In an article in the November/December 2009 [PDF] edition of World Watch Magazine (“Livestock and Climate Change”), authors Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang argue that livestock emissions have been severely underestimated. In their view, livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.  Based on their analysis, Goodland and Anhang recommend a radical decrease in meat consumption in order to help slow climate change.

Goodland and Anhang’s numbers are far above those reported in a widely cited 2006 report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It  estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. “Livestock and Climate Change” has stirred intensive discussion in a number of fora. While some readers supported the authors’ assessment and recommendations, others disagreed with either or both.

We want to provide everyone who is interested in this important debate—experts or not—with an open forum for discussion. While the magazine’s masthead clearly states that “Opinions expressed in World Watch are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Worldwatch Institute,” scientific integrity and the search for viable sustainability solutions are the foundation of the Institute’s daily work.

We invite you to contribute to the discussion by commenting on the article here. The most constructive and compelling comments will also be printed in a future issue of World Watch. In addition, please check out our blog, Nourishing the Planet, where the Worldwatch food and agriculture team argues for a different, and in their view more effective, way to address mixed-crop livestock and sustainable food than the Goodland/ Anhang article recommends.

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agriculture, Climate Change, emissions reductions, energy-related emissions, livestock, livestock emissions