20% of US population produces 46% of food-based emissions

March 22, 2018 by  
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A monumental new study demonstrates that one-fifth of the American population is responsible for nearly half of all food-based emissions. Popsci reports that people who eat a lot of animal protein, especially beef, account for a larger share of greenhouse gas emissions — although, author Sara Chodosh also illustrates the extreme complexity behind the study’s potentially groundbreaking conclusions. Read on for a closer look. Published in Environmental Research Letters specifically sought to understand how diet and associated emissions varies among the American population. Martin Heller, an engineer at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and study contributor, told Popsci it was surprising to realize just how varied they are. “I don’t think any of us really had a strong sense of how distributed the greenhouse gas emissions would be,” he says. “That was perhaps the most striking result.” Getting to the meat of the matter (sorry, I couldn’t resist) involved consulting several different databases and picking apart the life-cycle analysis of every morsel. Chodosh writes : “The NHANES survey results can tell you what a broad spectrum of American plates look like on any given day, but tells you nothing about the environmental impact of those foods. To do that, you have to go to the Food Commodities Intake Database, run by the EPA, and figure out how much meat might be in that meat lasagna, or how many tomatoes are in a generic salad. From there, you have to link the quantities of each type of food to the emissions associated with producing it.” Related: Garlic may be the key to slashing methane emissions from cows When evaluating the emissions of a single tomato, it was necessary to know how much fertilizer was used in its production, and then how much fuel was used to transport that tomato. With poultry, the researchers had to also consider feed production, and when analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with eating beef, they had to calculate the amount of methane released by cow burps. I urge you to head over to Popsci to read the full details , because this short synthesis doesn’t do their reporting justice, but here’s the bottom line that we found so interesting: What next? Now that we know one-fifth of the American population is producing nearly half of food-based emissions — which in their turn are helping to melt glaciers and unleash devastating wildfires, not to mention the numerous adverse health hazards attributed to climate change — what do we do with that information? Heller tells Popsci, “Clearly we’ve not been very good at encouraging people to shift their diets for their own health. Relative to what our recommended healthy diet is, Americans do pretty poorly,” he says, “But I’ve started to try to think about it as the secondhand smoke of diet choice.” Fascinating. If you understood that your dietary choices directly hurt your neighbor, would you make a switch? + Environmental Research Letters Via Popsci Images via DepositPhotos 1 , 2

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20% of US population produces 46% of food-based emissions

Trump’s EPA pick put industries before federal environmental policies

January 16, 2017 by  
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You may have heard Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sued that agency 14 times. And you may have heard Pruitt denies climate change is a problem that ought to be addressed. These two facts alone cast doubt on Pruitt’s suitability for the role, but there’s more. During his six years as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Pruitt eschewed federal environmental policies in favor of working with polluting industries, many of which donated to his campaign. When Pruitt first took office, he stepped into a legal battle over Oklahoma waters polluted with chicken manure. He could have pushed for punishment for poultry companies, asking for federal help to extract millions of dollars in damages, but instead Pruitt negotiated a quiet deal to further study the problem, rather than address it. Lawyers and executives of the poultry industry had contributed thousands of dollars to his campaign before he made the deal. The New York Times pointed out this instance was only one of several where Pruitt prioritized industries, including fossil fuel and agriculture companies, and attempted to soften the blow of federal environmental policies. Related: Donald Trump taps fossil-fuel funded climate change denier to head EPA Mark Derichsweiler, who led a Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality division tasked with cleaning up the manure, told The New York Times, “He has advocated and stood up for the profits of business, be it the poultry companies or the energy industry and other polluters, at the expense of people who have to drink the water or breathe the air.” Conservative groups say Pruitt prefers letting states handle environmental policies rather than the federal government. But environmental issues often concern multiple states; in the chicken manure incident, much of the pollution actually came from Arkansas. Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp told The New York Times, “The president’s choices deserve a lot of deference from Congress and even environmental groups. But at some point when the nominee has spend his entire career attempting to dismantle environmental protections, it become unacceptable. That’s why Mr. Pruitt is the first EPA nominee from either party that the Environmental Defense Fund has opposed in our 50-year history.” Via The New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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Trump’s EPA pick put industries before federal environmental policies

Why, exactly, are chickens wearing sweaters?

February 12, 2015 by  
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We’ve knit mittens for koalas and put shoes on our dogs, but the question remains, what about the chickens? Do our feathered flocks really need new frocks? The Internet is surprisingly chock full of patterns to help us knit sweaters for chickens, but is it really necessary? Mother Nature Network has investigated, and the answer appears to be a resounding ‘probably not’. Read the rest of Why, exactly, are chickens wearing sweaters? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: animal clothes , battery farm , chicken coop , chicken health , chicken sweaters , chickens , factory farming , pets , poultry

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Why, exactly, are chickens wearing sweaters?

Europeans Snub America’s ‘Chlorinated Chicken’

October 1, 2014 by  
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The US industrial farming system is proving to be a stumbling block in the negotiation of a major free trade agreement between the United States and the EU. As negotiators from the two sides meet in Washington for the seventh round of talks over the creation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), many Europeans are saying they don’t want to eat industrially produced American chicken due to the anti-microbial chlorine baths  the birds get before hitting the store shelves. According to NPR , the chlorine bath has been banned in Europe since the 1990s, and many Europeans are concerned about the health effects of consuming American food. Read the rest of Europeans Snub America’s ‘Chlorinated Chicken’ Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: chicken , chicken processing , chicken processing Europe , chicken processing problems , chlorinated , chlorinated chicken , chlorine , chlorine in chicken processing , european union , factory , farm , food safety , free trade agreements , Health , poultry , salmonella , trade agreement , united states , US European free trade , US food trade , US free trade

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Europeans Snub America’s ‘Chlorinated Chicken’

Poultry, Beef More Likely to Make You Sick, CDC Says

August 14, 2010 by  
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Credit: VirtualErn via Flickr.

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Poultry, Beef More Likely to Make You Sick, CDC Says

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