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Climate Hustle

How much does animal agriculture and eating meat contribute to global warming?

Posted on 30 November 2015 by dana1981

This is the new rebuttal to the myth 'animal agriculture and eating meat are the biggest causes of global warming.'  It's available at the short URL sks.to/meat

The burning of fossil fuels for energy and animal agriculture are two of the biggest contributors to global warming, along with deforestation.  Globally, fossil fuel-based energy is responsible for about 60% of human greenhouse gas emissions, with deforestation at about 18%, and animal agriculture between 14% and 18% (estimates from the World Resources InstituteUN Food and Agriculture Organization, and Pitesky et al. 2009).

WRI global GHG emissions flowchart

Global human greenhouse gas emissions flowchart, from the World Resources Institute.

So, animal agriculture and meat consumption are significant contributors to global warming, but far less so than fossil fuel combustion.  Moreover, fossil fuels are an even bigger contributor to the problem in developed countries, which use more energy and have increased livestock production efficiency (Pitesky et al. 2009).  For example, in the United States, fossil fuel-based energy is responsible for about 80% of total greenhouse gasemissions as compared to about 6% from animal agriculture (estimates from the World Resources Institute and Pitesky et al. 2009).

US GHG emissions flowchart

US human greenhouse gas emissions flowchart, from the World Resources Institute.

How does animal agriculture cause global warming?

On of the main ways in which the livestock sector contributes to global warming is throughdeforestation caused by expansion of pasture land and arable land used to grow feedcrops.  Overall, animal agriculture is responsible for about 9% of human-caused carbon dioxideemissions globally (UN FAO).

Animal agriculture is also a significant source of other greenhouse gases.  For example, ruminant animals like cattle produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  The livestock sector is responsible for about 37% of human-caused methane emissions, and about 65% of human nitrous oxide emissions (mainly from manure), globally (UN FAO).

Beef is a bigger problem than other sources of meat

Producing beef requires significantly more resources (e.g. land, fertilizer, and water) than other sources of meat.  As ruminant animals, cattle also produce methane that othersources (e.g. pigs and chickens) don't.

Eschel et al. 2014 estimated that producing beef requires 28 times more land, 6 times more fertilizer and 11 times more water than producing pork or chicken.  As a result, the study estimated that producing beef releases 4 times more greenhouse gases than a calorie-equivalent amount of pork, and 5 times as much as an equivalent amount of poultry.

Eating vegetables produces lower greenhouse gas emissions yet.  For example, potatoes, rice, and broccoli produce approximately 3–5 times lower emissions than an equivalent mass of poultry and pork (Environmental Working Group 2011).  The reason is simple – it's more efficient to grow a crop and eat it than to grow a crop, feed it to an animal as it builds up muscle mass, then eat the animal.

Environmental Working Group GHG Lifecycle Assessment of foods

 

Greenhouse gas lifecycle assessment for common proteins and vegetables (EWG 2011).

How do the numbers get misrepresented?

There are often suggestions that going vegan is the most important step people can take to solve the global warming problem.  While reducing meat consumption (particularly beef and lamb) reduces greenhouse gas emissions, this claim is an exaggeration.

An oft-used comparison is that globally, animal agriculture is responsible for a larger proportion of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions (14-18%) than transportation (13.5%).  While this is true, transportation is just one of the many sources of human fossil fuel combustion.  Electricity and heat generation account for about 25% of global humangreenhouse gas emissions alone.

Moreover, in developed countries where the 'veganism will solve the problem' argument is most frequently made, animal agriculture is responsible for an even smaller share of the global warming problem than fossil fuels.  For example, in the USA, fossil fuels are responsible for over 10 times more human-caused greenhouse gas emissions than animal agriculture.

That's not to minimize the significant global warming impact of animal agriculture (as well as its other adverse environmental impacts), especially from beef and lamb, but it's also important not to exaggerate its contribution or minimize the much larger contribution of fossil fuels.

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Comments 151 to 200 out of 203:

  1. This comment is posted in response to a comment from Moderator DB (@6) about a post (@4) I made to the thread “95% consensus of expert economists: cut carbon pollution"

    I expressed surprise that the economists had not commented on agriculture and stated that livestock are responsible for a bigger share of total global GHG emissions than is the whole of global transport. The moderator’s comment was:

    “This claim of yours is unsupported sloganeering and off-topic on this post:

    "livestock are responsible for a bigger share of total global GHG emissions than is the whole of global transport".

    If you wish to pursue that topic, bring credible evidence for your claims and present them on this thread."

    The following addresses those comments from the moderator.

    A report in 2006 (Livestocks Long Shadow-Environmental Issues and Options) from the UN Food and Agriculture Division stated inter alia:

    “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation. Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report also stated ““Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.” The reference is  here 

    A report in December 2014 from Chatham House The Royal Institute for Foreign Affairs, reference here noted

     • Greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 per cent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.

    In that report the following were referred to. 1 The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates emissions attributable to the livestock sector amount to 7.1 GtCO2e per annum. This includes emissions associated with activities along the value chain, including feed production, livestock production, slaughter, processing and retail; see FAO (2013). The IPCC estimates direct emissions from global transport amounted to 7.0 GtCO2e in 2010; see IPCC (2014).

    More sensationally, the UK newspaper The Independent reported in November 2009 under the headline-"Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases"  on a, non-peer reviewed, report from The World Watch Institute. This claimed that the UN figure of 18% of global emissions from livestock was a severe underestimate and that the true figure is 51%. The reference is here

    There are other references supporting the comments I made but I trust those given will both suffice and be accepted as “credible”

     

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    Moderator Response:

    [GT] Cleaned up what appeared to be duplicated pastes in the comment.

  2. ryland @15, FAO 2013, the source of the Chatham House data, states:

    "Feed production and processing, and enteric fermentation from ruminants are the two main sources of emissions, representing 45 and 39 percent of sector emissions, respectively. 

    Manure storage and processing represent 10 percent. The remainder is attributable to the processing and transportation of animal products. 

    Included in feed production, the expansion of pasture and feed crops into forests accounts for about 9 percent of the sector’s emissions.

    Cutting across categories, the consumption of fossil fuel along the sector supply chains accounts for about 20 percent of sector emissions."

    (My emphasis)

    That makes it very clear that the emissions are not just direct emissions.  Indeed, direct livestock emissions account for just 65% of total emissions by the FAO estimate, or 4.6 GtCO2e/annum.  For comparison, the IPCC AR5 (WG 3 Chapter 11) reports 5-5.8 GtCO2e/annum for direct emissions from total agriculture, not just livestock.

