No, this isn’t Dr Pachauri getting to work in the morning. It’s reported he prefers to use a petrol driven car, but I suspect it’s how he’d like us in the West to travel.
His views on meat consumption have been widely reported:
“People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN’s top climate scientist.”
Eating meat doesn’t produce methane – fact. If you maintain a herd of ruminants (cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels), then you will be producing methane. But, then so does rice cultivation. The USA isn’t exactly known as a major rice cultivator, but according to EPA figures, US methane production from rice cultivation in 2007 was more than six times that produced by petrochemical production.
Dr Pachauri’s comment was just grandstanding to whip up anti-West sentiment, The only way to prevent methane production by ruminants would be to massively cull the herds. Note that this was not suggested by Dr Pachauri. Is this why?
Number of cows globally: 1.5 billion [NATURE oct 04]
Number of cows in India: 200 million [Times of India aug 04]
Number of buffaloes in India: 90 million [Times of India aug 04]
In many states in India it is against the law to kill a cow, for any purpose, as it’s an object of reverence in Hindu religion. If he had suggested culling cattle it could have caused riots.
Another inconvenient fact:
India is the largest producer of milk producing more than 100 million tons of milk per annum.
Conclusion? Dr. Pachauri had to say something shocking that only affected Westerners. He couldn’t suggest banning rice production as a source of methane, or that would outrage developing countries. Similarly he couldn’t suggest culling ruminants as India has larger herds than anyone, and killing them is a religious taboo. That left eating meat as his perfect target, which ignores the fact that eating meat doesn’t produce methane at all. If producing meat for food is inefficient then surely maintaining the world’s larget herd of cattle that is never eaten is even more inefficient.
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