Meat The Hidden Culprit Of Climate Change

Updated April 28, 2014 15:44:59

Meat the real issue>> Photo: Moving to a completely meat-free diet would go a long way to tackling climate change. (Phil Walter: Getty Images)

Most of us agree that action needs to be taken to address climate change, but when it comes to moving to a meat-free diet to drastically reduce emissions, suddenly we're not so keen, writes Ruby Hamad.

The cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said, "It is easier to change a man's religion than his diet." It is also, apparently, easier to change the entire world's energy production.

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, "Mitigation of Climate Change", citing fossil fuels as the biggest source of emissions, with coal, oil, and natural gas the major culprits.

However, the panel also implicates animal agriculture, noting that "changes in diet and reductions of losses in the food supply chain, have a significant, but uncertain, potential to reduce GHG emissions from food production."

Seventy per cent of agricultural emissions come directly from livestock - and about 37 per cent of total worldwide methane emissions - and it is clear that moving away from animal products is not just potentially significant but downright necessary.

The IPCC findings come hot on the heels of another study, "The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets", published in the April edition of Climate Change.

The study's lead author argues that targeting the fossil fuel industry alone is insufficient because "the agricultural emissions ... may be too high. Thus we have to take action in both sectors."

In 2010 a UN report, "Priority, Products, and Materials" concluded that, "A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

That report puts agriculture's global emissions at 14 per cent, and while not giving an exact figure, the researchers warn that "animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives". Subsequent research suggests emissions from livestock and their by-products may be much higher (even as high as 51 per cent). Even if we err on the side of conservatism and stick to the lower UN figure, it still indicates that agriculture is responsible for more emissions that all means of transport combined.

No one who cares about the threat of climate change is ignorant of the importance of renewable energy and a reduction in energy use. So why do we still have our collective head in the sand about the need to change our diet?

In an impassioned tirade against Earth Day (April 22), which he dismisses as emblematic of "the culture of progressive green denial", The Nation's Wen Stephenson calls for radical action, namely, "physically, non-violently disrupting the fossil-fuel industry and the institutions that support and abet it ... Forcing the issue. Finally acting as though we accept what the science is telling us."

I don't know what Stephenson's food habits are but, ironically, in a piece railing against denialism, he does not mention meat consumption once. It is rather extraordinary how we acknowledge the need to address climate change and then carry on with those very activities that are causing the damage in the first place.

While some media outlets do report on the link between animal agriculture and global warming, they also undermine the urgency by featuring stories on, for example, how to include bacon in every meal - including dessert. TV channels flog reality shows glorifying high levels of meat consumption, and fast food outlets compete to see who can stuff the most meat and cheese into a single, fat-laden item.

All as scientists warn of the need to move away from dependency on animals as a food source.

When those of us who are concerned by the devastating effects of animal agriculture raise the issue, somehow the focus shifts from saving the planet to respecting personal choice, as if the choice to eat certain foods is sacrosanct.

We have to compromise our personal preferences every day in the interests of public safety. Smoking prohibitions, speed limits, alcohol restrictions, even initiatives promoting recycling and "green" household products all affect our choices.

But, for some reason, requesting people reduce their consumption of meat is taken as a personal affront to their very being. Humans have been eating animals for so long, and in such large quantities, we think we are entitled to their bodies, regardless of the consequences.

Clearly, our dependence on fossil fuels has to change but it is quite remarkable that we actually consider restructuring our entire energy system as an easier and more viable undertaking than simply altering our food habits.

The Guardian's food writer Jay Rayner unwittingly demonstrates this in his reaction to a University of Aberdeen study that found a worldwide adoption of a vegan diet would reduce CO2 emissions by a massive 7.8 gigatonnes. But, rather than take this on board, Rayner chooses instead to shrug his shoulders, declare that "the world is not going vegan any time soon" and condemn "self-righteous vegans" for "making airy proclamations about the way forward when [they] have no power whatsoever to make it happen".

But why don't we have the power to make it happen?

Even if we don't all go completely vegan, surely the takeaway is that everyone should eat less meat and more plants, and not just on Meatless Mondays?

It's easy to point the finger only at fossil fuels because this requires no major personal sacrifice. We can pin all the blame on big corporations, demand policy change, and then feel good about ourselves by declaring on Facebook that we are against dredging the Barrier Reef and we don't support fracking.

But meat is different. Meat means we have to change. It means we have to sacrifice something we enjoy, something we believe we are entitled to. And most of us simply aren't willing to compromise that entitlement, so we pretend that the idea of a worldwide shift to a plant-based diet is simply too ridiculous to contemplate. That's if we even acknowledge the crisis at all.

So we sign petitions and attend demonstrations. Some of us even drive less, take shorter showers, and use eco light bulbs. But nothing it seems, not even the looming threat of environmental catastrophe, could compel a significant number of us to simply change our diet.

Ruby Hamad is a Sydney-based writer and filmmaker. View her full profile here.

Topics: climate-change, environment, food-and-beverage, vegetarian

First posted April 28, 2014 14:49:23

Comments (362)

Comments for this story are closed.

  • whogoesthere:

    28 Apr 2014 3:06:47pm

    I have no moral objections to killing an animal for food, I do believe though that the animal should not suffer in it's life, and live in as natural conditions as possible. I will pay more to try and achieve this. That's a personal opinion, some will say I'm advocating animal murderer or something, others would say I'm a stupid softie.

    But the author is right when she says if 'It means we have to sacrifice something we enjoy, something we believe we are entitled to", most of us simply won't. It doesn't even matter what the 'it' is, even our own health. Us first worlders are eating ourselves to disease and death, and instead of simply eating better and exercising more we expect magic pills and things to fix us !.

    As for AGW, as ever, unless we address the human population itself, nothing else really matters. So eating ourselves to death might be a good thing in the long run.

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    • Sceptical Sam:

      28 Apr 2014 6:01:13pm

      "Us first worlders are eating ourselves to disease and death".

      That has to be one of the silliest comments I've ever seen on Unleashed.

      Surely whogoesthere you know that at the turn of the 19th Century the life expectancy in Australia was around 59 years and that it's now around 89 years?

      How does that demonstrate that we're "eating ourselves to death"?

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      • Blzbob:

        28 Apr 2014 6:43:07pm

        Is it better to die from starvation or from obesity?

        Someone living on the brink of starvation is far more healthy than someone who is conically obese.

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        • Closet Romantic:

          29 Apr 2014 8:42:40am

          Who says this? Most medical research in the long lived seems to have them as slightly overweight ,,,nothing noticeable about 2-3 kilo chronic malnutrition has a host of diseases particularly if occurring in childhood the diabetes phenomenon in India is being looked at as being related to generations of malnourishment creating skinny fat a condition where people put on fat rather than muscle.

          I think your responding to preconceived notions and the establishment of heroin chiq as beauty.

          We do have an obesity problem but we also have problems with young people particularly girls thinking that under nourishment is healthy and attractive .. You know the Nancy Reagan comment you can't be too rich or too thin.

          Someone who is on the edge of starvation will die very quickly if conditions get more adverse, one of the reasons children elderly and people in starvation conditions die is that the effects of malnutrition and dehydration are much greater if they so get an illness, there is some evidence that they can maintain health as long as they live in a germ free environment.

          Do you know of one that people live in day to day?

          There is a lot of evidence that periodic reduction of caloric intake for a limited period can increase health used to be built into the calendar ...things like fast days and lent Ramadan for Muslims.

          There is also a lot of evidence that being big will shorten your life expectancy even if your an athlete ..sumo wrestlers and football players who reduce their size to something more average seem to live longer than their cohorts who do not.

          It's healthiest to be about right you'll suffer long term health problems from obesity and malnutrition as a child and really short but fatal health problems as an adult if you are a malnourished adult who is exposed to the wrong vector.

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        • laserrenegade78:

          29 Apr 2014 12:24:08pm

          Actually, someone who is slightly overweight has more energy reserves to fight disease than someone who is underweight.

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        • Kagey One:

          29 Apr 2014 1:32:55pm

          Do you get the impression that this article is really just a decoy topic, possibly set loose by the giant financial interests in energy generation, which is currently the biggest single greenhouse polluter.

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        • Aubrey:

          29 Apr 2014 1:06:56pm

          I love "conically obese". I have noticed that condition amongst several friends who are approaching middle age in desk jobs.

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      • whogoesthere:

        28 Apr 2014 7:09:29pm

        Oh a bit of hyperbole never hurts !. But obesity and diabetes have just started kicking in, and we are very reliant on all those magic pills.

        Without a doubt we all should be very healthy, we have access to safe water and good, cheap food. The fact that so many are not speaks volumes about the human condition. We think short term, pretend bad things won't happen to us in the future, have little self control, are slaves to our base desires, and are brialliant at deluding ourselves.

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        • FedUpExpress:

          28 Apr 2014 11:21:11pm

          The average life expectancy is not "around 89 years". Not even in the more affluent countries world wide, let alone the less affluent.

          If you must have a sceptical view on something. Please try and be a little more factual, and less tin foil hat.

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        • Benji:

          29 Apr 2014 8:57:23am

          Uh, what?

          My own humble experience in my family show's 89 to be about right. Mum's side, Mum is 73, Grandma lived til 91, Grandad 94. Dad's side, Dad is 74, Grandad killed by a train on a level crossing in 1960, age 54. Grandma is still kicking, at 102.

          So, basic maths shows the average life expectancy in my family is 85.25, and that's not taking my own parents into account, or their gandparents, all 8 of whom lived to see at least their 90th birthdays.

          All from varying racial origins, but all lived here or in the USA. Either way... 89 is about right.

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        • LeroyJ:

          29 Apr 2014 1:43:50pm


          What you have presented is an anecdote. Claiming, without any evidence, that 89 is about right for average life expectancy based solely on your own family is not how it is calculated. It would be quite obvious to most people that average life expectancy of a country is based on all of the population and not just one family, especially without any evidence backing it up. Perhaps a little science education would help you out.

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        • peter of mitcham:

          29 Apr 2014 3:24:22pm

          It's an opinion page, Leroy. Opinion.

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        • Jimmy Necktie:

          29 Apr 2014 3:46:15pm

          Life expectancy for Australia 83 years. Japan leads at 86.5

          (source: Wikipedia)

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        • RayS:

          29 Apr 2014 12:45:58am

          It happens that methane is the main component of natural gas which Abbott wants to encourage the fracking of and make it easy for parasite polluters to be able to get at, even close to residences.

          Fracking by definition involves the violent fracture of stable rock formations to release the gas entrapped for eons, hopefully to be captured and burned but also much goes free into the atmosphere.

          Methane is CH4 which is one carbon atom bonded with four hydrogen atoms, while CO2 is one carbon atom bonded with two oxygen atoms. When you burn methane you get CO2 and a bit of water.

          Let's worry about cattle farting after we worry about accidental release of methane by fracking and production of CO2 by burning natural gas.

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        • LeroyJ:

          29 Apr 2014 1:46:11pm

          Hi RayS,

          Methane itself is about 10 times more potent as a GHG than CO2, so your comparison there is incorrect and misleading. As for fracking releasing a lot of gas accidentally into the atmosphere, this is a claim that is unsubstantiated by evidence.

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        • Ajay:

          29 Apr 2014 4:08:24pm

          "Let's worry about cattle farting after we worry about accidental release of methane..."

          So, you're saying to not bother worrying about the cause of 37 per cent of the total worldwide methane emissions? Ignoring the facts won't make them go away Ray.

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      • Hugh Briss:

        28 Apr 2014 10:46:56pm

        "Surely whogoesthere you know that at the turn of the 19th Century the life expectancy in Australia was around 59 years and that it's now around 89 years? "

        Lies damn lies and statistics ? Most of that difference is attributable to a decrease in child mortality rates, not an increase in longevity.

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        • Closet Romantic:

          29 Apr 2014 8:06:05am

          You are very right it's the massive lowering of child mortality that ads led to the massive improvement in life expectancy.

          But the big truth is still that most of us are living longer which is why we are having the arguments about pensions most workers didn't make it to claim a pension now most do it really is a little from column a and a little from column b.

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      • Jenny Bunn:

        29 Apr 2014 9:00:38am

        "How does that demonstrate that we're "eating ourselves to death"?"

        That particular statistic doesn't, because it is designed not to (which is why you quoted it), and it has nothing to do with diet.

        Why not, instead, take a look at the disgraceful statistics that have emerged lately, centred around the prognosis that people in the prime of their youth now are likely to be the first generation in our history who will live, on average, shorter lives than their parents, because of widespread obesity. That's a tremendously sad outlook, notwithstanding the decreased enjoyment that they will have throughout life, due to illness and decreased mobility.

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        • Dew Point:

          29 Apr 2014 1:18:51pm

          Because those statistics are predictions, not observations. That's the problem with wringing your hands over issues like climate change... It's all about predictions not what's actually going on.

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      • ateday:

        29 Apr 2014 10:02:54am

        We are certainly eating, and breeding, ourselves out of house and home.

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      • laserrenegade78:

        29 Apr 2014 12:22:48pm

        The average age expectancy has raised because of what we eat but because of medical research... the same medical research that is still unable in many circumstances to prevent people who eat too much of the wrong foods from dying of bowel cancer and heart disease because they don't eat enough vegetables, fruit and wholegrains.

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      • Richard:

        29 Apr 2014 1:09:17pm

        Life expectancy in Australia in 2011 was 81.8 years.

        89 is getting a little carried away.

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    • StevieW:

      28 Apr 2014 6:59:09pm

      Whogoesthere - yes, unless we address the real root cause of the earth's environmental problems -- ie the world is overpopulated as is Australia we're just wasting our time. Until supposed environmental groups or parties like the greens stand up and accept that then you have to wonder what is their real agenda.

      The horrible tragedy in Korea is a useful metaphor: the captain says stay in your cabins there's nothing to worry about... meanwhile the captain drifts past in his lifeboat.

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      • harry:

        28 Apr 2014 9:03:49pm

        You say Australia is overpopulated but our whole population would fit in a cube just 100m each side.. a speck of dust on any map.

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        • Blzbob:

          29 Apr 2014 8:54:32am

          So few and yet we are running out of water when we have a few drought years.

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        • MD:

          29 Apr 2014 9:00:08am

          What a ridiculous observation. The reason that we value land is that we leverage it, and everything else on the planet, to comfortably accommodate our activities . Cram the population into the space that you smugly assert we'd "fit" into, and 95% will be dead in minutes. This article is about how immediately discomfited and affronted we are by the simple prospect of material self-denial.

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      • Josephine:

        28 Apr 2014 10:26:23pm

        The Greens do have population policies! Basic research...

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        • StevieW:

          29 Apr 2014 7:53:36am

          The Liberals and Laborites also have population policies ...

          Can you advise me what the Greens think is a sustainable population figure?

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        • Salient Green:

          29 Apr 2014 9:25:40am

          StevieW, very difficult to put a figure on a sustainable population until a population has become sustainable.

          The Greens, like any group have a range of opinions but the effect of their policy is to put sustainability first, not population growth.

          The major parties clearly put population growth first while not even considering sustainability.

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        • Snufkin:

          29 Apr 2014 8:50:26am

          Many thanks Ruby for your article.

          Josephine, I looked up the Green's population policies and all I could find was generally worded aspirations. More specific goals are needed. The Greens are probably the only party with the brains to take population levels seriously though, so they should possibly start making more definite statements which include numbers.

          I voted Green last election despite my disagreement with many of their policies, because it is clear they are also the only party which takes animal welfare seriously.

          (see for example prominent Nat MP Joyce's recent plans to revive live exports to the Saudis)

          Ruby is right about the difficulty humans have in changing dietary habits. This difficulty is always going to be compounded by the financial interests of graziers and feedlot/piggery/battery hen owners who feel more threatened than most, by articles like Ruby's.

          These enterprising people are far from stupid and will fight against moves towards vegetarianism every step of the way, as we saw not long ago in "Free Meat Week." The ABC's recent "Chicken and the Egg" series was also about "normalising" factory farming. They will soon try to prevent exposure of the realities of their businesses with "Ag Gag" legislation.

          The suffering of animals and the climate of the planet are inextricably linked and we can all do something about it on an individual level.

          Have a good one.

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        • Aussie Sutra:

          29 Apr 2014 10:35:36am

          The Greens believe that Australia needs to host a vast population of refugees. This is what I ascertain from their policy as written on their website.

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        • MuZZ:

          29 Apr 2014 11:02:15am

          How can anyone vote for a party of which they disagree with most of their policies, yet cast a vote due to an animal welfare position?

          Idiot green movement at the fore once again!

          Intelligent folk vote for what is best for the country, and any dissection of the green manifesto highlights a complete lack of conclusion re the results of their wacko policies.

          A conclusion re the intelligence of green voters is apparent.

          For the record, in relation to this article, I stopped eating meat 40 years ago, I am fit and a healthy weight and I never go hungry.

          I fully support the vegetarianism of the population, cheaper health and less farting,

          both bovine and human is the first result, apart from cheaper food !

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        • Aussie Sutra:

          29 Apr 2014 1:49:21pm

          The same amount of has will be released, whether the animals graze the land or not.

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        • Snufkin:

          29 Apr 2014 2:12:54pm

          @MuZZ, I've never been a "rusted on" voter. In Sept '13 I voted for the party with which I had LEAST DISAGREEMENT WITH. I don't agree with many of the Lib's or Lab's policies either! For the past forty years, and being deeply sceptical of "the party system" I have mostly voted independent, hoping such representatives would perhaps TRY to keep the rest of "the bastards" honest!

          Have a good one.

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        • capt sensible:

          29 Apr 2014 4:02:44pm

          Surely it it the cows farting which generates the methane?

          Correct me if I am wrong, but are cows (bovines) not vegetarian?

          Logically therefore going veggie exacerbates the problem in humans, not reduces it!

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    • Lyndon Taylor:

      28 Apr 2014 9:19:16pm

      As a long time vegetarian you might think I would applaud this sentiment, but basically what the author is proposing is a huge animal eugenics programme with a massive kill off and reduction in the number of animals for what purpose; to allow humans to continue breeding like rabbits and overpopulate the planet.

      Vegetarianism IS the most efficient way to feed the planet, the vast majority of farmland goes to not only house the meat bearing animals but grow the grains and vegetables the animals have to eat to be fat enough to go to market, It take roughly 15 kilos of vegetarian food to raise an animal to produce only 1 kilo of meat, this is incredibly inefficient compared to just raising grains and vegetables and eating them direct.

      In the hypothetical case of we all become vegetarians, the farmland saved from not producing animals for meat would be much more than the extra land needed for the greater production of grains and vegetables(and fruit) for humans.

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      • Stuffed Olive:

        29 Apr 2014 9:22:37am

        Except that most of that 'farmland' is only suitable for grazing, not farming. It would be no good for cereal cropping and vegetable growing. Much is marginal.

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        • Snufkin:

          29 Apr 2014 11:49:27am

          I grew up on a sheep and cattle station about 1,100 km from the ocean. I don't agree with repeated claims that comparatively arid country can't be used to grow plants.

          It is unquestionably more difficult, but also definitely possible. My father, born in 1912, who was "married" to his land, always said: "You can grow anything here. You just need the water." With today's technology, much more of Oz. could be used to grow food. Olives for example, adapt so well to our australian conditions that they are considered a weed in some places.

          I live on a hobby farm of about 150 acres. The land had only ever been used previously for sheep/cattle grazing but I have successfully planted all sorts of food-bearing trees. Stone pines, bunya pines, olives, various oaks, pecans and pomegranates to name just a few. Further inland, I think olives could be grown fairly easily. The truth is it is simply EASIER to run stock. Every tree changer and her dog in my area seems to errect some yards and then run some "pocket money" cattle. It isn't difficult. Growing trees may be harder but it is more sustainable and more environmentally friendly. It is simply NOT TRUE to claim that the more arid parts of Oz. can't grow food. It is just more difficult, that's all.

          Have a good one.

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        • olive:

          29 Apr 2014 12:26:58pm

          Snufskin, I'm on board with you. It takes some effort but it is possible. Over time the soil also gets enriched from fallen leaves and other debris, so it becomes possible to grow other food plants.

          And good on you.

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        • Stuffed Olive:

          29 Apr 2014 3:08:12pm

          I should have been more specific - I was referring to the vast tracts in the north used for raising cattle for live export. I know all about the experience you outlined - I've done the same, planted many native trees and fruit and nut trees. I don't think olives are likely to be a source of mass food replacement for beef though. There certainly are areas used for mixed grazing which would do equally well under crop. It is clear to me though that for consistent vegetable production you need irrigation (yes, water). But you are right it is 'unquestionably more difficult' - too difficult to get off the ground in many areas which are having a hard enough time with drought.

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      • Aussie Sutra:

        29 Apr 2014 10:37:56am

        Vegetarianism is a most INefficient way to feed the world. It takes vast amounts of destructive inputs to create vegetarian foods that are not at all healthy and are very low in the essential macronutrients relative to meat, which, properly produced, turns grasses (which we cannot consume at all) on marginal land into our perfect basic food.

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        • D.G.:

          29 Apr 2014 11:11:17am

          There isn't nearly enough grassland worldwide to meet the demand for meat. Most cattle is grain fed.

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        • Aussie Sutra:

          29 Apr 2014 3:23:44pm

          The world is overpopulated. However meat remains an important and very efficient food source for humans. If we all became vegetarian we'd just all starve more quickly. Solution: stop breeding more people. Eat local, sustainable food and not factory farmed meats nor grains from industrial monoculture.

