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IPCC's land report showed we're entering an era of damage control

Posted on 29 August 2019 by dana1981

The IPCC has published a new report on climate and land. The report includes chapters on land-climate interactions (land use changes are accelerating global warming, which is causing more extreme weather), desertification (deserts are expanding), land degradation (declining quality of soil, for example), and food security. The latter is a particularly critical topic, given our dependence on food and water supplies for survival.

The report notes that humans struggle to efficiently manage our food supply. Between 25 and 30 percent of the food we produce worldwide is wasted. This waste happens for different reasons in different regions – in developed countries, consumers throw out excess food, while in developing countries much of the waste is due to a lack of refrigeration as products go bad between producers and consumers. And of course refrigeration requires energy, meaning that mitigating the latter problem will generate more greenhouse gas emissions. The report estimates that food waste costs about $1 trillion per year and accounts for about 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from food systems. Meanwhile, 2 billion humans are overweight or obese while nearly 1 billion are undernourished, highlighting the inefficiencies and inequities in our food distribution.

Overall, 23 percent of human greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry, and other land use. Much of this is due to emissions of the more potent greenhouse gases methane (from cattle and rice farming, for example) and nitrous oxide (from nitrogen-fertilized agricultural soils). The figure is comparable to the transportation sector (approximately 15 percent of total human greenhouse gas emissions) and electricity and heat (approximately 30 percent). The report notes that diets heavier in meat and particularly beef adversely impact both greenhouse gas emissions and health outcomes.

carbon footprints of various low-meat diets

Potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from changing diets by 2050, per the research cited in the IPCC report.

Continued global warming and the associated intensification of extreme weather are expected to decrease yields in many crops. While farmers can adapt in some ways – using more land, changing the crops they grow, and raising prices – those higher costs will be passed on to consumers. The IPCC report notes that climate change and the socioeconomic path we follow will combine to determine how much food insecurity humanity faces in the coming decades.

As food prices rise, if the number of people in poverty is also increasing, that combination could create widespread hunger crises. The IPCC report envisions various different ‘Shared Socioeconomic Pathways’ in which factors like global population, poverty, inequality, food waste, and diets vary. In a world with a large population, high inequality and poverty, inefficient food use and diets, the risk of food insecurity becomes high at 1.5°C (2.7°F) and very high at 2.5°C (4.5°F). If we follow a more sustainable socioeconomic scenario with a stable global population, low inequality and poverty, efficient food use and diets, the risk of food insecurity becomes high closer to 3°C (5.4°F). Water scarcity is a similar story, with high risks at 1.5°C if we follow a less sustainable socioeconomic pathway, and closer to 3°C if population growth and income inequality are minimized.

The importance of these factors in avoiding widespread crises among poorer populations is among the reasons why modern climate policy proposals like the Green New Deal are aimed at alleviating both inequality and climate change. Adding to the challenge, the nutritional content of many crops, including wheat and rice, will decline in a world with more heat and carbon dioxide. Higher temperatures will also make fruits and vegetables rot more quickly, thus exacerbating the problem of food waste and energy needed for refrigeration.

In short, preventing food and water scarcity in a world with more intense heat and droughts will be a challenge. Slowing global warming by curbing greenhouse gas emissions will help mitigate the problem, but the risks will also depend on the size of the population remaining in poverty. Hence climate policy solutions must address both emissions and socioeconomic inequalities.

The IPCC report lists various adaptation and mitigation measures that could be implemented, including more sustainable food production and diets (more plant-based, less meat-based), improved forest management (including reducing deforestation and increasing reforestation), agricultural carbon sequestration (including no-till farming practices), and reducing food waste. And it warns that delaying action will be costly:

“Deferral of [greenhouse gas] emissions reductions from all sectors implies trade-offs including irreversible loss in land ecosystem functions and services required for food, health, habitable settlements and production, leading to increasingly significant economic impacts on many countries in many regions of the world. Delaying action as is assumed in high emissions scenarios could result in some irreversible impacts on some ecosystems, which in the longer-term has the potential to lead to substantial additional [greenhouse gas] emissions from ecosystems that would accelerate global warming.”

