Livestock’s long shadow

by Judith Curry

In all, livestock farming produces 8-18% of greenhouse-gas emissions. It is the main contributor to the build-up of nitrogen and phosphorus in the world’s soils, producing too much ammonia (which is caustic), nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) and dead zones in oceans (the result of excess phosphorus). – The Economist

A paper recently published in PNAS [link]:

Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems

Mario Herrero, Petr Havlík, Hugo Valinc, An Notenbaert, Mariana C. Rufino, Philip K. Thornton, Michael Blümmel, Franz Weiss, Delia Grace, and Michael Obersteiner

Abstract. We present a unique, biologically consistent, spatially disaggregated global livestock dataset containing information on biomass use, production, feed efficiency, excretion, and greenhouse gas emissions for 28 regions, 8 livestock production systems, 4 animal species (cattle, small ruminants, pigs, and poultry), and 3 livestock products (milk, meat, and eggs). The dataset contains over 50 new global maps containing high-resolution information for understanding the multiple roles (biophysical, economic, social) that livestock can play in different parts of the world. The dataset highlights: (i) feed efficiency as a key driver of productivity, resource use, and greenhouse gas emission intensities, with vast differences between production systems and animal products; (ii) the importance of grasslands as a global resource, supplying almost 50% of biomass for animals while continuing to be at the epicentre of land conversion processes; and (iii) the importance of mixed crop–livestock systems, producing the greater part of animal production (over 60%) in both the developed and the developing world. These data provide critical information for developing targeted, sustainable solutions for the livestock sector and its widely ranging contribution to the global food system.

Additional background on this topic is provided by a 2006 FAO report entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow.

Economist

The Economist has an article on the Herrera et al. paper entitled A lot can be done to make meat eating less bad for the planet.  Excerpts:

Around the world 1.3 billion people, most of them poor, raise animals, accounting for a third of total agricultural GDP. More acres are given over to feeding animals than to any other single use. Meat accounts for a sixth of humanity’s calorific intake but uses roughly a third of its crop land, water and grain. Producing a kilogram of grain takes 1,500 litres of water; a kilo of beef takes 15,000 litres. A fifth of the world’s pasture has been spoilt by overgrazing. 

So what sort of livestock farming can satisfy growing demand while using land, water and crops more rationally? Recent papers by Mario Herrero of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and colleagues argue that the answer is intensive livestock farming, which is more efficient and environmentally friendlier than small-scale, traditional pastoralism of the sort beloved by many greens. But to avoid turning more wilderness into pasture and using more water that the world cannot spare, “factory farming” must be reformed.

Switching from pastoralism to feeding cattle with grain would dramatically improve efficiency.  This switchover would also reduce the damaging build-up of nitrogen and phosphorus in soil, since intensive methods turn the nutrient in feed into meat more efficiently. And it would slash greenhouse-gas emissions. Cattle on dry rangelands produce 100 times as much per unit of meat as cattle in America or Europe. 

Industrial-scale livestock farming can encourage the spread of diseases that humans share with animals. And animals may suffer in factory farms (though they bear a big burden of endemic diseases in pastoral systems). Such downsides are cited by environmentalists who would prefer less factory farming and more traditional pastoralism. But efficient livestock farming makes better use of scarce basic resources—and is far better for the planet.

From the comments on the Economist article:

MHerreroJan 21st, 13:15

Dear The Economist

My livestock research colleagues and I welcome the Economist’s coverage of these important livestock issues, and the acknowledgement that the global livestock sector can become more efficient, equitable and environmentally sustainable.

We see the greatest opportunities for increasing livestock productivity in the smallholder livestock production sector in the tropics, which currently produces the bulk of livestock products globally. These production systems, with adequate investments, support and technology (better use of feeds, breeds, and markets for example) could increase their productivity, sometimes by a factor of two or more. These practices would lead to a triple win: improved livelihoods and incomes for poor producers, improved food security for consumers and more efficient use of natural resources, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This is not equated in anyway to factory farming, but to sustainably intensifying the smallholder sector.

Our research does not suggest that we should get rid of pastoralism. On the contrary, even when these systems might be seen as inefficient from a greenhouse gas perspective, we should support the sound management of pastoral lands as they help maintain vital ecosystems services, such as cleaning water, storing carbon and protecting biodiversity, as well as supporting the livelihoods and food security of many highly vulnerable people in the world.

Factory farming, if well regulated, has its place in helping to meet the demand for livestock products, but this cannot be the sole livestock avenue for simultaneously meeting the global sustainability concerns while feeding 9 billion people in the future. It is simply too risky to put ‘all the eggs in this basket’ for the sake of increases in resource use efficiency due to millions of smallholder and pastoral livelihoods at stake, significant risks of zoonoses, animal welfare concerns, potential pollution problems and disruption of global nutrient cycles, amongst others.

Sincerely

Mario Herrero
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

——–

AMATERJan 30th 2014 13:51 GMT

Dear Dr. Herrero,

I take your commentary for a kind of excuse and an attempt to attenuate The Economist’s harsh judgment on meat production and consumption, particularly as far as extensive, ruminant based production systems are concerned. However, the disastrous effect on the reputation of domestic livestock in general and pastoral systems in particular, and even on world-wide food security which produce such kind of journalistic pieces as this one is a direct consequence of your and your colleague’s authorship of sketchy, ambivalent publications which follows uncritically the line of the FAO-reports “Livestock’s Long Shadow” and “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock”.

