Animal Agriculture is the Leading Cause of Climate Change – A White Paper

https://www.climatehealers.org/animal-agriculture-white-paper

To download a PDF version of this white paper, please right click here.

Abstract

In this paper, we present the results of a Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) proving that Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, responsible for 87% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. The burning of fossil fuels is currently the leading source of human-made Carbon diOxide (CO2) emissions. However, climate change is caused by cumulative human-made greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and not just current CO2 emissions alone. While humans have been burning fossil fuels for a little over 200 years, we have been burning down forests for Animal Agriculture for well over 8,000 years! For the GSA analysis, we use factual data from the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other peer-reviewed scientific sources. We show that we need to transition to a global plant-based economy first and that blindly eliminating fossil fuel usage first will accelerate the warming of the planet. We show that the annual methane emissions from Animal Agriculture alone causes more incremental global warming than the annual CO2 emissions from all fossil fuel sources combined. We further show that the transition to a global plant-based economy has the potential to sequester over 2000 Giga tons (Gt) of CO2 in regenerating soils and vegetation, returning atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to the “safe zone” of under 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 equivalent, while restoring the biodiversity of the planet and healing its climate. This paper clearly illustrates why the scientific community, government institutions, corporations and news media, who vastly underestimate the role of Animal Agriculture and focus primarily on reducing fossil fuel use, need to urgently change their priorities in order to be effective.

  1. Introduction

The burning of fossil fuels is undoubtedly the leading source of human-made Carbon diOxide (CO2) emissions today. CO2 is the most powerful human-made greenhouse gas in terms of its radiative forcing, the average energy trapped by the greenhouse gas per unit time per unit area of the Earth’s surface, relative to the base year, 1750. In the absence of active reforestation efforts, CO2 is a long-lived greenhouse gas as it persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years to even tens of thousands of years. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the mean radiative forcing of human-made CO2 to be 1.68 Watts/square meter (W/m2). The next most powerful human-made greenhouse gas, methane, with a mean radiative forcing of 0.97 W/m2, lingers in the atmosphere for an average of 10-12 years before it reacts with oxygen free radicals and also converts into CO2. As such, it is tempting to conclude that a single-minded focus on the reduction of fossil fuel burning to minimize future human-made CO2 emissions is the best strategy to address climate change. Indeed, the global scientific community, government institutions, corporations and news media have adopted this strategy without much questioning. They have also unquestioningly accepted the United Nations (UN) Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)’s estimate that the lifecycle emissions of the Animal Agriculture industry sector is a mere 14.5% of global human-made greenhouse gas emissions, which justifies their urgency of reducing fossil fuel burning over dealing with the Animal Agriculture sector.

In this paper, we will show that this strategy of focusing exclusively on the reduction of fossil fuel burning will accelerate climate change, potentially to the point of no return. Using a Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) method, we will show that the UN FAO’s 14.5% estimate for the lifecycle emissions of Animal Agriculture is incorrect and that the correct estimate is at least 51% as calculated by Goodland and Anhang and likely around 87% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of climate change. Furthermore, we will show that a global transition to a plant-based economy has the potential to sequester over 2000 Giga tons (Gt) of CO2 in regenerating soils and vegetation, returning atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to the “safe zone” of under 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), while restoring the biodiversity of the planet and healing its climate.

The organization of this paper is as follows:

In Section 2, we will examine how waste “exhaust” from human activities changes the earth’s climate. The exhaust can be classified as either greenhouse gases, which heat up the Earth’s atmosphere, or aerosols, which are atmospheric particles that generally cool the Earth’s atmosphere. The main human-made greenhouse gases are CO2 and methane, which are both carbon-based gases and the main human-made aerosols are sulphates, which are primarily produced when we burn coal and oil.

In Section 3, we will examine how the carbon cycle of the planet has been impacted by two main human activities over the past 8,000 years: land clearing or land use change, primarily for agriculture, and fossil fuel burning.

In Section 4, we will examine current agricultural land use and biomass flows to establish that Animal Agriculture is the primary sector necessitating land clearing, causing climate change. Next, we will compare Local Sensitivity Analysis (LSA) vs. Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) on the two main human activities causing climate change: Animal Agriculture and fossil fuel burning. While the LSA is useful for determining the impact of local variations in the current emissions scenario, it can lead to inaccurate results when extrapolated out on a global scale. In contrast, the GSA is based on analyzing a global change directly and will lead to more accurate results for that change. Using the GSA method, we will reveal the inaccuracies in the UN FAO’s 14.5% estimate on the greenhouse gas emissions contribution of the Animal Agriculture sector. Next, we will show that the Goodland-Anhang estimate of 51% is truly just a lower bound on the greenhouse gas emissions contribution of the Animal Agriculture sector. We will then tighten this lower bound using the Carbon Opportunity Cost (COC) estimates of Searchinger et. al. and show that the correct estimate for the greenhouse gas emissions contribution of Animal Agriculture is likely to be around 87%.

Finally in Section 5, we will estimate the CO2 sequestration potential and the resultant climate mitigation that can occur with the global transition to a plant-based economy.

In what follows, for the sake of simplicity, we have used the specified statistical mean or the midpoint of uncertainty ranges in the data found in the IPCC reports and other peer-reviewed sources. Our conclusions do not change if we include the underlying uncertainty ranges and other nuances, but we will likely lose clarity in our presentation.

2. How Humans Change Climate

Almost everything humans do changes the Earth’s climate. The waste “exhaust” from human activities can either heat up the Earth or cool it. Therefore, the question is not whether humans change the Earth’s climate, but how much and in what direction. When billions of humans drive cars, burn coal and natural gas for electricity and consume animal products, the exhaust gases and particles from these activities heat or cool the Earth. Exhaust gases such as CO2, methane and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) heat the Earth. Exhaust particles such as sulphates and nitrates cool the Earth. Other exhaust particles, such as black carbon, heat the Earth.

The UN IPCC has quantified the impact of each of these exhaust gases and particles in terms of radiative forcing measured relative to their levels that existed in the year 1750 as the base year (see FIg. 2.1). CO2 is the main human-made exhaust gas that heats the Earth and it is estimated to provide an additional 1.68 W/m2 of heating power relative to its atmospheric concentration in 1750. In other words, the impact of the additional CO2 in the atmosphere since 1750 is like adding a 1.68 Watt continuous heater on every square meter of the Earth’s surface.