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      • Jimmy Necktie:

        29 Apr 2014 3:51:02pm

        you assume there is the same nutrition in 1kg of vegetables vs 1kg of meat. If there was, why would we have taken up meat? Much more effort involved in getting meat, yet our ancestors went to the trouble.

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    • Dad:

      29 Apr 2014 11:52:59am

      The headline is incorrect. Increasing human population is the culprit of climate change. All environmental problems follow from that, every single one, including climate change.

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  • Peter the Lawyer:

    28 Apr 2014 3:16:59pm

    All bow down and pray to the great god 'climate change.'

    Is there no limit to what these fascist, fundamentalist, warmist, doom sayers will inflict upon the world in the name of their creepy religion?

    TYhe scientists are now coming out and saying that the politicians manipulated the latest IPCC report to make i seem more necessary for the politicians to wield much more power to limit a phenomenon that the scientists know is not really that bad.

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    • James Picone:

      28 Apr 2014 5:23:23pm

      It's exactly the same as when those fascist, fundamentalist, anti-industry doomsayers said that CFCs were destroying the ozone layer, right? And when they said that SOx and NOx emissions were causing acid rain. And when they said that lead in petrol was getting into our bloodstreams and causing developmental issues in children. And when they said DDT was causing health issues. And when they said that smoking might actually be bad for your health. And when they said that second-hand smoking might actually be bad for your health.

      Why is it that every time the scientific community discovers we're making a bit of a mistake and suggests some changes, people come out and call them 'fascists' and claim they're religious, and then when the scientific community turns out to be right nobody learns? Peter here almost certainly doesn't have the statistical or scientific chops required to evaluate what the scientists or saying - or even understand it if he thinks that scientists think that politicians made the IPCC reports /more/ alarmist - so why does he think it's okay to throw every insult he can think of at the scientists who do have the chops?

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      • Mitor the Bold:

        28 Apr 2014 5:39:19pm

        If you start with the answer first then go looking for substantiation, that's when you get Peter. He's trapped in an ideology - mere facts could never challenge that. Some people still think dead men come back to life, that a man talked to an angel in a cave or that the wealth of billionaires 'trickles-down' to poor people in the suburbs. Overwhelming evidence to the contrary and zero in support does nothing to blunt their fervour.

        It is Peter and his ilk who are the religious amongst us. There is no data set that could convince him of something he'd prefer not to be true.

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        • Ben the lawyer:

          28 Apr 2014 6:00:35pm

          'It is Peter and his ilk who are the religious amongst us.'

          You must admit, I'm sure, that the constant "I believe in climate change", cries of 'denier', and the constant call to repent or face the end of the world is eerily reminiscent of religion.

          The above doesn't seek to make a comment on the accuracy or otherwise of climate change theory, I merely wanted to note the similarities between the two.

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        • Mitor the Bold:

          28 Apr 2014 6:18:51pm

          "You must admit, I'm sure, that the constant "I believe in climate change"... is eerily reminiscent of religion."

          I do agree - but no more so than the claims of "it's all a leftist conspiracy to take my money". Any claim that relies upon belief rather than data is religious by nature. Forget what people say they believe and look instead at the facts.

          I have not looked at the facts - I'm just not that interested. However, the people who seem to understand the science have looked at it and they seemed convinced by the data that AGW is a thing, and not a conspiracy. They might be wrong, of course, although the probability of this is becoming vanishingly small.

          What do we do next? That's what we can argue intelligently about - should we focus on mitigation or adaptation? Or should we just take our chances? This would be more productive than pretending facts are something other than facts.

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        • Sister Haze:

          28 Apr 2014 6:28:42pm

          I don't seek to comment on the accuracy or otherwise of your statement on the similarities between religion and evidence based science.

          However you must admit that the article doesn't say "I believe in climate change", calls nobody a 'denier' and doesn't ask anyone to repent of face the end of the world.

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        • Dave:

          28 Apr 2014 6:32:50pm

          "You must admit, I'm sure, that the constant "I believe in climate change", cries of 'denier', and the constant call to repent or face the end of the world is eerily reminiscent of religion."

          Science is now 'eerily reminiscent' of religion? What a ludicrous thing to say. Facts, theories and models are what they are. Just because some want to pretend that their religion is factual and real does not make it so.

          Ben, I suggest you stop listening to those with no evidence, no basis for their thinking other than blind faith and you will quickly find that science is no longer 'eerily reminiscent' of bulldust.

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        • Ben the lawyers:

          28 Apr 2014 6:43:39pm

          'Science is now 'eerily reminiscent' of religion?'

          Not science. Merely those supporters that act on 'belief'.

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        • Blzbob:

          28 Apr 2014 6:50:41pm

          If you aren't smart enough to work it out, then you might as well assume it to be the will of god.

          Nature has been slowly locking carbon away under ground for millions, of years, we are now digging it all up again and putting it back into the atmosphere.

          Anyone wishing to disagree with that fact can be called nothing else than a denier and a religious zealot.

          Now if you understand and accept that as a species, that that is what we are doing, then surely you are smart enough to work out the rest from there.

          But, I won't hold my breath.

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    • James in Brisbane:

      28 Apr 2014 5:30:21pm

      Aside from your empirically rebuttable assertions in relation to climate change, what do you say about the massive land clearing for beef and soya production in South America that is causing huge numbers of extinctions of plant and animal species? Is the wholesale razing of the highest biodiversity tropical rainforests of no concern to you at all, or is it a perfectly acceptable price for ongoing human expansion?

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      • ringer in indo:

        28 Apr 2014 6:17:56pm


        the vast majority of the forest being cleared "these days" in Brazil is being used for the growing of sugar cane for the express purpose of bio-diesel actually.

        i'm not advocating of the forest clearance at all but just stating a fact. Some consolation I guess.

        Alert moderator

    • Theos:

      28 Apr 2014 6:57:23pm

      So Peter the "Lawyer", to clarify:

      What you call, "fascist, fundamentalist, warmist, doom sayers", regular people call "scientists"

      And what you call "their creepy religion", regular people refer to as "accepted mainstream science"

      I suspect that you are running the risk of not being taken very seriously due to your slightly emotive language choices.

      Alert moderator

  • John:

    28 Apr 2014 3:18:07pm

    Oh dear, how predictable, how boring and how dishonest.

    "You're causing global warming!" was the shriek, until the globe didn't warm.

    Then it was "You're causing climate change" until it was admitted that we weren't.

    Then it was "We've never seen CO2 at levels above 280ppmv for 800,000 years" until that was shown to be an outright lie.

    Then it was "You're causing weather extremes" until the alarmists had to shamefacedly back down in the face of evidence showing no change to weather extremes.

    Then the IPCC upped its propaganda from alarmism to catastrophe and now on to the current report that yells "We're all doomed! And it's all your fault".

    And now that's been dropped and the poor old cows are not allowed to fart or burp without some hysterical outburst about the end of civilisation as we know it.

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    • Peter the Lawyer:

      28 Apr 2014 5:30:10pm

      The point is that the scientists at the IPCC have now admitted that the politicans rewote the political report so that it bears no real relation to the scientific report.

      Leftists are out of control. They will use any lie to further their strange need for Government to take over as many aspects of life as possible. It doesn't matter that we hate the collective and all that it stands for. it doesn't matter that all expereince has shown that governments are the most evil entities on the planet. They just want more and more of it.

      Sinistra delenda est!

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      • James Picone:

        28 Apr 2014 5:43:10pm

        You've now twice repeated this claim that politicians have brought pressure to bear to make the most recent IPCC report more alarmist, and that scientists involved in the IPCC process reported it. Do you have an actual source? Is this just whatever nonsense Richard Tol was saying prior to the report being released, or is this from someone with any actual credibility?

        Alert moderator

        • Ben the lawyer:

          28 Apr 2014 6:02:23pm

          From Dr Robert Stavins, an IPCC Coordinating Lead Author:

          "Over the course of the two hours of the contact group deliberations, it became clear that the only way the assembled government representatives would approve text for SPM.5.2 was essentially to remove all ?controversial? text"


          "In more than one instance, specific examples or sentences were removed at the will of only one or two countries"


          Alert moderator

        • Blzbob:

          28 Apr 2014 6:54:43pm

          Wow! sounds just like lawyers at work.

          The truth is always the first casualty when ever lawyers get involved and governments tend to use heaps of them.

          The water is in the end made so muddy that there ceases to be any land or sea.

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        • Gary:

          28 Apr 2014 7:38:29pm

          The usual denier tactic of taking things out of context.

          It is only the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) that has to be approved by governments - the basic report can not be touched.

          The earth has continued heating in the last 17 years - the extra heat is just staying in the oceans (where it has been measured by the Argo buoys).

          We have not seen CO2 levels above 280 ppm for the last 800,000 years.

          Alert moderator

        • James Picone:

          28 Apr 2014 7:50:59pm

          Looked up Dr Stavins, and found his blog. This is the second comment I've posted in reply here, the first one hasn't shown up (maybe because I linked to the blog) so just in case, and because it's important, I'm replying again.

          - Dr Stavins only worked on WGIII, the mitigation report, not on the reports on whether it's happening and how bad it will be.

          - He specifically notes that the political interference applied only to the Summary for Policymakers, not the Technical Summary nor the full report.

          - He provides the text of both the early draft and the released version with politically difficult text removed, so you can see what was removed, and it doesn't make the SPM more alarmist. More the opposite, in fact - it's more a matter of removing everything that makes countries look bad rather than removing things that suggest no action.

          - I misinterpreted Peter's claim as being that the IPCC report was manipulated to be more alarmist, whereas he is claiming that it was rewritten to be advantageous to politicians, which Dr Stavins letter supports. Except that Peter is clearly /implying/ that it was to make it more alarmist, not less difficult, outright stating that it was the report, not the summary for policymakers, and he's eliding the difference between WGIII and the other reports. I think that's deceptive.

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      • Healthfirst:

        28 Apr 2014 9:11:12pm

        Peter the Lawyer

        You say Leftist are out of control.

        I say Rightist can be very greedy and use Climate change to create thousands of useless jobs to say they are getting the employment figures down.

        Another form of Control and Controlled Education.

        What are the Kids being taught in Schools?

        We have to watch Left and Right.

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        • Blzbob:

          29 Apr 2014 8:59:08am

          Look to the left, then to the right, then back to the left again.

          I'd say that leaves them facing in the right direction to be part of a human and caring society.

          Alert moderator

      • Where's Tony:

        29 Apr 2014 9:33:07am

        I don't know what planet you live on, PTL but I number, among my friends, many people from your side of the political spectrum.

        Among these people are a high percentage who absolutely agree with the science of global warming and the human influence upon it. Others are not totally convinced but are open to the likelihood of it.

        I seem to recall that there was a general agreement on this across politics during Howard's last bid for election. This carried through to Mr Turnbull's leadership of the Liberal Party and was the division that TA successfully exploited (by one vote) to bring him to the Leadership of the Libs.

        We now, have a government led by a man who stated that man made global warming was "Crap" but who is willing to pay the big polluters to lessen their carbon emissions.........Why, given that he thinks that CO2 emissions are not a problem ?

        His whole slant on this can be compared to his "Over my dead body" statement regarding Labor's PPL scheme while a minister in the Howard Government, a scheme which worked quite well for all concerned. He scrapped it and now is struggling to get his over generous PPL through his own party, let alone the Senate.

        Neither Global warming, nor Tony's PPL are as simple as Lefty-Righty, Peter, except to the terminally rusted on to either of the majors.

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    • James in Brisbane:

      28 Apr 2014 5:31:11pm

      Can you please point me to some peer-reviewed sources for your claims, because I'm not aware of such statements from any of the scientific literature.

      Alert moderator

      • Sceptical Sam:

        28 Apr 2014 6:05:34pm

        Please be aware that James only reads the "Authorised Version". And he has never learnt to think for himself.

        He eats his greens. He votes for his greens. And he remains green behind the ears. Or is that wet?

        Alert moderator

        • Blzbob:

          28 Apr 2014 7:06:26pm


          Thinking for yourself is only beneficial if you brain doesn't let you down.

          Though of course it could be said that all denalists think for themselves, ...... and damn anybody else.

          Alert moderator

    • Blzbob:

      28 Apr 2014 7:03:02pm

      Will Ruby Hamad want us to eradicate all of the worlds wildebeests and bison also?

      grass releases it's CO2 to the atmosphere every year, with the aid of fungus, fire and termites, whether it is eaten by cows or not.

      How stupid are some people, Clive palmer says that 90% of CO2 is produced by nature so that is what we should be worrying about.

      He fails to realise it is nature that has been locking up more than it has been releasing for millions of years, and it is we who are digging up all that nature has previously sequestered and releasing it into the atmosphere, not the cows.

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    • Rusty:

      28 Apr 2014 10:17:36pm

      I think .... I am with you John.

      There is no doubt the worlds climate has been changing and will keep changing long after human kind is extinct.

      But what gives us humans the right to think we know it all and know best, we don't.

      I do know I would like less pollution, less destruction of the natural environment.

      But all the efforts I see of those in a position to make change amount to very little.

      So, I will do what I must as the article says and change my diet, in a small way maybe that will help. (TIC)

      Alert moderator

    • Reinhard:

      29 Apr 2014 9:44:16am

      The usual misinformation and misdirection from John

      "Climate change" became "global warming" after the Luntz memo to the Bush white house in 2002

      "It's time for us to start talking about climate change instead of global warming and conservation instead of preservation"

      We've never seen CO2 at levels above 280ppmv for 200,000 years not 800,000...

      Extreme weather events may not be more frequent but they have become more extreme.

      Do the names Katrina and Yasi ring any bells?

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      • John:

        29 Apr 2014 11:17:28am

        The usual misinterpretations by Reinhard.

        "Global warming" was not a Bush phrase, and "climate change" became the catch-cry of the alarmists when the globe did not warm.

        The "800,000 year" claim is an utter lie. You've seen the evidence often enough to know that you are parrotting a lie.

        Yes, I've heard of Katrina.

        I've also heard of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the deadliest ever to strike the USA. I've also heard of the Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane of 1919, the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 and the San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928, all as or more intense than Katrina.

        And yes, I've also heard of Yasi.

        Yasi was a category 5 event. And so was Mahina in 1899. As was Mackay in 1918 and Innisfail, also in 1918.

        What was that you were saying about more frequent? And more intense?

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        • Reinhard:

          29 Apr 2014 11:46:49am

          Oh dear do read it again......

          In 2002 the US EPA submitted "Climate Action Report 2002,"

          "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing global mean surface air temperature and subsurface ocean temperature to rise."

          The response from the Bush White House was:

          "The president believes that there is "considerable uncertainty relating to the science of climate change. This report submitted to the United Nations also recognizes that any 'definitive prediction of potential outcomes is not yet feasible' and that, 'one of the weakest links in our knowledge is the connection between global and regional predictions of climate change"

          Also if you read it again I did not say more frequent , but more extreme, like "Super Storm" Sandy..

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        • John:

          29 Apr 2014 2:55:32pm

          Oh dear, DO read it again. And more carefully this time, please.

          The Bush White House responded to an EPA report that spoke of "climate change". The Bush administration did not create or routinely use that description. The President said that there was doubt about the science relating to man-made climate change.

          The REPORT spoke of climate change ? not the President.

          I spoke of the dishonesty of the alarmists in claiming that weather extremes were greater or more frequent. You challenged that and attempted to show Katrina and Yasi as unusual. So I gave you details of more frequent and more intense hurricanes in the past. You couldn't refute the facts so you used your usual ploy and switched to a different topic.

          "Super Storm Sandy" to which you refer was categorised by Blake at al as ?a classic late season hurricane ? then weakened somewhat and made landfall as a post-tropical cyclone near Brigantine, New Jersey?. Yes, it caused massive damage and loss of power and other services, but that was because of the location it struck, not any unusual intensity. But no, it wasn?t unusual, unexpected or particularly severe. It was, as the meteorologists stated, ?a classic late season hurricane?.

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        • Stan:

          29 Apr 2014 3:17:08pm

          Rheinhard "Superstorm Sandy" was an invention of the press and the alarmists. Wasn't much that was Super about it from a storm point of view, equivalent to a Cat 3 and definitely wasn't unprecedented. Check out even the wiki page on NY storms and put it in context

          Alert moderator

  • James Picone:

    28 Apr 2014 3:18:59pm

    Agriculture at 14% of global emissions still puts it behind electricity and heating, industry, and transportation, and only slightly more than land use changes. And most of agriculture's emissions, as you rightly point out, are in the form of methane directly from ruminants - and methane is not as much of a problem as CO2, because it has a much more limited atmospheric lifetime.

    Dumping fossil-fuel for energy and transportation produces much larger gains than changing agricultural habits and doesn't require substantial dietary changes. Whether or not dietary shifts have to happen in future - and they might - for now, the biggest bang-for-buck is in energy.

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  • Sting576:

    28 Apr 2014 3:21:26pm

    How do you know if someone is a vegan. Answer easy - don't worry they will tell you within 5 minutes. There are simple sources to our problem. People. There are too many. Whether they eat beans and cabbage and emit themselves or get sheep and cattle to preemit is largely irrelevant. Whether we close bell bay and outsource or Aluminium production emissions to china is largely irrelevant. The emissions are the same or worse.

    The Vegans I know still want to drive their Prius fuelled by Victorian brown coal with batteries produced from Lithium mined by $2/day labour to their Air-conditioned place of work built of concrete and steel and park their car on the Asphalt paved car parking area so their non leather fossil oil derived but leaky shoes do not let their feet be wet.

    It is all about Me. With the capital M.

    There is Anthropogenic climate change.

    The Middle ranked countries want to have what the rich world has. The poor just want reliable roof, fuel and food. Food that walks itself to market and that does not get eaten by rats or destroyed by mould has a huge advantage.

    Converting the world to veganism may help but first you need transport, storage and things that take a lot of fuel.

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  • John Coochey :

    28 Apr 2014 3:23:29pm

    I note there is no break down of different types of meat, non ruminants like kangaroos not producing methane so as a sometimes pro shooter I am saving the planet but only of course if I am allowed to harvest the meat (ie not in the ACT). But as with all planets saving activity which would impinge on living standards "You first" bit like the Climate Commissions proclivity for overseas trips and big houses.

    Alert moderator

    • Blzbob:

      28 Apr 2014 7:34:56pm

      An acre of grass can only produce a certain amount of CO2, ... whether it is eaten by bacteria as utilised by cows, fungi as utilised by termites, or by fire as an act of nature (or "God"). It only contains a set quantity of cellulose, and therefore a set amount of carbon, and it releases that carbon back into the atmosphere every year just to soak it up again the next.

      Cows actually store some of that carbon everyday and keep doing it until they are fully grown, so if harvested at exactly the right time they have taken the maximum out of the system for us to consume and convert from protein, to carbohydrate, from carbohydrate to sugar than from sugar, utilising the energy in the hydrogen and releasing the CO2 for the plants to once again absorb.

      Pasture and livestock is not the worry, ... fossil fuel is the worry.

      Alert moderator

      • ateday:

        28 Apr 2014 7:44:53pm

        Overpopulation is THE worry.

        Alert moderator

        • Blzbob:

          29 Apr 2014 9:02:39am


          they are both a worry.

          I never said we weren't doing two or more things wrong, so I agree with you, I just hope you can agree with me too.

          Alert moderator

      • The Blue Smurf:

        28 Apr 2014 8:44:22pm

        Aaah... the old conservation of matter theory. How dare you think for yourself and express as much on this forum.

        Alert moderator

  • EVAN:

    28 Apr 2014 3:25:39pm

    "Most of us agree that action needs to be taken to address climate change"

    But most of us don't agree as was showen at the last election.You are going to tell the McDonalds generations they can't eat meat.Good luck with that.I don't see McDonalds closing a lot of outlets just the opposite.

    "No one who cares about the threat of climate change"

    Less than 10% of the population.

    "Humans have been eating animals for so long, and in such large quantities, we think we are entitled to their bodies, regardless of the consequences."

    Since humans were humans I would think.

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    • Peter the Lawyer:

      28 Apr 2014 5:33:04pm

      I don't think we are entitled to eat meat. We should be able to eat it if we can afford it.

      The authour's use of 'enetitlement' is a rhetorical trick to downgrade our desire for meat. it is a cheap trick that is really ineffective.

      Alert moderator

      • Healthfirst:

        28 Apr 2014 9:23:44pm

        Good meat is required for B12 not TOFU say

        All people should as a Human right be able to get Good meat.

        The amount required is a variable.

        Tainted meat from poor sources is a real waste.

        Hence I could not recommend Mcdonalds with what I know.

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      • FedUpExpress:

        29 Apr 2014 12:11:23am

        "I don't think we are entitled to eat meat. We should be able to eat it if we can afford it."

        Money reigns above all other considerations (as usual).

        And the fun continues...

        Until of course you realise that money is but a factor of the environment. Not the ruler of it, or custodian of this fanciful human made construct in any way. Which of course you already know. The finite, is for those to enjoy in the here and now. The infinite is for the 'other', and future generations of 'life' to worry about.

        Not a highly evolved stand point these days. In fact, it is the opposite of Darwinian 'survival of the fittest' if you will. The right wing mantra of short circuitry of logic and empirical evidence will be just as short lived as it deserves. And sadly take the lesser undeserving souls down with them without consent.

