Environmental News: Fearmongering Or Fact-Driven?

Fearmongering or Fact-Driven?
Fearmongering or Fact-Driven?

To the casual observer, today’s environmental news may seem like nothing but fearmongering. A few recent examples come to mind:

Scientists genetically modify cows to have gray patches instead of black in a bid to save them from climate change

BBC pulls climate change documentary from iPlayer after farmers complained coverage of meat trade was not impartial

Gene-editing cows could cut greenhouse gas emissions from their farts and belches, study suggests

When headlines like these flash across someone’ screen, I can understand why they respond with skepticism

Even some of my blog’s visitors may balk at horticultural expert Rob Baan’s idea that raising enough meat to feed 1 million people requires 35 times the land it would take to provide them a primarily plant-based-diet:

According to Rob’s calculations, feeding Rotterdam’s 1 million residents their traditional meat-heavy diet requires 70,000 hectares (172,973 acres). But on a primarily plant-based diet, the land usage would drop to just 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres). That’s 97-percent less land!

And I admit that I’m not immune to questioning claims, even when they support my own opinions.

This summer, for instance, one of my most widely read posts was Overpopulation vs. Overconsumption. The statistics I presented were so remarkable that I began to question my own source:

“Some estimate that eating vegan consumes 1/11 (9 percent) of the oil, 1/13 (7.7 percent) of the water and 1/18 (5.5 percent) of the land that eating meat does.”

My skepticism was strong enough that I added this note to the end of the post:

“Coming soon: started working on a series of posts in which I examine the vegan vs. omnivore natural resource consumption debate more closely. I will add an update to this post once I’ve completed my research.”

In terms of how many natural resources they exhaust, what is the difference between meat-based and vegan diets? I’m looking forward to sharing some of my own research and math on the subject over the next few days!

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