The Economist cites correctly the essence of your paper when telling the readers that you argue that “the answer is intensive livestock farming, which is more efficient and environmentally friendlier than small scale, traditional pastoralism of the sort beloved by many greens”.

As you might know, I am by no means a romantic “green”. However, your arguments in favor of intensification and the depreciating comments in your paper on pastoral systems in the developing world can only be understood when quite a number of facts are overlooked, which every critical scientist ought to be aware of, but unfortunately your consortium of authors does not seem to be:

1) The claim that livestock is a driver of climate change and causes global warming relies on many unconfirmed and even improbable assumptions, ignores essential empiric realities, and depends on a number of grave methodological deficiencies as outlined here:http://www.pastoralismjournal.com/content/4/1/1 . Taking the GHG-emissions from pastoral systems as what they are, significantly overstated and almost irrelevant to the global GHG-budgets, these systems appear suddenly much friendlier to the planet than you, The Economist, and unfortunately also the FAO make them appear.
2) Up to half of the terrestrial surface, marginal for cropping though holding a growth of useful herbage rich in fiber, billions of tons of harvest residues (also rich in fiber), and lots of by-products from the food processing industry are best transferred by ruminants into valuable food for humans. Approaches to improve food conversion efficiency are often limited in extensive grazing systems. Wherever improvements are feasible, they are welcome, of course! However, in the absence of rewarding alternative land use options to generate income and food, it does not make sense to discredit pasture based production systems because of “low” food conversion efficiency, when comparing it directly with factory farming.
3) Livestock is also blamed for using ineffectively huge amounts of water. However, in the semi-arid Chaco, for example, a big part of the beef industry (including abattoirs) relies entirely and sustainably on locally harvested rainwater, which would not be available anyway at other places for other uses at a reasonable price. And in many humid regions water availability is not a problem. So again, this widely used argument is not justified. Let the economy decide what to use the available water for and not narrow-chested logic, ethically stained with meaningless arguments!

It is a pity that CSIRO, after decades of outstanding research carried out in its former Tropical Crops and Pasture Division, moved over to trendy issues based on poor theory, damaging to global food security.

Albrecht Glatzle
Owner of a cattle station in Paraguay
Fellow of the Tropical Grassland Society of Australia

JC comments:  Feeding a planet with rapidly increasing population while minimizing environmental degradation is a big challenge.  Several years ago I read the book Omnivore’s Dilemma, which analyzes different food chains: industrial, pastoral, personal.  John Foley writes extensively on this overall issue, a recent article worth reading is Changing the Global Food Narrative.

229 responses to “Livestock’s long shadow

  1. No problem if we have unlimited cheap energy and if we save the fossil fuels for fertilisers, plastics and other chemicals

  2. Feeding a planet with rapidly increasing population while minimizing environmental degradation is a big challenge.

    Not a problem if we have unlimited cheap energy and if we save the fossil fuels for fertilisers, plastics and other chemicals. Cheap energy can provide fresh water and pump it wherever we want it.

  3. It is a pity that CSIRO, after decades of outstanding research carried out in its former Tropical Crops and Pasture Division, moved over to trendy issues based on poor theory, damaging to global food security.

    Albrecht Glatzle
    Owner of a cattle station in Paraguay
    Fellow of the Tropical Grassland Society of Australia

    I agree. CSIRO was once an outstanding research organisation with world wide credibility. Australia was up with the leaders in research in medical, agriculture and mining areas. The climate and greenie energy nonsense has seriously damaged the CSIRO’s reputation.

  4. Just seeking to avoid a monopoly here …

  5. Berényi Péter

    Well, there are some 100 million cattle &. calves in Northern America (Canada included) as opposed to 40-70 million buffalo roaming the praries prior to European settlement there. Methane production of these populations is comparable.

    • David Springer

      Yeah but there are over a billion head of cattle in the world.

      In the winners and losers category bovines are big winners whose total weight exceeds that of humanity despite the obesity epidemic.

    • They really do not know how many buffalo roamed North America. Iy could have been that many, but there are estimates for a lot less. Perhaps as few as 20 million.

      When I was a kid they said there were 135 million cattle (cow-calf operations), not including dairy, in the United States. So the numbers are way down.

    • I have seen estimates for Buffalo as high as 100 million in the book 1491, so maybe we go with the 40 to 70

  6. David Springer

    Everyone’s ox gets gored except PETA’s. I love it!

  7. Methane concentrations are flatlining.

    Each acre of pasture sinks 0.3 tons of Carbon each year into the soil. Ever wonder why the prairie has so much good soil? Why are the breadbaskets of the world in the grassland regions? Because grass sinks Carbon in the soil. Calculate the numbers and it might be up to 2.0 Gigatons per year Carbon, nearly half of the total natural sink. It is also interesting that when C4 grasses evolved about 24 million years ago, the natural level of CO2 in the atmosphere fell 50%, and went below 280 ppm for perhaps the very first time.

    Methane flat, Pasture big sink of Carbon.

    Livestock is not a net GHG emitter and its safe to eat meat.

    • Bill Illis | February 6, 2014 at 7:03 am | Reply

      “Each acre of pasture sinks 0.3 tons of Carbon each year into the soil. Ever wonder why the prairie has so much good soil? Why are the breadbaskets of the world in the grassland regions? Because grass sinks Carbon in the soil.”