    That is significant because the comparison used is to direct transport emissions, ie, emissions from fuel use on the road (or rail etc).  That is, it excludes the "...the indirect GHG emissions arising during the construction of infrastructure; manufacture of vehicles; and extraction, processing, and delivery of fuels." (IPCC AR5 WG 3, Chapter 8)  That is, the inflated value for livestock emissions relative to transport emissions is only accomplished by not comparing direct emissions to direct emissions, but rather, by including 1.4 GtCO2eq/annum of transport emissions in the "livestock emissions", along with other indirect emissions while excluding indirect emissions from transport.

    It follows that the best that you can claim, in an apples to apples comparison, is that livestock and transport have the same total emissions (direct plus indirect) emissions of 7.1 GtCO2eq/annum (see figure 8.1 of Chapter 8).  Even that, however, double counts 1.4 GtCO2eq/annum of emissions from transport in the livestock sector (most of which from the transport of feed).  So more properly we should compare the 5.7 GtCO2eq/annum from the livestock sector excluding transport to the 7.1 GtCO2eq/annum from direct and indirect transport costs.

    With regard to your third reference, do you truly wish to relly on a non-peer reviewed paper that insists respired CO2 should be counted as an emission for GHG accounting?  Or were you just adding that reference on for decoration?

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  3. Tom Curtis You ignore the inital paper fron the UN FAO which states 

     

    Did you read the reference from the UN FAO which states “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport"? That seems fairly clear cut I'd have thought.     

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  4. ryland @153, are you suggesting that I consider FAO 2006 to supercede FAO 2013 (which I in fact rellied upon) rather than the reverse?  Or do obsolete references cease to be obsolete, in your opinion, if only they support your opinion more than the more up to date reference? LMAO

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  5. Ryland, you are wrong to use the UN FAO's figures at face value ~ i.e. without relating the livestock sector GHG-generation's impact on the Global Warming process that we ( you and I ) are so rightly concerned about.

    As Tom Curtis has pointed out, we must be careful to discount any double-counting of transport sector emissions of CO2 on the world scene.

    Next, we must separate that margin of transport/infrastructure CO2 emission (relating to livestock) which is over-and-above what would otherwise have been generated in the comparative (hypothetical) world where every human is Vegan-vegetarian.   I suspect (as you would also) that an "omnivore" world requires more transport & infrastructure, than would a purely vegetarian world society.  But how big is that margin?  I have not seen any analysis of that ~ yet it seems likely that such margin would be a minor fraction of the total emissions of CO2 deriving from fossil-carbon fuelling of that transport/infrastructure sector which feeds us humans.   Yet it is only that margin which can be realistically counted against the livestock industry.  And as we may expect, UN FAO has not quantified that margin of emissions.

    We should also very largely discount the livestock GHG emissions ~ they certainly exist but are very nearly in a plateau and are not cumulative  (unlike the fossil-fuel CO2 emission of transport etc.).  The livestock emits "recycled" organic CO2, to which we should add the other GHG methane emission ~ which has a steady-state or plateau level because there is only minor alteration of total livestock numbers worldwide.   Yes, there is some further deforestation-for-grazing, but again that has only limited scope to accumulate in the future before reaching a plateau level. 

    To summarize : the ongoing impact on global warming, from "total picture" livestock sector, is far from comparable to the impact of general world transport.   The UN FAO figures are misleading, because they are taken out of context.

    What hope for improvement in the future?  As I mentioned in the other thread :-    I reckon it will be very much easier to phase out carbon pollution from transport & agricultural machinery over coming decades, than it would be to change human dietary desires into the (almost) purely Vegan vegetarian.

     

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  6. No I don't think the 2006 report superseded the report of 2013.   No idea what LMAO means.  Perhaps if you had  read what I wrote rather more carefully you might have  noted I did refer to and quoted from FAO 2013.  I wrote  "The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates emissions attributable to the livestock sector amount to 7.1 GtCO2e per annum. This includes emissions associated with activities along the value chain, including feed production, livestock production, slaughter, processing and retail; see FAO (2013)". 

    I also wrote The IPCC estimates direct emissions from global transport amounted to 7.0 GtCO2e in 2010; see IPCC (2014).

    And perhaps the term "seminal" as applied to a paper or a report, is one with which you are not familiar.  To dismiss the 2006 FAO  as obsolete is to belittle its importance.in noting  emissions by the livestock sector were greater than emissions from global transport.

    I do regret that I did not use the term Livestock Sector rather than Livestock.  I had assumed my use of the term Livestock would be taken as encompassing the totality of the sector.  Clearly I was in error.  

    However, despite the shortcomings of my comment the fact remains that the livestock sector is responsible for a very significant part of total GHG emissions and I re-iterate I am surprised this was not overtly recognised by the economists.  I have no more to say

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  7. ryland @156, a seminal paper is one that first expresses a key idea.  There is nothing about being 'seminal' that guarantees geting the numbers right, particularly when the numbers can change through time.  Despite this you quote the 2006 paper as indicating "the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport".  As it happens, the 2013 paper says:

    "With emissions estimated at 7.1 gigatonnes CO2 -eq per annum, representing 14.5 percent
    of human-induced GHG emissions, the livestock sector plays an important role in climate change."

    (My emphasis)

    As I have already shown, the 7.1 gigatonnes, at best, equals the transport sectors 7.1 gigatonnes including indirect emissions, and even that most favourable comparison to your argument double counts 1.4 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent transport emissions from the livestock sector.  Further, that 14.5% is as clear cut as the 2006 18%, and clearly supercedes it.  You ask why I ignore the 2006 values?  Because they have been superceded.  You, on the other hand, have no good reason for treating them as still current, but still want to do so.

    It is also superceded by the IPCC AR5 WG 3 report, published concurrently with FAO 2013, which shows:

    (Modified from AR5 WG 3 Figure TS.3)

    That shows transport sector contributions to be 14.3% of emissions when indirect emissions are included.  AFOLU includes emissions from agriculture, forestry and land use change, and as previously noted:

    "Annual GHG emissions from agricultural production in 2000–2010 were estimated at 5.0–5.8 GtCO2eq/yr while annual GHG flux from land use and land-use change activities accounted for approximately 4.3–5.5 GtCO2eq/yr"

    That means the entire agricultural sector generates 13.1% of human emissions (indirect emissions included).  It should not need saying that if the entire agricultural sector emits 13.1% of human emissions (including indirect emissions), that portion of the agricultural sector which constitutes the livestock sector emits less. The difference between IPCC AR5 and FAO 2013 may be due to the difference in reference period (2000-2010 for the IPCC, 2005 for FAO 2013), but in that case use of the IPCC figures on transport, which share the 2000-2010 reference period, makes for a very inexact comparison.  It is more likely due to the fact that the IPCC does not double count emissions from transport and LUC.

    To recap, you used three references.  The first has been superceded by the second, and therefore its figures are out of date and irrelevant, despite the reliance you place on them.  The third is an absurd work which treats CO2 from respiration as emissions, and (apparently) uses different Global Warming Potentials for CH4 emitted from livestock to that which they use for other industries.   I have comprehensively discussed the second, and only relevant reference that you cited; along with the equally relevant IPCC AR5.