The next most significant human-made exhaust gas is methane, which has the chemical formula CH4. Methane is estimated to have a mean radiative forcing of 0.97 W/m2 and it lingers in the atmosphere for an average of 10-12 years before it reacts with oxygen free radicals and also converts into CO2. The number one cause of methane emissions is Animal Agriculture, which contributes 37% of it. Even though the radiative forcing of methane (0.97 W/m2) is less than that of CO2 (1.68 W/m2), the annual emissions of methane has a more significant impact on net radiative forcing than the annual emissions of CO2. For a first order approximation, imagine that all the excess methane in the atmosphere was emitted over the past 10 years. Then, the emissions each year is responsible for 0.097 W/m2 of radiative forcing. In contrast, the annual emissions of CO2 (39 Gt Co2) is about 4% of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere since 1750, and therefore responsible for an additional 1.68X0.04 = 0.07 W/m2 of radiative forcing. Since we expect just 45% of that emitted CO2 to stay in the atmosphere each year, the additional radiative forcing for the annual CO2 emissions is only 0.45X0.07 = 0.03 W/m2, about one-third the impact of annual methane emissions.

It is important to point out that the IPCC has consistently undercounted the impact of methane by averaging its impact over a 100 year period. Even as it warns humanity that catastrophic climate change is imminent within the next 11 years, not 100 years! In the latest report issued in August 2019, the IPCC is still using a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 28 for converting methane emissions to a CO2 equivalent (CO2e), which corresponds to averaging its impact over 100 years, while excluding cloud effects. For a more appropriate 10-year averaging, including cloud effects, the GWP of methane would be 130. If we used GWP of 130 for methane, then the annual emissions of methane would be 10.1 X 130/28 = 46.9 Gt CO2e, which exceeds the annual emissions of CO2 (39 Gt CO2). Besides only about 45% of the annual CO2 emissions stays airborne each year and therefore, the comparison of methane (46.9 Gt CO2e) should be with respect to 0.45 X 39 = 18 Gt CO2, which is about one-third the impact of annual methane emissions, just as we calculated above. Indeed, the impact of methane from Animal Agriculture alone (46.9 X 0.37 = 17.3 Gt CO2e) exceeds the impact of all fossil fuel based CO2 emissions (18 X 0.85 = 15.3 Gt CO2). For reference, please see Table on Page 9 of the latest IPCC report.

The third most significant human-made exhaust particles are sulphate aerosols, created mainly during the burning of coal and oil. According to NASA, “the sulfate aerosols absorb no sunlight but they reflect it, thereby reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface. Sulfate aerosols are believed to survive in the atmosphere for about 3-5 days.

The sulfate aerosols also enter clouds where they cause the number of cloud droplets to increase but make the droplet sizes smaller. The net effect is to make the clouds reflect more sunlight than they would without the presence of the sulfate aerosols. Pollution from the stacks of ships at sea has been seen to modify the low-lying clouds above them. These changes in the cloud droplets, due to the sulfate aerosols from the ships, have been seen in pictures from weather satellites as a track through a layer of clouds. In addition to making the clouds more reflective, it is also believed that the additional aerosols cause polluted clouds to last longer and reflect more sunlight than non-polluted clouds.”

The radiative cooling effect of human-made sulphate aerosols together with their cloud adjustments is estimated to be -0.95 W/m2.

The fourth most significant human-made exhaust are black carbon particles, which cause a radiative heating effect of 0.6 W/m2. These are formed due to the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass. The main emissions sources are diesel engines, wood burning cookstoves and forest fires that humans ignite to clear land for Animal Agriculture and other sundry purposes. Fig 2.2 shows a map of the world depicting forest fires seen from space by the NASA MODIS Satellite during a 10 day period in May of 2019! Such forest fires are a significant source of black carbon emissions.


Fig. 2.1. Anthropogenic Radiative Forcing from various greenhouse gases and aerosols, broken into three grouped segments: 1) CO2, 2) Cooling effects such as sulphate aerosols and changes in surface albedo and 3) Other Heating Effects such as methane, Black Carbon, Nitrous Oxide, Halocarbons, etc. Values sourced from  IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapter 8.

Fig. 2.1. Anthropogenic Radiative Forcing from various greenhouse gases and aerosols, broken into three grouped segments: 1) CO2, 2) Cooling effects such as sulphate aerosols and changes in surface albedo and 3) Other Heating Effects such as methane, Black Carbon, Nitrous Oxide, Halocarbons, etc. Values sourced from IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapter 8.

Fig 2.2 NASA MODIS Satellite map of fires that occurred in a 10-day period in May 2019. Most of the fires are human caused, primarily to clear land for Animal Agriculture.

Fig 2.2 NASA MODIS Satellite map of fires that occurred in a 10-day period in May 2019. Most of the fires are human caused, primarily to clear land for Animal Agriculture.


CO2 is absorbed by trees and plants during photosynthesis and it is stored away permanently in vegetation and soil in regenerating forests. However, in the absence of active reforestation efforts, CO2 is a long-lived greenhouse gas that lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds to even tens of thousands of years. At present, almost 85% of human-made CO2 emissions are from burning fossil fuels, i.e., coal, oil and natural gas. The remaining 15% is mainly from burning down forests to clear land, i.e., land-use changes.

However, since CO2 is a long-lived greenhouse gas, it is the cumulative emissions of CO2 over time that impacts its radiative forcing, not current emissions alone. In 1850, land use changes were the main source of human-made CO2 emissions, while at present, it is fossil fuels (see Fig. 2.3). Integrating the annual CO2 emissions components over time, we see in Fig. 2.4 that between 1850 and 2011, cumulative CO2 emissions due to land use changes is second only to that from coal burning. Besides, land use changes have been occurring for over 8,000 years, whereas fossil fuel burning only started in the industrial era, around 200 years ago. Since the long-range time constant of CO2 rock weathering sequestration is on the order of tens of thousands of years, it is relevant to consider the cumulative CO2 emissions from land use changes over the past 8000 years. Kaplan et al. has estimated the CO2 emissions due to land use changes in the pre-industrial era to be 1250 Gt CO2. This implies that if we integrate from 8000 years ago to 2011, CO2 emissions from land-use changes (1850 Gt CO2) exceeds the CO2 emissions from all fossil fuel sources combined (1200 Gt CO2). Therefore, land use changes are the leading cause of human-made CO2 emissions over the years and not fossil fuel burning.


Fig. 2.3. Annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions from Land Use Change + Coal + Oil + Gas + Cement production. Please note that the Land Use Change component dominated in 1850 while the fossil fuel components dominate at present

Fig. 2.3. Annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions from Land Use Change + Coal + Oil + Gas + Cement production. Please note that the Land Use Change component dominated in 1850 while the fossil fuel components dominate at present

Fig. 2.4. Cumulative CO2 emissions from Land Use Change, Coal, Oil, Gas and Cement production from 1850 onward.  Kaplan et. al.  estimate the Land Use Change contribution prior to 1850 to be 343GtC or 1260 Gt CO2.

Fig. 2.4. Cumulative CO2 emissions from Land Use Change, Coal, Oil, Gas and Cement production from 1850 onward. Kaplan et. al. estimate the Land Use Change contribution prior to 1850 to be 343GtC or 1260 Gt CO2.


