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posted by janrinok on Wednesday July 23 2014, @04:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the order-another-burger dept.

Research into the environmental impact of animal-based foods has concluded that beef has the greatest impact by a large margin (Full text [pdf]).

When the numbers were in, including those for the environmental costs of different kinds of feed (pasture, roughage such as hay, and concentrates such as corn), the team developed equations that yielded values for the environmental cost per calorie and then per unit of protein, for each food.

The calculations showed that the biggest culprit, by far, is beef. That was no surprise, say Milo and Shepon. The surprise was in the size of the gap: In total, eating beef is more costly to the environment by an order of magnitude about ten times on average than other animal-derived foods, including pork and poultry. Cattle require on average 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water, are responsible for releasing 5 times more greenhouse gases, and consume 6 times as much nitrogen, as eggs or poultry. Poultry, pork, eggs and dairy all came out fairly similar. That was also surprising, because dairy production is often thought to be relatively environmentally benign. But the research shows that the price of irrigating and fertilizing the crops fed to milk cows as well as the relative inefficiency of cows in comparison to other livestock jacks up the cost significantly.

 
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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by evilviper on Wednesday July 23 2014, @06:08PM

    by evilviper (1760) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @06:08PM (#72877) Homepage Journal

    are responsible for releasing 5 times more greenhouse gases,

    It's only a problem because we allow it to continue.

    There have been plenty of projects to retrofit cespools to trap and use the methane, typically burned by generators to produce power, instead of just being released into the atmosphere.

    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/poop-to-power-program-turns-pig-manure-into-sustainable-energy [mnn.com]

    http://www.sfgate.com/green/article/AGRICULTURE-270-cows-generating-electricity-for-2779190.php [sfgate.com]

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/06/090610-pigs-video-ap.html [nationalgeographic.com]

    http://www.riverdeep.net/current/2002/03/032502t_cowpower.jhtml [riverdeep.net]

    --
    Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DrMag on Wednesday July 23 2014, @06:57PM

    by DrMag (1860) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @06:57PM (#72908)

    Going a little off-topic; I was just in Southern Pennsylvania doing some camping and re-gathering my wits. Every night, you could hear what sounded like a jet-engine in the distance. I was curious, and found out that with the fracking they're doing out there, they get a lot of methane along with the natural gas. Apparently they can't find a way to use the methane at a profit, so what do they do? Burn it up. All night long.

    There has to be a better way.

    • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday July 23 2014, @07:12PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @07:12PM (#72921)

      I don't doubt what you saw and heard, but your interpretation can't be right. Methane is the primary component [naturalgas.org] of natural gas. I suspect the primary objective of the fracking is oil, and the natural gas is being flared [psu.edu] off because there's either too little of it to justify building the infrastructure to capture it, or said infrastructure isn't built yet.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Wednesday July 23 2014, @07:50PM

      by evilviper (1760) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @07:50PM (#72942) Homepage Journal

      found out that with the fracking they're doing out there, they get a lot of methane along with the natural gas. Apparently they can't find a way to use the methane at a profit, so what do they do? Burn it up. All night long.

      There has to be a better way.

      First off, methane IS natural gas. Methane/natural gas is typically flared off when they're extracting oil out in the middle of nowhere.

      They don't burn it just for the hell of it... Whether their storage / transport / pipeline capacity is exceeded, or it's excess pressure that blows a valve, incidental seepage they can't capture, or something similar... burning (flaring) it is the proper and safe way to release/dispose of it. Technology is improving how much of it can be captured/stored, and increasing energy prices are making it more economical to go to great lengths to capture it. The use of flaring has been gradually declining over the years:

      http://triblive.com/news/1442093-74/gas-drilling-drillers-flaring-environmental-industry-ozone-pollution-compressor-fuel [triblive.com]

      http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/natural-gas-flaring-infrastructure/3029 [energyandcapital.com]

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.