    Finally, a slightly bowdlerised definition of LMAO.

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  8. Just a brief note re the IPCC chart I showed @157, the indirect emissions shown are for heat and electricity only.  That reduces total transport emissions to 7.007 GtCO2e per annum rather than the 7.1 indicated in the report - the difference no doubt coming from indirect emissions in manufacture (industry) and possibly other areas.  Likewise, indirect emissions from transport and processing (20%, FAO 2013), and from LUC (9.2% according to FAO 2013) are not included.  Further, emissions for feed (24.5%, FAO 2013) will be attributed to horticulture in the IPCC (though not shown seperately on the chart).  That brings the FAO direct emissions down to 5 GtCO2eq/yr, compared to the 6.4 GtCO2eq/yr for total direct emissions from the agricultural sector according to the IPCC.  The IPCC states:

    "If all emission categories are disaggregated, both EDGAR and FAOSTAT agree that the largest emitting categories after enteric fermentation (32–40% of total agriculture emissions) are manure deposited on pasture (15%) and synthetic fertilizer (12%), both contributing to emissions from agricultural soils. Paddy rice cultivation (11%) is a major source of global CH4 emissions, which in 2010 were estimated to be 493–723 MtCO2eq/yr."

    Combining the 36 (32-40)% from enteric fermentation with the 15% from manure leads to an estimate of 51% of direct agricultural emissions being from livestock, leading to a 3.3 GtCO2eq/yr estimate from the IPCC compared to the 5 GtCO2eq/yr equivalent estimate from FAO 2013.  Unless I have made a major error in tracking down equivalencies, the FAO 2013 estimate is significantly higher - a surprising fact given that the IPCC 2013 is based primarilly on FAO statistics. 

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  9. Actually, I did make a mistake @158.  A direct comparison using the chart below shows the FAO 2013 estimated 3.45 GtCO2eq/yr for enteric fermentation and manure management.  That is directly comparable to the IPCC's 3.3 GtCO2eq/yr.  The difference probably due to the difference in time frames (2005 vs 2000-2010).  Any further difference is due to the inclusion of indirect emissions by FAO 2013.

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  10. I notice the OP states:

    "An oft-used comparison is that globally, animal agriculture is responsible for a larger proportion of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions (14-18%) than transportation (13.5%)."

    Given the facts laid out above, I believe this should be modified to state that animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% including indirect emissions from feed production, transport and processing, and LUC, and that using a similar measure including indirect emissions, the transport sector emits as much as does the livestock sector.

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  11. Tom @ 157 and 158 et seq.,   Thank you for the excellent presentation.   Seven billion people have to be fed, one way or another . . . so I should still like to make the point ( in the "opportunity cost" sense ) that, even if we all became Vegan vegetarian, then the increased nett CO2 emission from the extra "vegetable" production (sector) would need to be offset against the current high CO2-equivalent emissions of animal agriculture.  This point seems to have been lost, in the welter of world statistics that you and Ryland (and others, earlier in this thread) have been discussing.

    Also, can we come to a consensus on the spelling of supersede ?    ;-)

     

    Ryland @ 156,   Sorry to see you "have no more to say".  

    Better, if you had more to say : such as correcting the wrong inferences you have made, regarding livestock GHG emissions affecting global warming.

    Whether you meant livestock in the narrow sense of animal organic emissions, or you meant livestock sector (including all its transport, processing, and infrastructure usage of fossil fuels) . . . either way, you have come to an erroneous conclusion about the AGW effects of that particular food-production sector.

    And Ryland, you have failed to address the several points I raised in post #155, about the relativities and real long-term outcomes on Global Warming from (non-vegetarian) food production emissions of all sorts.   

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  12. Eclectic @161, that is a very valid point although not, perhaps, as strong as you think.  Specifically, animals are very inefficient at converting vegetable matter to flesh.  Consequently, in calory terms you lose 90% of the nutrition in animal feed relative to the case when humans eat the feed directly.  Against that, the gain is not so much when protein requirements are taken into account.  Further, animal manure does increase plant growth, so that there are efficiencies lost by going to a vegan diet.  Never-the-less, a switch to a pure vegan diet would substantially decrease emissions.  Just not by 100% of the total livestock emissions.

    Despite that, I think it is worth preserving a meat supplemented diet.  That is partially because, while the nutritional requirements provided by meat can be provided by plants, that cannot be done cheaply on a global scale.  I feel the inevitable consequence of eliminating meat from the diet will be a return to the deficient nutrition that has been the lot of the poor over most of history, for most of the world - and in many cases falling below that level.

    Further, some locations are suitable for rearing cattle, but not at all suitable for horticulture.  I have in mind locations such as those near Mount Isa (where I grew up):

    That is cattle country, but you could not raise vegetables or wheat without unrealistic and unsustainable expenses for irrigation.  Many locations in Africa are also suitable for grazing but marginal at best for grain.  Going vegan simply means that a large amount of food raising capacity is lost without suitable replacement.  In Africa, it may be simply lost without replacement at all.

    Having said that, I dislike the idea of fattening lots (even grass fed fattening lots) on land suitable for horticulture - something that happens a lot, and increasingly so in recent times.

    With regard to the matter of the spelling of "supercede", I am a poor speller and probably cannot achieve a consensus with myself, let alone anyone else.  As it happens, "supersede" is the preferred spelling, but that is just an example of frozen fashion.  The linguistic roots are from middle english (superceden) and middle french (superceder), both with the c variant.  It follows that in this case my spelling has merely failed to keep up with the arbitrary dictates of grammar nazis - on which basis I have no inclination to merely conform.

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  13. Tom Curtis @ 162,   thank you for your kind comments.

    On the Major Issue : us Speling Nazzis are deeply concerned that you are an unrepentent spelling denier.   Rather than wrangle with you, I would simply refer you to the excellent website of the N.A.S.  [ National Academy of Spellings ] which makes all clear, on the science of modern spelling . . . and which also provides a useful overview of mainstream pronunciation [ as agreed by a consensus of over 97% of Academician pedants ] including a full summarization of the importance of Anthropogenic Glottal Warbling.       Sigh . . . I guess I should just be thankful you don't spell superçede with the French cedilla.    ;-)

    On the Minor Issue ( Climate Change ),  I am in accord with you on the matter of "grass fed" livestock pasturing on "poor land".   Certainly I am not advocating vegetarianism.   Whatever the merits of that case may be, I cannot think it likely that the human race could achieve an overwhelming change of preference (to meatless diet) in anything less than many generations . . . by which time, the world will have gained 3 or 4 degreesC, and by when the meatless diet may have become moot.