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    • Reinhard:

      28 Apr 2014 5:41:45pm

      Evan as usual you are peddling untruths, Essential vision conducted a poll April 8th 2014

      "Climate change is happening and is caused by human activity" 56%

      "We are just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth?s climate" 34%

      "Don?t know' 10%

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      • EVAN:

        28 Apr 2014 8:55:34pm

        "Climate change is happening and is caused by human activity" 56%"

        I was talking about who cares. Now 56% might think it is happening and is caused by humans or 36% that it is natural and 10% don't know.But WHO cares?.And I say less than 10%.

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      • Hugh Briss:

        28 Apr 2014 10:52:34pm

        "Evan as usual you are peddling untruths, Essential vision conducted a poll"

        Which is of course a direct contradiction to the MUCH bigger poll conducted in September 2013, where > 80% of the population voted for politicians that had no intention of effective action against anthropogenic climate change.

        Their actions in voting speak much more loudly than any words.

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        • James Picone:

          29 Apr 2014 10:32:40am

          Attributing 100% of somebody's vote for whichever party to their policies on climate change is wrong.

          Also, your 80% figure is massively inflated.

          Alert moderator

      • John:

        29 Apr 2014 8:44:13am

        Essential Media?

        That propaganda arm of the ALP that on its own site reports that it:

        uses a sample of around 1000 ?

        uses targetted focus groups ?

        regularly re-visits respondents to check on changes of opinion ?

        And describes its procedure thus:

        EMC?s communications reviews and audits take a deep dive into your organisation ?

        Would you trust an organisation that issues reports based on answers from 1,000 people, selects those 1,000 from a ?targetted focus group? and asks the same people the same questions?

        And one that promises to ?take a deep dive? into your business?

        You might. I wouldn't.

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        • Reinhard:

          29 Apr 2014 9:31:37am

          Essential conducts research for the ALP , amongst others so it is not controlled by it..

          Samples of around 1000 respondents are regularly used by the major polling companies, Newspoll included, and re-visiting respondents is the best way to gauge trends.

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        • John:

          29 Apr 2014 2:57:39pm

          Essential might not be "controlled" by the ALP, but it is the ALP's appointed publicity and research body and is therefore beholden to it. It has a very close connection to, and involvement in, ALP propaganda. Do you remember the "Your rights at work" campaign?

          1,000 respondents is a very small sample, and is less than other organisations such as Newspoll or Morgan use.

          Further, selecting a group and then re-questioning that same group cannot do anything except keep re-inforcing the first response. And if the 1,000 respondents come from a "targetted" group, you can exert a fair influence over the outcome before you even start to ask the question. Even Morgan, whose methods I have sometimes questioned, do not follow that very limited path.

          Alert moderator

    • Jungle Boy:

      29 Apr 2014 1:02:06pm

      "But most of us don't agree as was showen [sic] at the last election"

      You're totally wrong. Firstly, a clear majority of the population voted for parties with policies to address climate change: ALP, the Green, the LNP (their policy is Direct Action).

      Secondly, people didn't vote solely on the basis of (policies on) climate change. Voters considered many other issues.

      Thirdly, there was certainly no reference on the ballot papers to climate change.

      Therefore the election cannot be taken to have been a referendum on the issue, and nor can it be taken to provide a mandate on the issue.

      Alert moderator

  • MJLC:

    28 Apr 2014 3:26:06pm

    It's rare that an article comes along offering so much juicy (sic) potential for comedy writing and/or full-throttle excitability.

    I'm looking forward immensely to (a) the first person who demands that the cows be given equal opportunity to put "their side of the story", (b) hearing an impassioned plea about the social consequences of massive bovine unemployment, (c) reading about how by taking more plants out of the system we're reducing our capacity to scrub the atmosphere of CO2 whilst simultaneously generating oxygen and fixing carbon as cellulose, and (d) explaining that cattle shouldn't have to be burdened with a socialist carbon tax - and where in God's name exactly are they going to come up with the money to pay for it?

    A bonus point for whoever first mentions that humans were eating meat at the time of the Little Ice Age.

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    • Brian Francis:

      28 Apr 2014 5:24:13pm


      To be fair MJ, the people who save stuff are actually running short of stuff to save, so it's down to the cows now.

      Climate changes will always be topical, everyday I speak to somebody of the weather and it does promote a conversation.

      Weather conditions if not the responsibility of Government or Specialty Groups might actually be down to Cattle Farmers taking on the mantel. We should never be given the opportunity to rest from this push to save everything that moves and everything that doesn't move. The resultant inertia will not save anybody or anything.

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      • MJLC:

        28 Apr 2014 5:44:12pm

        I'm guessing the conversations you speak of centre around trying to get you to understand the difference between climate and weather.

        In any case, seeing that we now have "Direct Action" on the job we can start paying farmers to stick their fingers in their cows bums at the same time the cows are taught how to plant trees and clean rubbish out of creeks.

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    • Gordon:

      28 Apr 2014 5:47:52pm

      Maybe farting was just more prevalent before the 1600s...those Tudors did have a very rich diet after all! Then Cromwell made us eat bread and water - the New Model digestion, but along comes Dutch William it was suddenly all rollmops in a cream sauce. Oh well.

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    • Dr Who:

      29 Apr 2014 9:14:53am

      Love your points MJLC, although I suspect if cows were given equal opportunity to put their side of the story, they'd probably agree with a lot of what Ruby has written.

      Alert moderator

  • aGuy:

    28 Apr 2014 3:26:19pm

    If people where serious about stopping climate change there are some things we could do

    1) Refuse to give money overseas unless it is known to reduce population growth. If extra people are not borne and fighting for resources, the environment will benefit.

    2) Stop taking migrants from poorer countries into Australia. There is a big difference between third world and first world living. The more third world (who often can not afford meat) the better for the climate.

    3) Ban all pet ownership. A dog is worse than a 4WD. Having an animal for anything other than production that needs to eat... MEAT daily is very damaging.

    4) Give a fee for all people living in homes to encourage appartment living. Less land taken, the better for movement of all basic services.

    AND more

    Of course these are ridiculous. Yet they are the most effective. All more effective than going veg. Who is truly concerned about CO2 emmissions and willing to make a sacrifice.

    Just limiting it to the less effective method of going veg is not serious at addressing the climate.

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    • Cyn:

      28 Apr 2014 5:51:18pm

      I've just got to comment about what you said about third world countries living conditions. true they don't eat as much meat, use as much energy, or use as much space, but some third world countries are so deforested because their desperate for, a) land to grow food, b) money (they sell the logs), and c) warmth, because they don't have access to energy to heat themselves during winters.

      This isn't all third world countries but I've heard of it happening in west Africa, Haiti, Pakistan and Siberia, if it happens too much then we'll be screwed by letting all that carbon sequestering potential be lost.

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      • aGuy:

        28 Apr 2014 8:28:04pm

        Good point. The destruction of forest is however more frequently performed by illegal timber companies which then send their products to the first world.

        Plus it is all part of population growth. Australia is already spreading over natural areas with its growth, often with much bigger houses and all the environmentally destructive services that go with it.

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  • Ben the lawyer:

    28 Apr 2014 3:32:05pm

    'So we sign petitions and attend demonstrations. Some of us even drive less, take shorter showers, and use eco light bulbs.'

    I do none of that, and I eat a lot of meat. My life is all the better for it.

    Alert moderator

    • Tim P:

      28 Apr 2014 6:55:07pm

      Not even to cut down on your fuel, electricity and water bills?

      Must be a great life being a lawyer, money to burn and all that.

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  • A happy little debunker:

    28 Apr 2014 3:32:53pm

    This is all predicated on preventing 'impending catastrophic global warming'.

    I rather think there is merit in the 'Golgafrincham' solution to this problem.

    I would propose 3 arks,

    A. with the people that actually do things.

    B. with the people that steadfastly appreciate this impending doom.

    C. with people who are prepared to question this impending planetary humankind demise.

    Then we wait and see which arks survive this mutated space goat!

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    • James Picone:

      28 Apr 2014 5:16:05pm

      Do you actually think that the vast majority of scientists don't actually do anything? That's a whole new level of anti-intellectualism. You do realise that the vast majority of scientists, by any measure, are well aware that basic physics requires the greenhouse effect to be real and serious, right?

      Alert moderator

      • a happy little debunker:

        28 Apr 2014 6:09:57pm


        My golly gosh,

        I wasn't talking about putting the scientists in ARK B, I was talking about the unquestioning catastropharians.

        A select group, that you have repeatedly appeared to proven yourself to belong to!

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        • James Picone:

          28 Apr 2014 7:24:03pm

          Which implies that people referencing the actual data, actual science, and what actual scientists think are destined for your great purge. I suspect your definition of 'scientist' is a bit idiosyncratic.

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        • A happy little debunker:

          28 Apr 2014 7:47:55pm


          You cite evidence (at 3.51) provided by 'experts' in climate communications, to prove you assertion that global warming is not in a hiatus.

          A haitus that almost all reputable (and a few not so reputable) scientists now acknowledge - including the IPCC, The Hadley Centre and even our own Matthew 'the ocean ate my warming' England.

          What is an 'expert' in climate communications? Nothing more than a marketing endevour selling a specific climate message of Catastrophic AGW.

          And you think referencing this 'expert' represents 'actual data', 'actual science'?

          Wash your mouth out, for shame, at such language!

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        • James Picone:

          29 Apr 2014 10:47:01am

          Oh please.

          The Elevator is intended as indicative of how short trends in chaotic systems are not reflective of the long term trend. It's still telling that the best you can muster to respond to the very simple point it makes is to go "Oh but they're /communicators/", as if they weren't using datasets generated by scientists, and misrepresenting the position of climate scientists on the 'hiatus'.

          Feel free to go look at Cowtan & Way or Grant & Foster if you want some work generating a temperature dataset that includes the arctic and removes known forcings so we can see the CO2 signal more clearly. Or, y'know, just learn some basic statistics, because the trend since 1998 isn't statistically significant in that the 95% CI includes 0, but it /also/ includes the trend 1979->1998, so it certainly doesn't falsify warming.

          And maybe have a look at Cook's recent paper on consensus in science to see what the vast, vast majority of publishing scientists think about AGW - spoilers, 97% of published papers that expressed an opinion thought it was happening.

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        • A happy little debunker:

          29 Apr 2014 12:52:07pm


          Having made a completely foolish mistake to reference this non-climate scientist, you just had to go one step further and allude to his 97% postulation.

          You also dismiss real climate scienctists in favour of this expert in climate communications.

          And you still think you have some type of scientific high ground!

          Definately, Ark B for you!

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        • James Picone:

          29 Apr 2014 1:48:08pm

          Do you have any substantive rebuttal to anything I've brought up, or is it just ad-hominem and poisoning the well for you?

          Cook2013 isn't a postulation. The paper makes its methodology very clear. All of the data is available. They even make a lovely tool available on the website to make it easy for you to rate papers yourself and check their numbers. And every time, the same result - 97% of published papers with an opinion agreed that global warming was happening. That's what real climate scientists are saying.

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        • Dr Who:

          29 Apr 2014 9:18:02am

          So Spruiker, given the overwhelming majority of scientists (including myself) acknowledge that AGW is probably happening on the weight of evidence, where would you put us?

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        • A happy little debunker:

          29 Apr 2014 12:53:43pm

          Dr Who?

          You wouldn't need an Ark, as you already have a little blue box in which to hide!

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      • Mitor the Bold:

        28 Apr 2014 6:10:59pm

        Science is no match for ignorance blinded by ideology. Some people still believe the universe is about 6000 years old, after all. You cannot argue rationally with someone who has arrived at their conclusions by other means.

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        • The Blue Smurf:

          28 Apr 2014 8:47:20pm

          And your point is that these are the only people who don't believe that climate change is man made? Could you possibly stick to bashing religion, either directly or by inference, in other forums?

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        • Mitor the Bold:

          29 Apr 2014 9:56:22am

          "And your point is that these are the only people who don't believe that climate change is man made?"

          People who arrive at conclusions based upon something other than evidence - that's who "are the only people who don't believe that climate change is man made". I've not seen anything credible to suggest that AGW is make-believe - have you?

          If you believe something first then seek justification afterwards then you have a 'religious' viewpoint. Religion isn't the faulty thing - it's the thinking that leads to religious views that is the faulty thing.

          Scientists don't 'believe' in AGW - they have discovered it through the evidence.

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      • EVAN:

        28 Apr 2014 9:07:19pm

        "You do realise that the vast majority of scientists, by any measure, are well aware that basic physics requires the greenhouse effect to be real and serious."

        Oh I am sure most scientists think the greenhouse effect is real.But SERIOUS that is a whole different ball game.

        Mr Lindzen,Michaels,Spencer and Co will tell you it is not serious at all.In fact they will tell you you are living in a golden age.Make the most of it you will soon be living in another ice age.

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        • Blzbob:

          29 Apr 2014 9:11:15am

          I suspect that it is the release of green house gasses that triggers an ice age, and then the ice age tended to correct the natural imbalance.

          But, that's my theory anyway ... and I'm sticking to it.

          Just like Anne Elk.

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        • Dr Who:

          29 Apr 2014 9:19:06am

          None of those names you mention have any credibility. Stop calling them scientists, I find it offensive that they are given the same job description as me.

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        • EVAN:

          29 Apr 2014 10:29:37am

          "Stop calling them scientists"

          Really Dr you should look at their bio's they are all climate scientists.What you think of them does not matter.Fact is you probably are not qualified to tie their bootlaces.

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        • Dr Who:

          29 Apr 2014 1:55:38pm

          No, none of them have any peer-reviewed articles on the matter Evan. Get your head out of the sand. Spencer had the humility of having an article withdrawn because of gross scientific inaccuracies which have me wondering if he does indeed need someone to help him with his bootlaces.

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        • spud:

          29 Apr 2014 2:05:38pm

          Dr Who

          There are other scientists, myself included, who could likewise be offended that you claim to be one, when at times, your approach to issues is anything but scientific. To draw attention to one example of that; your contention in a previous forum that the only reason that crop production has expanded in recent years is because of forest clearing and increased areas being sown is quite false. The fact is that the area of most crops has changed little in decades, but that the production per unit area has risen strongly. Despite what the IPCC claims in its recent WGII report, this increase shows not the faintest sign of slowing. If you take wheat as an example, global yields were rising at 33kg/ha/yr in 1980, and in 2012, they were rising at...33kg/ha/yr.

          So in claiming to be a scientist, you nevertheless spout what amounts to false claims that suit your ideology, and pass it off as scientifically sound argument. So why would not I as a scientist be likewise offended by your claims to be one, in the same way and for the same reasons as you claim to be by others?

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        • James Picone:

          29 Apr 2014 10:49:54am

          Four names does not a revolution make. Like last climate change article on the drum, you're throwing out a bunch of denialist names without considering the context of exactly how many publishing climate scientists there are in the world, and exactly how few papers the deniers you quote publish - because they're not, on the whole, doing actual science. Out of the three you've quoted, I think only Spencer has published recently - mostly because of RSS, though, because his papers on climate change and natural variability are almost exclusively cyclomania and he can't get them published anywhere reputable.

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        • EVAN:

          29 Apr 2014 12:27:15pm

          "Four names does not a revolution make."

          Oh I don't know a look back through the history of scientific discovery would indicate that in most cases it only requires one.In fact I can't recall any discovery being made by a committee.

          "you're throwing out a bunch of denialist names without considering the context of exactly how many publishing climate scientists there are in the world,"

          Once again you use the might is right philosophe but Lindzen and Choi said way back that the climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would be 1.2c +/-0.6c.When the globalwarming scientists were saying 3C +.Now they are coming back toward what Lindzen and Choi said all along with the IPCC reducing the sensitivity to 2C in the AR5 report.Can't quite bring themselfs to agree with Lindzen and Choi just yet but they are getting there.

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        • Reinhard:

          29 Apr 2014 1:26:55pm

          Evan you trot out the usual suspects time and again and you wonder why you are ridiculed

          Lindzen works for Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation and has made various other claims such as:

          - The link between smoking and lung cancer is "weak."

          - Decrease in water vapor would allow carbon dioxide to escape from the atmosphere. (After it was thoroughly debunked he claimed it was an "old view."

          The Lindzen-Choi paper has been thoroughly debunked

          Michaels works for the Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank originally founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974.

          Spencer works for the George C. Marshall Institute, funded by Exxon Mobil

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        • James Picone:

          29 Apr 2014 1:43:19pm

          A look back through the history of scientific discovery makes it abundantly clear that the consensus position is usually there for a reason, and that 'mavericks' who are right tend to get recognised fairly fast. Relativity became the consensus position exceedingly quickly, as did the big bang, and that bacteria cause ulcers, and so on.

          AGW denialism has been around for a very, very long time, and its still yet to find the smoking gun that disproves the thing. Indeed, it's moving closer to the consensus position, rather than your crazy idea that the consensus is moving closer to the denialists. In the 1980s the denial line was that the greenhouse effect didn't exist at all, in the 90s it was utterly minor and all the apparent warming was el Nino anyway, in the 2000s it had clearly stopped and wasn't going to continue, and now finally denialists have been dragged kicking and screaming into admitting that it /is/ real, and are merely coming out with absurdly low sensitivity estimates.

          You're not a scientist if you don't publish, much the same way you're not a musician if you don't play an instrument occasionally. The fact that there's so little actual work coming from the denialists makes it clear that there's no intellectual activity going on there, no hypothesis testing, no alternate hypothesis - just flat denial.

          I'm aware of Lindzen and Choi 2009 and 2011 ('way back when' is shorter than I thought). It's a fatally flawed study. For starters, it only looks at tropical data. Secondly, it only looks at short-term effects, and climate sensitivity is a long-term effect. No ice albedo in LC2011, for example. The methodology isn't statistically sound. The paper doesn't explain why they get such a different result to nearly every other piece of research on the matter.

          The IPCCs sensitivity range is 1.5c to 4c, and it's been around that for a while. Last report it was 2 to 4. They've pulled it back to 1.5 to 4 for this one, for some reason, but the sensitivity is still very likely around 2.

          And, of course, even if climate sensitivity was as ludicrously low as 1.2c, that just means we can emit /more/ CO2, not that we can emit /as much as we want/. Under business-as-usual, we could easily see a quadrupling of atmospheric CO2, and all of a sudden we're getting 3.6c warming from a measly 1.2c sensitivity.

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        • de Brere:

          29 Apr 2014 2:16:50pm

          And from what I have seen, Lindzen and Choi were over-estimating it! For example, data from other planets show a sensitivity of about 0.4C for a doubling of CO2. The claimed increased sensitivity on earth is (also claimed) to be due to positive feedbacks from water vapour, but there has not been the slightest evidence advanced to suggest that such positive feedbacks exist. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that if anything, the feedback is negative; viz the higher rates of increase of water vapour over oceans compared to land, but the slower rate of T rise over oceans compared to over land; the exact opposite of what would happen if the feedback was positive.

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  • GJA:

    28 Apr 2014 3:34:01pm

    Ethically there are at least two reasons to move to a vegetarian diet: climate change and animal welfare. But I struggle to achieve significant movement to this change. Knowing the right thing to do often falls into the category of too hard to do, and the long-term effects of our choice make them easy to ignore.

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 5:32:46pm

      Gja, neither of these are valid. Firstly, as long as you consume pasture fed meat, there is no damage to the environment. Secondly, while we certainly have a responsibility to ensure stock are slaughtered ethically, annimal welfare is not an issue. Most stock are well looked after in their lifetime, much more so than if they were running wild, so it really is only at slaughter that issues arise. People like Temple Grandin have revolutionized livestock slaughter facilities, to the point that in modern meat works issues of animal welfare are rare.

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      • GJA:

        28 Apr 2014 6:40:25pm

        You do little to invalidate my reasons. My personal consumption only reduces overall consumption, whether pasture-fed or not. Since the marketing distinction is most usually grain-fed vs. grass-fed I cannot ensure pasture-fed vs. cattle fed in alpine regions or otherwise on public land, which is a highly environmentally damaging practice, in addition to the effects or large-scale ranching, pasture or not, on climate change emissions. The treatment of stock during their lives can only be characterised as humane if you don't include any of the management practices employed, such as castration, branding or tagging, let alone the incredible overuse of hormones and antibiotics outside of organics. "Running wild" is not a point of comparison, either. What we're talking about is the scale of production as problematic. Slaughter facilities in Australia and other places may be relatively well-managed compared to places where the animals are brutalised, but it's still a well-known fact that the beasts are not dying peacefully, but under horrendous stress no human would endure. We are animals ourselves, and cruel, regardless. By reducing or foregoing meat consumption I can contribute to positive outcomes for the planet and the animals themselves, and ethically I should.

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      • Sister Haze:

        28 Apr 2014 6:40:27pm

        Whitey you are incorrect. Even taking out the other reasons for environmental damage by livestock they are probably referring to emissions from their rear ends. Consuming feed from a pasture doesn't change that.

        Animal welfare is an issue, because you are murdering and eating them. If I raised your children in the most ethical manner possible until they were half way through primary school then murdered them in their sleep and ate them so they are the most tender, would you be concerned? What if they were reared and slaughtered in only the most premiere slaughter facility available?

        Humans aren't animals of course, we were created in Gods image and are above all other living things. After all how humane can you be to a bacteria, or a cow, or a cat! Of course it is only in Gods image that we can rely, because things like physical ability, the ability to think consciously are not universal to all humans and can not be used in an argument. That is unless you advocate eating people with brain injuries or disabilities.

