Reducing the Environmental Impact of Global Diets
New Paper Points to Intensification of Meat Production
According to a new peer-reviewed paper in Science of the Total Environment—co-authored by Breakthrough’s Marian Swain, James McNamara, and Linus Blomqvist, along with ecologist William Ripple at Oregon State—demand-side efforts to reduce meat consumption will not be nearly enough to confront the environmental impacts of livestock over the next century, especially as meat demand in the developing world continues to grow. Improving the environmental efficiency of livestock production systems through intensification, on the other hand, while little discussed, holds significant potential to mitigate the impact of the sector both in terms of emissions and land use. Intensive beef production in particular, in which cattle finish their lives on grain-based feeds in highly controlled environments, dramatically reduces time to slaughter, and thus methane emissions, as compared with extensive, pasture-only systems.