The time arrived in New York city last week. During the fourth edition of the World Leather Congress, there were those that got onto the stage to break a ceiling. Various media sources and environmentalist associations, in fact, publicly state how the meat industry is the largest producer of emissions at a global level. It’s fake news. Frank Mitloehner, professor at the Animal Science department of University of California, explained why.
Mitloehner’s speech clarified things starting with the title: Facts and Fiction around the Livestock’s Environmental Impact. Facts were compared with myths. In summary: it’s not true, according to the data considered (taken from analysys conducted in the United States), that the agricultural/livestock infustry is the number one public enemy of the environment. In fact, it’s impact is reduced and, most importantly, smaller compared to that of other industries.
Mitloehner spoke of those that he defines as environmental “bad boys”: CO2, methane and N2O. Together, these greenhouse gases (GHG), determine the magnitude of global warming effects. And so: on side of the world there are those convinced that the meat industry is the largest producer of the previously mentioned gases. But: on the total GHS emitted in 2017, only 1,1% is attributable to livestock operations. The US EPA data testifies to that. 11% of GHG are emitted by the usage of fossil fuels, while 88% is attributable to other industries.
In the same way, Mitloehner breaks down the facts surrounding the alleged danger that animal methane emissions carry. The first: methane disappears in 10 years. While CO2 “stays around” for 1,000 years. The second: methane emitted by bovines has a particularly circular life-circle. In fact, it sits on the same vegetables eaten by bovines. Thus, the vast majority of the methane remains inside a “closed circle”, while CO2 continues to be an issue for everyone.
The industry that is the most responsible for GHG emissions, states Mitloehner, is the transport industry, followed by the energy production one. The evolutionary scale going from 1990 to 2017, which was shown by Mitloehner at WLC4, leaves no doubt: when talking about global warming, pointing the finger on the meat and livestock industries alone is simply wrong.