In summary, of the four main human-made exhaust gases and particles impacting climate change,
1) Land use changes, primarily for Agriculture, is the leading cause of CO2 emissions, a global heating component with the largest radiative forcing;
2) Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of methane emissions, the global heating component contributing the most incremental heating on an annual basis;
3) Fossil fuel burning is the leading cause of sulphate emissions, a global cooling component; and
4) Animal Agriculture is a leading cause of black carbon emissions, a global heating component.

With the lone exception of sulphate aerosols, which are mainly a by-product of fossil fuel combustion, the other three main exhaust gases and particles causing climate change – CO2, methane and black carbon – are molecular forms of carbon. Therefore, let us now take a closer look at how humans have altered the carbon composition of the planet.

3. How Humans Changed Carbon

Carbon is stored on land in vegetation and soils. Roughly half the weight of a tree is carbon. Half the weight of a tree is below ground and half above ground and therefore, the above ground weight of a tree is a good measure of the amount of carbon stored by the tree. In general, soil contains three times as much carbon as the vegetation it holds.

Carbon is stored deep underground in the form of fossil fuels. It is also stored under permafrost land in the form of ancient vegetation that got frozen and preserved at the dawn of the ice ages 3 million years ago.

Carbon is stored in the ocean in surface, intermediate and deep sea sediments. It is also stored in the ocean as dissolved carbon. Finally, carbon is found in the atmosphere, primarily as CO2, methane, organic carbon and black carbon.


Fig. 3.1. Carbon storage in permafrost, land, ocean, fossil reserves and the atmosphere  in 1750  (in white) and the changes since then due to human activities.

Fig. 3.1. Carbon storage in permafrost, land, ocean, fossil reserves and the atmosphere in 1750 (in white) and the changes since then due to human activities.

Fig. 3.2. The distribution of carbon on land is highly uneven. The density of carbon is highest in forests and lowest in grazing lands and deserts.

Fig. 3.2. The distribution of carbon on land is highly uneven. The density of carbon is highest in forests and lowest in grazing lands and deserts.


For at least 8000 years, humans have been displacing carbon by clearing land for agriculture and by burning fossil fuels (see Fig. 3.1). Most of that displaced carbon has returned back to land, while some has dissolved into the ocean and 240 GtC of it has remained in the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases causing climate change. It is estimated that in the pre-industrial era, humans displaced around 300 GtC of carbon on land, but this barely made a dent in the atmospheric CO2 levels as most of it returned back to land in the form of peat moss. Since then, humans have combusted 365 GtC of carbon from the planet’s fossil reserves and displaced 164 GtC from vegetation and soil on land. Of that total of 529 GtC of carbon, 45% or 240 GtC has remained airborne in the form of CO2, methane, etc., in the atmosphere, while 155 GtC has dissolved into the ocean and 134 GtC has returned back to land.

Humans have cut down about 46% of the trees on land since the dawn of civilization. This corresponds to displacing an estimated 464 GtC from vegetation and soils and sending it up into the air. While the pre-industrial clearing of land was compensated by carbon storage in Arctic peat moss, the industrial-era clearing has been mostly compensated with additional storage in forests due to the so-called CO2 fertilization effect. Since the land clearing in the industrial era was accompanied by fossil fuel burning, it raised the atmospheric CO2 levels, which spurred plant-growth due to more efficient photosynthesis. Therefore, even though the cleared land is storing very little carbon as we shall see below, the remaining forests now have a greater density of carbon than in pre-industrial times, which partially offsets the carbon lost due to land clearing.

At present, 2470 GtC is stored in 130 Million square kilometers (MKm2) of the ice-free land area of the planet, for an average carbon storage density of 19,000 tons per sq. km (t/Km2). According to the IPCC Land Use Block diagram (see Fig. 11.9, page 836), 46 MKm2 or 35% of that land is used as grazing land for Animal Agriculture. The Integrated Science Assessment Model (ISAM) at the University of Illinois estimates that this grazing land is currently storing 53 GtC, for an average of 1,150 t/Km2, or just 6% of the global average. This is reflected in the global land carbon stock map of Fig 3.2, which shows vast swathes of the planet with low carbon density corresponding to where human and farmed animal population is dense.

4. Sensitivity Analysis for Human Activities Causing Climate Change

In the previous sections, we have established that land clearing, primarily for Agriculture, and fossil fuel burning are the two main human activities causing climate change. In this section, we will compare the climate change impact of eliminating fossil fuel burning with the impact of eliminating Animal Agriculture, a sub-sector of Agriculture.

At the dawn of the Agricultural revolution, 10,000 years ago, human biomass was negligible compared to the biomass of large wild animals (> 44kg in weight) and humans could afford to lead a predatory existence, cooking and eating animal foods (see Fig. 4.1). However, in the Industrial era, by 1970, human biomass alone was equal to the biomass of all large wild animals from 10,000 years ago. In addition, humans were now farming animals whose total biomass was roughly double that of humans, but who were consuming three times as much food as all humans. As far as the planet was concerned, our farmed animals were presenting the profile of a biomass that was triple the biomass of all the large wild animals from 10K years ago. Meanwhile, the biomass of large wild animals had declined by 60%.

Fast forward another 40 years and by 2010, human biomass had doubled from 1970 levels. Our farmed animals were now eating 4.5 times as much food as all humans thereby presenting the profile of a biomass that is NINE times the biomass of all large wild animals from 10,000 years ago. The biomass of wild animals had declined by 52% from 1970 levels and therefore down by 81% from 10K years ago. The decline in the biomass of wild animals was also accelerating exponentially to be 58% from 1970 levels by 2012 and 60% by 2014. The primary driver for this decline is human land clearing for agriculture, since 80% of mass extinction is due to habitat loss.

In terms of dry matter biomass, our “livestock” or farmed animals consume more than 80% of the food that we extract from the planet in order to provide just 15% of the food (including “seafood”) that humans consume (see Fig. 4.2). That is, in terms of dry weight, 85% of the food that we consume today is already plant-based! Poore and Nemecek have calculated that 82% of the calories and 63% of the protein that we consume is already plant-based as well. Therefore, it is not too far-fetched to ask the question, how much can we mitigate climate change if we eliminated the Animal Agriculture sector altogether and relied entirely on plant-based foods and products? Indeed, this is a much more immediate, practical scenario than eliminating fossil fuel burning altogether. Of course, this would require us to not use animal products for any purpose whatsoever, i.e., to adopt a “Vegan” ethic, since at present, the Animal Agriculture industry is providing 190 million tons of “food” for human consumption along with 140 million tons of “other raw materials” such as skin, blood and bones. If we only change our diets, the industry is perfectly capable of raising animals just to produce the “other raw materials” and therefore, we may not be making much of a dent in its environmental impact.


Fig. 4.1. The biomass of wild animals, humans and farmed animals over time. Human biomass was negligible compared to that of wild animals 10K years ago. Today, this biomass ratio is inverted and biomass levels are unsustainable.

