Coverage of greenhouse gas emissions tends to focus on the utilities and transportation sectors. These are the two sectors that require the most adjustment if we are to meet lower emissions targets, producing 33 percent and 28 percent, respectively, of all greenhouse gases in the United States
While LifeIsGreen.com encourages consumers to explore renewable energy alternatives in both of those areas, there is another source of greenhouse gas emissions that receives less attention, but over which people arguably can have more of an impact.
Agriculture produces 8 percent of all greenhouse gases in the U.S., and a third of that comes from livestock. In addition to consuming vast water, soil and plant resources, cattle and pigs produce copious amounts of methane (CH4) as part of their digestive process. This is a problem because although carbon dioxide (CO2), as a byproduct of fossil fuel consumption, is a much more common greenhouse gas, methane is a more potent gas that accelerates the greenhouse effect to a greater degree than CO2.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is 20 times greater than CO2 over the same time frame.
The production of methane isn't the only problem created by livestock farms. The construction of these farms requires vast quantities of land, which must be cleared to make room for new cattle ranches. This further contributes to climate change, as deforestation removes a resource that can reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
However, the solution to this problem is relatively simple. If humans ate less meat, especially pork and beef, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be considerable. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a vegan diet will result in 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere than a meat-eater every year.
Check back in the future for more information on the simple steps you can take to adopt a more green lifestyle.