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        • Whitey:

          28 Apr 2014 8:51:37pm

          Sister, I don't believe we can equate cows with people. I would be very disappointed if people were eating my children, but don't believe this is a valid argument.

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        • GJA:

          29 Apr 2014 8:51:12am

          For your first two paragraphs, I thank you (although your second paragraph's example is more extreme than necessary to support the argument), but I think you missed some schooling if you truly believe, as in your third paragraph, that humans are not animals or that we are 'above all other living things'. Let's leave gods out of it. Ethics is sufficient.

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        • Sister Haze:

          29 Apr 2014 12:55:10pm

          Apologies GJA the third paragraph was entirely sardonic.

          As Whitey said he doesn't equate humans with cows. My point is that you have to equate humans with cows because there aren't substantial enough arguments against it.

          As in ideal human future that is Star Trek, humans still eat meat. But it is meat generation artificially that doesn't involve murder.

          Realistically Whitey is probably going to eat meat until he or she dies. The solution is finding suitable meat like alternatives that don't require murder and or imprisonment. The current development of egg free eggs for industrial use (and mayonaise) is particularly intriguing. It serves the same function as egg, but its cheaper and doesn't involve chickens. These sorts of initiatives are the way to a future that is free of meat.

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        • GJA:

          29 Apr 2014 1:38:16pm

          Artificial production may free us of the ethical dilemmas and agricultural constraints indeed. Meanwhile I will have to make my choices and accept whatever consequences there may be accordingly.

          Sorry I missed the point of your third point.

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        • Aussie Sutra:

          29 Apr 2014 3:41:05pm

          Meat is a part of the natural diet for our species. Tell me when you work out an egalitarian system for all species to stop eating other species and I'll give it a look over.

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        • Whitey:

          29 Apr 2014 4:15:23pm

          Sister, I adhere to the Temple Grandin view. I like cows, and other domestic animals, and if people didn't eat them, they would all be gone. No farmer is going to have costly animals on their farm if they can't use the meat, the milk, the wool. I also believe that eating meat is more environmentally sustainable than being a vegetarian, and none of the posts here have managed to refute that. As for synthetic animal protein, it could happen, but would be an environmental disaster, as all farmers would be clearing their land to grow soya beans or grain for artificial meat, and the still wouldn't contain the omega three fatty acids that you only get in grass fed meat, or milk, or butter, and are essential for our health.

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  • Jay Somasundaram:

    28 Apr 2014 3:34:24pm

    A friend of mine once ran a project by the dairy industry to better utilize their methane emissions. I used to picture cows walking around with tubes running from their backside to a thermal power plant!

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  • Tory Boy:

    28 Apr 2014 3:36:15pm

    Once again another article completely fails to address the core issue; over population. End overseas aid to any country that does not have humane population control policies; if you need to import food, you are overpopulated.

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    • Salient Green:

      28 Apr 2014 6:02:45pm

      Tory Boy, over-population is extremely important but it is only one third of the "core issue" - Human Impact=Population x Consumption x Technology.

      The intelligent thing to so would be to reduce our own Impact by first having "humane population control policies", and then reducing our own consumption which is up to 60 times that of the world's poorest.

      The intelligent thing to do would be to increase our overseas aid to countries which embrace family planning, education and equality for women and a willingness to leapfrog the carbon polluting civilisation directly into renewable power.

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      • StevieW:

        28 Apr 2014 7:16:02pm

        Whilst I agree .. the problem is it will never happen. If we take the current politics in Australia - the government has a mandate to turn its back on renewables, open up new coal mines.. you know the rest..

        What kind of madness suggests its a good idea to double Aust population. Immigration into Australia is converting low consumers into high consumers making things worse. Its my understanding we could have easily met our Kyoto commitments if we had a stable population. We could have had some moral standing on environmental issues. Presently we have Ponzi Scheme Hockey saying to the whole world .. look at us, what the world needs now is growth growth growth.

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        • StevieW:

          29 Apr 2014 7:36:12am

          Well said StevieW. Both major parties are intellectually and morally bankrupt in their population growth policies.

          Intellectually bankrupt in stupidly following neo-liberal growth ideology, failing to achieve real growth by allowing market fundamentalism to suck our wealth away and trying to hide the lack of real growth and loss of wealth with Ponzi population growth.

          Morally bankrupt in condemning future generations to the environmental problems and resource shortages created by our generation's greed, lusting after wealth and short term titillations rather than reining in population growth and consumption to create a truly sustainable nation.

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        • Salient Green:

          29 Apr 2014 8:05:44am

          That was me, Salient Green who replied to StevieW, sorry,

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    • Gordon:

      28 Apr 2014 6:03:47pm

      The most humane (and effective) population control measure is prosperity.

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      • shed bloke:

        29 Apr 2014 12:42:39am

        At the height of our own country's prosperity we got a baby bonus to increase the population.

        With our current prosperity we have the highest immigration numbers this country has ever had.

        The dominant economic paradigm requires never ending growth.

        Boomers will never be satisfied with what can only be environmentally sustained; economic growth must be sustained.

        Prosperity itself appears captive to satisfying the demand of ever more consumers.

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        • Gordon:

          29 Apr 2014 11:03:48am

          Happy to agree the baby bonus was a daft piece of fin de siecle excess.

          In re the "dominant economic paradigm" I believe there is a confusion here between a prescriptive program and a simple observation of history. Tribes, nations and civilisations have either grown or, slowly or quickly, they have perished. Happy steady states are conspicuous by their absence.

          I am anti policies driven by any economic ideology: I'm a pragmatist. However, if given a choice in outcomes between growth, albeit with many unknown problems ahead, or some imaginary steady state of "sustainability" that never can be quite pointed to in the real world, I will take my chances. To deliberately occlude growth based on some theory is risking, in my view, stagnation and collapse with well-known real-world consequences for real people.

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    • sir henrys butlers:

      28 Apr 2014 10:07:04pm

      Tory Boy,care to help solve the problem by selflessly setting an example?

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    • LeeW:

      29 Apr 2014 2:03:50am

      I agree Tory Boy, lets start by culling all the Tories, and Lawyers. That should remove a lot of the hot air from the atmosphere.

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  • BkDw:

    28 Apr 2014 3:38:02pm

    Well done Ruby, it's about time this issue got a guernsey.

    Meat eating is in many ways symbolic of modern man. Something in meat, possibly Carnitine, makes you hungry. So you eat more than you need. Obesity, diabetes, even immune response diseases like arthritis and dermatitis are a consequence of the modern diet.

    We are what we eat. Dissatisfaction and greed are two other major symptoms of modern man, ingrained in the contemporary psyche by the contemporary diet.

    Eating a diet which satisfies our hunger would promote a different world view and a different ambition for this century.

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 5:34:38pm

      BkDw, one of the best weight loss diets is one high on meat, low on carbs, and avoiding sugar. I think you have been brainwashed.

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      • Dame Sark:

        28 Apr 2014 6:58:11pm

        I think you are the one being brain washed. High protein diets usually recommend eating fish and lean chicken and turkey - not red meat. And when you go back to eating those dreaded carbs the weight will pile back on.

        Also BkDw wasn't talking about weight reduction.

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        • The Blue Smurf:

          28 Apr 2014 8:50:08pm

          Instead he was accusing a dietary component thousands upon thousands of years old as being "modern".

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        • Whitey:

          28 Apr 2014 9:05:20pm

          Seems my reply got moderated out, so I will try again. A good balanced diet that contains protein as meat, fresh fruit and veggies, little bread, and negliable sugar, is healthy, easy to stick to, and reduces obesity. Going back to a high carb, high sugar diet will cause obesity to return, so perhaps we should be talking about lifestyle choices, but meat is hardly the enemy. And most diets say lean meat, not white meat, but as four corners pointed out, it is sugar, not fat that is the big problem with obesity.

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        • Dame Sark:

          29 Apr 2014 2:50:01pm

          I don't need a lesson on eating a balanced diet and keeping to a reasonable weight. My point was that you accused another of being brain washed and stated "one of the best weight loss diets is one high on meat, low on carbs etc". Lesson for you: fruit and veg are carbs. Very high protein diets advocate lean fish and white meat. They stay away from red meat as it contains too much fat. They even limit vegetables as they are carbs and considered bad. Follow these types of diet and you will lose weight very quickly.

          I do actually agree that a balanced diet with all foods in moderation is best but it is certainly not one of the best weight loss diets and as you initally stated.

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        • Aussie Sutra:

          29 Apr 2014 3:49:35pm

          If you even think there are "high protein" diets out there, you probably don't know enough to comment on this subject. If you're thinking of ways of eating like Atkins, the words "high protein" are only used by those who know little to nothing about the subject. High in natural fat, moderate intake of proteins and low intake of starches and sugars is the model. Red meat is excellent food and very healthy for us as long as it pasture raised and organic.

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  • MT_Syd:

    28 Apr 2014 3:39:40pm

    a worldwide change in diet motivated by the desire to improve the climate IS too ridiculous to contemplate

    so lets move on to more practical possibilities

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  • Sydney Bob:

    28 Apr 2014 3:39:42pm

    My family and I have significantly reduced our daily intake of meat over the last couple of years. It started with the Jamie Oliver cook books, in many of his recipes he has only about 100 grams of meat per serve.

    We then got interested in Italian cooking and this again lead to eating less meat. Lately we have been cooking a lot of Indian curries which are almost totally vegetarian; these meals are easy to cook, nice to eat and cheap.

    We don't each sausages or processed chicken.

    I would estimate that we easily eating less than one-quarter of the meat we used to eat.

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  • Zing:

    28 Apr 2014 3:40:58pm

    Capital idea.

    We can put all the soy plantations in the third world right next to the biofuel farms, solar arrays, wind turbines and everything else we've got no room for.

    Besides, even if reducing meat consumption is a good thing, why assume that it needs to start with the rich minority? Wouldn't it be more efficient to start with the 85% of the population that live in the third world?

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    • James Picone:

      28 Apr 2014 5:17:04pm

      The rich minority eat substantially more meat per capita than the third world. And can better afford shifts in eating habits.

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  • Stuffed Olive:

    28 Apr 2014 3:41:31pm

    Well I'll stick with reducing/eliminating the pollution from industry before I get stuck into the farters.

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  • Dazza:

    28 Apr 2014 3:42:10pm

    Don?t forget the energy needed to cook the meat and the embodied energy contained in the aluminium and steel utensils; best we all go back to living in caves and licking the water off lettuce leafs for sustenance.

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  • Oaktree:

    28 Apr 2014 3:45:56pm

    Not a popular view for Australian markets I suspect, Ruby. There may be a case for farming kangaroo?

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    • The Blue Smurf:

      28 Apr 2014 8:53:26pm

      Good luck with herding and fencing the kangaroo. You'll appreciate that the animal won't queue up quietly to slaughtered. Then there is the dosing for those nasty parasites that cooking doesn't kill, kangaroos don't fit neatly into a crush.

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      • Oaktree:

        29 Apr 2014 2:48:35pm

        You have a point, Blue Smurf. They are big buggers too and I tend to avoid them.

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  • Yorker:

    28 Apr 2014 3:48:08pm

    Ruby, you haven't supplied any figures to show the scale of the emissions due to livestock, I presume this is deliberate.

    According to google, agriculture contributes between 7 and 12% of GHG, and around 30% of that is due to livestock. So between 2 and 4% of GHG comes from livestock. This is not insignificant, but you can see why the energy sector is the "low hanging fruit" in the GHG reduction equation.

    Plus, people don't like being told what to eat.

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 5:38:48pm

      It's even less than that, as well run grazing systems are carbon storing. It is only when you take livestock production in isolation, with out the grazing system that supports them, that it appears to be an issue. Just more green biased propaganda.

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    • AE:

      28 Apr 2014 7:07:37pm

      Exactly, we don't like being told. I'll venture that if the UN and an ABC opinion piece says it, then the opposite is more likely to be true.

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    • ruby hamad:

      29 Apr 2014 11:31:36am


      The ICPP does not give an exact figure but as I quoted in the article, simply says that "most" of this comes from meat and dairy. Other sources I provide claim that livestock directly causes 70% of all agricultural emissions and 37% of TOTAL methane emissions. I also link to one study that claims animal agriculture is responsible for up to 51% of total GHD emissions. So the figures do vary, but it is uncontestable that animal ag. is more destructive to the environment than plants. And I haven't even gotten into water usage and the effects of animal waste on surrounding environments and ecosystems.

      Also, beef is the biggest culprit of all the animal ag. producers, so whoever is talking about the benefits of grazing is way off.

      The evidence is there. It's simply a matter of whether you want to face it or not. Of course people don't like being told what to eat. But I see no reason why they should continue to be shielded from the consequences of their diet.

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      • Whitey:

        29 Apr 2014 4:19:29pm

        Ruby, then perhaps you would address my point. You are taking animal emissions out of context if you don't also take into consideration the carbon sequestration of grazing systems. As someone else pointed out, methane is not a "new" greenhouse gas. It is recycled into grass at regular intervals, and cannot equate to burning fossil fuels locked up for eons.

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  • Grant:

    28 Apr 2014 3:48:21pm

    We don't need to (and shouldn't) cut meat from our diet. What we can do is change the type of meat we eat. We should be eating red meat around 3 times a week.

    Substituting beef and lamb for other read meats would reduce CO2 emissions by a massive amount too.

    For example kangaroo. Kangaroos require no extra land or water for farming and produce little methane. It would also be much healthier as kangaroo meat is naturally less than 2% fat. Beef can be anything from 5 to 15% fat, or up to 30% fat for mince.

    Same for the meat from the feral camels and horses which plague our outback. I have eaten camel in Alice Springs and horse in many parts of Europe. I would gladly buy both from my local supermarket if it was available.

    Game meats also have stronger flavours so you tend to eat smaller serves anyway.

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  • be_aware:

    28 Apr 2014 3:49:44pm

    What percentage does human waste contribute to green house gases?

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  • Mike (the other one):

    28 Apr 2014 3:49:45pm

    What a load of BULL. It's the 7 billion (7,000,000,000) people demanding McMansions and motot cars. Wake up.

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  • NomDePlume:

    28 Apr 2014 3:49:49pm

    Ruby, you lost about half the electorate with your first sentence, and probably another third with your second.

    Of course the commentary that follows here will be unrepresentative of the silent majority.

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    • EVAN:

      28 Apr 2014 9:23:28pm

      "Of course the commentary that follows here will be unrepresentative of the silent majority."

      The ones that spend a lot of time eating fast foods.

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  • James Picone:

    28 Apr 2014 3:51:00pm

    Also, I think every article on climate change on the ABC should include a link to the Escalator: just to head off the denialists claiming that climate change stopped longest-small-trend-they-can-find ago.

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    • no offence but:

      28 Apr 2014 6:01:39pm

      Okay - so the climate is changing. Where is the surprise?

      Ever heard of a thing called an ice-age?

      The climate changes. We either adapt or we die.


      Seeking to control nature is as futile as seeking to reason with a believer.

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    • Chad:

      28 Apr 2014 6:08:19pm

      Great stuff. A cherry-picked graph that has a time series that begins at 1970. Well done.

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      • James Picone:

        28 Apr 2014 7:01:01pm

        It's intended as illustrative of how a long-term warming trend can include short-term cooling trends, not as perfectly indicative of what the climate is doing (ocean heat content would be better for that anyway). You want to extend the graph further back, feel free to do so. The data goes back to 1880, and there's a warming trend if you start from there. Satellite data only starts in 1979, and that shows a warming trend too.

        Are you going to tell everyone starting trends in 1998 that they're cherrypicking, too? You do realise that start and end years have comparatively larger effects on shorter series than on longer ones, right?

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      • Tim P:

        28 Apr 2014 7:04:40pm

        Cherry picked eh?

        As opposed to 'global warming stopped in 1998'?

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  • Brian Francis:

    28 Apr 2014 3:51:53pm

    Another disaster from another angle. Here we go again. If we won't be frightened by one thing then we are exposed to another until we are bashed into giving up.

    I'm in denial of all things that are trendy and remain so happily.

    Yes, my head is in the sand, yes if I ignore it it won't go away- I admit all of that. But it is at a stage that every man and his carnivorous dog are having a bit of this Climate Change extraviganzor.

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  • The ArchBishop of Consumerism:

    28 Apr 2014 3:53:20pm

    Just wondering.... if your facts are correct - what % of the Earths population can drop meat off the menu?

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 5:41:34pm

      If third world countries, relying solely on grazing systems, cut out annimal protein, it would be a disaster for the environment. It would mean more cropping, more clearing, and more emissions.

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  • chlakie:

    28 Apr 2014 3:55:06pm

    Sure. Let's stop meat exports. We can even reduce global CO2 production by stopping our agricultural exports, and refusing to give food aid. Even further, we could turn off some Pacific Islands' CO2 production pretty effectively by ceasing aid to them.

    Sure, it means killing a few million people.

    I realise that the writer is not arguing this: she wants me to stop eating meat, and uses a global warming argument to rationalise her a priori conclusion. However, the idea of 'sustainability' could also legitimately be extended to food. And I wonder how many Australians would prefer the deaths of countless millions of 'others' rather than a compulsory mandate to be vegan?

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  • Tossle:

    28 Apr 2014 3:55:48pm

    So if the world gives up meat can we replace the protein with fish. Hmm that wont work seas are overfished already.

    Wee can clear and destroy more forests in order to grow more soyabeans.

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    • ruby hamad:

      29 Apr 2014 11:35:15am

      Plants provide more than adequate protein. Also, most of those soybeans are fed to cattle, not humans.

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      • Whitey:

        29 Apr 2014 4:20:59pm

        Ruby, not sure, but don't think soya beans are fed to animals in Australia. Some grain, for sure.

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      • Aussie Sutra:

        29 Apr 2014 4:22:07pm

        Plants do not provide everything we need, ergo the need for vegans to supplement vitamin B12 which only comes from animals sources, and without which we die, having sustained brain damage first. Like a zombie apocalypse.

        Soybeans are not primarily farmed for cattle, but for their oil. The remnants are fed to cattle. Grains kill cattle by the way. Grass fed cattle consume no soybeans and no grains, so none needs to be grown for them. As I have pointed out, your issues are with the industrial food production system and human overpopulation, not with "meat" as a human food source.

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  • moira:

    28 Apr 2014 3:57:11pm

    I have noticed that discrimination on food preferences is the new thing.

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  • mac:

    28 Apr 2014 3:58:32pm

    It is the extremes of the view which turns people off. Vegan is NOT a balanced diat

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  • mary:

    28 Apr 2014 3:59:37pm

    If god meant us to eat grass our teeth would look different.

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    • are we there yet:

      28 Apr 2014 8:50:07pm

      Genesis 1:29 And God went on to say: ?Here I have given to YOU all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To YOU let it serve as food. 30 And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.? And it came to be so.

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  • Gordon:

    28 Apr 2014 4:01:39pm

    Ruby is right! Fossil fuels have a perfect "them". We can pretend that replacing our energy system is someone else's cost.

    Ruby has outed another great truth too: the greens great love for farmers will not last one second beyond their usefulness in blackguarding the gas industry. Minding other people's business has no natural limits.

    As to the facts: growing high energy high protein crops needs fertility and water that Australian rangeland does not possess. It grows grass, that's it. Cattle can eat grass but we cannot, even if we wanted to. Switch to veg if you want, but unless you plan to eat wheat for breakfast lunch and dinner you are switching us from a food-exporter to one dependent on imports. Bang goes another industry.

    Grass-fed rangeland grazing is the least-destructive least-invasive food production going around. In drought-prone parts of the world it is no accident that owning an animal or two is the difference between sustenance and famine for third-world subsistence farmers. I wonder what exactly is the difference between a person (or a nation) rendered destitute by some climatic crisis and one rendered destitute by well-intentioned meddling with the means of survival?

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    • Aussie Sutra:

      29 Apr 2014 4:23:29pm

      Ruby is apparently unaware that there has never been a vegan human culture.

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  • carnivore:

    28 Apr 2014 4:05:55pm

    I think the Author fails to realise that without meat as a food source we'd be even worse off. Livestock animals have been bred for over a thousand years to be tamer to handle, to thrive in conditions that most crops aren't suitable in and to provide additional help at a farm.

    If everyone moved the completely meat free diet we wouldn't be better off. Products derived from animals such as soap, Leather and even buttons would raise in price, we'd also have to clear even more land to grow crops and we'd have even larger problems with regards to famine and malnutrition as meat is a valuble food source.

    The main issue with livestock is the public and the medias perception of using Genetically Modified animals (which use well proven and safe technologies) to find additional solution to carbon emmisions and excessive nutrient wastage.

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  • sister haze:

    28 Apr 2014 4:07:04pm

    Clive Palmer was right! If we want to save the planet, we first have to curb natures carbon emissions.

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  • Tim Le Roy:

    28 Apr 2014 4:08:30pm

    Couple of easy first-movers on this theme.

    1. Ask the mostly-vegetarian nation of India to slaughter the 100m plus cattle they have running around in the traffic .

    2. Ask the IPCC authors, and endorsers of their report, to lead the way.

    I don't think so !!!

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  • Marcus:

    28 Apr 2014 4:10:04pm

    No, the most recent CSIRO survey on Australian attitudes to Climate change quite clearly demonstrated that only 47.3% of people think that ?climate change is happening, and I think that humans are largely causing it?. That?s not most of us.

    Further, the survey demonstrated that climate change is 14th on the list of general concerns and only 7th (out of 8) on a list of environmental concerns.

    The scare campaign is clearly not working.