Fig. 4.1. The biomass of wild animals, humans and farmed animals over time. Human biomass was negligible compared to that of wild animals 10K years ago. Today, this biomass ratio is inverted and biomass levels are unsustainable.

Fig. 4.2. Biomass flows, in Gigatons of dry matter biomass per year, through the Animal Agriculture sector, showing how “Livestock” are consuming 4.5 times as much food as all humans. Source  IPCC AR5 WG3 Chapter 11, Fig 11.9, page 836 .

Fig. 4.2. Biomass flows, in Gigatons of dry matter biomass per year, through the Animal Agriculture sector, showing how “Livestock” are consuming 4.5 times as much food as all humans. Source IPCC AR5 WG3 Chapter 11, Fig 11.9, page 836.


In its Fifth Assessment Report, the UN IPCC had calculated that the “Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use” (AFOLU) sector was responsible for 12 Gt CO2e or 25% of the global greenhouse gas emissions by industry sector, including indirect emissions from the electricity and heat production sector (see Fig. 4.3). Since Animal Agriculture is a sub-sector under AFOLU, its contribution must be strictly less than 25%. In contrast, fossil fuel burning was calculated to produce 32 Gt of CO2 or 65% of the total greenhouse gas emissions (49 Gt CO2e) in 2010. Therefore it is tempting to conclude that eliminating fossil fuel burning is a more effective climate mitigation strategy than eliminating the Animal Agriculture sector.

However, this is like inferring the Earth is flat based on local, line-of-sight observations. Such “Local Sensitivity Analysis” can be notoriously misleading. Firstly, the above comparison is based on current emissions and not on cumulative emissions or radiative forcing, which are more appropriate for measuring climate change impact. Secondly, the IPCC is using a 100 year time frame for calculating the CO2 equivalence of methane, which undercounts its more relevant 10-year impact by nearly a factor of 5. Thirdly, it is not just greenhouse gas emissions, but also aerosol cooling effects that need to be taken into account for comparing climate change impact. Fourthly, the IPCC is allocating each molecule of emission to one sector alone. Therefore, if a truck is transporting agricultural products, its emissions is being assigned to the transportation sector and not to the AFOLU sector. Finally, the UN IPCC is relying on the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for its AFOLU data, while the FAO has publicly partnered with the International Meat Secretariat and the International Dairy Federation to promote intensive “livestock” farming. How reliable can the FAO’s analysis be, when it is wedded to industry interests? Indeed, here’s a timeline of events debunking the FAO’s reports:

2005 – Alan Calverd published an estimate of GHG emissions from “Livestock” breathing alone is 8.8 Gt CO2e or 21% of total. “Livestock” breathing is a proxy for the avoided carbon sequestration while consuming animal products.
2006 – FAO published Livestock’s Long Shadow (LLS) calculating lifecycle emissions from the “Livestock” sector to be 7.5 Gt CO2e or 18% of total, i.e., less than the breathing contribution alone!
2009 – Goodland and Anhang published WorldWatch report correcting errors in LLS and calculating lifecycle emissions of the “Livestock” sector to be 32.6 Gt CO2e or 51% of total. This 32.6 Gt CO2e can be split into actual emissions of 21.1 Gt CO2e plus avoided carbon sequestration of 11.5 Gt CO2e (see Fig. 4.4) on the land that would be freed up when Animal Agriculture is eliminated. The latter is their estimate of the “Carbon Opportunity Cost” of Animal Agriculture, to use the terminology of Searchinger et al. In the former, Goodland and Anhang used a 20-year timeframe for averaging the impact of methane instead of the 100 year timeframe used in the FAO’s analysis.
2011 – FAO scientists published critique of Goodland and Anhang’s estimate in Animal Feed Science and Technology (AFST) Journal.
2012 – Goodland and Anhang published refutation in AFST Journal and reiterated their estimate. FAO scientists declined to continue the debate despite AFST Editor’s invitation.
2013 – FAO publicly partnered with International Meat Secretariat and the International Dairy Federation and published revision to LLS, calculating lifecycle emissions of the “Livestock” sector to be 7.1 Gt CO2e or 14.5% of total, without addressing any of the egregious errors pointed out in Goodland and Anhang’s report or in the ensuing peer-reviewed debate.

Therefore, relying on the FAO’s analysis is like relying on a Philip Morris scientific paper that extols the cancer healing benefits of smoking Marlboro Lights. In its lifecycle analysis of Animal Agriculture, the FAO had calculated the Carbon Opportunity Cost of Animal Agriculture to be ZERO, which is blatantly incorrect. In addition, it appears that Goodland and Anhang may have also vastly undercounted the Carbon Opportunity Cost of Animal Agriculture since they only included CO2 stored in above ground vegetation and did not include CO2 stored in soil. Searchinger et al. calculate the Carbon Opportunity Cost to be an average of 5 tons of CO2 per person per year, which works out to a total of 34.5 Gt CO2 for a human population of 6.9 billion in 2010. Therefore, the true Lifecycle emissions of Animal Agriculture was closer to 55.6 Gt CO2e in 2010, i.e., 87% of the total.


Fig. 4.3. Global emissions by economic sector according to the UN IPCC AR5. Agriculture, forestry and land use (AFOLU) comprise just 25% of the total, including indirect emissions from the electricity and heat production sector.

Fig. 4.3. Global emissions by economic sector according to the UN IPCC AR5. Agriculture, forestry and land use (AFOLU) comprise just 25% of the total, including indirect emissions from the electricity and heat production sector.

Fig. 4.4. Lifecycle emissions of Animal Agriculture as measured by the UN FAO (two versions) and World Bank scientists, Goodland and Anhang, in comparison with the total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel sources.

Fig. 4.4. Lifecycle emissions of Animal Agriculture as measured by the UN FAO (two versions) and World Bank scientists, Goodland and Anhang, in comparison with the total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel sources.


In contrast to “Local Sensitivity Analysis,” a “Global Sensitivity Analysis” works by considering the thought experiment: how will the human-caused radiative forcing change in the two scenarios:
a) Clean Energy Economy: if we eliminate fossil fuel burning and replace it with clean energy sources, keeping all else the same vs.
b) Plant Based Economy: if we eliminate the Animal Agriculture sector and replace it with plant-based sources, keeping all else the same?

In the Clean Energy Economy scenario, we assume that all energy sources have been transitioned to clean, zero emissions sources, but we will be continuing to burn down forests to grow more animal foods as before. Therefore, land use change emissions would continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere. The CO2 component of the radiative forcing would continue to increase but at a slower pace than before. Since we are no longer burning coal and oil, sulphate aerosols would disappear within 3-5 days, which means that the net radiative forcing would increase by 0.95 W/m2 due to this component. Finally, Other Heating Effects would remain the same so that the net radiative forcing would increase to 3.24 W/m2 from the present 2.29 W/m2, exacerbating numerous catastrophic climate feedback loops.

