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Take Back Australia … Reject Socialism

Greenhouse gas from Walking

Greenhouse gas emissions are so bad for us we need to be taxed to breathe the air. Well maybe the Govt is right after researching this, it may be better to drive than to walk. Modern farming uses huge amounts of energy to grow, process and transport our foods.  Livestock farming, particularly of cattle, is responsible for a significant fraction of all greenhouse gases. New research suggests that one kilogram of beef adds 36 kilograms of CO2 and other climate changing pollutants to the atmosphere. 
  1. One implication of this finding needs to be highlighted: it makes more sense to drive than walk, if walking means you need to eat more to replace the energy lost. Driving a typical UK car for three miles apparently adds about 0.9 kg of CO2 to the atmosphere.
  2. If we decided to walk instead, it would use about 180 calories, obviously this seems a much better idea..
  3. You’d need about 100 grammes of beef to replace those calories, resulting in the creation of 3.6 kg of emissions, or 4 times as much as walking.
  4. Recent research, summarised in the New Scientist magazine of 18th July 2007, suggests that our modern methods of mass beef production generate large amounts of greenhouse gases. This is, of course, not a new hypothesis: we have gradually become aware of the huge amounts of grain needed to feed our animals, and of the troublesome amounts of energy needed to produce the fertiliser needed to get our cereals to grow. The scientist David Pimentel has suggested that it takes seven times as much grain to feed all meat animals in the US as it does to directly feed the human population.
  5. The new research, carried out in Japan but surely representative of the impact of modern farming methods in the rest of the industrial world, suggests that one kilogram of meat creates the equivalent of over 36kg of global warming gases. 
  6. The average person in the UK eats about 12 kilograms of beef a year. So eating a typical amount of beef generates 0.4 tonnes of emissions. After including the impact of international aviation, each UK citizen is responsible for about 12 tonnes of emissions from all sources, including industry.  A simple sum shows that beef, a relatively small part of many people’s diet, accounts for between 3 and 4% of the typical UK person’s carbon footprint.  
This is bad enough. But let’s look at it another way which perhaps makes our concerns with food production even clearer. A simple calculation shows that industrial food production is more destructive of the global atmosphere than driving a car. In particular, if one walks to the shops, and eats something after the walk to put back the calories lost in the exercise, then it would generally be better to drive instead of walk. The greenhouse gas content of the top-up food may well be greater than the emissions from the car. 
An example Walking three miles uses about 180 calories. Replacing the energy used, assuming you don’t want to lose weight would mean eating about 100 grammes of beef. Of course, it depends on the cut of meat, and how much fat it contains, but this figure is reasonably typical of beef in British shops. The scientists in Japan give a figure of 36 kg of emissions for a kilo of meat, so a portion of 100 grammes equates to about 3.6kg. This is the first part of the calculation – it shows that one 3 mile walk generates 3.6kg of emissions if one replaces the energy lost with beef. 
What if one drove the 3 miles instead, and so didn’t need the extra food?  The average UK Car emits about 290 grammes (0.29kg) of CO2 for every mile travelled. A 3 mile trip therefore, generates 0.87 kg of emissions. This is about a quarter of the equivalent emissions, from walking. And if there are two of you, and you share the car, then walking would be eight times as bad for the climate.  
The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better.  Modern agriculture is extraordinarily energy intensive. And it is not just energy. Cows belch gallons of methane every day and methane is a fiercer global warming gas than CO2. Manure and fertiliser also give off smaller quantities of nitrous oxide, which has over 300 times the impact of CO2.  Intuitively we recognise that major industries such as aluminium smelting generate climate changing emissions. But making a kilogram of aluminium – one of the most energy intensive processes used today – creates only about 6kg of CO2 if fossil fuel is used compared to 6 times as much for food. 
We need to become accustomed to the idea that our food production systems, particularly those involving a ruminant animal and their methane err, production,, are equally damaging. As a guy from Ryan Air says, cows generate more emissions than aircraft. Unfortunately, perhaps, he is right. Of course this doesn’t mean we should always choose to use air or car travel instead of walking. It means we need urgently to work out how to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of our foodstuffs, or accept, really how bad are these Greenhouse Gases, they appear relatively a normal part of life. 
An efficient aluminium smelter uses about 14 kwh of electricity to make a kilo of metal. Most aluminium is made using electricity from renewable hydro-electric power. But even if it were made from UK electricity from the grid, it would only generate about 6 kg of CO2.  Chris Goodall’s book ‘How to Live a Low-carbon Life’ is published by Earthscan. 
It seems Boob Brownie missed this one as he would have insisted the Carbon Tax was attacking meat eaters as well as the mid to higher income earners.  It was described by the New Scientist as ‘the definitive guide to reducing your carbon footprint’   So WHY are we all jumping up and down about Greenhouse emissions produced by cars. 
We just need to stop moving, stop eating and stop breathing and the problem will be solved.

07/03/2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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