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    • James in Brisbane:

      28 Apr 2014 5:34:35pm

      And a significant number of people in the US don't 'believe' in evolution. Does that make Darwin wrong? You're conflating popularity with fact.

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      • Marcus:

        28 Apr 2014 6:37:08pm

        No James, I was responding to the first sentence of the article. Maybe you didn't read it and went straight to the asinine comments?

        What have Americans and Darwin got to do with this article? Toughen up your attention span and try and keep on topic.

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        • Theos:

          28 Apr 2014 8:39:26pm

          Marcus, James' point was really quite clear. But it seems for some reason, you weren't able to understand it. So, let me help you out by clarifying James' point.

          James' was emphasising the point that just because a group of people (e.g. American creationists or Australian climate change deniers) disagree with an accepted scientific view (e.g. Biological evolution or climate science) does not render that view any less valid or correct.

          Quite simple really.

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      • Where's Tony:

        29 Apr 2014 9:44:23am

        I think they're the same mob who reckon taking guns into Schools, churches and pubs is a great step forward, James. What could go wrong ?

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  • jassycat:

    28 Apr 2014 4:13:55pm

    The trouble with eating less meat is that we all then eat more and more carbohydrates and get fatter and fatter. Unfortunately our bodies have been designed to get our protein from meat.

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  • Charles:

    28 Apr 2014 4:16:59pm

    The author has nailed the issue in her last paragraph, climate change is just a reason to make us (human beings) give up something we like.

    Climate Change is just a political movement trying to acquire power just like religion does by conferring on everyone some type of Original Sin and then telling us we have to give it all up and follow everything stupid thing we tell you before we can enter the Kingdom Of Heaven (aka a stable climate period).

    It is not original thinking, CO2 emissions or presence has no effect on the climate (look at the 17 years of CO2 accumulation with no change in temperature), and paying tithes to the church didn't reduce the time spent in Purgatory either. So, my advice is ignore everything the IPCC says as it is mostly abut a power grab, and enjoy your chops for tea tonight with a free conscience.

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    • James Picone:

      28 Apr 2014 5:41:15pm

      And here's that bird that the denialists assure us is so /very/ rare, an out-and-out greenhouse effect denier. Charles is quite clearly not just claiming that climate sensitivity is low, he outright says that "CO2 emissions or presence has no effect on the climate".

      Any 'skeptics' going to correct him, or is anything fine so long as it involves criticising the science?

      Incidentally, Charles, if CO2 didn't have any effect on the Earth's climate we'd have to rewrite the physics books. It's experimentally verified that CO2 absorbs and re-emits infrared radiation at the wavelengths the Earth emits, and not at the wavelengths the sun emits. It's experimentally verified that there's backradiation coming from the atmosphere back to the Earth's surface, because if you point an IR detector at the sky you'll very quickly notice that there's more IR radiation coming into it than the sun is emitting. It's experimentally verified, by satellite measurements, that the Earth emits less IR to space than the sun emits towards Earth. And we've got some pretty simple maths, worked out all the way in 1890 by Arrhenius, suggesting that that's because gases like CO2 and water vapour are absorbing and re-emitting IR, reducing its rate of flow out of the Earth system, like a giant blanket.

      Denying the greenhouse effect altogether puts you in the same basket as vaccine deniers, moon landing deniers, and evolution deniers. Don't be that person.

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      • Charles:

        28 Apr 2014 7:18:23pm

        Hard to know where to start in all your misinformation James, but I'll give it a shot.

        Anyone vaguely familiar with physics would know that CO2 absorbs radiation, but there is not enough of it to absorb any significant amount. Thinking that CO2 can capture any outgoing radiation is like thinking you could catch some water using a bucket that had no bottom in it.

        As for measuring outgoing radiation that has been captured this was supposed to be trapped in the tropical upper troposphere, yet 28 million weather balloons that have been sent up over the last few decades have failed to detect it. So, another failed experiment from a science field that has limited scientific expertise.

        Also if you had read the findings of Arrhenius you would know that he was not even sure of his own theory (as he was a chemist, not a physicist) and asked other scientists to verify his hypothesis. He obviously didn't have the blind confidence that today's cohort of 'climate scientists' display.

        His theory was debunked by a Norwegian physicist within two years of Arrhenius releasing it, although this fact appears to have escaped the current ideologues peddling the AGW scam.

        Why do so many like you James support a theory which has been falsified so many times it is not even slightly amusing any more? It is because it would be such a massive conflict of interest to every one of those on the AGW gravy train that they can't afford to get off it now. Unfortunately, people like you keep that train rolling.

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        • James Picone:

          28 Apr 2014 8:03:20pm

          Yep yep, we have a physics denier. Again, any 'skeptics' going to correct him?

          For starters, the basic physics of IR absorption by CO2 requires that the IR emitted by the Earth in CO2's absorption bands must all be absorbed and re-emitted. All of it. I don't know why you think that there's not enough to absorb any significant amount - maybe you haven't actually looked into this. Go do the maths yourself, if you can. Or read Science of Doom's excellent explanation of the effect.

          It's worth noting that the claim that the CO2 absorption effect is *saturated* is a common denialist claim, implying that therefore additional CO2 can't do anything. That's roughly equivalent to arguing that an additional blanket can't make you warmer because the first one already stopped all convection. Interestingly, the Norwegian physicist you reference - Knut Angstrom - claimed Arrhenius was wrong because the absorption spectrum is saturated. So which is it? Does CO2 absorb all of the IR, or very little?

          I see you've completely skipped the fact that you can /measure backradiation in your backyard with cheap equipment/. Dr. Roy Spencer, of denialosphere fame, has /done this himself/ and taken photos because he's one of the few 'skeptics' with some intellectual honesty.

          Anyone who thinks scientists are riding high on some kind of gravy train over this is fooling themselves. I know some scientists. They do not make a lot of money, and they tend to be rather more focussed on getting it right than getting a grant.

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        • Theos:

          28 Apr 2014 8:18:18pm

          Charles, your emotive, conspiracy theorist, science denying, misleading and flat out dishonest ramblings trouble me.

          The fact is that the average temperate of the planet has been measured to be warming up. The scientific community has reached a consensus that the human agricultural and industrial activity has contributed significantly to this warming, and if the warming continues, the consequences include changes in weather and a rise in sea level. This IS the opinion of the relevant section of the scientific community. These scientists have reached their conclusions due to the weight of the available scientific evidence.

          You are of course free to deny the scientists believe what they believe. You can imply or allege a massive global conspiracy of thousands of scientists. Quite frankly, you can type almost any opinion on this forum and it will be published.

          However, the facts remain the fact. The accepted science remains the accepted science. Measured temperature or sea level rises don't depend on your opinion of them.

          If you honestly believed that you had a convincing and valid scientific argument that would overturn the accepted scientific consensus on this (or any) subject, then you could publish your brilliant insights and overturn the accepted scientific view. International fame, riches and probably the Nobel prize in Physics await.

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        • Dr Who:

          29 Apr 2014 9:24:10am

          "Anyone vaguely familiar with physics would know that CO2 absorbs radiation, but there is not enough of it to absorb any significant amount."

          Experimental evidence would demonstrate otherwise.

          "His theory was debunked by a Norwegian physicist within two years of Arrhenius releasing it, although this fact appears to have escaped the current ideologues peddling the AGW scam."

          I've seen updates published by Arrhenius about 15-20 years after his original paper. No, it hadn't been debunked. The skepticism was mostly around the notion that CO2 levels had changed historically, for which there was little evidence for or against it at that point.

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    • Theos:

      28 Apr 2014 7:07:12pm

      "Climate Change is just a political movement trying to acquire power just like religion does..."

      This is one of the stupidest sentences I have read for some time. Climate change is an observable phenomenon. Even most science deniers don't deny the reality of climate change, they just disagree with the scientists on the causes of the change.

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      • John:

        29 Apr 2014 9:28:24am

        Exactly. Climate change is real.

        So why don't you accept the need to take the next step - human beings have not contributed to it in any measurable way and no human activity can change, modify or reverse it in any meaningful way.

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        • Theos:

          29 Apr 2014 10:28:57am

          I think you may have mistyped your question, but to answer what I think you meant to ask:

          I have a good understanding of the scientific process and I understand that scientific views only survive if they are consistent with the available evidence. For a scientific view to gain consensus within the scientific community, the evidence needs to be overwhelming, and contradictory evidence needs to be essentially absent. This of course does not mean that future evidence could not change a scientific understanding.

          The current scientific consensus is:

          * human activity HAS significantly contributed to climate change.

          * human activity CAN change, modify and (at least theoretically) reverse it in a meaningful way.

          So, to answer your (intended) question, I accept these propositions not because I have independently verified the evidence, but because I accept the position reached by the experts who have verified the evidence.

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        • John:

          29 Apr 2014 3:10:30pm

          Wrong, Theos.

          Scientific consensus, like all other forms of mutual agreement, is merely a statement that says that I agree with you. Perhaps we are both totally wrong, but never mind - we have a consensus.

          Likewise, your claim about scientific consensus upholding scientific truth is simply disproved by the countless instances over hundreds of years where scientists have been persecuted and vilified for the simple crime of disagreeing with the consensus.

          The most famous example is probably Galileo, who was constantly attacked by the scientific community of his time because he challenged the consensus of Aristotlean science. He proved that he was right and that the consensus was wrong. As the scientists of his day were unable to disprove his science or counter it with science of their own they sought to have him gagged by the Church as a heretic.

          Please don't try to raise that old bit of dishonesty about Galileo being persecuted by the Church. He wasn't. He was persecuted by the scientists of his day.

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        • WA Sceptic:

          29 Apr 2014 10:42:50am

          Thanks john. I now know that if repeat gravity is not real often enough ( hey, I do not have any intelligence but I too have a small one and I know more than all them sfientists) I will be able to fly. Pity all them folks what are clever than me just laugh and will ignore me, too.

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        • Jungle Boy:

          29 Apr 2014 1:17:22pm

          "no human activity can change, modify or reverse it in any meaningful way."

          Why do you imagine that the climate is somehow impervious to human activity, no matter how extensive that activity?

          Why is the climate different from forests, wetlands, rivers, animal and plant species: all of which have clearly suffered from human activity?

          It is because the atmosphere is (mostly) invisible? Or is it simply because it's larger than you can comprehend?

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        • John:

          29 Apr 2014 3:16:40pm

          You misunderstand - or misinterpret my post.

          Of course humans can change the world by felling forests, diverting rivers and the other points you raise.

          But human beings have such a miniscule effect on climate change that it is immeasurable.

          The globe is changing because of the cycles between little warm age and little ice age. There's nothing that anybody can do about those cycles, and it is those cycles that cause climate change.

          You'd better get used to the idea, because no matter what you, me or the entire human population does, the globe is going to warm by another 2 degrees Celsius, or thereabouts, by 3,000-3,500AD. But don't worry. Then it'll cool again, by about 5,000AD, when it will be 2-3 degrees colder than today and we'll be in a little ice age.

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  • Culex:

    28 Apr 2014 4:21:50pm

    Start farming kangaroos for meat. Only keep cows for dairy products.

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    • tongal42:

      28 Apr 2014 10:43:11pm

      This should be a no-brainer. Kangaroos produce little or no methane and the meat is the best you can get. Camels are almost as good in both cases.

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  • greenspider:

    28 Apr 2014 4:23:13pm

    I'm not a total vegetarian but I do have very little meat or eggs in my diet, and not very much milk.

    however, there seems to be a glossing over of facts on both sides of the meat/vegan argument. What are the alternatives? More plant based food? Sounds good in theory, but in practice consider that Australia is an extremely old continent, poor in necessary minerals, ie fertilisers and indeed soil in some areas. So we have to rely upon the petrochemical industry to supply this lack. And these chemicals in many cases end up in the rivers, and cause immense problems, with algal blooms, killing whole riverine ecosystems. To say nothing of pesticides and herbicides.

    By clearing the trees to make more agricultural land available, the salinity in the soil increases, as well as decreasing rainfall, because of removal of water transpiration from trees. Salinity reduces the amount of arable land.

    An alternative is to grow crops in suitable areas and transport them - there's a cost in greenhouse gas emissions in there though, a potentially large cost in view of Australia's size and dependence upon fossil fuelled transportation.

    In my view the biggest single repairable contributor to climate change is people. As well as reducing their animal consumption they should not have so many children.

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  • JS:

    28 Apr 2014 4:23:37pm

    How about relating the meat consumption to the medical care? I do think there are some relationships. Will the medical care spending reduce when people eating less meat and more vege?

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  • Dave In Melbourne:

    28 Apr 2014 4:23:47pm

    Too many cows and pigs. Too much gas. Bad news for the planet. Eat less meat you say. where is this going

    At some point in the not too distant future some loopy climate change activist , not Ruby Hamad, will call for a reduction in the number of humans allowed because our actions are going to bring wholesale apocalypse to the planet.

    I don't think these climate change people have much knowledge of what has happened before.

    In the spring and summer months of 1939, a number of planners--led by Philipp Bouhler, the director of Hitler's private chancellery, and Karl Brandt, Hitler's attending physician--began to organize a secret killing operation targeting disabled children. On August 18, 1939, the Reich Ministry of the Interior circulated a decree compelling all physicians, nurses, and midwives to report newborn infants and children under the age of three who showed signs of severe mental or physical disability. Beginning in October 1939, public health authorities began to encourage parents of children with disabilities to admit their young children to one of a number of specially designated pediatric clinics throughout Germany and Austria. The clinics were in reality children's killing wards where specially recruited medical staff murdered their young charges by lethal overdoses of medication or by starvation.

    The so-called "Euthanasia" program was National Socialist Germany's first program of mass murder, predating the genocide of European Jewry, which we call the Holocaust, by approximately two years. The effort represented one of many radical eugenic measures which aimed to restore the racial "integrity" of the German nation. It endeavored to eliminate what eugenicists and their supporters considered "life unworthy of life": those individuals who--they believed--because of severe psychiatric, neurological, or physical disabilities represented at once a genetic and a financial burden upon German society and the state.

    First the pigs, goats cows and sheep. If that doesn't work then lets move up the food chain. Been done before.

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    • Tim P:

      28 Apr 2014 7:11:54pm

      And we have our own programme, the much spouted Agenda 21. Not saying we're all doomed, but it's definitely a thing.

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  • stephen:

    28 Apr 2014 4:24:09pm

    I like meat.

    I don't think that I could eat vegetables exclusively - well, I could if I held my nose whilst eating them - and if my methane count exceeds the daily recommended dose, then I'll wear a diaper and fireman's overalls. (The latter will, too, might dissuade a passerby from striking a match)

    Meat is the best source of protein, and protein is essential for building new cells in our body ... cells that continually get bombarded and die from local carcinogens.

    Global warming is a real threat - yet I cannot but see the mirth in our farts as being the cause of temperature rise, and a carrot and a stick of celery being propounded as a solution.

    But I will go vegan if BHP Billiton stops supplying iron ore to China.

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  • Jim:

    28 Apr 2014 4:28:34pm

    I don't know what planet you're on but this one doesn't have enough space or water to grow enough food for a worldwide adoption of a vegan diet. A worldwide shift to a plant-based diet IS simply too ridiculous to contemplate. The University of Aberdeen study was a purely academic exercise which, like most academic exercises, fails to take into account the practicalities of actually doing it in the real world.

    A worldwide adoption of a vegan diet would require 12.7 billion tonnes of fruit and vegetables and 5.4 billion tonnes of grains every year. Total annual worldwide production of vegetables and fruit is 1.5 billion tonnes and grains is 2.4 billion tonnes. You would need to grow 8 times as much fruit and vegetables and more than twice as much grain.

    How much extra land would that require? 11.61% of the world's land area is cultivated. A worldwide adoption of a vegan diet would require close to 90% of the world's land area to be cultivated. Oh, and all of that area would have to be required for growing just fruit, vegetables and grains. That means ending all production of sugar, vegetable oils, coffee, tea, cocoa, spices, wine, beer, spirits, cotton, flax, jute, wool, plantation timber, bamboo, cork, flowers and any plants used for medicines.

    How much extra water would that require?

    How much extra fossil fuel would that require to harvest and transport?

    And that assumes our population never increases from this day onwards. A worldwide adoption of a vegan diet would require more than 100% of the planet's land area just for growing food if the population increased another 10%, which it will in about 8 years.

    Please start living in the real world because we don't have another 7 planets spare to grow enough food for everybody on this one to be vegan.

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    • Ned:

      28 Apr 2014 5:45:46pm

      A lot of the crops you mention that would have to be ended are cash crops for much of the developing world, e.g. sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa, etc.

      Without animals or vegetable oils we wouldn't have fatty acids to make soap. Most soaps today are made from rendered beef fat, coconut oil, palm oil or canola.

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    • olive:

      28 Apr 2014 11:37:01pm

      Actually, it's the other way around. World hunger Program, at Brown University, estimated in 1990 that the world harvests at the time would feed 6 billion people (equitably distributed without diversion to feeding livestock), while western style meat-rich diet could only support 2.6 billlion.

      Also, there is water consumption issue. For example, the water consumption to get 1kg of meat is between 5,000 and 20,000 litres. For 1kg of wheat it is 500 to 4,000 litres.

      Another issue is food wastage - it's been estimated 30-50% of food is already wasted before reaching our stomachs.

      Each one of us can influence how efficiently resources are used by choosing options that benefit - cutting down the meat/animal products consumption, buy local produce and grow some fruit/vegs ourselves. It all adds up.

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  • Ummm:

    28 Apr 2014 4:28:49pm

    People should look at images of animals being slaughtered just before they eat their dinner and they might think twice about eating their big juicy (bloody) steak! ; )

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    • Jungle Boy:

      29 Apr 2014 1:21:25pm

      That reminds me, it's lunch-time.

      I'll try not to think of images of plants being slaughtered.

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  • Danielle:

    28 Apr 2014 4:31:46pm

    Thanks Ruby for discussing one of the most important (but rarely mentioned) methods for reducing our carbon footprint and tackling climate change, not to mention the health benefits.

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 5:45:07pm

      Danielle, the health benefits? A vegan diet is one of the least healthy, and lowers brain function. Don't take my word for it, do some research.

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      • olive:

        29 Apr 2014 11:55:54am

        Whitey, not sure where you got that from. Complex carbs and pulses are the best food for brain function and body energy. Varied vegan diet is good for you. Perhaps you were thinking of people who eat nothing but lettuce?

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        • Whitey:

          29 Apr 2014 4:26:53pm

          Some vitamins, like b12 are mostly found in animal or animal derived foods. Can't live with out it, and you can make it, at a cost most of the world couldn't afford, synthetically.

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    • Chad:

      28 Apr 2014 6:10:11pm

      Carbon dioxide footprint. There's a difference.

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      • Whitey:

        28 Apr 2014 7:32:03pm

        Chad, hate to repeat myself, but pasture fed beef in well managed grazing systems stores carbon, so less than zero emissions.

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    • Cyn:

      28 Apr 2014 10:29:09pm

      Rarely mentioned, really, after energy, it seems to me the most discussed, but then the most common way of describing this subject is as "rarely mentioned", most people discuss using the methane though

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  • Victor:

    28 Apr 2014 4:32:54pm

    Ruby, you state that 70% of agricultural emissions come from failed to mention what percentage of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by agricultural activity, so your statement is a bit vague.

    However I agree with your assertion that weaning ourselves off meat would lessen our environmental footprint to a greater extent than most of us are aware. Most Asians consume far less meat than Australians do and the impact on the environment that a kilo of rice has ( for example ) is about 3% of that of the production of a kilo of beef. A first step might be to adopt some of the "Asian" practices like weaning ourselves off beef....... by far the most environmentally expensive meat product. Much of the meat consumed in Asia is from battery farmed pigs and chickens, and I know that will raise the ire of the people from PETA (People for the ethical treatment of Animals), it is far more environmentally responsible than maintaining our addiction to beef.

    I love a big T-bone, but I have largely restricted myself to pork and chicken over the last 2 decades, and I believe it is not all that difficult.

    It could be a significant first step.

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  • Sophia:

    28 Apr 2014 4:37:24pm

    This is an excellent article. A future human diet, if we're to have one, surely must be predominantly plant-based. As our population increases, as climate change causes water, arable land and nutritious crops to become more valuable (and thus too precious be poured into to breeding inefficient herds of cattle), the unsustainable practice of industrialised meat production and the consumption of meat in routine excess will have to be addressed.

    Or, just as likely, humanity will feast itself (and the planet) to death. You can't fault the symbolism, at least.

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 5:48:35pm

      Sophia, grass fed beef is one of the least damaging foods to our environment, and is usually raised on country too dry, too steep, or too stony for other agriculture. Australia is one of the few nations where most of our animals are grazed instead of fed grain.

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    • Mike:

      28 Apr 2014 5:48:51pm

      A predominantly plant-based diet would require more arable land than than planet has now. Animals are able to be farmed on land which is completely unsuitable for growing crops. We have introduced feral animals roaming our deserts which could be eaten for food in place of beef and lamb if we got over the English-speaking world's cringe about eating camel or horse.

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    • Sinic:

      28 Apr 2014 6:04:03pm

      One of the reasons lamb and beef have always been cheap in Australia is that we have much land that is suitable only for growing grass and is entirely useless for cropping. Add to this that sheep and cattle can provide wool and leather as well as meat and you have an economic use for many acres that otherwise would simply grow kangaroos. Ceasing meat production in Australia would at present require us to greatly increase food, and specifically protein, imports. Given it is proposed we cease coal exports, and obviously will not be able to export wheat, wool or meat when we turn vegan, how will we pay for our beans and rice? (Before you rip into me about wheat exports - we will need all our wheat to partially make up the calorie-protein contribution of meat in our diet).