In the Plant Based Economy scenario, we assume that all animal products have been replaced with plant-based equivalents and that Animal Agriculture has been eliminated, but we continue to burn fossil fuels as necessary. From Fig. 4.2, we see that we can now supply all the plant-based food and product requirements from the cropland output alone, freeing up the grazing land for reforestation and carbon sequestration. This grazing land will begin sequestering 34.5 Gt CO2 per year, reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. In addition, a good chunk of the fossil fuel burning would disappear as we reduce our need for transporting vast amounts of food to animals, killing them in industrial settings, refrigerating their carcasses, treating diseased people, etc. About 40% of the methane in the atmosphere would disappear in 10-12 years, reducing the radiative forcing by 0.4 W/m2. The Black Carbon component of 0.6 W/m2. would reduce as we stop burning forests to create grazing land for animals. Therefore, we can expect the net radiative forcing to decrease to 1.3-1.7 W/m2 from the current 2.29 W/m2. within 10-12 years. As the net radiative forcing decreases, we can start gradually switching out the fossil fuel infrastructure for clean energy sources without exacerbating catastrophic climate feedback loops.

The choice between these two scenarios should now be obvious. This shows that Animal Agriculture is indeed the leading cause of climate change.

5. CO2 Sequestration Potential in a Plant-Based Economy

At present, grazing lands store just 6% of the carbon per unit area when compared to the average for all land. In our Lifestyle Carbon Dividend poster paper presented at the AGU Fall Meeting in 2015, we reported that 41% of this grazing land used to be forests in 1800 and that if we can return the original forests on that land, the carbon storage on land would increase by 265 GtC from its present value. Our analysis was conducted using 2014 HYDE land use data, assuming that grazing land is reverted to native biomes that existed in 1800.


Fig. 5.1. The Lifestyle Carbon Dividend analysis showing that a global transition to a plant-based economy can sequester 265 GtC on just 41% of the grazing land.

Fig. 5.1. The Lifestyle Carbon Dividend analysis showing that a global transition to a plant-based economy can sequester 265 GtC on just 41% of the grazing land.


Here are the supporting calculations and extrapolations assuming that all grazing land can be regenerated to store the same carbon sequestration per unit area as the reverted lands:

Total area of grazing lands in 2014: 47.3 M Km2
Total carbon stored in that land (soil + vegetation): 52.8 GtC
Total area of grazing lands reverted to forests: 19.6 M Km2
Carbon sequestered in reverted lands at maturity: 292.7 GtC
Carbon sequestered per unit area at maturity: 14,930 t/Km2
Potential Carbon sequestration in all lands at maturity: 706.2 GtC
Net Carbon sequestration in all lands at maturity: 653.4 GtC
Net CO2 sequestration in all lands at maturity: 2396 Gt CO2

Please note that as CO2 sequestration occurs on such a massive scale, we can expect the ocean to release its dissolved CO2 and the CO2 fertilization effect to decrease on land. Then the potential CO2 sequestration will also decline proportionally, because we would be literally reducing the CO2 levels in the atmosphere, an outcome devoutly to be wished.

6. Conclusions

In this paper, we established that Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of climate change accounting for an estimated 87% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. We also illustrated the need to transition to a global plant-based economy first and that blindly eliminating fossil fuel usage first will accelerate the warming of the planet. The necessary global transition to a plant-based economy can be achieved through concerted, grassroots action, with or without the active cooperation of governments, scientific institutions, corporations and the news media.

References

[1] Myhre, G., D. Shindell, F.-M. Bréon, W. Collins, J. Fuglestvedt, J. Huang, D. Koch, J.-F. Lamarque, D. Lee, B. Mendoza, T. Nakajima, A. Robock, G. Stephens, T. Takemura and H. Zhang, 2013: Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)], 2014, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

[2] Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. & Tempio, G. 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.

[3] Goodland, R. and Anhang, J. M., Livestock and Climate Change: What if the Key Actors in Climate Change were Pigs, Chickens and Cows, World Watch, November-December 2009, Worldwatch Institute, Washington DC, USA, pp. 10-19.

[4] Searchinger, T.D., Wirsenius, S., Beringer, T., Dumas, P., Assessing the Efficiency of Changes in Land Use for Mitigating Climate Change, Nature Vol 564, December 2018 pp. 249-253.

[5] United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, Environmental Issues and Options. United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome, Italy, 2006.

[6] IPCC Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse gas fluxes in Terrestrial Ecosystems, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Aug 2019.

[7] IPCC Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Oct 2018.

[8] Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 2017.

[9] Kaplan et. al. Holocene carbon emissions as a result of anthropogenic land cover change, The Holocene, Dec. 2010.

[10] Shindell, D.T., G. Faluvegi, D.M. Koch, G.A. Schmidt, N. Unger, and S.E. Bauer, 2009: Improved attribution of climate forcing to emissions. Science, 326, pp. 716-718.

[11] Ciais, P., C. Sabine, G. Bala, L. Bopp, V. Brovkin, J. Canadell, A. Chhabra, R. DeFries, J. Galloway, M. Heimann, C. Jones, C. Le Quéré, R.B. Myneni, S. Piao and P. Thornton, 2013: Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. 2014, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

[12] Crowther, T.W., et. al., Mapping Tree Density at a Global Scale, Nature 525, Sep 2015, pp. 201-205.

[13] Zhu, Z., et. al., Greening of the Earth and its Drivers, Nature Climate Change 6, Apr 2016, pp. 791-795.

[14] Smith P., M. Bustamante, H. Ahammad, H. Clark, H. Dong, E.A. Elsiddig, H. Haberl, R. Harper, J. House, M. Jafari, O. Masera, C. Mbow, N.H. Ravindranath, C.W. Rice, C. Robledo Abad, A. Romanovskaya, F. Sperling, and F. Tubiello, 2014: Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)], 2014, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

[15] Rao, S., Jain, A. K., Shu, S., The Lifestyle Carbon Dividend: Assessment of the Carbon Sequestration Potential of Grasslands and Pasturelands Reverted to Native Forests, AGU Fall Meeting 2015.

[16] Barnosky, A., Megafauna Biomass Tradeoff as a Driver of Quaternary and Future Extinctions, PNAS 105, Aug 2008, pp. 11543-11548.

[17] World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2014.

[18] World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2016.

[19] World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2018.

[20] E. O. Wilson, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, W. W. Norton and Company, 2007.

[21] Poore, J. and Nemecek, T., Reducing Food’s Environmental Impacts Through Producers and Consumers, Science, Aug 2018, Vol 360, Issue 6392, pp. 987-992.

[22] Calverd, A., A Radical Approach to Kyoto, Physics World, Vol 18, No 7, Jul 2005.