Last year’s IPCC Special Report on climate impacts at 1.5°C concluded that to limit global warming to this level, global greenhouse gas emissions need to decline by about 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030, which led to many headlines and declarations that we only have 12 years left to avert a climate catastrophe. Reality is more complicated than this simple message; for example, how one defines “catastrophe” is subjective. The IPCC land report documents that the risks associated with food and water insecurity, extreme weather, desertification, land degradation, human conflict, and other climate change threats will only grow as temperatures rise above today’s level of 1°C hotter than pre-industrial temperatures.

However, the report also illustrates that in combination with sustainable and equitable growth, we can always reduce those threats beyond what they would be at higher global temperatures. We are essentially entering an era of permanent damage control. That may not make for as sexy a headline as ’12 years to avert catastrophe,’ but it more accurately describes our state of affairs.

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Comments 1 to 21:

  1. Recommended supplemental reading:

    What Does '12 Years to Act on Climate Change' (Now 11 Years) Really Mean? by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, Aug 27, 2019

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  2. There is a huge problem with this graph, and in fact this whole article. This demand side mitigation idea presumes that we can't change agriculture to sustainable systems. 

    The report states with high confidence that balanced diets featuring plant-based and sustainably produced animal-sourced food “present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health”. 1

    This so called "demand side mitigation" is extremely misleading. We already know how to change agriculture from a net emissions source into a net sink. That flips everything on that graph upside down and those demand side actions most beneficial become the least beneficial. More importantly though, it is impossible for that graph to actually happen in a world where all excess arable ground not needed for food production is instead used to make biofuels. Any relatively tiny changes that diet might make are immediately absorbed by increased commodity biofuel production, which has a vastly larger footprint.

    If you actually want to make any demand side impact at all, you must stop raising commodity grains for biofuels, and stop clearing forest for palm plantations. The forests need replanted, and the arable land in grains replanted into grasslands. Eliminate the over demand for these commodity crops and return agriculture to feeding people.

    It's Time to Rethink America's Corn System - Scientific American

    Only a tiny fraction of corn grown in the U.S. directly feeds the nation’s people, and much of that is from high-fructose corn syrup

    according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, roughly 1.3 million acres of grassland and prairie were converted to corn and other uses in the western Corn Belt between 2006 and 2011, presenting a threat to the waterways, wetlands and species that reside there.

    Then when we do that, use regenerative practices instead of industrialised practices and in net we turn that 23% net source into a net sink potentially as much as 50-100% depending on how much degraded land we restore. But to restore that land we MUST use animal husbandry. This is why one sided reports like this are so misleading and actually harmful biased reporting making mitigation even harder.

    “The number one public enemy is the cow. But the number one tool that can save mankind is the cow. We need every cow we can get back out on the range. It is almost criminal to have them in feedlots which are inhumane, antisocial, and environmentally and economically unsound.” Allan Savory

    Just to give someone an idea of scale. The above 1.3 million acres recently cleared prairies mainly to produce biofuels is 1/2 the total acreage in the whole country in vegetable production. (2.62 million acres) and according to the USDA in 2019 the total area in corn is 91.7 million acres, up 3% from 2018. In other words, in a single year roughly equivalent to the entire acreage in vegetable production was offset by just corn and with the exception of HFCS, it did not feed anyone! About 1/2 goes into the gas tanks and about 1/2 into CAFOs.

    That land needs replanted into prairies and prairies need animals on them That's your problem and your solution. The suggested demand solution given in this article (and to be fair others too) is bordering on ridiculous and absolutely NOT what the UN climate-change report said or implied.

    "If all farmland was a net sink rather than a net source for CO2, atmospheric CO2 levels would fall at the same time as farm productivity and watershed function improved. This would solve the vast majority of our food production, environmental and human health ‘problems’." Dr. Christine Jones

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  3. Thanks for the article John.

