainly is a huge problem and we need to produce and eat less of it if we want to survive. I expect it when the meat addicts and chemical ag shills troll for chemical ag and get meat-defensive on Grist’s ag articles, but I’m surprised you’re so defensive on this subject. We need to examine all our habits, beliefs and attachments, and let go of all the problems to reach for all the solutions.

          • funslinger62 Says:

            Gingerbaker has espoused a consistent pro-meat agenda here on Climatecrocks. She/he is just as bad at denying the science on this one issue as Tom Bates is on climate science.

            She/he must be a meat addict. I used to think that cutting way back on meat would be very difficult. But, it was rather easy when slowly reducing weekly consumption of meat. Meat makes up less than 15% of my diet now and I don’t really care to eat that much of it. I have developed a greater like for fruits and vegetables now that I don’t overload my taste buds with fat.

            Until lab-grown meat becomes feasible at scale, those who eat large quantities of meat (more than 70% of their diet) are as much a problem for the climate as the climate change deniers.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            ““Yes, a lot is actual corn kernels, but huge amounts of corn is [sic] raised in this country for ethanol, not beef.”

            Irrelevant.* We need to stop both kinds of waste. ”

            See… right out of the gate, you have made a huge error. Feeding corn chaff and grains to cows is NOT a waste. It makes food, just like feeding corn to chickens, and slop to pigs. Food that billions of the people on this planet want to eat, and enjoy eating, and get valuable nutrition from.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            “the majority of fossil fuels used in food production is for raising vegetables, not meat.” Again, no. Vegetables (and fruits) take a minuscule part of the energy and emissions used for food. Meat and grains take most of it. ”

            Bullshit. Look it up yourself – fossil fuel use in the Ag sector, broken out for total meat vs veg. Stop bullshitting us.

  3. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    I’d suggest an ameliorating solution would be to fit solar/wind powered deep aerators to some of the 4000 or so oil/gas rigs in the Gulf.
    Simple tech, just pump air a few hundred metres down and let the bubbles rise to the surface and dissolve.

  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    “Gingerbaker has espoused a consistent pro-meat agenda here on Climatecrocks….

    She/he must be a meat addict.”

    LOL! There is some top drawer logic.

    And before you drag out the ad hominem “Tom Bates” analogy, here is a thought:

    Explain to us all just how I got the science wrong, OK?

  5. Gingerbaker Says:

    ” Much meat and the grain that yes, does feed them, regardless of the other uses some of it’s put to, is produced on land that could feed more people ”

    So what?

    I guess I will have to say it again – we *already* grow enough food to feed everybody. Raising beef on grass and grain does not take food out of the mouths of anybody. So stop making the argument that it does, ok?

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      But the demolition of 3 trillion trees to feed cattle takes the lungs of the planet away.

      Consuming your lungs to feed your stomach is not wise, even if you like the taste – they won’t feed you indefinitely.

      Reducing meat consumption is an objectively good idea, but I won’t preach – it’s a decision that carnivores must make for themselves when they discover that there are alternatives.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        The “lungs of the Earth”? Seriously, are you making the argument that we are running out of oxygen to breathe because of beef? Please tell me you are not. Oxygen persists.

        How many trillion trees felled to make palm oil? From what I know it must dwarf the number felled for beef in Brazil.

        Where are the 10,000 or so articles on the evils of vegetable oil? Where are the articles about the fact that the vast majority of fossil fuels consumed by the agricultural sector are used to raise vegetables, not meat?

        Could they be absent because possibly, just possibly, that does not jive with the regressive left narrative against meat, a narrative with not much going for it except, crucially, it makes the narrator feel so superior about his own sense of ethics?

        As if the world is going to give up eating meat. I got news – virtually every person on the planet likes meat and plans to keep on eating as much of it as they can afford.

        Ranting about the evils of meat, armed with truly dubious statistics and an overweening sense of self-righteousness is doing NOTHING to get anyone on board with what will save humanity – (do I need to say it again?) – building and deploying RE in time to forestall disaster. It alienates people. And accomplishes virtually nothing positive. Except keeping a smile on the Koch brothers faces.

        It is bad science. Bad logic. Bad tactics. Bad strategy. And, once one takes the time to actually examine the data and science, it only ruins the credibility of the creepy zealots who think they are doing someone a favor by writing the ten thousandth and one article about the topic.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      “you have made a huge error. Feeding corn chaff and grains to cows…makes food, just like feeding corn to chickens, and slop to pigs. Food that billions of the people on this planet want to eat, and enjoy eating, and get valuable nutrition from.”

