Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another instance of misleading UN global warming data?

Followers or regular readers may remember my earlier posts (noted below) that discussed a United Nations (UN) claim that sadly has gained considerable traction in the mainstream media. Back in 2006, the UN published a report stating that the livestock industry is the major culprit behind global warming. I went on to post my frustration and concern regarding the radical response within Massachusetts to this UN report. Specifically, the city of Cambridge and my own university dining facility have implemented "Meatless Monday" or "Friday Flexitarian" dietary policies in order to combat global warming.

You also may remember that I notified my university dining facility that I would no longer be purchasing food from them as long as such a personally invasive policy was endorsed. They responded, but expectantly were not swayed to change the policy because of my one email. But, today I may have gained some surprise support.

When perusing internet news, I stumbled across the following American Chemical Society (ACS) report:

This article describes a recent presentation at an ACS meeting by University of California scientist, Dr. Frank Mitloehner. In his talk, Dr. Mitloehner directly challenges the 2006 UN report which claims that the livestock industry is the leading greenhouse gas producer, responsible for 18% of the total global emissions. The basis of his argument is that the the UN did not equitably compare the livestock and transportation (fossil fuel) industry. Specifically, Mitloehner explained that the UN calculated the livestock industry greenhouse gas footprint by counting all sectors of the livestock industry, from growing animal feed, to animal digestive emissions, as well as downstream steps of processing meat and milk into foods. By totaling these many steps, the UN arrived at the widely quoted 18% figure stamped on the livestock industry. However, this same broad analysis was not done for the transportation industry. Dr. Mitloehner discussed that the "transportation analysis factored in only emissions from fossil fuels burned while driving and not all other transport life cycle" stages such as the acquisition, processing, burning and shipping of fossil fuels. Inclusion of these other parameters would actually show that transportation dwarfs the livestock industry contribution to global greenhouse gas emission.

Now, this doesn't meant that efforts shouldn't be made to improve the livestock industry. As Dr. Mitloehner states, this "this lopsided analysis is a classical apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue. I would even argue that it has once again discredited the UN's credibility and underscores the shoddy nature of their scientific analyses. Furthermore, it highlights the ridiculousness of liberal policies to ban meat in the wake of sensational media hype over this issue.

Needless to say, I forwarded this ACS article to my university dining facility. I am interested to see what their response will be in the wake of learning that their personally intrusive "Friday Flexitarian" meal station was irrationally radical and not based on a sound data analysis.

I don't know if you agree, but rather than worrying so much about this fictitious cow and pig threat to the planet, maybe we should be more worried about the transformation of people into such easily manipulated sheep!

Earlier referenced posts:

Friday, March 12, 2010
Flexivores welcome, or not!

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Cows and pigs are responsible for global warming

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