    We live in an age of large-scale distrust of government and organizations. The IPCC is saying that we can stay below 1.5C if we all sacrifice and do herculean things to modify the way we farm, eat, produce energy, ...

    Meanwhile we've hit 415 ppm CO2 (more or less) and CO2 is accelerating upwards (just take a look at your favorite form of the Keeling curve). Using a climate sensitivity of 3C/doubling CO2, 415 ppm CO2 means we have already locked in 1.5C warming, unless we can drop atmospheric CO2 to below 400 ppm. That requires either that the optimistic science reports are all correct (unlikely), or that everyone on Earth pulls together to do the right things and that a lot of the scientific reports are correct (still unlikely).

    CO2 is not just increasing, it is accelerating upwards. Do we have a realistic chance of doing any more than stopping the upward acceleration of CO2 by 2030?

    Assuming that the responsible people of the Earth respond during the 2020's by sacrificing and doing as much as they can, how will they feel when we blow by 1.5C? Will trust in the IPCC begin to erode along with trust in all other government organizations?

    We need to do all of the things these reports say, we need to remake the energy and food system. I get that and agree.

    But perhaps we need to motivate people by simply saying that we need to stabilize climate ASAP. That there is no time to waste, because severe effects are upon us and will continue to worsen until we stabilize CO2, without citing specific levels. There is no realistic hope of staying below 1.5C, so telling people we can do that can only lead to distrust and anger when we blow by it.

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  4. RedBaron @2

    While broadly sympathetic to the 'regenerative agriculture' solution to sequestrating our carbon emissions, I have to say, having a fair amount of experience interacting with exponents in the field that they really have to up their game and PROVE their beguiling assertions with properly conducted independent peer reviewed trials published in reputable journals.

    'Leading light' figures such as Gabe Brown, Elaine Ingham, Allan Savory, Christine Jones et al need to reduce the 'gee wiz' anecdotes and supply published hard data on request, instead of just hand waving. I look forward to these other figures doing the sort of scientific evaluation work that Dr David C Johnson of NMU is doing to establish the veracity of claims. In the meantime, there are plenty of extreme 'soil regeneration cowboys' who've just done correspondence courses out there making ridiculously overhyped unproven assertions and muddying the waters.

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  5. I have downloaded the summary and the controversial chart wasn't there. Nor was any mention to vegan or other (also controversial) diets. It seems to me that most dietary concerns focus on food waste rather than radical changes on macronutrient sources.

    I can't see how to reconcile concerns with poverty-derived macronutrient malnutrition and radical recommendations such as vegan diets (extremely expensive to meet protein demands). I cound't find one single economic projection of shifts to veganism (and I suspect it is impossible to model that).

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] The graphic in question is Figure 5.12 from Chapter 5 from the full report, and is found on page 766.  The full legend:

    "Figure 5.12 Technical mitigation potential of changing diets by 2050 according to a range of scenarios examined in the literature. Estimates are technical potential only, and include additional effects of carbon sequestration from land-sparing. Data without error bars are from one study only."

  6. Technically, these problems are pretty easy to solve.  It is the political will and the fact that Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune which is the core problem.  Politicians will do the bidding of whoever finances them.  But leaving that aside, no solution to the food problems will succeed without affordable contraception in the hands of women.  To paraphrase Richare Dawkins,  "If ever there is an increase in food production, population will rise until the original state of misery has been re-established".  The much vaunted green revolution of the 60's is a case in point with an extimated increased population of 700m people as a result.  With every increase in population we push Gaia, with her free provision of air, water, genes, fiber etc. into an ever smaller corner.

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  7. A couple of things about meat missed by many:

    One is that the grass a ruminant eats, regrows and as it does so, CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere.  Based on the numbers used to report emissions to the IPCC (CH4 emissions factor (Kg CH4/animal/year), animal weight (Kg), feed energy requirements (MJ E/day)) and data from the dairy industry (energy content of pasture grasses (MJ/Kg DM) and feed consumed (Kg DM/day)), it turns out that a cow consumes more CO2 than it belches out as CH4 (on a CO2eq basis at a GWP of 25).