      Feeding grain to livestock does make food. Unlike feeding waste, it’s inefficiently produced food that the world can’t afford, since it destroys ecosystems, takes land that could feed several or many people what they need and instead feeds one person enough to be unhealthy, and in doing so it emits more CO2e than plant foods. Meat produced wisely—grown on waste, wasteland and the by-products of plant production—is a useful addition to the diet of local people. Produced on land that could be better put to other uses it’s destructive. In the amount people in the US etc. eat it, it must use land and other resources we can’t afford to use that way. Meat, and the system that produces this result are among the complex mechanisms by which food is wasted and excessively distributed to the wealthy for economic and other reasons that are all ultimately psychological.

      Some people want to burn fossil fuels, too. Doesn’t make it right, or sustainable. One way or another we have to stop them, whether they like it or not.

      ”…does not take food out of the mouths of anybody. So stop making the argument that it does, ok?”

      Actually it does, but I didn’t. Again, such rhetorical tactics as cherry picking, a sort of meta-Gish gallop, straw person arguments are above you, Ginger. Growing meat produces methane–more per person, more per Calorie and often more per acre–than plant foods. As I said, productive land could be used to grow food, could be turned into more productive, less chemicalized edible forest gardens, could be left as is or returned to wildlands. If it produces plant food (and other ecologically grown medicine and materials to replace the ones we shouldn’t be synthesizing or using at all–fiber, bamboo and wood for plastic, steel and concrete and unsustainably grown materials) it can replace or supplement the land we already use for what we really need.

      As the crisis worsens, we’re going to lose infrastructural, agricultural, settlemental, and grass- and forest-land to drought, flood, war, toxicity… We’ll need all the land we can get just to feed, house and clothe everyone and keep extinctions to a minimum. We can’t afford to waste resources on the indulgences of the rich now; that will be more and more true as climate catastrophe worsens.

      In fact we can’t afford rich people any more, or corporations that don’t have the interest of the whole society as their basis. Or corporations the size of Exxon, Monsanto, Syngenta… Their control of our lives and government through illegal and legalized bribery, campaign billions, revolving doors, vote theft, etc. is what skews subsidies and other policies that favor meat, feed, annual commodities, ethanol, grain as industrial feedstocks, etc. We’re almost certainly going to have to equalize politically and economically to avoid cataclysm; redistributing the power that causes those policies and problems will reduce the impulse toward unhealthy diets produced in dying ecosystems; reducing the concentration of wealth that results in the maldistribution of land, food, energy use, emissions, and everything else w0n’t hurt, either. People should have food, shelter, health care and other security provided by some form of universal income; no one should have the power and wealth—interchangeable commodities in our society—to distribute more food than they need to themselves and those like them while denying others the minimum necessary for life. Diets that are unhealthy for people and planet will sort themselves out if we do this transition right. It won’t happen fast enough so will need some help—education, social pressure, law, etc. We need to start on those now.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Why do you keep saying, over and over and over, that there is not enough food crops being grown to feed people?!? That, somehow, beef feeding on pasture grass is taking something away from starving people?!?

        This is the whole basis of your argument, and it is false. F-A-L-S-E.

        You can not even stop yourself from saying other absurdly false things – like how beef:

        “it destroys ecosystems”.


        “In fact we can’t afford rich people any more….”

        You have an apocalyptic metric you are trying to apply to the here and now. It is inappropriate.

  6. Gingerbaker Says:

    “those who eat large quantities of meat (more than 70% of their diet) are as much a problem for the climate as the climate change deniers.”

    Wow. This one has drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid. So sick of dealing with nonsense like this. 😦

  7. J4Zonian Says:

    The number of true, even obvious things you’ve failed to comprehend in this argument is astounding.

    ”From what I know it must dwarf…” I see no facts or citations there, only the motivated reasoning opinion of someone whose opinions we know we can’t trust on this issue.

    Again, some sleight of hand with the palm oil red herring/false dichotomy. That palm oil is bad doesn’t change the harmful impact of meat, and in fact it’s a related problem, as I’ve pointed out. And cherry picking deception; I’ve seen dozens of articles about the harm that palm oil plantations do.

    ”Where are the articles about the fact that the vast majority of fossil fuels…are used to raise vegetables, not meat?”
    Where is your article? You make claims and cite nothing.

    ”When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases.”