      I rather tend to think of Farming as ‘carbon acceleration’. All forms of farming; grain, beans, roots, sugar, cattle, sheep, etc. are just us accelerating the turnover of Carbon through the system.

      Native grasslands, forests, hillsides are fairly slow in carbon turnover. Farming the same land shows a much higher turnover.

      This is regardless on what gets deposited into the soil or, more frequently, is added to the soil, to help the faster throughput.

    • David Springer

      Bill the problem is that cattle are an inefficient source of calories if they are fed grain. If they subsist by grazing that’s fine but most don’t. This takes more energy, more fertilizer, transportation cost, etc. It’s like driving an 18-wheeler to the store for a pack of cigarettes. It gets the job done but it’s a lot more efficient to use a smaller vehicle.

    • David Springer | February 6, 2014 at 7:25 am |

      “It gets the job done but it’s a lot more efficient to use a smaller vehicle”

      Walking’s even better :-)

    • “Ever wonder why the prairie has so much good soil?”
      The introduction of the European Earthworm in plant pot soils by the early Old World settlers completely altered the bioproductivity of North America. Soils were greatly improved, as the previous ice age had made the indigenous earthworms extinct and the earthworms of Central America were unable to migrate North due to geology.

    • It is also interesting that when C4 grasses evolved about 24 million years ago, the natural level of CO2 in the atmosphere fell 50%, and went below 280 ppm for perhaps the very first time.

      I had thought that the fall in pCO2 occurred much later than that (10-12 MYA), but a bit of time with Google showed me your date is the generally accepted one.

      I also found, however, that my memory was correct that C4 grasses appear to have evolved many millions of years prior to the drop in pCO2.

      This analysis found “unequivocal evidence for C4 grasses in southwestern Europe by the Early Oligocene,” the authors wrote. This means these grasses were present 32 to 34 million years ago, well before studies indicate atmospheric carbon dioxide levels made their precipitous decline.

      “This study challenges that hypothesis and basically says that something else was responsible for the evolution of C4 plants, probably higher temperature or drier conditions,” Hu said. With atmospheric carbon dioxide levels now on the increase, he said, “there are also implications about how C3 and C4 plants will fare in the future.”

      The study on which the above is based: Isotopic evidence of C4 grasses in southwestern Europe during the Early Oligocene–Middle Miocene by Michael A. Urban, David M. Nelson, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno, Jean-Jaques Châteauneuf, Ann Pearson, and Feng Sheng Hu Geology December 2010, v. 38, p. 1091-1094 (paywalled). From the abstract:

      We determined the carbon isotopic composition of 686 individual grass-pollen grains preserved in eight samples of lacustrine and shallow-marine sediments from three basins spanning the Early Oligocene to Middle Miocene in southwestern Europe. Grasses composed <15% of the total abundance of terrestrial pollen grains, and 26%–62% of the grass pollen was from C4 grasses. Thus C4 grasses occurred on the landscape as early as the earliest Oligocene, ∼14 m.y. earlier than previous isotopic evidence of first C4 plants and before pCO2 fell during the Oligocene.

    • Bill Illis: Methane concentrations are flatlining.
      Not quite. See Methane on the Rise—Again

  8. David Springer

    Phosphorous for farming is a shortage crisis waiting to happen. I have no idea where the author gets the idea that too much phosphorous in soils is a problem.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_phosphorus

    • Two side to that argument (as always :-) )

      “In the past, societies used to make great efforts to recover phosphorus values from wastes. Medieval contracts between land owners and farmers stipulated that the meat and crops produced from land could be taken off, but that animal manures must be returned to the soil : society knew that if this was not ensured, land fertility was slowly lost. The reason for this was only identified centuries later, when Phosphorus was discovered.”

      http://www.ceep-phosphates.org%2FFiles%2FDocument%2F75%2FCEEP%2520P-recovery%2520information%25207-2007.pdf

      AND

      “From that same page two of the USGS report:

      World resources of phosphate rock are more than 300 billion tons

      We have something like a 1,500 years supply there. And no, even that’s not all that is available to us. That’s just the amount of this type of rock, that we already know about, that is out there.”

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/06/27/there-is-no-phosphorus-shortage-stop-designing-damn-fool-systems-to-recycle-it/

    • David Springer

      The link you provided doesn’t work. According to wickedpedia (link above) USGS 2012 estimates worldwide phosphorus reserves at 71B ton and annual extraction is 0.2B ton. The reserves are questionable because phosphorus mine fluff up the numbers to reassure stockholders there’s plenty left. The 1,500 ton number you gave is almost certainly not economically recoverable phosphorus.

    • David Springer

      I found the same USGS report. The other phosphate reserves are in marine sediments. We gonna start doing rock mining on the continental shelves?

      The 300 year supply, if it’s indeed that large, is mostly NOT in the United States. We have very little of the world reserves. Morroco and Western Sahara have the lion’s share at 75%. I wonder what they’ll charge us for it? There is no substitute. It’s that or starve or invade Morroco.

    • David Springer | February 6, 2014 at 8:36 am |

      “The 1,500 ton number you gave is almost certainly not economically recoverable phosphorus.”

      The quote was direct from the Forbes article I linked to. Economical is a fudge word used to restrict the picture. You need to state the level that is considered to be viable and what the curve is from there to be reasonable.

