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  Yahoo News 13 Sep 07
Eating less meat may slow climate change
By Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer

Yahoo News 13 Sep 07
Slash global meat consumption to tackle climate change: Lancet paper

People in rich countries should limit their meat-eating to the equivalent of one hamburger per person per day to help stave off global warming, a study published by the Lancet on Thursday suggests.

That would be their contribution to a proposed 10-percent cut in global meat consumption by 2050, a goal that would brake greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture yet also improve health for rich and poor nations alike, it says.

The paper is released online as part of a seminar by the British medical weekly into the impacts of climate change on global health.

Its authors point out that 22 percent of the planet's total emissions of greenhouse gases come from agriculture, a tally similar to that of industry and more than that of transport.

Livestock production, including transport of livestock and feed, account for nearly 80 percent of agricultural emissions, mainly in the form of methane, a potent heat-trapping gas.

At present, the global average meat consumption is 100 grammes (3.5 ounces) per person per day, which varies from 200-250g (seven to 8.8 ounces) in rich countries to 20-25g ( 0.71-0.88 ounces) in poor countries.

The global average should be cut to 90g (3.17 ounces) per day by 2050, with rich nations working to progressively scale down their meat consumption to that level while poor nations would do more to boost their consumption, the authors propose.

Not more than 50g (1.75 ounces) per day should come from red meat provided by cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminants.

The authors are led by Anthony McMichael, professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, Canberra.

"Assuming a 40-percent increase in global population by 2050 and no advance in livestock-related greenhouse-gas reduction practices, global meat consumption would have to fall to an average of 90 grammes per day just to stabilise emissions in this sector," the paper says.

"A substantial contract in meat consumption in high-income countries should benefit health, mainly by reducing the risk of ... heart disease... obesity, colorectal cancer and, perhaps some other cancers. An increase in the consumption of animal products in low-intake populations, towards the proposed global mean figure, should also benefit health."

According to a study published in July by Japanese scientists, a kilo (2.2 pounds) of beef generates the equivalent of 36.4 kilos (80.08 pounds) of carbon dioxide, more than the equivalent of driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Yahoo News 13 Sep 07
Eating less meat may slow climate change
By Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer

Eating less meat could help slow global warming by reducing the number of livestock and thereby decreasing the amount of methane flatulence from the animals, scientists said on Thursday.

In a special energy and health series of the medical journal The Lancet, experts said people should eat fewer steaks and hamburgers.

Reducing global red meat consumption by 10 percent, they said, would cut the gases emitted by cows, sheep and goats that contribute to global warming.

"We are at a significant tipping point," said Geri Brewster, a nutritionist at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York, who was not connected to the study.

"If people knew that they were threatening the environment by eating more meat, they might think twice before ordering a burger," Brewster said.

Other ways of reducing greenhouse gases from farming practices, like feeding animals higher-quality grains, would only have a limited impact on cutting emissions.

Gases from animals destined for dinner plates account for nearly a quarter of all emissions worldwide.

"That leaves reducing demand for meat as the only real option," said Dr. John Powles, a public health expert at Cambridge University, one of the study's authors.

The amount of meat eaten varies considerably worldwide. In developed countries, people typically eat about 224 grams per day. But in Africa, most people only get about 31 grams a day.

With demand for meat increasing worldwide, experts worry that this increased livestock production will mean more gases like methane and nitrous oxide heating up the atmosphere.

In China, for instance, people are eating double the amount of meat they used to a decade ago.

Powles said that if the global average were 90 grams per day, that would prevent the levels of gases from speeding up climate change. Eating less red meat would also improve health in general.

Powles and his co-authors estimate that reducing meat consumption would reduce the numbers of people with heart disease and cancer. One study has estimated that the risk of colorectal cancer drops by about a third for every 100 grams of red meat that is cut out of your diet.

"As a society, we are overconsuming protein," Brewster said. "If we ate less red meat, it would also help stop the obesity epidemic."

Experts said that it would probably take decades to wane the public off of its meat- eating tendency.

"We need to better understand the implications of our diet," said Dr. Maria Neira, director of director of the World Health Organization's department of public health and the environment.

"It is an interesting theory that needs to be further examined," she said. "But eating less meat could definitely be one way to reduce gas emissions and climate change."

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