Assignment 4: Vegetarian America?

In my next blog post I would like to talk about how much energy we could save if we, as a country, didn’t eat red meat. Also, I think it would be interesting to see what other kind of benefits we would see if we did not eat beef, like the reduction in green house gasses. Raising cattle is one of the biggest drains on the environment because of what it takes to feed them, to raise them, and the quantity of methane production. This blog will be good for those to read who are contemplating vegetarianism. It will list a lot of the benefits, other than health, to making the dietary switch. Also, it is for those who love red meat and want to eat it all of the time. Serious changes need to be made to the way we raise and deal with cattle in this country and being informed is the first step.

My first source is http://timeforchange.org/are-cows-cause-of-global-warming-meat-methane-CO2. This site is reputable because it is an organization that gives a lot of statistics about the environment without personal opinion inserted into the argument. For example, a cow (on average) produce 70-120 kg of methane per year.  There are 1.5 billion cows/bulls right now. For some math, I will calculate an approximate amount of methane produced by all the cows in a given year and how much methane a cow will release over its lifetime.

 

My second source is http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat and it is a credible source because it’s an educational newspaper from a prestigious university. There are a lot of negatives that come along with raising cattle to eat. As the article points out, it leads to soil erosion, massive spending, fossil fuel usage, enormous water consumption, and waste. I like to focus on the energy consumption ratios outlined in the article. It shows that check is by far the most “efficient”, whereas beef has a paltry 54:1 ratio.

“Chicken meat production consumes energy in a 4:1 ratio to protein output; beef cattle production requires an energy input to protein output ratio of 54:1. (Lamb meat production is nearly as inefficient at 50:1, according to the ecologist’s analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Other ratios range from 13:1 for turkey meat and 14:1 for milk protein to 17:1 for pork and 26:1 for eggs”

My third source is just for a graphic that displays how much CO2 is produced for every 100 calories of the food http://www.met.sjsu.edu/~cordero/gn/energyefficientfood.htm I am using this chart to demonstrate the difference between beef CO2 production and soy beans. I will calculate the difference between the two.

 

My fourth source is http://extension.psu.edu/animals/dairy/nutrition/nutrition-and-feeding/diet-formulation-and-evaluation/carbon-methane-emissions-and-the-dairy-cow . This is a credible source because it was published by a reputable university . In the article it states that Methane account of 7.9% of all emissions. Cows produce 1320-264 gallons of gas a day with 26.8% of it being pure methane. I will use this to calculate how much  of the entire US methane production is created by cow flatulence.

All of my sources fit together because they are all aimed at finding out exactly what the environmental impact of raising cows to eat.  Using methane production, CO2 production, and energy expenditures I can piece together the consequences of  the beef industry.

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