    • Try this for the first link (the problem with pasting a pdf url from Google – though Google found it very fast based on just using the first few words from the quote I gave)

      http://www.docstoc.com/docs/73258602/Phosphorus-recycling

    • Another quote from the Forbes report.

      “Here’s the numbers on phosphorus from the USGS. If you look at page two you will see that annual production is 210,000 and mineral reserves are 67,000,000, (both in thousands of tonnes) divide one into the other and you get 300 odd years of reserves left. Quite how anyone gets that down to 50-100 years I’m not quite sure.”

    • David Springer

      I believe it was the US which has the immediate concern and I found the orginal source of my information. I was a SciAm subscriber at the time so got the full article.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/phosphorus-a-looming-crisis/

      The U.S. is the world’s second-largest producer of phosphorus (after China), at 19 percent of the total, but 65 percent of that amount comes from a single source: pit mines near Tampa, Fla., which may not last more than a few decades. Meanwhile nearly 40 percent of global reserves are controlled by a single country, Morocco, sometimes referred to as the “Saudi Arabia of phosphorus.”

    • I agree that methodology to preserve and reuse phosphorous are good, and have been since times long past.

      I also know that Morocco has the largest known reserves.

      I do think that people with irons in the fire tend to call the loudest. As I said before, there are two sides (and probably more!) to this question as may others.

    • Maybe we can find a way to mine it out of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico exacerbated by Ethanol production?

  9. David Springer

    Dead zones in the ocean from excess phosphorus due to cattle farming?

    Hardly. Cattle don’t crap in toilets. The phosporus is from sewer discharge and there’s no manure in it. One of the most phosphorus-intensive crops on the planet is soy. So soy is grown in vast roughly equal quantities in Argentina, Brazil, and the US which account for 80% of global production. It is consumed all over the globe. Greenies love soy products so their phosphorus rich diet turns into phosphorus rich sewage which then produces dead zones where it empties into the ocean.

    • It’s phosphorus and nitrates from farming in general that gets into groundwater and surface water and ends up in estuaries, bays and inlets that can create dead zones.

      google nitrate dead zones agriculture

      See where most of US ag irrigation water comes from:

      http://www.safehaven.com/article/29776/mining-the-ogallala

      Ag runoff and groundwater mining are several orders of magnitude more damaging than global warming, yet not much is done because ADM controls the US senate.

  10. A few years ago I saw a brilliant takedown of that ludicrous “15,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef” claim, but despite racking my brains, I can’t remember where. Can anyone help? Anyway, it’s typical greenie BS promoted by radical vegetarians and their ilk. A lot of grass fed cattle in Australia live in country which is quite dry, including semi-arid regions. They don’t get much to drink, relying on vegetation for much of their water needs, and are bred for it.

    • http://www.waterfootprint.org/

      “The production of one kilogram of beef requires 15 thousand litres of water (93% green, 4% blue, 3% grey water footprint). There is a huge variation around this global average. The precise footprint of a piece of beef depends on factors such as the type of production system and the composition and origin of the feed of the cow.”

      http://www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1.pdf

      But that is from just one side :-)

      The Guardian (if you accept them as a reliable source :-) – some don’t)

      http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste#data

      provides this spreadsheet

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AonYZs4MzlZbdHhRc245WXVsMGw4STVCaXgyelJ6SGc#gid=0

    • johanna – re “15,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef” : the answer lies in the other statistic “livestock farming produces 8-18% of greenhouse-gas emissions”. The beefs CONVERT the water into greenhouse gases! This has to be what happens, otherwise no-one would be worried about it, after all, if water and carbon simply went in through the beefs’ front end and out the other end (or wherever) then there wouldn’t be anything to worry about. So what really happens is that the beefs take in water and carbon, convert the water into greenhouse gases which they release into the atmosphere, then we eat the beefs and release the carbon as greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. If there’s anywhere else the carbon might go, like into the soil, that doesn’t happen, there’s bound to be something else somewhere that can convert it into greenhouse gases and release it into the atmosphere. It’s a nightmare.

    • Darn, I wish I could remember the source I am thinking of!

      David Springer, the “fact sheet” you linked to is typical of the BS. Unlike the article in the head post, it claims the figure (as you point out) is 15,000 litres per pound. It’s twice as bad as we thought, folks! But 15,000 is the magical figure.

      It claims to take into account water the animal drinks, pasture irrigation, water to grow crops to feed the animal, plus water used in processing. Well, our cattle do not live on irrigated pastures, they are drought resistant and don’t drink much, and some (not all) of them get a brief spell in a feedlot before slaughter. Water used in processing? It would be negligible on a per pound, or even kilo, basis.

      Also, the implication seems to be that if the cattle were not drinking the water (and peeing a lot of it out again, BTW) it would be used for some higher purpose. What this is in the middle of nowhere is unclear. In typical cattle country here, it would either evaporate or run out to sea.

    • Johanna

      Here’s confirmation of the beef figure together with others

      http://www.ifad.org/english/water/key.htm

      It does say ‘grain fed’ beef take 15000 litres of water for the kilo of meat. this sounds ludicrous.

      As for the take down of the figures, Yes, I’m sure I’ve read of a report that ridiculed that figure. I suspect it was in a newspaper report

      Tonyb

    • Tony, it may well be that “grain fed beef” use that much water – I wouldn’t know. But it is thoroughly dishonest to spruik that number around as if it applies to all beef production. The large beef-producing nations, like Australia, Argentina, the US etc primarily raise beef on grass and water fed by natural precipitation. What’s more, it is done sustainably – the cattle move (or are moved) around, and the pasture regrows constantly.