    A still smaller point : in Third World conditions, the meat in an omnivorous diet provides a useful iron source for those many citizens afflicted with iron-deficiency anaemia caused by high parasite loads.  Though unfortunately, in many such cultures, the children & pregnant women having greatest need of meat are often rather low in the pecking order for receiving meat & eggs.

    Finally, let me assure you of my goodwill & admiration of your energetic and scientific posts ~ which always make good reading.   Mon camarade, I do not possess the influence to get you awarded the Légion d'honneur . . . but I certainly vote for you to receive the Order of Learnin' : First Class.

     Two "esses" in Class   ;-)

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  14. Bother . . . it should have been: unrepentant.  So much for my prof reading!

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  15. Further to Tom's point. Some general considerations wrt meat animals.

    • They can forage on ground that can't support meaningful food crops. Don't just think cattle. Think shhep and goats. That land may actually support significant biomass but it isn't human consumable - unless we plan to genetically engineer humans to have multiple stomachs and chew cud. So animals can give us a significant yield from an otherwise indigestible but substantial calorie source.
    • They also act as a food storage technology - harsh to think but true. It isn't enough to grow food. You need to store it. One might, just, survive on a diet of lettuce but it's shelf life is terrible. The major grain crops constitute a storable food supply. Livestock do as well. As long as they don't die, their metabolism is actually a food storage mechanism. It ain't enough to just grow food. We need to deliver it to our bodies in a steady measured way. Storage is key.
    • They can concentrate many key nutrients and deliver them to us in useful forms - milk and eggs particularly.
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  16. Glenn @ 165,  you make a very good point, on the low-tech "food storage technology".   I hadn't given it sufficient thought ~ and am obviously guilty of First World bias in my thinking, there.

    Cassava, I hear, is a subsistence crop that can be left unharvested for an extra year (if not immediately needed) . . . but I had been picturing the commonality of crops otherwise as being very vulnerable to vermin, during storage.

    Iron and high-quality protein [the essential amino acids] make livestock-sourced food a high-value food.   So we have to compare livestock with the very premium end of the vegetable-based foods, when we compare costs [both dollar costs, and environmental costs].

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  17. Glenn Tamblyn @165, red meat, fish, and various vegetables and fruits can all be dried as an effective low tech storage option, which has the further advantage that you do not need to find feed for dried meat and (in appropriate locations) it is easier to protect dried meat from rats than to protect live animals from predators (including human predators).  A far more important factor for keeping livestock would be the constant supply of milk and eggs.  Consequently I consider your first and third points far more important than your second.

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  18. True Tom but there are nutritional reasons 'fresh is best' still applies to some extent where possible. However an important aspect of the 'living food storage' concept links 1 & 2. Animals can harvest low grade land through foraging on it.

    However this takes time; it takes time to raise cattle, sheep etc to slaughterable size; time for them to slowly harvest the poor forage that is no use to us. Since we can only incrementally 'harvest' a cow or a chicken each day through milk and eggs as they in turn harvest the land, they act as an temporary storage system for the forage that has already been 'harvested' that we cannot get quick access to - meat. Without that we would get no benefit from having them.

    And while there are variious low and high tech food preservation technologies, you then need to physically store the preserved food somewhere. Living storage is a part of the mix. Drying food for example isn't much use to nomadic people if they have to transport all that dried food. Living storage can walk with them as they travel.

    So what the mix will be at any location depends on local climate, soil fertility etc. technology, culture, all sorts of things. Meat animals are a necessary part of a balanced food supply system, filling in gaps that a pure vegetarian food supply can't.

    Feedlots of grain feed cattle just so we can have lots of steaks that are marbled 'just so' aren't. That is a wasteful indulgence.

    But trying to project a pure vegetarian ideal as some do onto a world that doesn't always have land that can support a pure vegetarian diet is a sentimental indulgence.

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  19. Glenn, I more or less agree with everything you write @168, except as regards nomads.  Nomads to not typically move continuously.  Rather, they will move to a campsite (often frequently revisited), set up camp and stay for a period from a few days to a few months, then move on again.  Given that meat can be sun dried in three days, and pemmican made in 3 to 6 weeks, that presents no major obstacle to the manufacture of dried foods.  The advantage of the dried food is that it can provide food while on the move, when it is inconvenient to slaughter, or provide food over periods with low fodder (such as winter).  The later allows stock levels to be reduced increasing the chance of getting the remainder of the herd through the period of low fodder.  Consequently it is no surprise to find that Mongolian cuisine features dried meat, and heavily features 'dried milk' in the form of cheese. 

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  20. Having run a cafe as one of the varied things I have done in my life, learning about food safety is a key need. And all food storage technologies have to deal with two things.

    • Spoilage. That is your lettuces wilting. They may not be appetising or very nutritious but that doesn't make them intrinsically dangerous.
    • Food poisoning. This is the bad stuff. Essentially bacteria being able to breed on/in your foodstuff to huge numbers. When you consume food that has this issue mostly your digestive system wipes out most of the bacteria. What it can't do is destroy the toxins that those bacteria produced while they were alive. That is what causes food poisoning. Actually getting ill from infection from food is much less common - Travellers Diarhoea (Giardia) for example.

    So all storage technologies need to deal adequately with spoilage - dried meat for example is still edible, reasonably nutritious and reconstitutable.

    Then they need to dealing with preventing food poisoning which is essential about something that acts as an anti-bacterial. The options are

    • Drying. This kills bacteria or sends them dormant. But it can sometimes not be enough. Drying in a hot humid climate is less effective for as long. A little bit of moisture and warmth and the critters are off and running anyway. So drying works best in cold climates or hot dry climates. Mongolia, Nepal, American SW. An adjunct to this (see below) is fatty/oily meats. The fat is also anti-bacterial so this can extend the range where drying works, particularly for things like oily fish.
    • Removal of oxygen. Vacuum packing is the modern method but some old storage techniques exclude oxygen
    • Heating. Kill the critters.
    • Cold. Freeze the critters and they go dormant
    • Salting. Salt does bad things to bugs, dessicates them.
    • Alkalis and Acids - outside their pH comfort zone they struggle.
    • Fats and Oils - these are anti bacterial
    • Sugar and Honey, also anti-bacterial.

    So bacon (salting), dried and smoked fish, confit duck legs, pickles, chutneys, sauces and jams (thats jelly to you yanks), salami and many sausages (fats & salt), vegetables stored in olive oil, pickled onions, dried corn, dried tomatoes, etc. etc. are all food storage technologies.

    Much of what is so wonderful about many cuisines is just a fortunate byproduct of the necessities of storing food before refrigeration arrived.

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  21. Glenn # 168

     This is the most important point made on this whole page: 

    "Feedlots of grain feed cattle just so we can have lots of steaks that are marbled 'just so' aren't. That is a wasteful indulgence."