    Who knew that ruminants on grass pastures are carbon negative?  

    Further, of the global average emissions factor for beef on the plate (26.6 KG CO2e/Kg meat), other on-farm processes plus the beef supply chain adds more emissions than the animal does.  If CAFO operations were eliminated, then the average beef emissions factor would come down and beef would then be seen as a carbon neutral protein source. 

    Those who want animal agriculture to be the cause of our climate problem will rush on to say that CH4 is a more potent ghg than CO2.  They are right of course, it is.  

    But the second thing missed by many is that the IPCC report regime, counts each molecule of CH4 as if it is in the atmosphere forever.  Of course it is not - because natural processes remove it from the atmosphere over time.  Which means that if biogenic methane emissions did not exceed withdrawals, then biogenic methane makes little contribution to global warming (not none, just not as much as the ghhg accounting system makes out).

    But who cares about these facts when pointing the finger at agriculture means that we humans do not have to address the prime drivers of global warming - the mining and burning of fossil CO2 and CH4, plus, and more importantly, the harvesting of nature's carbon sinks (forests).

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  8. wjohnallen@7

    But the second thing missed by many is that the IPCC report regime, counts each molecule of CH4 as if it is in the atmosphere forever.

    My understanding is that a GWP (global warming potential) of 25 for methane accounts for the fact that it does not remain in the atmosphere forever. Or am I missing something?

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  9. @Evan #8

    You are right that the determination of the GWP for biogenic methane accounts for the fact that it is a short lived gas (compared to CO2).  That assesses its warming impact and in terms of emissions accounting (to the IPCC), that conversion to CO2eq equates to it remaining in the atmosphere for as long as CO2 does.  We do not often see it used, but fossil methane has a GWP100 of 33 (from memory), compared to the most recent figure for biogenic methane of 28. This difference in accounting reflects the fact that fossil methane is a new-to-the-atmosphere ghg, unlike biogenic methane which is part of the short-term carbon cycle.  

    All that accounting aside, the point still remains that in terms of warming impact, once CH4 degrades (to CO2, H20,...) its warming impact also degrades but nowhere is that accounted for. Each molecule of CH4 is accounted for as if it remained in the atmosphere. So, if atmospheric biogenic CH4 concentrations are not increqsing, then biogenic CH4 sources are not adding to global warming to any significant extent.

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  10. wjohnallen @7

    " it turns out that a cow consumes more CO2 than it belches out as CH4 (on a CO2eq basis at a GWP of 25).Who knew that ruminants on grass pastures are carbon negative? "

    Yes a cow consumes slightly more carbon than it releases, because some of that carbon is building body mass, but in the greater scheme of things it does not make ruminants carbon negative, because the cow eventually dies and the carcass rots and the carbon is released back to the atmosphere, or the cow is eaten by humans but the carbon still ends up back in the atmosphere one way or the other, eventually.

    However the methane from cattle breaks down into CO2 and is mostly absorbed by natural sinks, so cattle are largely carbon neutral as far as I can see. The exception is where there is huge overstocking, and over grazing. Reducing meat consumption is therefore an absolute reduction in carbon emissions.

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  11. @10 Nigel,

    This has been explained to you multiple times. I am not sure why you keep making stuff up without references that sounds good to you, but it is nothing more than sloganeering.

    The cow properly managed is part of an ecosystem that is a very large net sink for BOTH CO2 and CH4.

    Cenozoic Expansion of Grasslands and Climatic Cooling
    Gregory J. Retallack

    "Unidirectional, stepwise, long‐term climatic cooling, drying, and climatic instability may have been driven not by tectonic forcing but by the coevolution of grasses and grazers."

    Remove the cow and other ruminents and that grassland environment loses its sink properties. Plow it to produce plant crops instead of meat, and it becomes a net source for both CO2 and CH4.

    So no. You are wrong, again... for the upteenth time. Not sure why you keep getting a pass from moderation for just making stuff up, not science based, not referenced, but please stop.

    I have had to repeat this to you an a few others so many times that I have made set answers with full references.