[23] Herrero, M., Gerber, P., Vellinga, T., Garnett, T., Leip, A., Opio, C., Westhoek, H.J. Thornton, P.K., Olesen, J., Hutchings, N., Montgomery, H., Soussana, J.-F., Steinfeld, H., McAllister, T.A. 2011. Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 166-167: pp. 779-782.

[24] Goodland, R. and Anhang, J. 2012. Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right, by Herrero et al. [Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 166–167, 779–782.] Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. vol 172, issues 3-4, pp. 252-256.

[25] Mendes, P., Kapur, S., Wang, J., Feng, S., Roething, H., A Randomized, Controlled Exposure Study in Adult Smokers of Full Flavor Marlboro Cigarettes Switching to Marlboro Lights or Marlboro Ultra Lights, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, vol 51, 2008, pp. 295-305.

[26] Goldewijk, K., Beusen, A., Van Drecht, G. and De Vos, M., 2010: “The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human induced global land-use change over the past 12,000 years,” Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2010, vol. 20, issue 1, pp. 73-86.


To download a PDF version of this white paper, please right click here.

Why Aren’t Youth Climate Leaders Addressing Meat Consumption?

OCTOBER 17, 2019 BY  — LEAVE A COMMENT

On September 21, youth climate leaders from around the world converged at the United Nations in New York to participate in the Youth Climate Summit. During the summit, TheirTurn asked them why the youth climate movement isn’t using its platform to encourage grass roots climate activists and the mainstream public to make lifestyle changes to reduce their own carbon emissions.

One day earlier, tens of thousands of New Yorkers, most of whom were students, took to the streets of downtown Manhattan to participate in a youth climate strike with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Neither their posters nor the information they distributed focused on what individuals can do to reduce their own carbon footprint. Frustrated by the fact that youth climate leaders are not proactively encouraging the public to take steps to reduce their own emissions, a contingent of several dozen adult activists joined the climate strike to promote plant-based diets.

Adult climate strikers promote plant-based diets as a strategy to reduce carbon and methane emissions

“Eating animals is the elephant in the room of the climate change movement,” said Nathan Semmel, an attorney and activist who participated in the climate strike. “How can youth climate leaders expect world leaders to take action on the climate crisis if they aren’t encouraging their own constituents to stop engaging in environmentally destructive activity that can be easily avoided?

Ranchers are deforesting the Amazon in order to graze their cattle and grow cattle feed (photo: National Geographic)

During the interviews with TheirTurn, every youth climate leader mentioned meat reduction or elimination when asked what steps individuals can take.  None of them, however, indicated that they are proactively conveying this message to their constituents. They are instead pressuring global leaders to make systemic change.

“It’s not an either/or,” said journalist and climate advocate Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnChained. “Youth climate leaders can demand accountability from our leaders and ask their constituents to reduce their own carbon footprint by making the switch to a plant-based diet.”

Waste lagoon at a cattle ranch (taken from above)

Unlike youth climate leaders, who understand the impact of animal agriculture on the climate and are reducing or eliminating their own consumption of animal products, grass roots participants in the youth climate strike were largely unaware. When asked what steps they can take to reduce their own carbon emissions, most recommended reducing single-use plastic and recycling.

Youth climate leaders speak about their advocacy at the United Nations Youth Climate Summit


GOING VEGAN COULD REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS UP TO 9.6 BILLION TONS

Going Vegan Could Reduce CO2 Emissions Up to 9.6 Billion Tons

A global shift to a vegan diet could have a number of benefits, curbing climate change and significantly reducing greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions, says new research.

Going Vegan Could Reduce CO2 Emissions Up to 9.6 Billion Tons
A new report reveals how a plant-based diet can impact climate change

Staff Writer, LIVEKINDLY | Bristol, United Kingdom | Contactable via: liam@livekindly.com

An entirely vegan world could reduce carbon emissions by as much as 9.6 billion tons annually.

Called the Veganism Impact Report, a study collected data showing the huge impact a plant-based diet has on our health and the planet. The report suggests that if 100 percent of the global meat-eating population switched to a plant-based diet, we would see a 70 percent decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and one billion hectares of land currently used for livestock would be made available for growing plant-based proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

The Veganism Impact Report uses statistics on the UK’s, EU’s and world’s annual animal product consumption, employment, trade, health, environment, and economy. UK statistics are based on 1.16 percent of the population being vegan and do not take into account the vegetarian or pescatarian population. EU statistics are based on 5.9 percent of the population being vegan and vegetarian.

Going Vegan Could Reduce CO2 Emissions Up to 9.6 Billion Tons
Research shows a plant-based diet can have a positive impact on the planet

What Is The Most Sustainable Diet?

Previous studies have explored how even flexitarian diets can have a significant impact and here, the full impact of a vegan population is explored in stark contrast to the impact an omnivorous population would have on humans, animals, and the world. Statistics show that “1.5 billion hectares of the world’s total land surface (13.4 billion hectares) were used for agriculture in 2018,” while a vegan population would only require a total of 540 million hectares for agriculture.

The importance of a vegan diet for our planet has been discussed a great deal recently and this study states that greenhouse gas emissions from food totaled 13.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2018. With a fully vegan population, 4,110,000,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent food-related emissions would be released annually, representing a 70 percent decrease.

The Healthiest Diet?

The report estimates that in a vegan world, approximately 22,861 people in the UK would die from heart and circulatory disease each year, resulting in 129,544 fewer heart disease-related deaths annually. The report also highlights that with a fully vegan population there would be zero instances of cancer linked to eating processed or red meat every year, with an estimated reduction of 8,800 cancer cases. This is the latest in a series of studies highlighting the health risks of meat consumption.

Fake Meat Will Save Us

Until we have real leadership on climate, changing what we eat is the biggest thing we can do to save the planet.

By Timothy Egan

Contributing Opinion Writer

An Impossible Whopper from Burger King, which is testing plant-based patties.CreditMichael Thomas/Getty Images
ImageAn Impossible Whopper from Burger King, which is testing plant-based patties.
CreditCreditMichael Thomas/Getty Images

I plopped down in the sports bar Thursday to watch World Cup soccer and eat my first fake meat burger. I don’t mean to slight the surging United States women’s team, but the plant-based protein slab made nearly as big an impression as the match.

No surprise then, that a burger that bleeds like meat, tastes like meat and looks like meat is winning over millions of skeptical consumers, taking Wall Street by storm and prompting Big Ag to jump into a lucrative business that started on the vegan fringe.

But does the world really need a KFC Imposter Burger, or Tyson Foods grinding peas into patties instead of quartering chickens into nuggets? Well, yes. Very much so.

At a moment when animal-based agriculture is near the top of planet-killing culprits, ditching meat for substitutes, faux or otherwise, is the most effective thing an individual can do to fight climate change, according to a study in the journal Science. I say this as an appreciative omnivore. I love a flank steak fresh off the grill, a leg of lamb seasoned and slow-cooked, a brat at a ballpark, as do most of us. Vegans and vegetarians make only about 8 percent of the population, a static number.