    Since ultimately we are discussing how to change the current system to something that doesn't contribute as much if any to AGW, they key is what effects can be achieved by which changes.

    The problem with the switch to vegetarianism/veganism is that we are still stuck with all the problems associated with fossil fuel derived haber process ammonium nitrate in crop production, and the resultant soil degradation that stems from that.

    A properly integrated animal husbandry and crop production model needs little to no haber process nitrogen once SOM  reaches ~4%-5% +/- and produces a synergy where waste and pests from one are food for the other. Finally several integrated systems have been shown to actually be net carbon sinks, sequestering more carbon in the soil than their associated emissions. For this reason, ultimately the changes required to mitigate AGW the most are to re-integrate animal husbandry production into cropping systems, rather than either feedlots or eliminating animal husbandry altogether.

    I am not trying to diminish the harm livestock production causes now, just pointing out that we are talking about changing that harm to a benefit. Animal husbandry properly managed and fully integrated into crop production is the better option over veganism, though both are probably somewhat of an improvement over the CAFO and grain production models most commonly used now.

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  22. Does this article account for all of the fossil-fuel energy that is used specifically for animal agriculture? For example, all of the fossil-fuel burned in factories specifically for factory farms and such?

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  23. The diagram above does not account for the industrial use of FF in agriculture under the agriculture flow. That would be under Industry and a little bit under transportation. However, if you look at breakdown of the industrial use under the end-use, you can see that agriculture of any kind (animal and non-animal) is comparitively small and does not change the conclusions of this article. On the global scale you see that Food and tobacco is 1% under industry, and 1.4% agricultural energy each.

    While I wouldnt buy anything that was factory-farmed on animal ethics grounds, it is worth noting that only pork (42%) and poultry (67%) are produced on factory farms in significant quantities. (Source)

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  24. @scaddenp,

    The statistics you quoted are possible, however, they are significantly different in Western countries. For example, In the USA approximately a little more than 1/3rd of all beef slaughtered came from feedlots 1000 animals or larger. The majority of the rest are still feedlot finished, but on ranches and small feedlots instead. All beef cattle, whether they are grass-finished or finished in a feedlot, spend the majority of their lives grazing on grass pasture. However the vast majority finishing in some sort of feedlot, large or small, approximately four to six months. Only about 5% of beef produced in the USA remain on pasture their entire lives.

    Poultry is even worse with over 97% of all broilers produced by just the top 4 industrial giants, Tyson, Pilgrim, Sanderson Farms, Perdue, never seeing the light of day a single moment of their entire lives.

    Pork is similar with 97% of all pork produced in the USA raised their entire lives in confinement.

    Assuming the source you quoted is correct (sometimes wiki isn't), it would have to be world statistics, not industrialized nations' statistics.

    More importantly though is the vast areas of prime agricultural land being used to supply these CAFOs. Those vast acres of corn and soy etc. That is the key component of AGW. Grassland ecosystems, even including the animals grazing on them, are one of the major net sinks of both CO2 and CH4. However, modern commodity crops are net emissions sources. The "land use change" from a properly managed grazing system to a commodity cropping system used to supply CAFOs is therefore a significant cause of AGW.

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  25. Quick question for the author dana1981 - is the purple band in the GHG Emissions flowchart representative of ALL food-producing agriculture; IE plants (corn, rice, fruit, etc) AND animals?  Or just animals?

    If it's all, does that mean that raising animals for meat consumption is 5.1% of the total in the world GHG chart?

    Thanks!

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  26. Locane, looking at chart sources, that purple band is all agriculture (which includes non-food agriculture like cotton, wool). The 5.1% is I believe just enteric emissions (burps/farts) and manure. Depending on farming practice, meat will also have contributions from soils. In places where forests are being cleared to raise beef (Brazil), there is a significant contribution in the Land Use change (green) band.

    However, if your point is that meat-eating is a small contribution to emissions compared to industry, electricity and transport, then you would be correct.

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  27. This one for RedBaron. I've been a noted skeptic of extent to which grazing is good answer, largely because resources you cite are not matched by studies here. Summary of some recent research published here. The location of the study was on mid-Canterbury gravel soils, dryland area, where irrigation has allowed dairy on what was cropping land (so probably pretty degraded soil). This region was grassland when europeans arrived, and probably light open-canopies forest pre Maori (1000 BP) so probably closer to US soils. Rainfall is 24-28" but also subject to strong hot, dry fohn winds so evaporation rates high

    Results are in encouraging for net carbon uptake but note that still not GHG sinks when all factors considered.

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  28. In that system likely it is not. Do the cows even walk on that so called "pasture"? Or is it more like this?

    Zero Grazing

    Certainly I can see chemical fertilizers are used, which decimate soil biology. I even gave you a link before showing the differences in management and their impacts on methane absobtion and oxidation. 

    Keep in mind, I have always agreed with the scientific consensus that the current industrialised factory farming methods were a net methane emissions source. Nothing new here.

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  29. Definitely walked on. This is the normal NZ model of intensive grazing with cows moved on new pastures quickly when food value of grass is at optimum.  It is not generally thought of as factory farming. All the literature you have put out on MIRG look pretty much like the systems used here. The water system drips in fertilizer and effluent from milking shed is also distributed on pasture. Insufficient nitrogen is linked to soil carbon loss. While the full study isnt published yet, I dont believe the stocking rate on the research farm is any higher than normal. 

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  30. @scaddencamp,

     Still troubling that synthetic fertilizers are used. Particularly nitrogen. I know how harsh that is on soil biology. But seeing as how I don't have a side by side compareson on that farm as a control to compare, it would be difficult to say for certain. I have never seen anyone optimize soil carbon either by the LCP or by methane oxidation where they used any haber process ammonia (NH3) or Ammonium (NH4) at all. Not only is it not needed and in the long run it reduces nitrogen availability, it also is quite harsh on soil biology, particularly earthworms. Considering their function in aerating the soil, it is potentially possible that's the problem. Other forms of nitrogen can have the opposite effect though and the link you presented doesn't say which was used.

    Obviously something is going on with that farm to explain why it is not functioning like a normal grassland. And reading the paper it seems even they were surprised at their own results,

    This is a somewhat puzzling result as the soils are well drained and CH4-producing microbes usually require oxygen-free conditions; however, similar observations have occurred in other intensively managed grasslands, grazed or harvested.

    considering how different they were from plenty of other peoples results on other pastures. But without controlls it is nearly impossible to pinpoint exactly where the problem lies.

    The study I already gave you says this:

    Mineral N applied annually as (NH4)2SO4, at either 96 or 144 kg N ha −1 for 130 years, completely inhibited CH4 oxidation, even where lime was applied to maintain a soil pH of about 6.[1]

    Which could also be an explanation, if that's the version of nitrogen they used.