      The country being used is not suitable for much else – otherwise people would be using it for something more profitable.

      Raising beef entirely on grain is very expensive, and I’d hazard a guess that it is a small fraction of total world beef production.

    • There are some major differences between the United States and Australia .

    • Jessica Simpson

      johanna – in the United States most people would throw up if you fed them true grass-fed beef. When my family visited Australia my kids went to eat at McDonalds one time, and refused to go back. Which was a minor miracle. They had never tasted beef like that. Same with the pork. I called it old-fashoned pork.

      In the last few years they’ve started selling grass-fed beef in grocery stores, but it’s pretty much been exclusively “finished on corn” here since probably the end of the 1950’s.

      My Mom says her parents, who were born in the 1890’s, used to argue about which was better, corn-fed or grass-fed. That would have been in the Great Depression. My Great Grandfather was a leader in introducing English cattle to the American West. Sold Hereford and Shorthorn bulls all over the western US; got rich. His son preferred corn-fed beef. My Grandmother grew up on a dirt farm, and al she had ever had was grass-fed beef.

      My Dad went to vet school after WW2, and he and his partners converted every rancher in 100s of miles to corn fed. So they were championing it at vet schools.

    • Thanks for that link. A few observations:

      The article doesn’t quantify the percentage of grass fed vs grain fed (or some of each) beef consumed in the US.So, while we Aussies welcome export contracts, I suggest that there is no evidence that we have the US industry on the ropes just yet!

      The country in that photo is what we would use to raise dairy cows – no wonder their production costs are higher. Our lot live in much rougher, drier country, more like Texas for example.

      Which brings me to – the silly argument that lots of the US is subject to freezing (quite a bit of Australia is, too, BTW). Look, it’s simple economics. If you have to hand-feed your cattle for half of the year, it’s going to cost a lot. But very large areas of the US (e.g. Texas) rarely get more than the odd mild frost, if that. It’s not as if there is a shortage of land in the southern US suitable for raising grass-fed cattle.

    • Sorry Jessica, missed your post while I was posting.

      Just a minor issue first – our pork is mostly either imported from Scandinavia or intensively farmed like in Scandinavia (and the US). That said, US bacon does taste different, which presumably has something to do with the pig breeds and feed regimes. I preferred Canadian bacon!

      High quality beef here is “finished” in a feedlot, just as in the US. I didn’t notice a huge difference in the flavour of US beef when I was there – but I never tried the Maccas. However, people who travel a lot tell me that it does taste different in different countries, because they adjust the recipes slightly according to local tastes. There are grades of ground beef (all beef in fact) here, and the lowest grade is only consumed by pets in this house.

      But just as wines and pork taste different in different countries because of soil, climate and varieties used, I suppose the beef is a bit different too. But as I say, a delicious steak in Texas was not dissimilar to a good one here, IMO.

    • Somewhere between Mt. Isa and Cloncurry we came upon an overturned semi. He was pulling a load of Brahmas, and a ton of them were dead. Driver okay. Will never forget that.

      A station somewhere west of Mt. Isa invited Dad out there. We never made it. A steer took the station manager and busted him up pretty bad. We turned around and went to see him at the hospital in Townsville.

      Is it dry? It’s extremely dry. We went to a Lake Moondarra outside of Mt. Isa. I think it was was full then. I read recently that its water level is very low.

  11. About one half of the here in population are below the average IQ
    Most of that half here in Australia seems to have gravitated to working, if you can call what they do, “working”, for the CSIRO and the ABC [ the publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Commission ]
    Apparently the vast herds of wooly mammoths, wooly camels giant bears, Saber toothed tigers and etc and etc and all the uncountable critters below that level just before the last Ice age some 25,000 years ago but now gone, never farted, pooped, belched or did any of those things that the animals of today do on a very regular and frequent time table.

    Hence if we are to believe yet another batch of dim witted poseurs posturing and posing as scientists which is about the standard of science now emerging from some but fortunately not all of the previously highly respected CSIRO, who haven’t got a clue as to the levels and numbers of animal life those tens of thousands of years ago then if we take the import of these findings, the animal kingdom of today has gone to hell ina breadbasket with their inability to control themselves.

    If those scientists really want to cut back on those life destroying emissions [ /sarc ] then they should get busy and eliminate the termite population of this planet and they would thereby cut emissions many times over the amounts that come from domesticated animals.

    Of course to these excuses for scientists, wild animals which probably out number domesticated animals by a factor of 5 or more, nobody really knows, apparently don’t fart, poop or belch much either.
    But hey, domestic livestock are easy to count so lets make a song and dance and get some more funding about domestic animals and their vices and the “damage” to the climate they are causing.
    And it does satisfy the guilt complex these pseudo scientist assuming they are human, seem so obviously keen to display as humans.

    It’s Time to de-socialise science by defunding the publicly funded largesse that large parts of science are now exploiting for their own personal benefits instead of for the benefit of society at large.

    Re-capitalise science like the science of the 1800’s and very early 1900’s when scientists relied on their own initiatives to raise funding usually from private benefactors and then went on to reap the rewards if they were successful in their research outcomes.