The cautionary note is that we don’t have enough experience yet with the “secret sauce” that makes the new line of fake burgers taste so good. Both Beyond Meat, and Impossible Foods, the two darlings of alt-meat, use about 20 different ingredients in their patties. They are highly processed Frankenfoods hatched in a lab, not carrots pulled out of the earth.

Also, food panaceas in general don’t have the best track record. Remember margarine as a healthful alternative to butter? “Diet” soda makes people crave a big hit of real sugar water. Some granola is worse for you than an Oreo cookie.

That said, these are very dangerous times for all living things. You may have missed the sad notice that the friendship tree given by France to President Trump has died an early death. As a metaphor for what happens to everything touched by Trump, it’s too easy. It’s as if the little oak sapling, acting on behalf of all that is endangered by this biohazard of a presidency, died to send a message.

President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France planted a “friendship tree” last year. The tree died.CreditJim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
ImagePresident Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France planted a “friendship tree” last year. The tree died.
CreditJim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The tree’s demise was announced not long after a group of scientists made a determination of much bigger import: the recognition of a new geologic era, the Anthropocene. After the ice age of the late Pleistocene, and the culture-nurturing comfort of the Holocene, the Age of Man looks to be the End of Man. Perhaps in very short order.

The Anthropocene is an old idea, dating perhaps to the first atomic bomb, given fresh scientific imprimatur this spring. More than 500 million years after life took hold on earth, humans are having such a drastic effect on it that we are now the dominant geologic force. This designation comes not from the usual concerned voices seeking recognition from distracted media and political elites, but from a key body within the international union of geological scientists. As these folks like to say: rocks don’t lie.

Nor do temperature readings. New Delhi soared to 118 degrees this month. It was 100 degrees in San Francisco, the highest temperature ever recorded there for June. Wildfires are now a springtime feature inside the Arctic Circle, and temperatures in Greenland were as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit above average this year.

None of this will shame the worst threat to the planet now — the American president. The best way to do something about climate change is to vote the Anthropocene Cover Boy out of office. He thinks windmills cause cancer. He loves dirty coal. His gutting of Obama-era policies will lead to hundreds of premature deaths of fellow Americans every year, according to an early analysis by his own administration.

But in the meantime, there is the protein we put on our plate. While weaning people off animal flesh, the new burgers hardly meet Michael Pollan’s admonition that we should never eat food our great-grandmothers wouldn’t recognize. But Pollan is a fan, saying fake meatballs might help save the world.

Plant-based eggs, nuggets and burgers are far less likely to hasten the inevitable last act of the Age of Man than the food sources they replace. And the free market — judging by soaring sales and a bullish roar from Wall Street to Beyond Meat, a company that was briefly worth more than Macys or Xerox by market capitalization one day this week — is lining up with the environment on this one, as carnivores take notice. If it takes disruptive capitalism to help solve a problem that a clay-headed president will not, more power to the plant dog and soy burger masquerading as meat.

Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Are a Satanic Plot to ‘Create a Race of Soulless Creatures’

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles warned on his “TruNews” program last night that the rise of companies like Impossible Foods, which is developing plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, is part of a satanic plot to alter human DNA so that people can no longer worship God.

“When you go to your favorite fast food restaurant, you are going to be eating a fake hamburger,” Wiles said. “You’re going to go to the grocery store and buy a pound of fake hamburger or a fake steak, and you won’t know that it was grown in some big corporation’s laboratory. This is the nightmare world that they are taking us into. They’re changing God’s creation. Why? Because they want to be God.”

“God is an environmentalist,” Wiles continued. “He takes this very seriously. He created this planet, he created the universe and he’s watching these Luciferians destroy this planet, destroy the animal kingdom, destroy the plant kingdom, change human DNA. Why? They want to change human DNA so that you can’t be born again. That’s where they’re going with this, to change the DNA of humans so it will be impossible for a human to be born again. They want to create a race of soulless creatures on this planet.”

Tyson Foods recalls more than 190,000 pounds of chicken fritters shipped nationwide

(CNN)Tyson Foods, Inc., has recalled more than 190,000 pounds of Tyson Fully Cooked, Whole Grain Golden Crispy Chicken Chunk Fritters that may be contaminated with hard plastic, the company said in a statement.

The product is not sold in retail grocery stores, and the voluntary recall is limited to food service customers, including schools nationwide, the Pennsylvania-based company said.
Tyson Foods got three complaints from schools about foreign material in the food product, reported the US Department of Agriculture, which said it had not gotten any confirmed reports of injury or illness linked to eating the fritters. The fritters are not part of the National School Lunch Program but were purchased separately by individual schools, the USDA said.
Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a health care provider, the agency said.
The recalled product carries establishment number “P-1325” stamped inside the USDA mark of inspection, the company said. The fritters are sold in 32.81-pound cases (code 0599NHL02) that contain four 8.2-pound bags.
Recalled Tyson Fully Cooked, Whole Grain Golden Crispy Chicken Chunk Fritters bear this label.

The product was produced at one plant on February 28 and shipped to distribution centers in these states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
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Schools and other institutions with the possibly contaminated fritters still in their freezers should throw them out or return them to the place of purchase.
Consumers with questions should contact the company.

These are the 21 ingredients that make an Impossible Burger look and taste like meat

impossible burger woman eating hands red nails
There are 21 ingredients in an Impossible Burger, including soy protein, salt, and lots of vitamins.
 Impossible Foods

Plant-based “meat” is poised to become a $140 billion industry, with Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat leading the way.

With commitments from major chains like Burger King, which is set toroll out the Impossible Whopper across America by the end of 2019, Impossible Foods seems closer than ever to its goal of starting a plant-based “meat” revolution.

So what’s in the plant-based meat substitute with big ambitions to take over the food industry?

Impossible Foods’ chief science officer, David Lipman, may be a biotechnologist and genomes expert, but the taste of meat is in his blood. Lipman received his education in meat during his youth, while working at his father’s meat market in upstate New York.

In a January blog post, Lipman wrote that the Impossible science team “spent years analyzing meat and recreating every element of the sensory experience  —  smell, flavor, texture, touch, nutrition, sizzle factor.”

Impossible Foods uses genetic engineering to make ingredients that are essential to the taste and texture of its plant-based meat substitute: soy leghemoglobin (also known as heme) and soy protein. Soy protein replaced wheat protein as the main base for Impossible’s second recipe, while soy leghemoglobin is responsible for making the patty taste like meat.

While some have criticized Impossible Foods for its use of genetic engineering, the Food and Drug Administration deemed heme safe to eat in 2018.