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  31. "not functioning like a normal grassland" is the core of issue for me. Which set of studies represent "normal". The abstract is maddening low on important detail as you say and will have to wait for full publication, but this study is showing better results than early ones  - it is "abnormal" for here and makes me suspicious that result is due to location and being on degraded soil. You can however safely assume that applied nitrogen will be urea with rates and timing determined from some reasonably sophisicated models, but these are for optimizing production/cost not SOC.

    Comprehensive studies of full GHG emissions (N2O, CH4 and CO2) from pasture plus SOC from MIRG in US have eluded me. Maybe it was in references you have given me already but obviously not in one that I saved.

    Just chatting with a grasslands ecologist who is in my building (not an agricultural scientist however but intrigued by the problem). He has asked if you could point us to a reference for the grass species commonly used in MIRG with good CO2 and CH4 uptake? (especially interested to know whether there are any C4 species involved).

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  32. @scaddenp,

     First off to really get a handle on what I mean by "normal grassland" you must go back to who started the whole MIRG concept. That was Andre' Voisin.

    There have been a whole lot of improvements since then, but that's who really started the scientific method as it applies to rotational grazing.  Or as he called it "rational grazing". And the main principle that flows through all the various forms and versions that have been developed from his work is using a natural biome as a blueprint or framework in designing the artificial agricultural system. In agriculture of course we can select carefully species and genomes of plants and animals to optimise yields and productivity, but always in the back of your mind should be , "How does this mimick a native grassland in terms of ecosystem function?" This way we are much less likely to have failures in ecosystem function like the farm in your case study, regarding either CO2 sequestration and/or methane oxidation. If you get it right, you will observe big increases in yields along side radical reductions in inputs and increasing soil fertility every year (including significant carbon increases). Get it wrong and you might be able to maintain productivity only by increasing inputs.

    The trick would be to figure out what piece of the puzzle is missing in that farm. It could be legumes or other species of forbs. It could be the wrong blend of C3 to C4 grasses. It could be the wrong mix of soil biology whether worms, small arthropods, nematodes, insects and such or microbiology like AMF and/or saprophytic fungi, diazatrophs, methanotrophs, endophytes, other types of bacteria etc... Could be the fertilizer regime. Could be all or none of these. But what we can say for sure, that pasture is not functioning like any native grassland. That we can observe and has been observed in the case study.

    So if it was MY pasture, I would trial various changes with controls and just observe what happens. I would chose those changes based on my understanding of native grasslands which are typically far more productive than planted pastures all else equal. Where that pasture may have one or two species of grass, a native grassland might have 100 or more species of grasses and forbs. Eventually if I get the ecosystem function right, then the genetics should allow me to surpass a native grassland in productivity, because each new species I add will be selected with that in mind.

    Now in USA we typically don't have to do what you need to do there. The great plains region already has a huge dormant seed bank in the soils. The added species just "show up" one day as if by magic when conditions are right. We might add a few here and there, but generally we don't need to build a whole ecosystem from scratch like you Kiwis need to do. Even guys who started this literally on farms so degraded that bedrock was peeking through the surface still generally don't need to seed pastures, or add soil microbes. Some do to speed the process, but most have no need.

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  33. Implicit in your statement above is the belief that a native grazed grassland will sequester carbon and at a rate above that of enteric emissions and one that doesnt is somehow wrong. This is clearly not necessarily a given as a naturally changing bioeme can transition from grassland to desert with changing climate. I will agree that a naturally developing soil will sequester carbon but not necessarily at a rate to also cover emissions from grazing animals. Once you increase the herd size to farming level intensities, then it is even less of given. Our native grasslands most certainly do not sequester carbon very quickly and grazing at even low intensities makes matter worse. Is it your bioeme that is abnormal?

    "The trick would be to figure out what piece of the puzzle is missing in that farm." Remember that this is hardly just this farm - maintaining SOC on grazing land here has been puzzle for a very long time with a lot intensive research. Figuring out the puzzle is very much an interesting question. So yes, I am very curious to know what the main species mix is in US native grasslands. Even a C3/C4 ratio would be interesting.

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  34. scaddenp @183, perhaps one piece of the puzzle is that New Zealand, like Australia, has never had a native, large, hooved grazer, the existence of which is the premise of RedBaron's assumptions about what is natural.  Native New Zealand grasses are very unlikely to react to intensive grazing in the same way as those of the US prairie.  Mimicking a native grassland in New Zealand means getting rid of cattle and sheep altogether. 

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  35. Yes, the large grazers were birds, and I can see the soil microbiology might have evolved very differently with hooved grazers but I cant see the evolutionary driver that says such a system should be net carbon sink, and stay that way when you intensify farming. RedBaron has provided papers showing that indeed there are farms that are sequestering carbons well above enteric emissions though soil emission data is very sketchy in what I have found. Of course there are also studies which show SOC increase but not above soil + enteric emissions. What is representative? (The GHG inventories for each country dont appear to believe that grassland SOC is net absorber but then good grazing management is not practised everywhere either - factory farms for starters). Can farms demonstrating high SOC increase be replicated everywhere and provide a good mitigation strategy?  - or are there other issues at play which confound all the scientific effort over 40 years in NZ and Australia? I am hoping we havent found the right formula but understanding what is the difference is crucial. Hardly an idle question either. The payoff for our system in getting dairy to be net GHG sink is immense - CH4 is about 1/2 of our total GHG emissions.

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  36. @scaddenp,

     I wish I could be of more help to you. Maybe one day if I ever get my project here to a point I can leave it for a period of time, I might hop on a flight down there and see if I can work it out for you. That's going to be a few years though even at best case scenario. So don't count on it any time soon. I'd be willing to bet you a beer I can get it to work in under 1-3 years. But right now I simply don't have enough info to really give more than lines of exploration for you to figure out and trial. 

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  37. Well I have to admire your confidence. Any pointers at all to grass species composition? Most of our dairying is south of limit for C4 grasses which might also be also be a factor.

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  38. @scaddenp,

    The most hardy C4 grass I know of from N America is prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) which can survive overwinter rhizome temps in the soil to –20 °C to –24 °C and also late hard frosts too. Unfortunately it is considered poor forage for dairy. It's fine for beef, (especially HPG) but too low in protein and palatability to realy be considered for a dairy. There is a subspecies of switchgrass called upland switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) that is almost as hardy. Switchgrass is an excellent forage for cattle; however, it has shown toxicity in horses, sheep, and goats and the unpland variety doesn't get as tall as the other types. Still might be a bit too tall for most dairy herds though. So probably not a good choice either.

    However, if you give me some time to contact a couple scientist friends of mine that work up north I might be able to get you a better answer. One was working with symbiotic grassland microbiology in Yellowstone Park, which is subject to frosts and hard freezes all year, even mid summer. Likely there are a couple C4 grasses locally adapted to those extreme weather conditions. The other working specifically with Dairy grazing in Wisconsin and is an expert in dairy forage grasses. I MIGHT be able to work out a blend for you to trial as long as you can manage any regulatory issues that might arise. I do know New Zealand has some pretty strict regulation regarding grasses.

