Why is there cattle breeding?


The World Food Organization (FAO) says that livestock is responsible for around 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The World Watch Institute (WWI), however, assumes 51%: In a study published in 2009 called "Lifestock and climate change", the authors Robert Goodland and Jeff Annex - two environmental experts from the World Bank - come to these results.

The Albert Schweitzer Foundation, which is active in animal welfare, has compared the studies by the FAO and WWI, because their results diverge greatly, and is of the opinion that both did not work correctly. The FAO study is out of date and takes too few factors into account: it ignores changes in the landscape. The climate is negatively influenced not only through the use of land for keeping the animals, but also through the cultivation of fodder plants for the nutrition of the animals. The massive deforestation of rainforest to create soy fields, for example, destroys valuable carbon stores - the trees themselves, but also the Co2-binding jungle soil. In contrast, the WWI brings too many causes into it, such as the breathing of the animals or the non-planting of new forests: Deforestation is therefore charged twice.

The majority of scientists meet at an average of around 33% of global greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming. Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, who works at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Kenyan International Lifestock Research Institute, arrives at this value, as does Sonja Vermeulen and John Ingram from Oxford University in their joint work “Climate Change and Food Systems”. They include the changed land use, but not animal respiration and the "missed opportunities" of new plantings.

Everyone agrees that it is not small-scale farms that have a problematic influence on the greenhouse effect, but huge cattle farms. In addition to the emissions, they are also responsible for the deforestation of large areas of the rainforest in South America. The German veterinarian and author Anita Idel generally sees industrial agriculture and animal husbandry as the main cause of greenhouse gases. The assessments should not be limited to the methane gas emissions from the animals, but environmentally harmful synthetic fertilizers should also be taken into account, says Idel. After scattering, these form nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more damaging to the climate than CO2.

Klaus Butterbach-Bahl sees a rethink in nutrition as the most important step in slowing down climate change. If the consumption of meat, which is far too large, were to be minimized, industrial livestock farming would become obsolete. This in turn would mean that many soils would no longer be destroyed by excessive grazing and would be able to store more CO2 again. Once again we see that we can do something ourselves to protect our environment: eat more vegetarian food!

Via Deutsche Welle