For those of you who think cows are bad for the environment, check out a study recently published in the journal Nature. It estimates that emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted by livestock in semi-arid, cool temperate grasslands over the last century may have been overestimated by up to 72 percent. The study concludes that using grazing for feed may in fact reduce livestock emissions of N2O—a greenhouse gas 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide—into the atmosphere.
But not all meat is created equal. Raising grassfed livestock may help sequester carbon, but animals raised in fossil fuel-intensive factory farms likely produce more greenhouse gases than cattle raised on grass. For more information on alternative methods of raising livestock to mitigate climate change and land degradation see the Worldwatch reports Happier Meals by Danielle Nierenberg and Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use by Sara Scherr and Sajal Sthapit.