According to Impossible Foods’ website, the five main ingredients of an Impossible Burger 2.0 are:

  • Water
  • Soy Protein Concentrate
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Natural Flavors

Impossible “meat” also contains 2% or less of:

  • Potato Protein
  • Methylcellulose
  • Yeast Extract
  • Cultured Dextrose
  • Food Starch modified
  • Soy Leghemoglobin
  • Salt
  • Soy Protein isolate
  • Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E)
  • Zinc Glutonate
  • Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1)
  • Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C)
  • Niacin
  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
  • Vitamin B12

The Impossible Burger is kosher and halal certified, but not organic. A four-ounce patty packs 240 calories, 14 grams of fat, 370 milligrams of sodium, and 19 grams of protein — a slight improvement upon thenutritional profile of the original recipe, which had 290 calories, 17 grams of fat, 580 milligrams of sodium, and 27 grams of protein.

“At Impossible Foods, we’ve been working on a way to turn plants into meat for only seven years, and we’re getting better at it every day,” he wrote.

SEE ALSO: It requires 22 ingredients for the Beyond Burger to replicate the taste and texture of a classic hamburger — here’s what they are

Arby’s Says ‘Impossible’ to Fake Meats

Fake meats at Arby’s? “Impossible,” says the Atlanta-based restaurant chain. ( Arby’s )

When VegNews published an article this week claiming “Arby’s Looks to Add Plant-Based Impossible Meat to Menu,” Arby’s decided it was necessary to point toward its slogan since 2014, “We Have the Meats.” And that means real meats.

An article in Food & Wine reports that a presentation targeting investors during Impossible Meats recent $300 million funding found, Arby’s was included among a group of chains that Impossible Meats claimed had reached out to them. But in a statement, Arby’s says it will never serve plant-based protein products.

“Contrary to reports this week, Arby’s is not one of the restaurant companies interested in working with Impossible Foods,” the statement said. “The chances we will bring plant-based menu items to our restaurants, now or in the future, are absolutely impossible.”

Arby’s is an Atlanta-based restaurant chain with 3,300 stores.

Related stories:

Climate change: Answers to your most asked questions

Young protesterImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

During the last worldwide school strikes in March, BBC News asked for your questions on climate change.

Since then, thousands of you have been talking to our climate change chatbot on Facebook Messenger.

Below are some of the topics that came up many times – with some answers from science and our climate team.

You can chat to our climate bot here.

You asked: Can we adapt to climate change instead of fighting it?

Humans are already adapting. In South Korea, farmers are growing different cropsto future-proof themselves against changing temperatures.

London’s Thames Barrier was designed to help the city deal with an increasing risk of flooding.

And the United Nations has made adaptation a key part of its strategy, alongside measures to curb rising global average temperatures.

Under the Paris climate agreement, richer countries have agreed to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to help them adapt.

You asked: Should I change my diet?

Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact.

Cutting these from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by two-thirds, according to one Oxford study.

Beef and lamb have a big environmental impact, as the digestive systems of livestock produce methane – a powerful greenhouse gas.

Chart showing the climate impacts of different foods: Beef has the highest carbon footprint, but the same food can have very different impacts
Presentational white space

The UN says we need to eat more locally-sourced seasonal food, and throw less of it away.

How and where your food is produced is also important, as the same food can have very different impacts.

For example, beef cattle raised on deforested land is responsible for 12 times more emissions than cows reared on natural pastures.

You asked: What can I do?

Lots. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the world cannot meet its emissions targets without changes by individuals.

It says:

  • Buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter and more locally sourced seasonal food – and throw less of it away
  • Change how you get around. Drive electric cars but walk or cycle short distances. Take trains and buses instead of planes
  • Use video-conferencing instead of business travel
  • Use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer
  • Insulate homes
  • Demand low carbon in every consumer product

Research reported by the IPCC also said people tend to overestimate the energy-saving potential of lighting, and underestimate the energy used to heat water.

It also says people don’t think a lot about the energy used for the creation of products they buy.

You asked: Why has so much changed in food labelling for personal health but not planet health?

In 2013, the government set out plans for a consistent “traffic light” food labelling system to help people easily understand what’s in their food.

But we don’t have a similar system for the carbon footprint or environmental impact.

It would involve considering things such as air freight versus importing food by sea, the use of water in food production, as well as the impact on land and forests.

Tesco did try it in 2007 – it started calculating the carbon footprint of every one of its 70,000 products.

But five years later the supermarket gave up, saying it was “a minimum of several months’ work” for each product.

In 2007, Walkers Crisps was the first UK firm to put carbon footprint figures on its products. But the company confirmed to the BBC that it has since removed them.

You asked: What about the world’s increasing population?

Human-induced climate change is happening. And the UN estimates the world has added approximately one billion humans since 2005.

But depending on where in the world you live – and your lifestyle – a person’s emissions can be very different.

Generally, people living in countries like the UK depend heavily on fossil fuels.

According to one study, having one fewer child is the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your emissions.

But this result is contentious and leads to many philosophical and ethical questions which we’re not going to wade into here.

Like, if you are responsible for your children’s emissions, are your parents responsible for yours?

You asked: What are governments doing on climate change?

Individual governments are choosing to tackle climate change in various ways.

But the one thing that has pulled the world together is the Paris agreement.

The deal has united nearly 200 countries in a single agreement on tackling climate change for the first time ever.

Nations pledged to keep global temperatures “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C.

However, scientists point out that the agreement must be stepped up if it is to have any chance of curbing dangerous climate change.

You asked: How much hotter has the world got – and how hot will it get?

Global temperatures rises are generally compared to “pre-industrial times”. Many researchers define that as 1850-1900 – before the world was chugging out greenhouse gases on a global scale.

The world is now about 1C warmer than it was back then, according to the IPCC.

For decades, researchers argued the global temperature rise must be kept below 2C by the end of this century to avoid the worst impacts.

But scientists now argue that keeping below 1.5C is a far safer limit for the world.

It’s hard to know much hotter the world will get. But if current trends continue, the World Meteorological Organization says temperatures may rise by 3-5C by 2100.

You asked: Why doesn’t BBC News do more on climate change?

Covering climate change and its impact on people around the world is a top priority for BBC News.

We know climate change is an increasingly important subject. Younger audiences in particular tell us they would like to see more journalism on the issue, the BBC says.

There has been a significant increase in the number and range of stories across our output.

This includes prominent coverage of the latest scientific research, extreme weather events, climate protests, how climate change is affecting people’s lives and the search for solutions to this enormous global challenge.

These stories are resonating with our audiences and it is a subject we are committed to covering in depth across BBC News.

You asked: What if I can’t afford to change my way of life?

Being climate conscious can often feel very expensive, from changing your food habits to buying an electric car.

But there are some things that will save you money – like eating wonky vegetables instead of red meat and cycling to work instead of driving.

And making your home more energy efficient should actually bring down your bills.

Climate bot

Chat to our climate change bot on Facebook Messenger