    What reaction can you do to remove methane?

    Can we reverse global warming?

    The bottom line is that adding animals and plants cools the planet, while destroying plants and animals is currently warming the planet. You have it exactly backwards.

    Maybe this video will help you understand better.

    Running out of Time | Documentary on Holistic Management

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] "you keep making stuff up without references"

    In order to provide a positive stimulus to the conversation, it would be best if you were to provide examples of such claims.  Simply asserting the claims of another are sloganeering without providing supportive examples is itself sloganeering.  Note that the emphasis of this forum is peer-reviewed literature published in credible journals, something that videos fall far short of.

    Inflammatory rhetoric snipped.

     

  12. RedBaron @11

    You just aren't making any sense, and I'm sick and tired of your personal attacks, hectoring attitude, and false accusations.

    "This has been explained to you multiple times. I am not sure why you keep making stuff up without references that sounds good to you, but it is nothing more than sloganeering."

    I haven't made stuff up. I said "However the methane from cattle breaks down into CO2 and is mostly absorbed by natural sinks, so cattle are largely carbon neutral as far as I can see. The exception is where there is huge overstocking, and over grazing." This is non controversial accepted science and it doesnt need a bibliography.

    "The cow properly managed is part of an ecosystem that is a very large net sink for BOTH CO2 and CH4."

    I didn't say or imply  it wasn't a net sink for both CO2 and methane.

    "Running out of Time | Documentary on Holistic Management" 

    I support regenerative farming in general terms, but I do question some of the huge claims made by yourself and the regenerative community as to how much CO2 grasslands can sequester because it doesn't square up with the published research taken as a whole, and I make no apologies for that. More research is needed. Nick Palmer has raised similar points.

     

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  13. Red baron @11

    "Remove the cow and other ruminents and that grassland environment loses its sink properties. Plow it to produce plant crops instead of meat, and it becomes a net source for both CO2 and CH4."

    Please stop lecturing me and implying I said things I didnt say. I made no reference in my comment @10 to the relationship between cows and soil carbon sinks. You are completely mistaken about what I said, again.

    Moderator, I'm tired of Red Barons repeated false accusations against me comments, aggressive attitude, and strawman statements.

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  14. Eat this, no eat that, no, eat the first this that was stated. 

    May I in modesty propose that the only true way for people to eat Green is Soylent. 

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  15. DriveBy@14,

    There is little justification for such a snarky attack on the very challenging pursuits of an integrated understanding of all of the considerations related to sustainably feeding the entire global population. It is a far more complex issue than climate science and the related required corrections of developed human activity (which, by the way, also impact the food issue).

    I will start by stating that 'Green' needs to be replaced by 'Sustainable Development'. And that, like Climate Action, the improvement of awareness and understanding can be crippled by a lack of interest by Leadership (the winners in the Status Quo) in developing and acting responsibly on that improving understanding. The main barrier to action by leadership is the vested interests of Leadership in defending the Status Quo which includes rigging institutions and laws in favour of the Status Quo, to the detriment of pursuits of Sustainable Development. Many developed popular and profitable actions, sources of status in the Status Quo, cannot be continued if Sustainable Development is the Objective.

    Please read the UN-ESA 2012 "Back to Our Common Future Project - Summary for Policymakers" and then investigate the globally agreed 2015 Sustainable Development Goals that need to be achieved by 2030 and be improved on.

    There are better solutions than Soylent Green. They are the development of Governance of all human actions by things like Sustainable Institutions and Cultures, everything governed by the Combined Governing Objectives of 'Helping the less fortunate' and 'Doing no harm to Others, especially the future generations of Others - the largest group, almost infinite, therefore a group that is deserving of the most consideration'.