    Let most of science go and garner the fruits of it’s labour for itself just like nearly every other sector of society has to do, through patents and registered rights to their science instead of just churning out trash and expecting to be able to live a publicly funded life style that most of the rest of society can only dream about..

    The choice and the judgments on the value and validity of science would then be down to if the man in the street and to industry and industrialists though the science produced and the outcomes from research .
    The judgement would be made as to whether that science was of actual value and worth to society and the scientist would then be rewarded appropriately or not. .

    The public funding of most science is very badly broken and this paper is another example of that. With the current system where outright mediocrity is frequently and lavishly rewarded and oft times good science pauperised because it came from the wrong side of the tracks or the wrong individual.
    The entire system of publicly funding science will just be further exploited and corrupted the longer the almost unlimited public largesse is allowed to flow to any rip off merchant with a few letters after his or her name and who is ensconced in some fancy fashionable branch of science or fashionable science institution to the great detriment of both the science and the societies of today and of the future .

  12. Anybody know how much phosphate seabirds excrete into the oceans?

  13. The article focuses on maximum efficiency and productivity, and ignores important differences in material realities e.g. access to food, cultural diversity, across the global food system when examining what is ecologically appropriate.

    Bad analysis.

  14. Go on… exterminate all bacteria, sea fish, insects, wild animals, horses cows, humans etc what a load of unmitigated BS

  15. This seems like some coordinated propaganda, dressed as science… follow them and it will kill our soils.

    Remove the cattle and you will create deserts, much like don’t use it and you will lose it. Proven by an ultra environmentalist scientist, Dr Allan Savory, that found that all of the environmental consensus assumptions were completely backwards. Put large herds, not small ones back on desert land and with proper management it will turn back into lush savannah grasslands.

    Read a bit more, has some deeper links enclosed, worth a read and watch his video, the long one. I found his years of results quite surprising. One of the best posts there last year.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/08/a-bridge-in-the-climate-debate-how-to-green-the-worlds-deserts-and-reverse-climate-change/

    • Sorry to double post this comment. Hung for minutes and didn’t seem to exist on refresh… so I rewrote it to be a little clearer, see below, but it then has the direct link to his lecture instead. ;)

  16. “Feeding a planet with rapidly increasing population while minimizing environmental degradation is a big challenge.” But we must also acknowledge that population in the developed world is on the decrease – it is the developing world that is responsible for population increases. Many of the poorest countries don’t have the transportation/distribution/security infrastructure to support this sort of large centralized facility. While it is rational to explore this idea in the developed world, it doesn’t pass the smell test for many parts of the globe.

    The parallels to the climate change debate are striking.

  17. There was a complicated deal whereby the magnificent Henbury cattle station, still 70% wilderness and located 230 kilometres south of Alice Springs, was purchased and destocked by one of those “iconic” Australian companies, R. M. Williams. With all sorts of government encouragement, it was destined to be a showpiece carbon farm into which that distressed “icon” Qantas could chuck money in return for existing.

    Can you guess how this ends? Money shifting back and forth (especially taxpayers’ money), receivership in no time, resignations, payouts…all that good corporate stuff. As our Green Betters never tire of saying: Big business is on board!

    Fortunately, nobody bothered to transfer this wonderful slice of Oz from pastoral lease to conservation covenant. With luck, instead of fire-prone, feral-infested regrowth scrub, the place will once again be a working cattle station, with all its yummy wilderness watched over by graziers and their employees and funded with real money.

    And the Economist will have something more to fret about. It’s not easy keeping up with Guardian!

  18. This seems like some coordinated propaganda, dressed as science… follow them and we will kill our soils.

    Remove the cattle and you will create deserts, much like don’t use it and you will lose it. Proven by an ultra environmentalist scientist, Dr Allan Savory, that found that all of the environmental consensus assumptions were completely backwards. Put large herds, not small ones back on desert land and with proper management it will turn back into lush savannah grasslands.

    Maybe watch his video lecture before judging their paper above. I found his lecture quite surprising.

  19. Also in this year (2014) was published work on this topic but much more, say gently, reasonable and scientific: Livestock Management Strategy Affects Net Ecosystem Carbon Balance of Subhumid Pasture, Oates & Jackson (2014, http://www.srmjournals.org/doi/abs/10.2111/REM-D-12-00151.1?journalCode=rama):
    “Temperate grasslands are generally considered carbon (C) sinks, but climate and management likely affect whether they accumulate or lose C on an annual time step.”
    “Climate change mitigation services provided from ecosystem C accumulation relative to cultivation may be warranted for pastures, but when all cross-boundary transfers of C are not considered, significant misconceptions can occur regarding how different management strategies affect the NECB of subhumid pasture.”

  20. This is bull.

    Andrew

  21. Bison, elk, deer, antelope, wild sheep, wildebeest, aurochs, kangaroos, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, marmots, rabbits, pikas, squirrels, mice, voles, moles, warthogs, wartless hogs, guinea pigs, camels, yaks …

    … however did the earth manage to survive the catastrophe of all of those animals abusing the earth with their grazing, browsing, greenhouse gas emitting, and outrageous water consumption?

  22. The solution is to eat Trigger and Secretariat, and to ride Elsie and race El Toro.

  23. In livestock’s long shadow
    Dance rodeo clowns.
    ================

  24. A few years ago, “The Economist” promoted the “Anthropocene” as a geological epoch. That was when I cancelled my subscription.

