More on Meat and Carbon
Speaking of meat and climate change, Tom Philpott kindly defends me from the attacks of the American Meat Institute. As he explains, one of the key issues here is the use of percentages. Meat production makes up a large percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions. But it's not a very large source of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. In part, that's just because America's denominator is much larger: We have a huge transportation sector, and a lot of industry, and a lot more emissions in general. That makes a burger quite small as a share of our total emissions, but still quite large in comparison to, say, pasta.
But this gets to one of the arguments I made in my column on the subject: Curbing meat consumption a bit is actually the low-hanging fruit on cutting carbon emissions. It's politically scary, of course. And no one wants to do it. But attacking SUVs wasn't popular either. And unlike trading your SUV for a Prius, or weatherizing your whole home, swapping a roast beef sandwich for a PB&J doesn't require a large up-front investment. It's not a move reserved for the rich. Nor is it a big hassle, as biking 10 miles to the market would be. It's easy. That's true whether you're talking about individual choice or a world where carbon is priced into products. But it's one of the things we talk about least.
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