    On a slightly different but related subject. Back to the carbon cycle. I have this study bookmarked. It won't necessarily help your dairy, but it is important information in developing the grassland biome restoration as a CO2 mitigation strategy.

    Global distribution of C3 and C4 vegetation:
    Carbon cycle implications

    Pretty good information for those modeling potential impacts. 

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  39. All information useful. I cant do anything personally - I am geologist/geophysics but share space with interested researchers. You are right about getting a species into NZ that we dont already have - that would be long process. At moment kikuyu and paspalum are only common established species and both are outgrown heavily by rye for 3/4 of the country.

    What would be interesting to compare would be year round gas emissions from pasture between here and good US - might shed light on soil process differences.

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  40. Scaddenp, 

    I know of a study in progess in Idaho on exactly what you would like to see. But it isn't finished yet, much less published.

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  41. The problem is not just how to address climate change now, but in the future. Bajželj et al. estimate that business as usual increases in westernisation of global diets will mean that by 2050 agriculture will be responsible for 20.3Gt of CO2, pretty much our complete carbon emissions budget. And that is assuming that Climate change does not negitively affect yields what with water scarcity and resulting irrigation problems. If we have a higher population than some estimates, say the UN's high estimate of 10.9 billion then agricultural GHG emissions go up to 25.4Gt. http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/files/202364.pdf

    Maybe we substantially increase yields despite the challenges of climate change, and lets say we decrease food waste by 50%, and lets assume estimates of population are 9.6 billion rater than the UN's high estimate. Eve then 2050 GHG emissions are still estimated by Bajželj et al. to be 11.7 Gt of CO2, more than half of our carbon budget. If the population cut out animal products from their diet on mass though, modeled by Bajželj as a healthy diet YG3 scenareo (US per head red meat reductions approx 75%), that gets GHG emissions down to 5.9 Gt.

    Given this, it stands to reason a culture of veganism would go a long way to helping the population as a whole meet such a avg per head target. And if we dont meet such avg reductions our hope of not exceeding our carbon budget in the future looks pretty slim even if we manage to avoid population and yield challenges. It seems to me then the best way of meeting these risks for the future is for as many people as possible to go vegan, in developed counties at least.

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  42. sjames0101,

     It is the same false dichotomy posted many places on the web. The false assumption being there is no sustainable way to do agriculture. So that isn't even an option. Therefore given we are locked into destructive forms of agriculture, a vegan diet would be the lessor of the two evils. 

    If your premise were true, sure that makes sense. However, it isn't true. We can change agricultural models to regenerative systems. When we do that, animals are an important part of the biological cycles.

    “The number one public enemy is the cow. But the number one tool that can save mankind is the cow. We need every cow we can get back out on the range. It is almost criminal to have them in feedlots which are inhumane, antisocial, and environmentally and economically unsound.” Allan Savory

    So for now I commend you for boycotting industrial factory farming of animals. But it isn't a solution to climate change. The types of agriculture that can actually be part of a solution to climate change in almost every case involve animal husbandry properly done.

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  43. @RedBaron 192

    Allan Savory is just a con man. There is no evidence that his ideas on "holoistic management" actually work. Furthermore there is evidence that soil carbon sequesteration is not a solution to climate change the animal agriculture climate change denialists would have us believe.

    Here is a good comentary on his Ted talk http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/11/cows-carbon-and-the-anthropocene-commentary-on-savory-ted-video/

    More evidence...
    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijbd/2014/163431/
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479714002588?np=y
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6306/1419

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Please read and comply with the comments policy - no accusations of fraud. Fixed the links. Please use to the link tool in the comment editor to create these yourself - posting links to references like this is best way to conduct a discussion. We strongly encourage it.

  44. sjames0101,

    The guest article written by West and Briske at RealClimate was rigorously and vigorously disputed in the comments section. Not the least of which was this formal rebuttal by Teague.


    DEFICIENCIES IN THE BRISKE ESTIMATES OF CARBON SEQUESTRATION ON RANGELANDS

    By Richard Teague
    Professor, Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University
    Senior Scientist of the Borlaug Institute
    Associate Resident Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research
    P.O. Box 1658, Vernon, TX 76385
    E-mail: rteague@ag.tamu.edu

    Most research related to grazing management, and thus carbon sequestration potential, on rangelands cited by Briske et al. [1,2,3] has been short-term and has examined the issue from a reductionist viewpoint that ignores the critical influences of scale, and does not use adaptive multi-paddock grazing to achieve sound animal production, resource improvement, and socio-economic goals under constantly varying conditions on rangelands [4]. Superior results in terms of range ecosystem improvement, productivity, soil carbon and fertility, water holding capacity and profitability have been regularly obtained by ranchers using multiple paddocks per herd with short periods of grazing, long recovery periods and adaptively changing recovery periods and other management elements as conditions change [4,5].

    The references cited by Briske et al. [1,2,3] concentrate only on differences in rangeland productivity without meaningfully taking into account negative impacts on the environment that can lead to misleading extrapolations. These conclusions cloud, rather than enhance, knowledge about sustainable grazing management and are not relevant to practical grazing management. Multi-paddock grazing research from Australia, Southern Africa, Argentina and USA [4,5] that was: i) conducted at the scale of ranching operations, ii) adaptively managed as conditions changed to achieve desired ecosystem and production goals, and iii) measured parameters indicating change in ecosystem function, have arrived at the opposite conclusion. These published data were omitted in the reviews by Briske et al. [1,2,3].

    Many ranchers around the world have used adaptive, multi-paddock grazing management to restore ecosystem services and productivity on degraded rangelands in areas with less than 10 and up to 80 inches of annual precipitation. Many of these ranches in drier areas were initially so bare of vegetation that they would have been classified as desertified. By ignoring such successful restoration examples, Briske and other scientists with the same limited experience are grossly underestimating the potential of management to increase carbon sequestration on the rangelands of the world. Consequently, the inferences and conclusions made by Briske et al. [1,2,3] do not represent the subject adequately because conclusions have been selectively chosen so as to exclude published data showing superior results at commercial ranch scale from adaptively managed multi-paddock grazing. The studies referenced underestimate positive benefits to soil and ecosystem function, so they almost certainly underestimate the potential of rangelands to sequester carbon. The accumulated body of small-scale grazing systems research promoted by Dr. Briske and partners needs to be evaluated in light of the discrepancies with larger-scale studies, and perhaps should be largely set aside as being of little relevance to any discussion of grazing distribution on commercial ranches.