    • I actually think the Anthropocene is real and started about 50,000 years ago–but tastes differ.

      What I find interesting is the idea that livestock cultivation is responsible for 18% of emissions. Because we know that cement production accounts for about 30% and deforestation another 20%-25%. That totals between 68% and 73%.

      Maybe the fixation of some on fossil fuels seems a bit monomaniacal at this point…

  25. I’m a proud member of the PETA lunatic fringe. I won’t do anything to an animal, or endorse anyone else doing something to an animal, that I wouldn’t consent to being done to me.

    Empathy. No greater burden.

    • I won’t do anything to an animal, or endorse anyone else doing something to an animal, that I wouldn’t consent to being done to me.

      That sounds pretty creepy. In any event, animals don’t have the ability to consent, so your actual empathy level is pretty meaningless because your anthropomorphism delusion controls your cerebral cortex.

    • really? that’s kind of cool. ever read Ishmael? how does that square with your views on CAGW?

    • Howard, I strongly disagree. “Animals don’t have the power to consent” is a social, ethical or legal construct, nothing scientific about it. I’m not as well read certainly on this topic as others here but I believe what little scientific progress we have made towards animal cognition suggests a continuum rather than an “on/off” switch between animals and humans. IOW & IMO, “anthropomorphism” can be shades of gray.

      I’m not personally comfortable trying to figure out how many human lives an endangered species is worth (so I’ll stick with “none”) or how many cows are worth a human (sticking with “infinite”) but we should recognize that as an issue of judgment, not fact.

    • my 11:11 comment directed at PG

    • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

      Finally, something about pokerguy to like.

    • Empathy. It’s what’s for dinner.

    • …ever chew on a pigs ear?

    • David Springer

      Your stock just went up in my book, Al.

      +1

    • Bill c: Consent requires communication and Dr Doolittle is not real. While we are both picking nits, cattle rustlers in the old west made the mistake of believing your infinite cow scenario.

    • “Consent requires communication and Dr Doolittle is not real”

      Surely you need their consent in order to enslave and kill them?

  26. If people want to worry it should be about water. California, for example, for the last 100 years — despite a drought here and there — has been in a wet period. Now it’s parched. Planning for shortages is something for which California government can never be counted on because all government is incompetent. Nevertheless, the Pineapple Express will before long — this year — and may help pull their bacon out of the fire.

    • Yes. You are 100% right. The Ogallala situation is much worse than California.

      This is why I am a CAGW denier.

    • Water is a problem only is certain regions, like the American Southwest, North Africa, and selected parts of central Asia. It is not a gloal problem because the metric used by the UN and the FAO excludes effective precipitation. Only 20% of all agricultural globally relies on irrigation; the rest is solely rainfall. The regional shortfalls can be made up by ‘virtual water’. Growing large populous cities in arid areas (like Las Vegas or Cairo) was never going to end well anyway.

    • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

      I agree. Las Vegas is not good place for a large city, nor is New Orleans.

    • Rud:

      In the US, Ag uses 85% so people consumption in desert cities is a drop in the bucket.

      Also, California and the Midwest represents the most productive agricultural land in the world. So it being a problem in “certain regions” is indeed a global problem.

      http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/wuir.html

    • Indeed – water is always going to be a problem. Outside of the UK anyway – we seem to have too much at the present.

      Cartoon cost of livestock on water

      • Interesting factoid, the Pineapple Express has been likened to ‘Atmospheric rivers’–e.g.,

        “How do Pineapple Expresses pull that feat off? By carrying a stunning amount of water. A typical system could release 10 million acre-feet of water in a day; in comparison, the Colorado River transmits only 15 million acre-feet of water in a year.”

        (livescience.com)
        :

    • David Springer

      Whiskey’s for drankin’, water’s for fightin’

    • Richard LH , thank you for all the informative links. What the cartoon makes clear is that cattle are getting the rap for for the ‘inefficient’ water use by the grassland. put pigs or chickens on the grassland with no other feed and their water use per Kg prime meat/egg would skyrocket too.
      ( even more so because the are not geared up to digest cellulose ).
      Indeed even if we shot all the cattle and lived off the grubs that grew off the pasture the cartoonist would be able to make the same bizzare claims about their water use.
      The cartoon ignores the fact that nearly all the water returns in urine and those moist cowpats.
      Chickens and pigs appear artificially good in many calculations because they are fed mostly artificially fertilised cereal grains (that are low in cellulose) but long term unfertilsed cereal fields do not yield a lot -a fifth? and so will have a correspondingly greater water use.
      And where is all the edible offal in these calculations? We know it exists as the UK has a ‘Tripe Markleting Board’.
      Here’s a link to some US offal info:

      http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/147867/ldpm20901.pdf

  27. I always give items like this the “herds of bison” test:

    We are told that before Europeans arrived, bison herds in the tens or hundreds of thousands, or millions (depending on the source), roamed the plains.

    Now, we have an equivalent (or more, or less, depending on the source) number of domestic animals.

    So…did bison create emissions? If so, are their emissions taken into account over, say, a 500 year measurement from 1550 to 2000 CE?

    If not, why not?

    • They’re ruminants, so they burp methane just like cattle. Because of their winter diet, probably more.

