It looks like livestock production is contributing to climate change, and we need to hit “peak meat” by 2030 to avoid an “ecological disaster.” At least, that’s the idea CBS News is touting from “scientists.”
In a bizarre Dec. 12 article headlined “World must hit ‘peak meat’ by 2030 to avoid climate crisis, scientists say,” CBS News reported that “In a letter published in the Lancet Planetary Health, more than 50 scientists recommend setting 2030 as the peak year for meat consumption, after which it needs to drop dramatically.” Stranger still, CBS summarized the letter’s claims in the beginning paragraph, suggesting, “With livestock production contributing to climate change, people need to drastically reduce how much meat they eat to help stave off ecological disaster, a group of scientists warn.”
So, does this mean we all need to become vegans now?
CBS noted the letter was aimed at “richer countries” that consume more meat because of climate change, and used that to take a shot at American consumption habits, in comparison with less-developed states:
“Americans eat 42% more meat, eggs and nuts than nutritionists recommend, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while eating just three-quarters of the recommended amount of vegetables and less than half the recommended amount of fruit.”
CBS News continued to trumpet the “scientists’” reasons for why we need to reach “peak meat.” The first reason had “to do with the carbon footprint of animal husbandry itself.” CBS cited a UN report claiming that “raising animals for slaughter” accounts for almost 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Secondly, CBS suggested that “much of the land that could accommodate trees is today used for livestock, the Lancet letter says. If that doesn't get re-forested, the ‘best option’ for large-scale C02 removal disappears.”
Since CBS is concerned with livestock, it’s a wonder how the “scientists” they tout would rank the elimination of cow farts as an “option” for large-scale CO2 removal, per Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) proposed Green New Deal. After all, “‘If the livestock sector were to continue with business as usual, this sector alone would account for 49% of the emissions budget for 1.5°C by 2030, requiring other sectors to reduce emissions beyond a realistic or planned level,’ the scientists write,’” noted CBS.
CBS does admit that a “climate-conscious diet” would not mean “cutting out animal products altogether, Heller said. Not all land is suitable for farming, and ruminants — cattle, goats, camels or sheep — could be put to graze on lower-quality acreage that can't support crops for human consumption.”
CBS did not report, however, that “[t]otal U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 reached their lowest levels since 1992, according to the final Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Inventory,” which Energy In Depth, a research program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, reported on April 16, 2019.