Monday, January 08, 2007

Report of the Week: Livestock's Long Shadow

This week's report of the week (large pdf) focuses on the role of livestock in key environmental challenges. The production of beef is found to be one of the most nutrient and carbon intensive industries on the planet aswell as being a significant driver of deforestation.

"Overall, livestock activities contribute to an estimated 18% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emmissions from five major sectors of greenhouse gas reporting:energy, industry, waste, landuse change and forestry (LULUCF) and agriculture."
By far the largest numbers are due to LULUCF activities such as deforestation to expand ranchland.

Report summary:
"This report aims to assess the full impact of the livestock sector on environmental problems, along with potential technical and policy approaches to mitigation. The assessment is based on the most recent and complete data available, taking into account direct impacts, along with the impacts of feed crop agriculture required for livestock production.

The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency. Major reductions in impact could be achieved at reasonable cost."

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