-Organization (FAO), our diets and, speci!cally, the meat in them cause more greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and the like—to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. (Greenhouse gases trap solar energy, thereby warming the earth’s surface
- between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of “CO2-equivalent” greenhouse gases the world produces every year. It turns out that producing half a pound of hamburger for someone’s lunch—a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards—releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.
- To refrigerate and transport the vegetable to an American dinner table generates another two ounces of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases, for a total CO2 equivalent of 3.2 ounces.
- cows emit between 2.5 and 4.7 ounces of methane for each pound of beef they produce. Because methane has roughly 23 times the global-warming potential of CO2, those emissions are the equivalent of releasing between 3.6 and 6.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for each pound of beef produced.
- Even other common meats cannot match the impact of beef; I estimate that producing a pound of pork generates the equivalent of 3.8 pounds of CO2; a pound of chicken generates 1.1 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases
- To some degree, after all, our diets are a choice. By choosing more wisely, we can make a difference. Eating locally produced food, for instance, can reduce the need for transport—though food inef- !ciently shipped in small batches on trucks from nearby farms can turn out to save surprisingly little in greenhouse emissions