Animal Agriculture is the Leading Cause of Climate Change

Underlying surface complexity is a deep simplicity.
— Murray Gell-Mann

Scientists are a reticent bunch and this is hurting us all. James Hansen has spoken out about scientific reticence in a recent video from the UN Climate Change meeting in Bonn. But even James Hansen is reticent with regard to animal agriculture being the number one cause of climate change. Unfortunately, most scientists are engaged in a “Cowspiracy” as we pointed out here:…/end-times-for-the…

We know that animal agriculture has devastated at least 31% of the land area of the planet. The carbon sequestration on those pasture lands is estimated to be 53 Giga tons of Carbon (GtC) at present. If we just restore native forests on that land, as it used to have in 1800 before we deforested for animal agriculture, that alone would sequester 292 GtC on just 41% of the land. Despite the hype of Allan Savory and his followers, this 41% of the land only stores 27 GtC today, a measly 5.5 tons of carbon per acre, while native forests would store 53 tons of carbon per acre. The difference, 265 GtC (292 – 27) is more than all the carbon that humans have added to the atmosphere since 1750! Therefore, the Opportunity Cost of continuing with animal agriculture is HUGE. Please see the paper that we presented at the AGU Fall Meeting in 2015 for details:

Yet scientists don’t count this Opportunity Cost of animal agriculture in their evaluation of the leading causes of climate change. They don’t count the carbon loss from the land degradation occurring on 20% of the land area of the planet due to animal agriculture.

Why on Earth not?

Perhaps, it is just common sense that Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of climate change. Climate change is occurring because the atmosphere has 30% more carbon than it used to have in the pre-industrial era. Land holds THREE times as much carbon as the atmosphere. Animal Agriculture has caused most of the carbon stored on at least 31% of that land to be emitted into the atmosphere, through deforestation and overgrazing. Therefore, if we restore the carbon that used to be on that land by reforesting that land, we can literally reverse climate change.

We know that we can reforest all that land in short order because we are currently degrading and desertifying all that land in short order. Can we not do the opposite? Of course, we can! However, we need a different mindset and a different culture to do that. We need ranchers morphing into foresters. We need cowgirls morphing into “treegirls”.

We need a Vegan World in short order.

A Public Vegan Policy
The Berkeley Principles
Sailesh Rao
1 Comment
  • Rebecca Allen
    Posted at 16:52h, 30 November Reply

    In this interview Dr. James Hansen says what I believe he is hesitant to say in a public forum.

    “Dr. Hansen: If you eat further down on the food chain rather than animals, which have produced many greenhouse gases, and used much energy in the process of growing that meat, you can actually make a bigger contribution in that way than just about anything. So that, in terms of individual action, is perhaps the best thing you can do. But you also have to do things that influence the decisions of policy makers.”

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