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      • Sophia:

        28 Apr 2014 6:51:54pm

        Oh, I didn't mean to make it sound overly simplified. I'm happy to concede there are significant amounts of land in the world where it's efficient to raise and herd grass-fed animals. It was just my understanding that a common meat industry practice (not necessarily in this country) is to sustain animals on large amounts of grain grown for that purpose. I understand from these comments this may not be the case in Australia.

        It just seems to me that our attitude toward meat, which is often indicated to be disproportionate to our dietary need for it, surely is not geared toward maximum efficiency but rather consumer demand; as omnivores we can do very well with a substantially plant-based diet and substantially less meat than is eaten on average (and indeed many of us thrive on none at all.) But, of course, some might argue our species is unsustainable in general, whether we eat meat or plants. Certainly I won't pretend that simply cutting out meat would be a magic solution for world hunger.

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        • Whitey:

          28 Apr 2014 7:36:00pm

          You are right that in other countries they often rely on grain feeding of meat, and this is why international studies don't relate to Australia. Our grass fed beef is largely unique, and is a selling point that we don't seem to stress enough.

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        • Gordon:

          29 Apr 2014 1:12:52pm

          Whitey you are doing a good job in pointing out that Aussie rangeland beef is very different to US and Euro-style feed-lotting. Keep up the good work mate.

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        • Whitey:

          29 Apr 2014 4:29:00pm

          I believe if we follow the advice of animal welfare experts like Dr Temple Grandin, and eat grass fed meat, we can enjoy a guilt free feed.

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  • tempo:

    28 Apr 2014 4:37:29pm


    The UN report you linked to puts agricultural contribution at 14%. Importantly it is not all from livestock. The report doesn't actually give the contribution from livestock. It is just agriculture as a whole.

    "Seventy per cent of agricultural emissions come directly from livestock" - I checked that link from Climate Focus and I honestly can't see where they get that figure from. It is an important figure because it is the basis of your entire article.

    If you are going to throw figures around they should have credible sources. If livestock contributes 70% of agricultural emissions you should link to a peer-reviewed paper so we can at least check how that figure was arrived at and for potential errors in measurement.

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    • Jungle Boy:

      29 Apr 2014 1:24:07pm

      And in the same vein, is all the "livestock" for consumption, or does it include beasts of burden?

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  • George Spiggot:

    28 Apr 2014 4:44:16pm

    You can protest, sign petitions, run about holding hands wearing flowers but I will never...forsake the hamburger.

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  • Finn:

    28 Apr 2014 4:44:44pm

    Absolutely on the nail. And when pressed, people will claim it's their right to eat meat, or how their ancestors ate meat, or how meat just tastes good.

    Yep, personal enjoyment apparently trumps any evidence about the amount of water used to raise a kilo of beef, the conditions under which their meat was produced (just look at the footage from within our own country of abuse of livestock), or the health impact.

    And what will this article engender? Claims that it kills smaller animals to harvest crops (those same crops go to feed livestock, so you're killing less animals with a meatless diet), that vegetarians and vegans are all sickly weaklings (hi Patrik Baboumian!), or that we should stop wasting our time on animals and focus on human suffering (because it's impossible to care about both at the same time?)

    I'm expecting there'll be at least one response to me that's just an "mmmm bacon", or "I'm going to go eat a steak now!" - that's how predictable the response to an article like this is. It's just.. *sad*, really.

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    • Indeed:

      28 Apr 2014 7:25:25pm

      Spot on. Your environmental arguments for diet change have convinced me: In australia we should eat nothing but rabbits, camels, water buffalo and deer. In fact I adhere to this rule as often as I can. Venison steaks, rabbit stew, camel curry (A-mazing! - seriously) and buffalo jerky.

      Every rabbit you dont eat is another dead bilby. And if you dont like the idea of purely wild rabbit on your plate - just kill it. Either way. Its basically your duty as an environmentalist.

      Unless of course your "environmental" argument is merely a rouse to promote your meat-free lifestyle choice, and no amount of evidence will persuade you that the responsible thing to do is get chowing on some invasive pests.

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  • Sinic:

    28 Apr 2014 4:49:26pm

    It sounds simple, but man has evolved to suit a diet containing a certain amount of cooked meat. Non-animal protein can be substituted, but this requires significant processing (usually of beans) to extract sufficient protein. This is workable for the small number of affluent vegans in the Western World but attempting it as a universal diet for the 8 billion humans on the planet would require a significant diversion of resources - probably with the production of some malnutrition (kwashiorkor). Surely someone has done the figures for the cost-benefit - at the end of the day even dictatorships have to bend to economics!

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    • hjt:

      29 Apr 2014 1:24:13am

      Most people in the world eat very little meat right now and rely on plant proteins for most of their protein. The animal protein they do have is likely to be from chooks scratching around for insects and seeds or milk from cattle / buffalo / goats etc that eat weeds and crop residue. Many still don't get enough protein but most do. However they eat so little meat that going "vegan" wouldn't made a big increase in the amount of cropping done.

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  • doofdaddy:

    28 Apr 2014 4:51:05pm

    "When those of us who are concerned by the devastating effects of animal agriculture raise the issue, somehow the focus shifts from saving the planet to respecting personal choice, as if the choice to eat certain foods is sacrosanct." No we just can't stand the stench of the burning self righteous martyr. Give away your smug urban hidden polluting life ( e.g. transporting your veggies to your comfortable organic city market) and join us in the free range animal country that is Australia.

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  • Markus:

    28 Apr 2014 4:52:10pm

    Great article Ruby. Logical and well reasoned. The cost of public health would also be reduced if animal food product consumption were curtailed.

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  • Rickbee:

    28 Apr 2014 4:52:20pm

    I don't think humankind will be shifting to a less meat diet any time soon. I understand that live exports from Australia are about to increase fairly dramatically, including buffalo to Vietnam (as many as we can provide). The quest for more cheap protein by poorer countries in SE Asia and Africa has a long way to go yet.

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  • rudski:

    28 Apr 2014 4:54:26pm

    I suspect this won't get through moderation but is it any surprise the word "nuclear" does not appear in the article?

    America has over 100 nuclear plants, the EU has 200 across all the members and even in China has 45 plants.

    But here in Australia we can't even have a proper conversation about nuclear due to all the fear campaigns, so instead of using every available energy resource they now advocate a plant based diet?

    And let's not even mention hot fusion.....

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    • Cyn:

      28 Apr 2014 10:12:14pm

      Congratulations, you got past the moderator.

      And your right, nuclear is an available option that should be considered just as fairly as solar, tidal, geothermal and natural gas as energy sources. If only people looked could get past the bad wrap it has, and see just how small the waste problem would be, I'm mean we've got plenty of empty mines out there and one would do.

      We've got something like a quarter or a fifth of the worlds uranium reserves too, well that will go to waste and what about thorium, that has great potential.

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  • TedB:

    28 Apr 2014 4:55:03pm

    "All as scientists warn of the need to move away from dependency on animals as a food source" Occam's Broom in action! Any contrary views from scientists found?

    Ever heard of Confirmation Bias?

    On one hand someone tells us eating meat kills us early -hence a plus to reduce climate change; next thing they want to prolong the lives of the, what was it at last count? 7 billion.

    This type of article is hard to take seriously as complete comparisons with the energy needs to produce a meat-free food source for everyone so hard to compare with what would be saved.

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  • Calculator:

    28 Apr 2014 4:55:26pm

    Using your numbers (well, using the numbers in the articles you referenced):

    A total global meat-free diet would result in *potential* (your quoted term) and *uncertain* (another of your quotes) GHG reduction of 15%.

    Leaving the curent 78% directly attributable to fossil fuel energy completely untouched.

    Now.. do those numbers realy make the case for 'meat' as the culprit? What about fish? Poultry?

    When we can make graphene in vast quantities outside a lab, and thusly make uber-batteries and insanely efficient solar generators (and build electric cars stronger than steel & lighter than plastic) you'll be able to eat charcoal steaks 3 times a day and the GHG/carbon footprint will reduce dramatically. So get on board the technology revolution & your fear of meat from a climate perspective can be no more.

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  • Paul Gardner-Stephen:

    28 Apr 2014 4:59:29pm

    It is my understanding that cattle are particularly bad when it comes to methane production, and that without going meat-less, switching to meats from lower methane producing livestock -- such as kangaroo here in Australia -- could offer substantial and easy reductions of our green house gas emissions.

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  • Kate:

    28 Apr 2014 5:01:19pm

    Already made the change several years ago. I'm vegetarian now and by cooking for my parents and siblings several nights a week I'm helping them cut down on meat too. Everyone can do their bit to help!

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    • OUB :

      28 Apr 2014 6:02:43pm

      Cutting back on meat consumption seems the way to go. I tried to go veg at one stage and was finding hills a problem. I need to keep my strength up in case the Greens come to power! Meat 3 or 4 times a week seems to be enough for me. I gather blood type might have some bearing on how well you'll go as a vegetarian....

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 7:57:12pm

      Kate, vegetarianism is a choice, and I wouldn't even try to tell you what to eat, but I do have issues with the authors case for making that choice. Enjoy your lentils.

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  • Mick Keogh:

    28 Apr 2014 5:04:23pm

    The debate about the potential impact of a meat-free diet on global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations has been continuing for quite some time. It is very easy to be prescriptive about the potential impacts of a reduction in meat consumption based on raw data, but considerable understanding is needed of the 'rules' surrounding greenhouse emission accounting in order to understand the real situation. Even the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN had to acknowledge it made some major errors in its notorious "Livestock's Long Shadow" report released some years ago, from which many of the headline figures used in the above article have originated. Put simply, the 'accounting' rules for grazing livestock emission accounting do not reflect the physical science, and advances in emission capture and use as recycled energy sources (in intensive livestock operations such as dairies and piggeries) dramatically alter the emission footprint of livestock production enterprises - so much so that the emissions associated with nitrogen fertiliser use associated with crop production can easily be worse than those associated with livestock. This issue is much more complex than the author makes out, and in fact if emissions are considered on the basis of the energy density of the resulting food products, meat may in many cases be a more greenhouse efficient product than many vegetable foods. The simplistic nostrum that 'going without meat will reduce atmospheric greenhouse concentrations' is highly challengeable, which perhaps explains why many scientists and knowledgeable authorities on this issue do not recommend lowering meat intake as a 'cure' for global warming.

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 8:04:11pm

      Absolutely agree Mick. Ruby's article is based on dodgy science that ignores grazing systems, while talking up the specific flatulence emissions. Grazing systems are at least carbon neutral, and can lock carbon up in soil. The footprint of grazing systems, which is where most of our stock are bred, is a positive for carbon sequestration.

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  • Ian T:

    28 Apr 2014 5:08:05pm

    Kangaroos are tasty and have very low methane emissions compared to most placental farm animals. Farming Australian natives for meat production would be a win win as far as I am concerned. The CSIRO should be funded to engage in selective breeding of Australian natives for improved behaviour, yeilds and meat structure (wombat bacon anyone?). Why are farmers wasteing their time chasing roos off their properties when they could be breeding them up and making a profit.

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    • Whitey:

      28 Apr 2014 7:53:33pm

      There is nothing wrong with Kangeroo meat, but farming wild animals brings up a lot of issues. Firstly, they are very hard to handle, and impossible to handle ethically, as they are timid and are more likely to hurt them selves around humans. As well, they are poor converters of grass to meat. We should not be wasting them, they are a valuable resource, but should be an industry built around hunting, not farming.

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  • FlapDoodle:

    28 Apr 2014 5:09:40pm

    The main premise of this article is hogwash. The eating of high protein meat diets by humans is just one of the many evironmental problems we face. Let us get things into perspective, we need to address any number of issues long before we get to this one.

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  • Harquebus:

    28 Apr 2014 5:11:59pm

    Oil depletion will force us to eat less.

    Modern agriculture is the process of turning fossil fuels into food and the average meal travels thousands of kilometres to get to our plates.

    Peak oil was in 2005. The GFC, 2008 and no sign of ending. Capex on oil production has quadrupled along the price of oil over the last decade and yet, supply has only increased a few percent.

    Depopulate now. If it is forced upon us through resource depletion, scarcity or the destruction of our environment, it won't be pretty.

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    • John:

      29 Apr 2014 9:38:13am

      You keep saying that, on every topic and on every occasion that you can. And it is false every time you do it.

      The world has enough known oil to last it, at 2012 consumption levels, for 20,000 years. The USA has, in one single deposit, more oil than the entire Saudi Arabian oil fields. And it has about a dozen more similar fields not yet fully evaluated. Canada has about another dozen such deposits, also not yet evaluated.

      The Russian Bazhenov deposit contains enough oil to last the world for 80,000 years. Bazhenov ? according to a report by Sanford Bernstein?s lead international oil analyst Oswald Clint ? ?covers 2.3 million square kilometers or 570 million acres, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined.?

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      • Dr Who:

        29 Apr 2014 2:13:41pm

        It's going to take me ages to tally up all the lies in these few posts of John.

        As one example, the Bazhenov deposit, according to Reuters, has an estimated 70 billion recoverable barrels. (I think this is after EROEI is accounted for, but we're talking about fairly pricey oil.) Divide this by the DAILY consumption of oil of 90 million barrels (globally), the Bazhenov deposit will supply the whole of the world for about two years and two months.

        Out by a factor of 40 000. John never really did impress anyone with his maths skills...

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  • no offence but:

    28 Apr 2014 5:14:50pm

    You can have my T-bone when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands...

    Vegetables are a side dish - always were - always will be. As (Dr) Denis Leary said: "eating vegetables is a choice - eating meat is an instinct".

    We humans did not evolve through stalking, killing and eating wild Tofu.

    Down with the scourge of Veganism! It makes people irrational...

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  • firthy:

    28 Apr 2014 5:22:03pm

    Reduced consumption for sure. No consumption? Not likely. I did find this comment amusing:

    "Humans have been eating animals for so long, and in such large quantities, we think we are entitled to their bodies, regardless of the consequences."

    Yep. The entire time we have been humans. Wonder why we have canine teeth? Because we evolved that way. We are only animals after all.

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    • Finn:

      28 Apr 2014 5:44:40pm

      Humans have the smallest canine teeth to jaw size of ALL the homininds. Our canines got *smaller* as our ancestors consumed more meat in their diet. Our canines are the last remnants of the sexual dimorphism seen in our ancestors - look at gorillas and baboons (and their social structures) to see where we came from.

      Pointing to a human's canine teeth as evidence for meat in the diet is like pointing to a T. rex's arms and claiming they were part of its hunting lifestyle.

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      • Tim P:

        28 Apr 2014 7:27:47pm

        Correlation does not prove causation.

        The small size of human canine teeth is an adaptation necessary to allow humans to easily sip their lattes (scientific fact, well, theory, well, possibility, actually... not) :)

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  • Whitey:

    28 Apr 2014 5:26:49pm

    Ruby, one reason why caring people still eat beef, is that you are wrong. While it is true that animals emit greenhouse gases, grazing systems don't. Put simply, grass grows, locking up carbon, cattle eat it, or termites, or it rots into the ground, emitting methane, then it grows again locking up the carbon. In some other countries cattle are fed mostly grain, but in Australia, we have mostly grass fed beef. Those of the green persuasion, can happily gnaw on a steak, knowing they are doing no harm to the environment. If you want to be sure, make it a grass fed steak.

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  • Chad:

    28 Apr 2014 6:04:56pm

    Seems to be continued ignorance to the fact that there has been no atmospheric warming for nearly 2 decades.

    The catastrohic, anthropogenic, global warming alarmists have repeatedly stated we have to wait for 30 years of no warming before they will consider ceasing their portents of doom. The thing is, they only waited after only 9 years of warming (1979-1988), to push the planet is going to fry scare. Why is that the case?

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    • Theos:

      28 Apr 2014 7:17:19pm

      Chad, quite sneaky of you to focus on only a single aspect of our planet (eg the atmosphere ONLY) and ignore the massively larger heat sink of the oceans. Tell me this, can you provide one peer reviewed scientific paper which demonstrates that the planet has in fact not (on average) warmed up over the last "nearly 2 decades". I'm only asking for one. I mean, if scientists agree with your opinion, then surely one of them somewhere must have published a paper in a peer reviewed scientific journal agreeing with your opinion.

      And if, as I suspect, no such peer-reviewed scientific paper exists, perhaps you can write your own, as clearly you know more than the scientific community does on this topic. Surely your paper will show those thousands of scientists how wrong they are and should likely result you winning several Nobel prizes for overturning the current scientific consensus.

      Good luck with that.

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  • Aquila:

    28 Apr 2014 6:09:21pm

    Turning vegan just shifts where the emissions come from. I note the following from Wikipedia:

    "Flatulence-producing foods ... include beans, lentils, dairy products, onions, garlic, spring onions, leeks, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cashews, Jerusalem artichokes, oats, wheat, and yeast in breads. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables that belong to the genus Brassica are commonly reputed to not only increase flatulence, but to increase the pungency of the flatus."

    No mention of meat. Would we be undertaking the emissions directly instead of, as now, outsourcing most of that to cattle?

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  • Sharyn:

    28 Apr 2014 6:19:22pm

    Six years ago I developed an allergy to meat, after being bitten by a tick and honestly it was not that hard to eliminate all mammal meat from my diet.

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  • writy:

    28 Apr 2014 6:43:58pm

    We have wasted and are wasting a lot of resources on "The Delinquent Teenagers". Firstly educating them now paying them for doom and Gloom. Probably a lot more than the 14% attributed to animal methane.

    Does anyone wonder how the coal was formed, mined in the arid parts of OZ. What a massive Climate Change those areas have experienced over millions of years.

    A message to you "Delinquent Teenagers" get out there and achieve something with your education. Advance AE technology, cure cancer etc etc but stop wasting earths resources dragging us back to the Dark Ages. Do something constructive not destructive.

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  • Deb:

    28 Apr 2014 6:48:50pm

    Sorry, Ruby, but you've swallowed a big falsehood in regard to this meat and climate change thing. Eating grass-fed beef is part of a sustainable cycle of carbon sequestration and release. The grass absorbs carbon, the cows eat it, we eat the cows, we breathe and defecate out the carbon we don't retain, the micro-organisms in the soil and water process our solid waste, the grass re-absorbs the carbon that was emitted during the cycle. The carbon just goes round and round. You can't have the cows without the pasture. In essence, we are just eating grass that the cows have made more palatable (and nutritionally absorbable) for us. And what a great job they do! I love my cows.

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  • olive:

    28 Apr 2014 6:49:02pm

    As somebody who used to eat meat from breakfast to dinner I'm happy that I don't do it anymore. It was a gradual process and took years. And it's not because is fashionable. One has to have a concern for animals to persist. In the past, in the part of the world I originated from (EU) only rich could afford to eat meat. The poorest never did, those a bit better-off only at special occassions. So, the statement that humans were eating loads of meat is in my opinion incorrect. It is a rather a new phoenomenon developed in the last 50-60 years as a cosequence of raising standard of living across the globe.

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    • John:

      29 Apr 2014 9:46:50am

      Sorry, olive, but you are wrong.

      Neanderthal humans ate a diet consisting entirely of meat. There are some very interesting studies on the analyses undertaken on fossilised Neanderthal coprolites, if you want the scientific data.

      Other primitive societies were similar.

      You are correct, however, in your comment that increasing prosperity has led to higher meat consumption, but that is an economic, not social consequence.

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      • olive:

        29 Apr 2014 11:01:56am

        John, thank you for your response. I hope that you realise that Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals are close but two different species of Homo, with the same ancestors. The Neanderthal remains indicate that their diet consisted of mostly of meat with some amount of plant food, and they may have had even been cannibals. Which is not suprising as they lived in harsh conditions in cold climates and through the ice age. Their skeletons show effects of nutritional deficiencies.

        Homo Sapiens, who came from Africa, were mainly gatherers and moved around a lot to pick what was in season. Their diet was similar to apes and is omnivorous, but not much meat perhaps up to 15% which includes insects. Later with the spread across the globe their diet has become more varied depending on climate conditions and what was available. So, one can find communities who live on plant food alone to Inuits in Artic on practically all meat/fish diet.

        In Australia, we have wonderful climate, perfect for growing plant food. Every household ought to grow something in their backyard especially considering that we've mostly built houses on the best soil. We live on a steep rocky outcrop, with not much soil, but I manage to grow all the herbs we need, some vegs and apples. As Peter Cundall would say - go on, get your hands dirty!

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        • John:

          29 Apr 2014 3:31:54pm

          olive, we're close friends on most of this.

          I discussed Neanderthals because their diet was exclusively meat. Modern Inuit have a pretty standard Westernised diet nowadays (and suffer as a consequence) but until very recently they were like the Neanderthals - totally dependent of fish and the odd seal for their protein. And the Inuit are Homo Sapiens.

          Even today, many of the jungle dwelling peoples will eat exclusively meat for as long as they can hunt it. It is only when the hunt fails that they fall back on roots, tubers and plants.

          As to Peter Cundall - well, I'm an acolyte. I've had a green water recycling system at my house for over 30 years, and back in 1970 we disconnected from the town water supply and installed rainwater tanks and a three-part on-site sewage collector. We've lived on harvested rainwater ever since. We never buy herbs but grow everything, about 70% of the green vegetable we eat are home-grown, as are about 70% of the root crops.

