Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Livestock and Climate Change

We have not tried to spur political debate with our blog posts thus far. We purely like to tell small stories about what a farm veterinarian does. This post is going to be a bit different. I recently saw a presentation by Dr. Frank Mitloehner from University of California, Davis. He is one of the authors of Clearing the Air: Livestock's Contribution to Climate Change. This topic is near and dear to us as our lives are so closely intertwined with livestock on a daily basis.

Livestock, especially cattle, have taken a beating in the press for the impact they may have on climate change. I am not saying there is no impact but I am genuinely surprised at how animal agriculture has become an easy scapegoat when there are much larger contributors to the problem. I think it has become very easy to criticize it because our food is not a scarcity. What is the REAL problem we have at hand?

I encourage everyone to click on the link highlighted above to read the research and conclusions of Dr. Mitloehner and his colleagues. It challenges some of the findings in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's report titled Livestock's Long Shadow which was published in 2006. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion of Clearing the Air which I find interesting: "Livestock production in most countries of the developed world (e.g., United States and Europe) has a relatively small green house gas (GHG) contribution within the overall carbon portfolios, dwarfed by large transportation, energy, and other industry sectors. In contrast, livestock production in the developing world can be a dominant contributor to a country’s GHG portfolio, due to the developing world’s significantly smaller transportation and energy sectors." At the least, please read the conclusions of the document. 

I agree that everyone has to do their part to help fix the problem. I hope that we take seriously the impacts of jumping to conclusions and not recognizing the work that has already been done to improve efficiency. Give credit where credit is due and let us work together to find solutions and not create more problems.


  1. Great post. I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the great work! I'm a dairy producer with a blog called "The Dairy Mom" @ www.thedairymom.blogspot.com. Following is a link to three stories on my blog addressing dairies contribution to GHG.

  2. Thanks for the comment! We will add your blog to our blog list.
    I believe we group up in the same town - and our fathers are friends!