Earlier this week I wondered whether those figures for grain and meat production actually applied to all meat of just to US style feedlot operations.
What Stern appears not to have grasped is that different forms of livestock agriculture produce greenhouse gases in different measure and some do not produce them at all. As an extreme example, if you want to cut out methane and you live in Australia you can eat only kangaroo. Roos don’t belch methane.
Where a sense of injustice settles on the poor British beef or sheep farmer is that very little of the UN inventory of greenhouse gas production from livestock applies to him, particularly if he happens to graze sheep on the hills or to graze beef animals on permanent grass beside the rain-fed rivers of the west. Some 60% of British farmland is suitable only for growing grass. Since Neolithic times we have used livestock to turn inedible grass into food. And as a system there isn’t an awful lot wrong with it.
Graham Harvey’s book, The Carbon Fields, tells us that grazing permanent pasture with ruminants can actually be an overall carbon “sink” because of the vast root structures below ground which take up carbon efficiently every time they are grazed hard.
As a result of my musing I received an email from Freeborn John, pointing out that the government\’s own software used to calculate the CO2 impact of farming practices includes this point. He knows because he, err, wrote the software.
So once again we\’ve got Stern waffling away on a point which he really doesn\’t know anything about.