          I never have any success with fruit trees because I don't have the heart to chase the possums away.

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  • Ravensclaw:

    28 Apr 2014 6:59:09pm

    Errr, how about live the dream before you impose the dream?

    That includes not using anything produced by fossil fuels, not use anything that is radioactive or expose yourself to radiation, and not use any products derived from farmed animals.

    Once you live the dream, demonstrate to the rest of us the benefits of your wisdom and the folly of our ways then I am sure we will all willingly follow.

    But until motor-mouths end their hypocrisy and prove their case, and while this society is still free, I will continue what I am doing guilt free.


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  • Cyn:

    28 Apr 2014 6:59:27pm

    It would be easier to modify the bacteria in a cow's digestive tract to produce something better than methane for the environment, maybe vaporized rosewater could be a goal, ah a solution and no personal sacrifice, or how about we build giant green houses for cattle to graze in, then they fart, we collect the methane and hydrocrack and polymerise it into long lasting durable plastic components in everyday items, then it would be like encouraging me to eat more meat to supply more material to produce more for more people who can eat more beef, this is now my favorite possible part of a solution to climate change.

    The reason people are willing to consider changes in energy sources before changes in diet is because, electrical generation changes every few decades anyway with new power plants, so it's just out with the old in with the new, easy, and I think as a society we believe we should do what we can to make the next generation better off than the last one and an important part of that the majority of people is the choice of what to be it staples, fruits, vegetables, sugars, oils, fats, nuts, dairy, or most importantly meat as a basic part of a good life and should never be taken away if we can help it.

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  • DannyS:

    28 Apr 2014 7:05:28pm

    It's not necessarily a matter of not eating meat, but more a matter of which meat we eat.

    For instance cattle produce around 50kg of methane a year. Sheep are also huge methane producers because of their numbers.

    Pigs produce a little over 1kg per year, goats around 5kg a year.

    Cattle will produce significantly less methane depending on breed and/or diet. The more protein in their diet, the less methane. Kangaroos are ruminants, as are cattle and sheep, yet produce little methane.

    There are options out there and diets don't have to change significantly.

    The biggest hurdle we face is letting go of our cultural past and pretty much consigning cattle and sheep to the history books. Not to mention the other hurdle of the livestock industry going ballistic and their regional elected representatives doing everything they can to block such changes to ensure their re-election.

    Sources :

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  • spud:

    28 Apr 2014 7:10:58pm

    You sound like IPCC head Pachauri; ready to lecture everyone else, but not to take any reasonable action on your own part. Our cattle feed literally millions of people; without them, they would starve. In contrast, Pachauri's home country has 10 times the number of cattle as in Australia, but being literally sacred cows, they feed no-one; in fact they take food directly from starving Indians. And what do you and Pachauri do? Lecture Australia about how evil our agriculture is!!!

    Before you go around taking food from the mouths of the starving in the name of reducing methane emissions, you should be making sure that those cattle that do nothing to alleviate either poverty or starvation, while adding vastly more methane to the atmosphere, are removed first.

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  • Reinhard:

    28 Apr 2014 7:11:46pm

    This article is not even handed at the least, my guess is that Ms Hamad is a vegetarian. Great strides have been made in agriculture to capture waste methane emissions and even convert them into energy using a methane digester system.

    Ref: "270 cows generating electricity for farm / Methane digester also breaks down waste"

    We need to focus our attention on waste fossil fuel combustion first and foremost, then we can get down to the nitty-gritty of the burps, farts and poo of farm animals

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  • basel:

    28 Apr 2014 7:27:04pm

    Ruby, this is really a sad article.

    1/ Animals (cows) eat plant material that contains carbon that is part of the "surface" carbon, the total amount in the biosphere, atmosphere, near surface ocean that is part of what might be called a current carbon cycle. Cows eat the plant material which has the carbon in a beneficial form and turn part of it into methane which is a green house gas but the eating does not increase the surface carbon.

    2/ Burning coal, oil and natural gas does increase that current surface carbon, and it puts it all in the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. It is bringing carbon that has been laid down and buried over millions of years and putting it into the current surface carbon in what, in geological terms, is an instant of time.

    The headline of this article, "Meat is the hidden culprit of climate change" trivialises the real issue here. The discussion becomes a silly babble about cows farting.

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  • Paul W:

    28 Apr 2014 7:27:55pm

    "But nothing it seems, not even the looming threat of environmental catastrophe, could compel a significant number of us to simply change our diet."

    That is because if you study the issue it's clear that meat use is not the central issue.

    While it is true that a drop in meat use would lead to a drop in cows methane emissions and the CO2 footprint of meat production I just don't think that the author has faced the un denial fact that no amount of reduction by westerners meat use will really change the growing crisis of global warm. It just gets a little more time. It's kind of helpful but not a solution.

    A solution is ending the use of coal world wide and very greatly reducing the use of fossil based oil and gas products. Then a solution is with in reach.

    To do that really means changing the energy source of our electricity to non fossil fuel sustainables.

    Reducing meat can be a part of that but nothing like the main part.

    James Hansen in his recent writings has drawn attention to the US Democrats playing a bigger role than most other politicians in sidelining nuclear advancement with Jimmy Carter's limiting and then Clinton's closure of the USA's advanced nuclear research program at the point of it going to grid scale.

    That advanced nuclear technology has been brought to regulatory approval stage by others but with a cost of at a delay of 20 years. That loss of 20 years is at the heart of the climate crisis.

    Coal is a living dead technology, zombie like, still not out but with no future. Advanced nuclear could have and still can repalace it with cheaper options. That is blocked by anti nukes.

    Meat diet change is a minor change by comparison. Going through with being carbon neutral by buying offsets from third world projects to replace coal use does a better job than eating less meat. Dollar per dollar it's just more effective. If you took the amount you spend on meat in a year and spent that on buying co2 offsets we would be better off than stopping eating meat.

    Most of the carbon expansion that's really taking up our slack in fixing the issue is from third world coal use expansion. This means that reduce and stopping that third world coal use is what is needed the most.

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  • neil:

    28 Apr 2014 7:35:03pm

    Vegans all look ill frail they are simply killing themselves slowly,

    You cannot be a healthy human being without consuming some form of animal fat and protein, this is a medical fact, we have evolved to consume cooked animal fat as our main fuel source and animal flesh as our tissue building source, more recently some humans have evolved to be lactose tolerant into adulthood so can substitute meat with milk.

    We have a very short intestinal tract for a mammal our size but it works because we eat pre-digested (cooked) animal tissues. Modern supplements and medicine may allow us to "survive" on a vegan diet, but try it in a third world country and you will die.

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  • Pokemon:

    28 Apr 2014 7:49:42pm

    Being an animal lover and not wanting to be a vegeterian cofuses me a lot. Every time I say/think "I should stop eating meat for those lives and also for my diet", I'm told by other people that there are still countless people eating meat and there would not be any difference even if I do so. However, if meat-free activity is held and a lot of people show that they are eager to take part in, I will definitely join them.

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  • spoon:

    28 Apr 2014 8:03:46pm

    When will people realise that everything that all people are concerned about comes from population growth. Limit the population and all (at east most) concerns will disappear. The planet cannot sustain continual human population growth.

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  • Sandra S:

    28 Apr 2014 8:18:19pm

    This article and most comments are absolutely ignorant about THE REAL REASON for the existence Climate change movement.

    It is not about pollution of any kind. Not even CO2. If it was about pollution it would include many other, far more dangerous pollutant in the air, earth or sea.

    It is not about global warming. If it was, it would include animal methane emissions, as Ruby pointed out in her article.

    It is about the new global tax - money. Only energy companies command such large consumer base, to generate trillions of dollars annually. All other polluting industries, including agriculture could generate pittance compared with the energy generating industry.

    Cleaning the air from Sulphur oxides and other airborne pollutants; cleaning the sea from the leaking radiation damps, cleaning the sea and earth from DDT or other carcinogenic chemicals would require investment of large sums of money. That is why no other pollutant is even mentioned by the politicised scientific bodies such as IPCC. Their 'scientific' duty is to convince us to accept the new global tax on energy.

    It is as simple as that. It saddens me to see how many people have been brainwashed by the persistent and aggressive of the 'Climate Change movement'.

    Alert moderator

    • John:

      29 Apr 2014 9:54:01am

      You are absolutely correct, SandraS.

      The most strident anti-CO2 organisation is the IPCC. The IPCC was established by Maurice Strong. And Strong's philosophy is, in his own words:

      ?Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class - involving high meat intake, use of fossil fuels, appliances, air-conditioning, and sub-urban housing - are not sustainable ? Isn?t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn?t it our responsibility to bring that about??

      Let's destroy industrial civilisation - and let's stop eating meat.

      Funny how that tune keeps re-appearing.

      Alert moderator

      • Reinhard:

        29 Apr 2014 10:47:56am

        John keep trying, one day you may post something factual, the IPCC was formed in 1988 by the merger of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) of which Maurice Strong was a founding member

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        • John:

          29 Apr 2014 3:40:24pm

          No it wasn't. Why don't you try looking for the truth before you post something as silly as that?

          Maurice Strong was the Secretary-General of the United Nations Rio Earth Summit, the founder of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the founder and president of Earth Council, the co-author of the Earth Charter with Mikhail Gorbachev, as well being involved in many other environmental organisations and left-wing political causes.?

          Strong set up the?United Nations Environmental Program. He was responsible for the establishment, by the UN General Assembly in December 1972, of the?United Nations Environment Programme?(UNEP), with headquarters in?Nairobi,?Kenya, and was elected to head it.

          Part of UNEP is the?Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Strong wrote the terms of reference for that agency. The IPCC was formulated under UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988. Under that resolution the objective of the IPCC was set out as:

          ?The IPCC?s role shall be to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; the social and economic impact of climate change, possible response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate?.

          But because Strong was the Chairman of UNEP, he was authorised to set up the IPCC. When he wrote the procedures, the policy role became:

          "The IPCC's role is, as defined in ?Principles Governing IPCC Work, to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation?.

          So he immediately restricted the research so as to prevent it considering natural causes of climate change. The IPCC is totally fraudulent. It was set up in fraud, it was designed to perpetuate fraud and it publishes fraud.

          Alert moderator

  • Huonian:

    28 Apr 2014 8:30:35pm

    Why stop at meat?

    If we are serious about greenhouse gases, why do we ship so much coffee around the world so the inner city types can indulge? Why do people drink bottled water from God-knows-where when (local) water from the tap is as good if not better for you ? Why do we have a fashion industry where the whole point is to get rid of clothes, cars and so much else well before they are worn out? Why do we have overseas holidays, via fuel-guzzling aircraft, when there's so much to see and do in our own country?

    Oh, that's right. These are things that the well-heeled chatterati do. Can't expect them to make the sacrifices that they demand of others, can we?


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    • John:

      29 Apr 2014 3:46:07pm

      Huonian, I was in the USA a few years ago when the "Oregon Water" topic arose.

      One of the Universities ran a series of tests on all the proprietary brands of bottled water. By all tests, Oregon Water came out on top.

      But nobody knew who made the stuff or where it came from. Finally the Oregon State Water Board confessed that it was simply taking town water from its regular water service, putting it in bottles with a fancy label, calling it "Oregon Water" and selling it for a whopping premium.

      Sometimes life can be so much fun, don't you think?

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  • Healthfirst:

    28 Apr 2014 9:04:52pm

    I believe Climate Change is another Scam.

    Blaming Cattle ? Why not find out the purpose in Nature.

    I say engineers of Climate change are financially better off to come with these Findings.

    We could say people pass wind - and that is mainly to do with our diet.

    The same could be said with cattle , if grain feed, They eat grass and a nutritious diet what would the figure be?.

    I am skeptical of the Scientific Cramp that comes out of America, they possibly feed the cattle a Monsatan's GMO varity of Grain to verify there tests.

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  • mathuranatha:

    28 Apr 2014 9:23:18pm

    Good article , gave those meat-heads a good serve roasting hmm . Anyway meat eating is so deeply embeded in our culturethat doing good to the planet is probably not enough incentive for most people to change . Understanding the profound health benifits would tip the ballance for a few . But an understanding of Karma and reincarnation [repeated birth and death ]could really reap some good souls .

    After all who would knowinly choose thousands of lives as battery chickens and feed lot cows for every one thay have eaten ? And pigs and sheep?A horrible life , a horrible death and then just live it again and again and again thousands of times .Surley those "finger-licken carcasses " cant taste that good? :-)

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  • brett:

    28 Apr 2014 9:27:17pm

    Another, possibly better researched opinion on veganisim and climate change is that of biologist Dr Alan Savoury. He has an excelent TED talk. He has active followers ( farmers and graziers) and detractors around the world, but is well worth checking out.

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  • The Jones Crusher:

    28 Apr 2014 9:53:16pm

    Ruby Hamad obviously thinks a load of bread, meat free and all that, just appears on the supermarket shelves or baker's trays. To grow a crop of wheat the paddock is plowed, then seeded, then harrowed, then sprayed, then harvested, and then the stubble is usually cut. Every one of those steps involves a pass over the ground with a diesel powered tractor.

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  • rockpicker:

    28 Apr 2014 10:01:50pm

    Go out on the rangelands and try eating grass. We can't, so we eat what can, or we use what can. I'm not talking about feedlots here, but free range sheep and cattle. I'll tell you now that the intensive agriculture is another issue.

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  • Mani:

    28 Apr 2014 10:11:38pm

    Sceptical Sam wrote 'How does that demonstrate that we're "eating ourselves to death"'? Try visiting a hospital sometime, you will get your answer. A huge percentage of patients are there due to over eating or bad diet. The ICU, and heart wards are full of obese people to the extent that hospital equipment cant deal with their weight and body sizes anymore.

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    • John:

      29 Apr 2014 9:59:32am

      There are far more people suffering from anorexia associated health problems than obesity problems.

      The "skinny look" that our young people, especially the girls, see in the models, in the clothes, in the shops and in the glossy magazines and seek to emulate causes very serious and long-term health problems, many of which only become life-threatening later in life or when some trauma or disease strikes.

      Undernourished people have far less resistance to disease and less ability to recover than the well-fed.

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  • ram:

    28 Apr 2014 10:18:11pm

    Deforestation followed by uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels are the major causes of climate change. The consumption of meat has its own set of issues, but climate change really is not one of them.

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  • al:

    28 Apr 2014 11:03:51pm

    Climate change alarmists fail to ever address the huge population growth that has occurred in the "developing world" over the past 50 years....from 2 billion to 7 billion

    yeah, like a carbon tax was the solution

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    • Theos:

      29 Apr 2014 7:50:07am

      I'm assuming by "Climate change alarmist", you mean "scientists", or anyone who "doesn't deny the accepted science".

      Firstly, I assert that like most science deniers, you have read very little (if any) actual science, but rather you have gathered your "information" from denialist webpages and blogs. If I am correct, then you would have no idea what scientists have said on the topic. As a person who accepts the mainstream scientific view, I certainly acknowledge the reality of overpopulation (as many scientists also do). It is the root cause of many of our current environmental problems.

      Regarding the carbon tax, it is almost universally accepted by economists that the most most effective and efficient method of obtaining a reduction in the CO2 output is by putting a price on it. So, it was and remains a significant component to any "solution" to the problem of climate change.

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      • John G:

        29 Apr 2014 1:55:37pm

        I take it that you only read any scientific or ABC articles on climate change if so of course you will not understand that the science is far from settled. like the fact of no warming for 18 years and the growth of ice on the polar ice caps despite the warnings of an ice free arctic. like so many warmists if you only read reviews that support your own ill informed arguments you will only believe in the lie. Most warmists by their nature are oppose to any view different to theirs and will not listen to reason or scientific argument due to their arrogant authoritarian attitudes.

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  • Sandra S:

    28 Apr 2014 11:50:16pm

    This article and most comments are absolutely ignorant about THE REAL REASON for the existence Climate change movement.

    It is not about pollution of any kind. Not even CO2. If it was about pollution it would include many other, far more dangerous pollutant in the air, earth or sea.

    It is not about global warming. If it was, it would include animal methane emissions, as Ruby pointed out in her article.

    It is about the new global tax - money. Only energy companies command such large consumer base, to generate trillions of dollars annually. All other polluting industries, including agriculture could generate pittance compared with the energy generating industry.

    Cleaning the air from Sulphur oxides and other airborne pollutants; cleaning the sea from the leaking radiation damps, cleaning the sea and earth from DDT or other carcinogenic chemicals would require investment of large sums of money. That is why no other pollutant is even mentioned by the politicised scientific bodies such as IPCC. Their 'scientific' duty is to convince us to accept the new global tax on energy.

    It is as simple as that. It saddens me to see how many people have been brainwashed by the persistent and aggressive of the 'Climate Change movement'.

    Alert moderator

    • Theos:

      29 Apr 2014 7:53:23am

      "Their (IPCC) 'scientific' duty is to convince us to accept the new global tax on energy. "

      Really? That is their goal? These scientists wake up every morning with the intention to manipulate public opinion so a new tax can be imposed?

      It saddens me to see how many people have been brainwashed by the persistent and aggressive (tactics) of the 'Climate Change denialist movement'.

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    • Reinhard:

      29 Apr 2014 9:26:28am

      Sandra, "brainwashed" you say? In that case kindly name the school board or university curriculum board anywhere on planet earth that has banned AGW from their curriculum

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    • Petrus D:

      29 Apr 2014 11:30:04am

      All I would say is; Interesting perspective on the narrow focus on the CO2 and exclusively CO2. The more I think about it the more sense you make Sandra.

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      • Reinhard:

        29 Apr 2014 12:23:41pm

        Non-sense more like , the science says that CO2 is the major driver of climate change, so why would they focus on anything else?

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        • Thomas T:

          29 Apr 2014 4:10:46pm

          @Reinhart, why aren't we talking about any other dangerous pollutants?!

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  • drwombat:

    29 Apr 2014 12:19:46am

    You would be hard pushed to run Australian agriculture without animals in it. They are still the best way to turn grass into something we can eat. Much of Australia can only produce grass as a crop. Not all grain is of sufficient quality to turn into bread you would want to eat - but is still useful as animal feed. Same goes for material such as spent malt left over from making beer and so on.... Being vegan or vegie is a matter of personal choice. Those who want meat can still have it, it may become more expensive and it would do us little harm to eat less but better quality produced under decent conditions.

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  • D R Frenkel:

    29 Apr 2014 12:42:10am

    Fine article Ruby. It is fair and balanced to call for a reduction in meat consumption. As the world overpopulates beyond 7 billion, every new baby will join billions of regular meat consumers for perhaps 80 years. Amongst the health and ethical issues is how the livestock industry has been scandalously over-using antibiotics and contributing to antibiotic resistance. I'd also like to enquire how it is that priests and other holy men can maintain their purity if they eat meat. Certainly religious rituals involving animal sacrifice should also be examined and much more.

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  • Jim:

    29 Apr 2014 12:54:24am

    Would love to go meat free. Unfortunately my one six month foray into being vegetarian and doing everything right according nutrition guidelines for vegans and vegetarians .....I tried both....left me weak and in need of an iron infusion. Personally I function better with meat. Feeling cold and weak is not nice. Grains hurt my tummy. Fish is polluted. What's left.

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  • Sanjay Kapur:

    29 Apr 2014 1:00:49am

    Changing a man's diet is indeed difficult. Meat is highly valued in our diets as human changing that seems quite unrealistic. Do any of you folks agree?

    Climate change does make sense in this case, but replacing meat from those who consume it daily seems harsh.

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  • Robert Smith:

    29 Apr 2014 1:46:31am

    I think cows are the least of our problem.

    1 billon cows and 7 billion people.

    Don't blame Cattle. They are ruminant animals. Basically it is the bacteria that breaks down the grass that causes the flatulence. So an argument could be to feed cows meat. And us (meat eating people) can put the argument that high vegetable diet emits more gas than meat eaters. So we should eat more meat less vegetables. and less processed foods created and made in co2 emitting factories and shops.

    It is these same people who complain about global warming are the ones who complain about hunting, fishing, furs. A hunter kills his dinner uses the fur for warmth and other parts. And only kills what he needs. And they eat less poultry and meat than most. They should encourage all people to kill their own food. Instead of millions of chickens, cows being processed, slaughter houses, refrigerated trucks delivering them and Over-packaged food and drinks to shops. Refrigerated in energy usage shopping centres. Lot better to throw a line out in the ocean or kill a boar.

    The increasing population In Africa and India is the biggest problem.

    All these people need protein (some sort of meat) food and shelter and water. Most western countries have a declining or neutral birth rate (mother, father has 2 children and just replace themselves).

    The other countries mentioned have a massive growth rate. We are talking about 7- 8 children on average.

    Which is unsustainable. Which we keep throwing money at.

    So forest will need to be cut down, Cattle will need to be bred, massive coal renewable,nuclear energy and oil will be need to be used. Water reserves will be needed. Not to mention cars, heating, cooling, schools other resources needed to be built . We must help these countries become neutral.

    The growth rate is just keeping them in a perpetual poverty. And resources and energy at full throttle. Our infrastructure has trouble with 25 million. Imagine adding and an extra billion people.

    We already have had massive droughts. Electricity generators running at capacity.

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  • Clancy:

    29 Apr 2014 2:43:39am

    I'm only just becoming aware of the implications of meat eating for climate change. I've been removing meat and dairy from my diet for ethical considerations - can't stand the cruelty involves and see the other environmental damage caused by the livestock industries and factory farming.