    The majority of conservation awards to ranchers operating on native rangelands have overwhelmingly gone to ranchers using multi-paddock grazing of one form or another. These ranchers operate in extensive, heterogeneous landscapes, where they are confronted with the adverse effects of uneven grazing distribution, and their collective ecological and management knowledge using multi paddock grazing indicating the necessity of using adaptive, multi-paddock grazing management to achieve superior outcomes. The articles in the Rangelands October 2013 issue, a journal of the Society for Rangeland Management, support this.
    In calculating the potential of rangelands to sequester carbon to offset global climate change and improve ecosystem function we cannot ignore the superior outcomes achieved by conservation award winning ranchers, those who have restored ecosystem function and productivity on degraded rangeland using adaptively managed multi-paddock, time-controlled grazing, or published research that does not refute the results achieved on these ranches.

    References

    1. Briske, D., Derner, J., Brown, J., Fuhlendorf, S., Teague, R., Gillen, B., Ash, A., Havstad, K., Willms, W., 2008. Benefits of Rotational Grazing on Rangelands: An Evaluation of the Experimental Evidence. Rangeland Ecology and Management 61, 3-17. http://www.srmjournals.org/doi/abs/10.2111/06-159R.1

    2. Briske, D.D., Sayre, N.F., Huntsinger, L., Fernandez-Gimenez, M., Budd, B., Derner, J.D., 2011. Origin, persistence, and resolution of the rotational grazing debate: integrating human dimensions into rangeland research. Rangeland Ecology and Management 64, 325e334.

    3. David D. Briske, Brandon T. Bestelmeyer, Joel R. Brown, Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, and H. Wayne Polley, 2013. The Savory Method Can Not Green Deserts or Reverse Climate Change. A response to the Allan Savory TED video. Rangelands 35(5):72-74. 2013
    doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2111/RANGELANDS-D-13-00044.1

    4. Richard Teague, Fred Provenza, Urs Kreuter, Tim Steffens, Matt Barnes, 2013. Multi-paddock grazing on rangelands: Why the perceptual dichotomy between research results and rancher experience? Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 128, 15 October 2013, Pages 699-717, ISSN 0301-4797, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.05.064.

    5. Teague, W.R., Dowhower, S.L., Baker, S.A., Haile, N., DeLaune, P.B., Conover, D.M., 2011. Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 141, 310-322.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880911000934


    The John Carter et al. paper is an open access article. And yet even with large viewership, not once has it been cited in any other peer reviewed paper. This should be your first clue regarding the quality of the review. Simply put, a so called review of HM that doesn't actually review HM land isn't really worth a whole lot except to document why the consensus prior to Savory's work didn't believe Savory would succeed as he has. But empirical evidence always trumps low quality reviews like this. The Teague rebuttal of Briske applies here as well.

    The Rolf Sommer paper is a much better paper, but it did not study any HP managed land, nor any other of the many regenerative agricultural practises. It has been cited 15 times. Generally it is a good example of the potential of conventional no till and fallows as a mitigation tool. I happen to agree with the Sommer paper that this won't work. I said as much in my previous post to you. If we are locked into this sort of agriculture, even the best case scenarios are still insufficient and do no more than slow the inevitable. In that false dichotomy where we are forced to do agriculture in this manner, then yes veganism is less destructive. Already stipulated. I simply don't agree that we are locked into this sort of high input agriculture that Rolf Sommer modeled. In fact, neither does the USDA.


    "When farmers view soil health not as an abstract virtue, but as a real asset, it revolutionizes the way they farm and radically reduces their dependence on inputs to produce food and fiber." -USDA


    The last paper you referenced is another great paper in my opinion, However, keep in mind what it is basically saying is the Roth C model is not capable of describing the LCP. 


    These inconsistencies suggest that ESMs must better represent carbon stabilization processes and the turnover time of slow and passive reservoirs when simulating future atmospheric carbon dioxide dynamics.


    In fact I agree. The Roth C model was thought to do a good job of describing labile carbon cycling in the soil, but does not describe the medium to long carbon cycling at all. It is inadequate for predicting carbon sequestration in the soil snk. Your study shows it is even less adequate than previously known. Dr Christine Jones has written extensively about this. And her conclusions come from multiple 10yr case studies of HM land against controlls.

    Liquid Carbon Pathway Unrecognised

     

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Just a note that Teague and Briske have conducted a lively debate in the literature over quite a number of years which you can follow by cites in google scholar. A recent paper trying to reconcile differences in results might be of interest to commentators.

    RB, instead of having comments and references supporting your arguements scattered over many SkS threads and comments, how about you create a website (or make a free blog with Wordpress or blogger.com) where you can collect your evidence and references in one place with a full coherent argument. Then you can direct other commentators to this resource rather than simply repeating it all the time.

  45. Moderator,

    Well I wrote this: Holistic management (agriculture)

    and this: Can we reverse global warming?

    And I have many educational videos here: 
    Red Baron Farm

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] thanks for those. Please use them.

  46. Unfortunately seems Trump may be also shutting down research in this promising area as well. It was part of the same gag order imposed on the EPA.

    Trump silences government scientists with gag orders


    Employees at Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are affected

    "After this story went to press, the department disavowed the memo sent to employees in the Agricultural Research Service — the USDA’s science arm. The USDA’s deputy administrator Michael Young clarified in a follow up memo that the gag order specifically applies to policy-related statements in press releases and interviews, which need to be vetted with the secretary of agriculture."

    Hard to believe it actually. Almost like a book burning from ages past. I am still stunned. But at least for now it appears any and all attempts to mitigate AGW in any sector; energy, agriculture, environment, will be squashed by Trump. Considering our best bet is to attack the problem from all three, this looks bad. Really really bad.

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  47. Its always easy to discard evidence like Teague by appealing to unkowns and the impact of poorly studied modifiers. But I would rather trust robust studies like I cited that looked at hundreds of sites rather than aneqdotes or the fag packet calculations of people with so much vested interest that they are willing throw away all the evidence that disagrees with their point of view because of there own bias. Industry funded studies are so open to bias that they are often not worth the paper they are writen on. 

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  48. Here is good article that debunks some of the claims made by Savory. http://sierraclub.org/sierra/2017-2-march-april/feature/allan-savory-says-more-cows-land-will-reverse-climate-change

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link Please learn how to create links yourself with the link tool in the comments editor.

  49. Well I dont know what you mean by "good", but its substance was the Briske 2013 paper "The Savory Method can not green deserts or reverse climate change".  More interesting is to follow the ongoing scientific debate. I found Briske response to Teague constructive. My feeling is that more research is going to settle these questions.

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  50. Calling Red baron - what do you about the relationship between nitrogen utilization by plant and effects on soil carbon? Nitrogen leaching into waterways is big issue here and there has been some trumpeting over a strain of plantain that can halve nitrogen leach rates. I was wondering what effect that might also have on carbon pathways since I remember a talk which linked the two.

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