Read Lucia's bio and previous columns
September 8, 2008
America’s Beef With the
Latest Planet-Saving Plan
seems that transportation transformation cannot come quickly enough. Car
companies, city councils and individuals are trying to find new ways to
cut emissions while keeping down prices, not raising taxes and keeping
lifestyle changes minimal. Still, our carbon footprint doesn’t seem to
be shrinking, nor our willingness to alter our lifestyles growing.
Luckily, now there is another path of self-denial to protect the planet
– cutting back beef consumption.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – organization that shared
the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore – is now calling for less meat in our
diets as a way to curb greenhouse emissions. UN research that shows meat
production – from clearing forests for grazing to transporting the
product – is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s greenhouse
gasses, significantly more than its transportation.
Don’t panic – no one is going to take every American’s fundamental right
to a steak or juicy burger. Not yet at least. Rather, beef production
may undergo the biggest changes, employing new diets for the animals and
encouraging people to consume meat produced locally. It has also been
proposed that governments get involved, setting consumption reduction
goals. This may not go over well in the U.S., where the only government
involvement we look for in our beef is the Grade AA sticker on the
The proposed change in consumption balance is not likely to gain many
fans either. It would mean more beef for areas of the world that consume
little beef, and less for bacon cheeseburger lovers in the West. Of
course, this may lead to significant side effects, like lower heart
disease rates and blood pressure among Americans. The question that will
decide the impact of the discovery, however, is not health or social
benefits, but money.
States like Texas and countries like Argentina rely on beef production
for their economic foundation. A reduction in consumption and changes in
business operations can have a profound impact on the economies, not
just diets, of beef-producing areas. Which once again raises the
question, “How much are we willing to give up for the planet?”
Driving less and in smaller cars made sense because of gas prices, but
are the health benefits of eating less beef convincing enough? As “Beef:
It’s What’s for Dinner” ads show, bigger and badder applies to our gas
tanks as much as it does to what’s on our plates. And when in doubt,
appeal to the American values of freedom and independence. No
self-respecting man would have the government tell him what to grill.
That’s the kind of defiance proud Hummer owners showed a few years ago,
since nothing says independence like relying on foreign oil. As for the
beef, nothing says “I’m proud to be an American” like relying on Lipitor
in a country with unaffordable health care. If we are unwilling to make
the change for the sake of our health, it makes no difference how many
different ways of saving the environment scientists come up with. The
odds of American cooperation remains lean.
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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This is Column # LB134.
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