    There can be a vast diversity of ways to live Sustainably (not just the food part - all of the SDGs being achieved and improved on). But they will struggle to be Developed and Sustained if they have to compete for popularity or profitability with unSustainable and Harmful alternatives. That is a Key Understanding. And it was expressed well in the 1987 document "Our Common Future" which was developed by collaboration of global expertise based on the global agreement that in order for Humanity to have a future improved awareness and understanding must govern global leadership (established by the 1972 Stockholm Conference with the Report from that conference here). The following is one of Key Understandings expressed in 1987 (about the time that resistance to correction by powerful Status Quo people on a bunch of fronts can be seen to be ramping up):

    "25. Many present efforts to guard and maintain human progress, to meet human needs, and to realize human ambitions are simply unsustainable - in both the rich and poor nations. They draw too heavily, too quickly, on already overdrawn environmental resource accounts to be affordable far into the future without bankrupting those accounts. They may show profit on the balance sheets of our generation, but our children will inherit the losses. We borrow environmental capital from future generations with no intention or prospect of repaying. They may damn us for our spendthrift ways, but they can never collect on our debt to them. We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.
    26. But the results of the present profligacy are rapidly closing the options for future generations. Most of today's decision makers will be dead before the planet feels; the heavier effects of acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or widespread desertification and species loss. Most of the young voters of today will still be alive. In the Commission's hearings it was the young, those who have the most to lose, who were the harshest critics of the planet's present management."

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  16. Note to all:

    At the end of my comment@15 (the end of the quote from the 1987 UN Commission Report "Our Common Future") the likes of today's Greta Thunberg come to mind - don't they.

    What has changed in the past 30 years? The youth today are becoming more noticed, and are more violently attacked (through dismissive condescending statements and the trigger of anger in the general population to threaten them) by unjustified Winners in the Status Quo.

    Also note the increased amount of generic unjustified attacks on "The UN" and "Global Government".

    History is tragically full of cases where things had to get unbearably worse before attempts are made to correct and recover from the harmful developments. And History is full of examples of powerful beneficiaries of harmful development harmfully resisting understood required corrections (including efforts to limit improving awareness and understanding in the general population). That is a tragic history of Human Development that needs to be Sustainably Corrected to Limit the Damage Done and Increase the rate of Sustainable Improvement of the Future of Humanity.

    Children should not have to be the ones who are 'pointing that out'. Perceived Winners who do not very publicly and very powerfully support such children are undeserving of their Status.

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  17. For the benefit of those who choose not to read the 1972 Stockholm Conference report, it includes the following in its opening statements:

    "3. Man has constantly to sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing. In our time, man’s capability to transform his surroundings, if used wisely, can bring to all peoples the benefits of development and the opportunity to enhance the quality of life. Wrongly or heedlessly applied, the same power can do incalculable harm to human beings and the human environment. We see around us growing evidence of man-made harm in many regions of the earth: dangerous levels of pollution in water, air, earth and living beings; major and undesirable disturbances to the ecological balance of the biosphere; destruction and depletion of irreplaceable resources; and gross deficiences (sic), harmful to the physical, mental and social health of man, in the man-made environment, particularly in the living and working environment."

    That was understood by Global Leadership 47 years ago. How about today? What has been learned by many of the Winners of competition for personal benefit, popularity and profit? They appear to have learned how to fight against improving awareness and understanding, including influence on the stories that get told and believed, and abusing their power to 'bake correction resistance into the systems (including laws and their enforcement) that they can influence' (william's steady point that the people Paying the Piper powerfully influence the actions of Leadership).

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  18. I want to clarify my point @10. I was responding briefly to wjohnallen @7 who it seemed to me made an odd sort of statement namely " it turns out that a cow consumes more CO2 than it belches out as CH4 (on a CO2eq basis at a GWP of 25).Who knew that ruminants on grass pastures are carbon negative? " That seems an impossibility as I explained. Tell me why I would be wrong.

    However I accept there is good evidence that cows can managed to encourage higher rates of grass growth and thus more sequestration of atmospheric carbon by that grass and its products of decomposition in the soil. I've said this before. This seems like a different issue to wjohnallen's point. This would make cows carbon negative, although its not all that clear to me just how carbon negative they would be.

    I think science of the methane cycle was being confused with mitigation by enhanced soil sinks.