    Meat produces half the GHGs of food, obviously doesn’t provide half the calories.

    Predictably, beef and lamb, at 26.45 (kg CO2-equivalent per kg of food) and 22.9, respectively, were highest. Pork and veal, at 6.87 and 7.8, were much lower. Vegetables ranged from a low of .09 (pumpkin) to a high of 1.46 (escarole and endive).

    Maybe you’re unclear on meanings. ”Vegetables” being vegetables, not plants, as I tried to make clear by saying ”vegetables and fruits”. Data on impact of vegetables is hard to come by compared to meat and grains (because it’s so tiny), but the idea that ”the vast majority of fossil fuels consumed by the agricultural sector are used to raise vegetables, not meat” is ludicrous. Unless you mean plants, in which case it’s not ludicrous, just wrong, although in 2 ways.

    Whereas beef accounts for only 4% of the retail food supply by weight, it represents 36% of the diet-related GHG emissions.

    ”Could they be absent because possibly…that does not jive with the regressive left narrative against meat…”

    Wow. Cherry picking, red herrings, conspiracy theories, Gish gallop, false dichotomy, leaping to conclusions about motives… You’re using all the techniques of the typical denying delayalist. You’re a completely different person on this issue than any other I’ve seen and different than the person I’ve come to respect.

    ”As if the world is going to give up eating meat.”

    Denying delayalists make the same argument about fossil fuels and it’s just as bogus then. They also blame other things for warming, equally bogus. We need to implement ALL the solutions and reduce human GHGs from all causes. I’m not arguing that solving the climate crisis isn’t going to be monumentally difficult; just that it’s what we need to do to survive as a global civilization and to save millions of threatened species. It’s not about my opinion or leftist conspiracy; it’s about the laws of physics and ecology and the voluminous science that shows the harm meat production does. Personal change, while important, is much less important than political change.

    • An organic [meat-based] diet produces 8% savings in GHG emissions 
• An animal-free, vegan diet produces less than 1/7 the GHG emissions of a meat diet—86% savings in GHG emissions. 
• An organic vegan diet produces 94% savings in GHG emissions.101 
Foodwatch, Organic: A Climate Saviour? The Foodwatch report on the greenhouse effect of conventional and organic farming in Germany. May 2009.
report_on_the_greenhouse_effect_of_farming_05_2009_ger.pdf .
    I don’t advocate a vegan diet, I advocate keeping animals in small numbers on small-scale mixed organic farms in service of plant production in permaculture systems, and raising animals on waste and wasteland. But such analyses make clear where the highest costs to the Earth are in our diet.

    ”So what?
    I guess I will have to say it again – we *already* grow enough food to feed everybody. Raising beef on grass and grain does not take food out of the mouths of anybody. So stop making the argument that it does, ok?”

    Let me try once more and then I’m stopping, because you’re using too many disreputable tactics to avoid seeing the obvious truth, and I don’t want to permanently sour myself and everyone else on you just because of your refusal to see sense on this one topic. Yes, we already grow enough to feed everybody. When you say ”distribution” problems what do you mean? Not enough trucks? The scheduler isn’t keeping up?

    No, the meat-heavy diet of the rich uses resources including land above all, raising the price of land, all food, and further concentrating both money and power in the hands of those making a profit by running or participating in the sick, skewed economic system this epitomizes. Because of this, yes, poor people can’t afford food and so don’t eat. Extortionate ”free” trade deals (really, corporate trade deals) and other parts of the economic system make the system global; US, European, Chinese and other rich people and corporations speculate on land in Africa, eg, export food to rich countries even from countries in the middle of droughts and famines, buy up and bribe their way into water rights…

    In fear of arguably justifiable and possibly violent response by the poor to theft of their land, health, food, energy, water, and lives in this system, the rich arm themselves and violently enforce rules that insist they have a right to eat whatever they want and that that overrides the right of the vast majority to eat at all. Yes, we already grow enough food (worldwide Calories) for everyone to eat—yet many can’t. Why do think that is? The systematic way the rich steal most of the food calories and other economic production includes the production of meat. Meat is one of the main mechanisms for theft and expression of power and supposed superiority. Because the rich, through that enforcement method, reinforce their position and characterological objectification of the world, and isolate themselves from feedback which is thus visited upon the rest of humanity and the world redoubled, they fail to respond to (or even notice) the most dire crisis in history.

    We need to change that. We need to eat less meat. The fact that we need to do other things too doesn’t change that.

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