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  • Pahoehoe:

    29 Apr 2014 3:12:01am

    Speaking as someone who has travelled extensively in the developing world I think you must be sadly deluded to think there is any real chance of us not cooking the planet like a big paella.

    A few token measures undertaken in the west might make us feel good but If we're really going to stop this we need India, China, Indonesia etc. onside and from what I've seen there is very little recognition of the environment even as a concept let alone something that we should sacrifice immediate gain to preserve

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  • Fixingmylife:

    29 Apr 2014 4:41:17am

    By reading through this article, one little fact comes to my mind.

    human beings are originally evil. they don't want to have sacrifices for this globe, animal rights or something.

    I am sure people never stop eating meet even if this globe is going to death. because it brings a huge sacrifice for their lives.

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  • kb:

    29 Apr 2014 5:30:13am

    I was raised on meat everyday. 3 years ago my daughter became a vegetarian at age 12. I supported since her her decision. She was determined and I was proud of her stance. It has taken me time to adjust my cooking skills to her regime, but the whole family has adapted and we last had meat a week ago. My son says "where's the meat" so we take advantage of her being out and cook it. I read an article which suggested rather than have meat as the centre of the meal, it should be the side dish. This philosophy helped me as many of our family friends are vegetarian. I feel better for this change and suggest that others may too????...

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  • what the:

    29 Apr 2014 6:00:45am

    We've been burning coal for over a century, we've been eating meat more than a millennia. I think we know where the main focus is needed. But vegans always take up an opportunity for the carnivores to feel bad for the grass kittens.

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  • Don:

    29 Apr 2014 7:08:10am

    I would be interested to know how much more or less damage to the planet is done by grass fed ruminants compared to cropping for a vegan diet. Does anyone have the data (not unsupported opinion) to provide an answer.

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  • Tom:

    29 Apr 2014 7:43:03am

    This article suggests a very extreme solution to this issue, and has overlooked other alternatives to addressing it. As a large scale grazier, I would like to point out that there is an incredible amount of potential for development of more efficient pasture systems that could reduce emissions from beef cattle by around 60% (don't quote me on that, trying to remember the exact figure). Currently (thanks to the general dis-interest of our society in R&D for food production) there are very little resources allocated for this research, but the potential benefits not only to the economy but also the environment, are huge.

    I did see a few comments about farming being the most efficient way of producing plants. I agree, but can I point out that a lot of the land people are suggesting we use for growing plants instead of beef cattle could not grow a cactus without incredible amounts of (wait for it...) industrial inputs.

    I'm not denying there is a problem, just appealing to people to not leap to extreme conclusions without first considering the alternatives.

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  • aussieinjapan:

    29 Apr 2014 8:50:52am

    Meat has been part of our diet for thousands of years and how we would do without it.

    I would think that instead of being negative- we can't do this or that- we should be more positive by trying to bring back things which are delicious but also are good to our health.

    Consuming more fruit would mean planting more trees and hence lessen the carbon dioxide thing.

    We need to be positive about how we do things. Psychologically people do not like it when we have our "toys" taken away from us.

    The green debate has long raged on about how we can't do this or that. It needs to come up with arguments which make us easier to do something, how we can do something but through change.

    More efficient cars mean we can still have them but also reduce emissions. We need to be encouraged to change but positively in ways which benefit us individually not just the environment.

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  • Rae:

    29 Apr 2014 8:58:35am

    Sounds great but I doubt it would work.

    The vegan in my family has just been found to be very sick and needing to include animal products in her diet. She is only 23.

    If plants were not laced with GMOs and other nasty toxins.

    Fruit and veg not irradiated.

    If the bees were still healthy and the Pacific ocean free of contamination it still would be a task to balance proteins from a plant base.

    Our leaders have destroyed the Wool industry and the Wheat industry is struggling. Dairy could have been a success but it isn't. Beef is the only viable game in town and needs to be left alone to get on with the job of providing grass fed protein.

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  • Benji:

    29 Apr 2014 9:09:56am

    So becoming Vegan will help to reduce emissions by a meagre 14%? Wow... let my stop chewing my steak right now.... not.

    So what percentage does fossil fuels cover? 50? 60? More? I appriciate Veganism might be okay for some, but not all. I can't not eat meat. Why? Because I'm allergic to Iron Suppliments, and a Vegan diet will kill me with its lack of Iron. So red meat it is.

    Is climate change real? Yes, and any fool can see that. Did humans cause it, or alter its progress in any way? Show me the scientists agreeing on that... because they don't, can't and won't. I don't know why that is, nor do I care much. It's in our nature as humans to assume we are god-like (thanks again, religion) and are responsible for anything good or bad in this world. Has anyone stopped to think we might just be another blip on the radar, like the Saurians?

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  • Mitor the Bold:

    29 Apr 2014 9:23:57am

    "Most of us agree that action needs to be taken to address climate change..."

    I'm not sure that should be taken as a given. It appears that the majority think otherwise - at least according to their votes.

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  • bluedog:

    29 Apr 2014 9:31:21am

    Utter garbage.

    The carbon foot-print of an animal is negligible, particularly beef cattle. Is all they do is walk around eating grass that was always going to grow, and drinking water that is the consequence of rain. They don't require carbon-intensive houses, schools, hospitals, transport, electricity or clothing to thrive. Why just blame cattle? Why not pigs, sheep and chickens too?

    Assuming an average weight of 80kg, five humans have the methane production equivalent of one cow weighing 400kg. There are 7 billion humans, which equates to 1.4 billion cattle. If the total global population of cattle is anywhere near that figure it will surprise. Say 750m max.

    Ruby Hamad is looking at the problem backwards from a culturally insensitive humanoid perspective. The real question is how many gigajoules of CO2 would not be produced if there were no humans, starting with...

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    • Harquebus:

      29 Apr 2014 9:40:51am

      It takes 11 times more energy to make 1 calorie of meat than it does to make 1 calorie of grain. See PETA website.

      Not so negligible when factoring transport and processing.

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    • rod:

      29 Apr 2014 3:24:45pm

      Actually the issue here is not carbon-footprint (a silly term anyway), it's the production of methane, which is quite distinct from the carbon dioxide made by burning fossil fuels. CH4 is quite a bit more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Methane is produced by ruminants as they digest their food, so what the Author says is quite plausible.

      However, we've likely got a much bigger problem with methane stored in the permafrost and as methane clathrate (so called "fire ice") that is ice with methane absorbed into it that only forms under the huge pressures and low temperatures of the deep oceans. If the oceans heat significantly, a great deal of this will be released, with possibly much more severe effects than our production of CO2. The catastrophic release of methane from clathrates and the following catastrophic global warming is one of the leading theories for what caused the Great Dying that ended the Permian era - an extinction event second only to the Sixth Dying - the one we're living through right now as we wipe species out wholesale.

      Unlike a great deal of climate research which is extremely well substantiated, we really don't have good data for just how nasty this effect is. We really don't know how much clathrate is there. But if it is at all significant and we cause its release, we and most of life on Earth are toast.

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  • capricornia:

    29 Apr 2014 9:42:07am

    Around 20 years ago, before the age of celeb chefs really dawned, I purchased a cookbook compiled from Kurma Dasar's television program on vegetarian cusines. A member of the Hari Krishna indeed! Nevertheless, he ppoints out with simple logic that meat eaters do help destroy the earth; perhaps that why they took him off TV? Later came those amusing SBS TV ads sponsored by a fringe religious group [Go veg go green and Save the Planet, scathingly denounced by Fiona Lake, inter alia.] Once more Margaret Mead is mostly correct.

    Apart from flatulent emissions of victim and predator alike, cloven hooved animals have wreaked obvious havoc in our drier landscapes, globally, by mechanical destruction as well as over grazing as we helpe them become a dominant species.

    What a pity that early colonists couldn't recognise what the indigines were doing with their land practices, and how they were volunarily restraining their populations to match food supply.

    And now we want to share our joy with those in foreign language speaking places? Maybe that's how we'll finally subdue 'em? [Feeding them white man diseases, an old trick.] But no one ever got in the way of anyone making a quid, did they?

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    • bluedog:

      29 Apr 2014 10:10:39am

      'cloven hooved animals have wreaked obvious havoc in our drier landscapes, globally, by mechanical destruction as well as over grazing as we helpe them become a dominant species.'

      The most commonly consumed meat globally is goat. If you think human beings are the cause of ever expanding, cloven-hoofed, goat populations, you need to get out more. Goats in Australia are spreading at an astonishing rate, despite attempts to control or eradicate them.

      Actually cattle help grass growth. They trample seeds into the ground and their hoof prints in dry soils create small pools of moisture that assist germination. Their urination and faeces are an additional benefit. Again, see for yourself and learn.

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  • Nick:

    29 Apr 2014 9:47:05am

    Cows eat grass

    Grass grows buy capturing carbon and hydrogen from the atmosphere and pumping the resultant carbohydrate to it's root structure where it is exchanged for protein while the roots grow.

    the grass is essentially composted in the cow and they fart the carbon back out

    It is a short term closed carbon cycle. It is disingenuous to compare this with digging up oil and coal that firstly took millions of years to create and then was buried for millions more years

    The sooner we get to the root cause of global warming and away from the pet causes of vegetarians and their ilk the better of we will be

    Also, essentially a vegetarian is just a cow that cut out the middle cow

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    • ateday:

      29 Apr 2014 10:04:11am

      The root cause is just that...

      Too many people.

      Solve that one and all others follow.

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  • Kagey One:

    29 Apr 2014 10:29:31am

    Ignoring the extreme and ultimately unachievable aim of banishing animals from our diet, there are rational ways to reduce the production of the most greenhouse polluting critters in our food production. If people in our affluent society ate meat three days a week, rather than 7, this would more than halve the problem.

    This is not difficult, I started doing it years ago. But some meats are more greenhousey than others. Ruminants produce methane in fairly large quantities, but pigs and chickens much less so. A switch to white meat goes some way to relieving the problem.

    Moving to fish is pretty much out of the question, if we believe the reports of all major fisheries being at maximum practical use (or greater). And there are allegations that stated catches from some of the biggest fishing nations in the world are deliberately understated by very high margins. Doesn't sound good for a fish-based global diet.

    After adding 26,500,000 people to the global population in just the first 5 months of 2014, it is time to consider where the problem really lies. Births are outnumbering deaths by approximately 2.4:1.

    Quick! Find a solution, someone!

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  • bikerj:

    29 Apr 2014 10:32:09am

    Industrilisation of farming is a huge factor in the emissions produced, and not just for animals.

    A return to traditional farming where a variety of products are produced is better for everybody as well as for the environment. And the closer it is to its market the better.

    Have a critical read of Farmageddon and see what modern farming is doing to us and the planet.

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  • Aussie Sutra:

    29 Apr 2014 10:32:14am

    Only those who believe propaganda think that horticulture is responsible for the world's ills. Even if you believe in the falsehood that ANIMALS are the problem, noting that there are many fewer large herbivorous animals on Earth today than there were 500 years ago, and then to blame the animals we eat, is a statement of the utmost ignorance. Surely, if one believes that the Earth today cannot sustain a smaller number of large herbivores than it could on the past, then that problem alone is one of human over-population, not animal over-population. Telling humans that we need to eat an unnatural and unhealthy diet just because we believe we can endlessly grow the population is as insane as those telling us we have to reduce our standard of living to third world standards because we are apparently unable to control the growth of the human infection this planet is suffering.

    Unfortunately, the numbers used to build support for unnaturally erasing meat from the human diet are invariably fictions created by people who sit in offices trying to think of ways to make the number they just thought of even bigger. The largest component of environmental destruction in agriculture comes from vast tracts of monoculture grains. They destroy the immediate environment, are planted, fertilised and harvested with a vast petroleum input that far exceeds the most basic caloric value they bring as food (it takes more than 2 calories of petroleum to produce 1 calorie of grain), and now we are even thinking it might be a good idea to grow them just for ethanol at an input of about two litres of oil and more for every litre of ethanol gained. Humans really are stupid. Those who say that 'most' of the grain is grown to feed animals are also spewing nonsense. Most of the grain is grown for human consumption, much for processed and deadly vegetable oils, and the remnants are sold for animal feed. Even the remnants are so deadly to cattle that they require antibiotics just to keep them alive while they are 'finished' with grain.

    As a market, we would do well to remove our support from the industrial food production sector entirely. Stop buying grain fed meat. Buy locally produced, organic, pasture fed meat. Buy a bicycle and use it. Don't have more than two children. And think properly before supporting this sort of rubbish aimed at stripping you of your health as a human being.

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    • Kagey One:

      29 Apr 2014 1:21:41pm

      Was with you up to the "deadly vegetable oils" comment. How do you perceive vegetable oils being more deadly than, for example, saturated animal fats?

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  • Jeremy:

    29 Apr 2014 10:38:20am

    This is silly. The direct emissions from livestock are a consequence of the digestion and processing of their food, which contains carbon, which gets that carbon from the atmosphere. If you just look at animals, they produce CO2, but if you look at the full carbon cycle, they are carbon neutral. Animal rights activists should stop misleading people by distorting the science to push their ulterior agenda.

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    • Kagey One:

      29 Apr 2014 1:27:35pm

      Not quite so simple. Ruminants produce CO2, but also produce methane from their fermentative fore-gut, which is belched into the atmosphere. Each carbon converted to methane is many times more "greenhouse active" than each carbon going to carbon dioxide. So in climate change terms they are not neutral.

      Nevertheless, the major contibutor to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is still energy generation. Solving that problem is probably a whole lot easier than changing global diets and farming practices, if the wealth interests of global big business can be over-ridden. That's a big IF.

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  • blax5:

    29 Apr 2014 10:55:28am

    Eating meat is not about choice. We once tried to cut it in half in a phase of austerity, but we became too weak to function. I can't eat chicken, so beef is not an option, but a necessity. Fish is becoming more scarce, lamb I would eat more of if the leaner cuts were less expensive. I would eat goat if it was available or rabbit if I don't have to cut it up myself. Meatless once a week, fine, but not more.

    70 years ago the world had 2 billion people - now 7 billion plus and by 2050 they expect that to be 10 billion. I cannot be expected to suffer just because people multiply beyond rhyme and reason. For me it's an issue of quality versus quantity.

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  • Jash137:

    29 Apr 2014 10:59:04am

    Looking at studies of different cultures around the world, vegetarianism is much healthier.

    Would serve a double purpose to give up meat. Less methane and lower health costs for our community. Not to mention less torture and slaughter of animals.

    Anyone who couldn't live without eating meat is probably eating too much anyway. It's not healthy.

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  • TinyTim:

    29 Apr 2014 11:39:13am

    Any one who doesn't trust or believe in their creator God, would have every reason to worry about things that they have no control over... This would be inline with the those that carry the opinion that wasteful discussions about cows and carbon will replace the powerful concept of having faith.

    If God created the world to self destruct, it will do so regardless of what Man in this stupidity thinks he can do to stop it. I would say that the Earth could do with another clean out. Man in his stupidity thinks he can do more about stopping cows fart than the very One Who gave him breath...

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  • FCH41:

    29 Apr 2014 11:46:44am

    Eliminating the methane produced by 1m+ feral camels in the desert regions of Australia, would be a good place to start, with added bonus of saving the fragile environment that they are steadily destroying. Add to them the feral buffaloes in the north and look at controlling wild pigs Australia wide and we would reduce our greenhouse [methane] gases by many thousand of tonnes as well as saving the flora of the country.

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  • radiohe4d:

    29 Apr 2014 12:01:10pm

    Really? Where's the discussion about people breeding uncontrollably like we have infinite resources? I'm sorry, but this "meat" argument is yet another attempt to sidestep the REAL issue. You are trying to argue about a "symptom" rather than a cause, as most people do.

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  • ScottBE:

    29 Apr 2014 12:11:11pm

    Brilliant Ruby Hamad. Damn right this is an issue that never seems to get raised. Yet it is among the easiest things to change on the surface of it.

    But people, as you say, believe they have a right to eat dead animals. There are many vested interests who will proclaim this right on your TV and declaim anyone suggesting the alternative as Nutter Vegans.

    Most aren't aware of the health benefits from losing meat and dairy from the diet. Neither are they aware of the risk of increased likelihood of developing gut cancers or heart disease as a consequence, besides the ill-effects from consuming all those fear related hormones released by animals when they are killed or the dangers of antibiotic overuse contributing vastly to bacterial resistance.

    Yet any suggestion of change elicits anger and denial. "What, me do something as major as change my diet? you must be mad!"

    Eating meat must become pass? and repugnant before people will change. It must be seen as something people really want to avoid! How to enable this cultural change is beyond my thinking, but I believe the push must come from strong Government Leadership.

    So, would our venerable politicians make this change for the good of our planet, society and the animals? In our current political climate, with Live Export being among the major pushes in our economy, it is unlikely.

    So, Bring on the Double Dissolution I say. May Mr Abbott decline into the surf at Manly and the Labor Party be over-run with conscientious new members who want to make our world a better place. But I truly believe no change will happen until the Greens come into Government, as happened around Europe in the 90s.

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  • rick:

    29 Apr 2014 12:28:16pm

    there are two elephants in the room. one is diet the other is population. we are incapable of discussion them.

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  • Politically Incorrect:

    29 Apr 2014 1:18:50pm

    A little historical context on why we are in this position:

    Humans are natrually omnivores: we need both meat and plant to sustain us to our best efficency. We used to do this in a good balance but 2 things have changed:

    1) Our population is already at unsustainable levels (things like plauges were good for life as a whole as it kept our numbers in check).

    2) We eat much more meat than our ancestors: the ratio is out of sync. That's also why the west is so fat and prone to heart problems.

    Vegaterians only have it half right when they say meat is a problem: the correct answer is the AMOUNT of meat.

    Reducing the portions of meat in the meat to veg ratio is a no brainer. Portion control is something us first worlders can't handle in a "world of plenty" because we evolved in a world where meat was hard to come by.

    Even after the agriculture revolution kicked off even to just 100 years ago meat was an expensive luxury that the common person only either got once a day or even less.

    So with a massive human population addicted to large portions of meat: of course it's going to cause adverse environmental impacts (as well as to human health).

    Yes life expectancy has doubled in the last 100 years, but it's not the people that frequent steak houses that will make it to that. I go down the street and I see possibly half the population making it to 70 let alone 100 just by the look of their guts. You don't see alot of old fatties around, they tend to be the first to drop off.

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    • ScottBE:

      29 Apr 2014 2:07:59pm

      While I deeply respect your views here PI, as a vego I would ask you to speak only for your good self. My reading of anthropology and our historical descent indicates that we were most likely descended from vegetarian apes. Our teeth and gut flora (bacteria such E.Coli) tell the tale. Our GIT is efficient for digesting plant, but not so animal matter.

      Meat irritates our gut and causes all manner of problems from cancers to haemorrhoids. Why is that if we eat meat and few vegetables we get severely constipated? A: Because our gut is not suited to digest animal matter and function normally.

      Yet this is not about our immediate personal health, but climate change. Our animal husbandry and dependence on ruminant animals for protein is making a major contribution to global warming via methane release. Therefore we need to reduce the number of ruminants. To do this we need to remove bovine and ovine meat from our diet (ok to have pigs as they are not ruminant).

      Its always a good idea to read the article before you make a comment.

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  • Rantinan:

    29 Apr 2014 1:46:35pm

    Sigh. Fleeping ivory tower idiots with their ivory tower ideals of farming somehow being able to sustain life as we know it without animal products.

    Ok, yes, meat farming is carbon intensive. On large tracts of meat farming land however, vegetable farming would be even more intensive. Irrigation,pesticides, fertilizer, soil balance, temperature balance, landscaping and clearing to enable practical farming methods would certainly match current meet farming co2 outputs. I know I know, someone's about to mention a certain study which showed that traditional methods MAY be more efficient than modern methods.

    If you'd bothered to read the study results, not the propaganda you would discover that it was ONE farm out of a many farm test group, and that every other traditional farm showed near equal to significantly worse crop yeild, with the majority showing significantly worse results.

    In addition, traditional farming is massively labour intensive. I don't see advocates for dietary change admitting they produce any of their own food. It's not that easy. Trust me this market gardener knows.

    Also guys... If it's "organic' it's used a heap of animal by products in its growing. It's hard to imagine organic without manure, and its even harder to imagine manure in the quantities I need it without meat farming.

    In short. Ask afarmer before runnign your mouth

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  • Erika:

    29 Apr 2014 2:01:39pm

    I have the digestive system of an omnivore, as does anyone else reading this. I am thoroughly lactose tolerant. The foods to which I am intolerant are all vegetable. Given my far-northern ancestry, there is a good chance that I do not synthesise the full range of B vitamins that most other humans do and therefore need to get them from animal products. Oh, and I?m somewhat prone to anaemia.

    So a vegan diet is not exactly an appealing prospect.

    This article also leaves out any discussion of over-fishing, which, in its own way, is a significant contributor to damage to the environment.

    In the long term, part of the solution to climate change and rising greenhouse gas levels and environmental degradation will have to be a carefully planned reduction in the human population.

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  • Scientist:

    29 Apr 2014 2:25:15pm

    There is a lot of research in to changing the dietary intake of animals to reduce and even stop the production of methane. Ruby Hamad is happy to point the finger at other advocates of climate change who do not include all the facts but this fact is a glaring omission in this article. Perhaps Ruby needs to read more herself. Do an internet search for 'reducing methane production of ruminants'.

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