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  19. Driving By @14 was perhaps a bit snarky, but does raise a very interesting and pertinent  issue on diet. Dietary advice is indeed  very contradictory, with seemingly well qualified people promoting diets that are low in meat and fat consumption, like the Mediterranean diet, and vegean diets (no meat) and others promoting high meat and fat diets like Atkins, Ketosis, and the Paleo Diet (technically a high fat diet but people will achieve this with higher meat consumption).

    People must be utterly confused, and plenty express this on websites.

    The high meat diets are in total contradiction to advice to reduce meat consumption for the good of the planet.

    Personally I think moderately low meat mediterranean diet makes the most sense all things considered. Italians and Greeks apparently have good health and longevity. Humans are omnivores.

    While meat is an inefficient use of resources, many grasslands grazed by cattle dont really suit crop production, so this suggests to me the only practical answer is moderately low meat diet.

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  20. nigelj@19,

    The 'high meat and fat diets' are often promoted as weight loss diets.

    The science indicates that people on such diets should be carefully monitored by medical professionals to ensure that their health is not compromised by the strict temporary diet. In some cases, just a minor 'cheat' on the diet can cause major harm to internal organs because the body systems are not in an adaptive state that is able to respond to the 'cheat'. And the person on such a diet still has to learn how to eat a healthy diverse diet that will not return them to the condition they tried to correct.

    The key is understanding that the high meat consumption diets liked by people who grew up being impressed by people who could afford to eat large amounts of meat are not healthy (and the protein from 4 oz of meat is all that a body will process from a meal). And that 'perception of superiority of eating lots of meat' is an unsustainable impression (just as the impressions of over-sized, over-powered personal transportation or housing is unsustainable).

    There is a massive variety of healthier reduced meat diets that can be enjoyed that maximize the use of locally sustainably grown products (including appropriately limited amounts of locally produced meats). And those diets, combined with adding activity like walking and biking rather than 'powered transport' will result in sustainable healthier weight loss, it will just take longer than the 'crash diets'.

    Improving awareness and understanding is hard to do in societies that are flooded with misleading advertising that harmfully develops easily impressed people who want what they develop a liking for 'quicker, easier, and cheaper', people who declare that they cannot and will not give up something they have developed a liking for.

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  21. OPOF @20

    "The 'high meat and fat diets' are often promoted as weight loss diets. The science indicates that people on such diets should be carefully monitored by medical professionals to ensure "

    Yes and I have generally promoted the same. The low carbs high meat and fat diets might make sense as a temporary thing to loose weight, but not as a permanent diet. People should eventually transition back to a sensible sort of balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet.

    The trouble is the low carbs high meat and high fat diets are being promoted as a permanent thing, certainly by at least some experts and many of the people who have tried them. I see this all over the internet. I had to loose weight last year hence my interest.

    This creates an awful mixed message for society where one group are saying reduce meat consumption and eat more plants (carbs) for the sake of the planet, and other groups are saying eat high meat low carb diets.  The health authorities need to give a much more resolved, consistent and clear message.

    Of course the problems of eating too many calories especially if they are mostly white carbs are well known. I would not advocate that. The answer looks like its about balance and keeping total calorie intake moderate within healthy guidlelines, and keeping the white carbs component of this sensible as well. Asians and Italians eat like this and do not have big diabetes or heart disease issues.

    And it has to be said that its not even that clear that such high meat diets loose more weight than other diets in the long run, however if someone is diabetic then a high meat low carbs diet does become pretty imperative.

    "The key is understanding that the high meat consumption diets liked by people who grew up being impressed by people who could afford to eat large amounts..."

    Yes absolutely. Adults only need 60 grams of protein a day which is not very much, and it can come from meat or plants. High meat consumption is indeed more about habit and displays of status. However some meat in the diet seems fine to me in moderation, and another reason is because much of our land only really suits cattle grazing and can't be easily converted to crops. 

    Finally humans evolved as omnivores, ie we eat quite a varied diet with a bit of everything, and it's also important to enjoy our food. I'm reluctant to change this towards extreme sorts of diets, unless theres very solid science based evidence.

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