Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Reversing Climate Change, One Bite at a Time

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

On the nine hour bus ride from Johannesburg, South Africa to Maputo, Mozambique yesterday, I had a chance to read the latest TIME Magazine and was surprised-and pleased-to see an article on an issue that Worldwatch has been covering for a long time-the benefits of grass-fed livestock systems for the climate.

The article highlights how not all meat is created equal. All of the ingredients used to raise livestock conventionally-including artificial fertilizers and monocultures of maize and soybeans-are highly dependent on fossil fuels. In addition, modern meat production requires massive land use changes that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, including the destruction of grasslands and rainforests in South America and the degradation of ranging lands in Africa (See the Worldwatch report: Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use).

Rotational grazing systems, on the other hand, can actually sequester carbon in soils. And because the animals are eating grass, not grain, artificial fertilizer isn’t required to produce feed. These systems also don’t have to rely on the long-distance transportation of fertilizer, grain, or other inputs. And while the manure produced at confined animal feed operations, or CAFOs, is often considered toxic waste because it is produced in such massive quantities, the manure produced on smaller-scale farms is considered a valuable resource, helping to fertilize crops.

While raising-and eating- grass-fed beef might not completely reverse climate change, it’s a valuable tool for producers and consumers alike in helping lower the amount of GHGs emitted because of our food choices.


  1. And that gully wash that winds up in rivers, and the oceans, affects marine life to a startling degree as anyone who’s spent time in the Gulf of Mexico can attest to.

    That we tend to ignore the oceans and focus on the effects of our agriculture on the land, we need to be focusing on the cascades of actions. Especially with climate change.

    The real worry with climate change isn’t just the warming effect–but rather, the effect that vast amounts of what amounts to fresh water from ice melt will do at the poles.

    The frustrating thing when you talk climate change is that folks tend to focus on the obsolete term of “Global Warming” which reduces the real issue.

    If we continue to lose ice mass at the poles, we threaten to shut down oceanic currents, which drive weather patterns across the globe. All of these issues–from sustainability to the large scale effects of agribusiness and industry on watershed and carbon emissions–need to be addressed.

    Small scale changes lead to the larger. And when looking at climate change, we need to look very much at both.  

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