  28. Academics at CSIRO tackle a complex subject, gather ‘new’ data sets (really only adding location tags to per country pre-existing FAO national level data while collecting nothing new), then come to dubious conclusions ignoring important results like Allen Savory. Do look at his TED talk, available on YouTube. Kind of like ignoring natrual variation in limate models.The the Economist misinterprets CSIRO in favor of factory farming style animal husbandry, which is not what CSIRO concluded per their abstract and letter reply. Kind of like Michael Hulme leaping on mitigation agendas without regard for the validitynof the underlying science. Finally, AMATER, a real rancher, steps in with a dose of reality for CSIRO concerning locally adapted agriculture. Kind of like the weather and the pause not cooperating with the models.
    This would have made a wonderful Monty Python skit. And analogous to much that is wrong in the climate debate. Foo d is going to become another of those wicked problems as human population expands. See Gaias Limits for details.

  29. Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

    People don’t need to eat meat to be healthy, but after acquiring a taste for flesh, it’s hard for most to break the habit. Since becoming a flexitarian, I eat very little meat, and I’m as healthy if not more healthy than I was before.

    • still it’s a bit disingenuous for anyone to measure meat-based nutrition solely in calories, which is alluded to in the OP.

    • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

      Nutrition is not based solely on calories. If it were, you could eat nothing but potatoes, but you would be nutritionally deficit.

    • max, did you read what I wrote?

    • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

      Yes, what did I not understand?

    • that we agree on meat not being measured in calories. In the OP – the excerpt from the economist article, “Meat accounts for a sixth of humanity’s calorific intake but uses roughly a third of its crop land, water and grain.” That’s the “disingenuous” bit. 1/6 of calorific intake ought to be replaced by…what….at least something closer to a proxy for nutrition, or a broader measure?

    • Max

      I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13 (nearly 10 years) :)

      I feel its up to other people what they eat so I don’t preach to meat eaters, but I do think that where people can they should buy ethically sourced meat.

      In Britain a lot of ready meals for example might have chicken from Thailand grown under goodness knows what conditions. The Danish pig industry doesn’t exactly have clean hands either.

      Apparently some 800 million animals a year are killed in Britain for meat, so the US figure must be at least 5 or 6 times this number. Whether we can support these numbers-climate change considerations or not-bearing in mind the Chinese are now into dairy in a big way, must be doubtful.

      The trouble is that this leads to discussions about the size of human populations and many people here seem upset about the Malthusian question this raises..

      tonyb

    • I think that rather than Malthusian ideas, economics will apply. As demand for meat increases the price will go up and either we will find better ways to produce meat, and/or people will find the price too high and buy less than previously. In my experience Malthusian ideas never happen. As countries develop population eventually decreases, and ability to extract, use and reuse resources increases. Economics always applies, but I am hard pressed to find a single Malthusian idea that stood the test of time.

      The other TonyB

    • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

      Reply to post by bill_c on February 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Got it. Thanks.

    • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

      climate reason said on February 6, 2014 at 11:56 am

      “I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13 (nearly 10 years) :)

      I feel its up to other people what they eat so I don’t preach to meat eaters, but I do think that where people can they should buy ethically sourced meat.

      In Britain a lot of ready meals for example might have chicken from Thailand grown under goodness knows what conditions. The Danish pig industry doesn’t exactly have clean hands either.”
      _______

      Tony, you have found the fountain of youth in vegetarianism.Your example should be incentive enough
      without preaching to meat eaters.

      The filth, stench, and cruelty I associate with feed lots turns me off. I try to not think about feed lots while eating meat.
      But as I said, I’m a flexitarian, which means I don’t eat much
      meat.

      Some frozen fish sold in the U.S. is from Asian fish farms. I like fish, but I won’t touch that stuff.

    • Tony –

      For your benefit (I seem to recall linking to this for you before?):

    • David Springer

      If you don’t get enough calories you die. The first concern is always sufficient calories in a digestible form. It’s difficult to maintain a vegan diet in the wild if you’re hungry enough to eat whatever you can scavenge which includes insects, arthropods, invertebrates of all kinds, stuff that’s already dead, eggs of any kind, etc. Humans are scavengers not hunters.

    • Steven Mosher

      These are great. however after you cook them the place smells like
      old socks.

    • David Springer, yes, dietary choices are determined in part by circumstances. Those in rich countries have more options. My view was that a vegetarian diet wasn’t feasible in the English climate. That argument didn’t apply when I was in India in 1972. Surprise, surprise, I found that vegetarianism was feasible, cheaper and healthier. My last meat was a farewell buffalo steak In Khatmandu in ’74. I’ve been generally pretty healthy since then apart from prolonged illness when I simultaneously contacted some nasty viruses, and am usually taken for much less than my 71 years.

      My main reason for giving up meat was that I try not to kill things, and it seemed to me that if a non-meat diet was healthy, choosing meat was supporting killing for an indulgence, not a necessity.

    • Faustino, “My main reason for giving up meat was that I try not to kill things, and it seemed to me that if a non-meat diet was healthy, choosing meat was supporting killing for an indulgence, not a necessity.”

      Most everything is an indulgence. We kinda move past basic survival a while back.

  30. Allan Savory insists that atmospheric CO2 could be lowered using large herds of grazing animals. See this TED talk: http://new.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change

  31. I’ve tasted it and, ewe, I don’t like lamb. But, cyclists love merino wool.

  32. Great Plains in the US used to be covered with tall and short grass praries. They had deep roots and grew back each year sequestering carbon relatively permentently. Great herds of bison, elk and antalope plus carnivores roamed them. Not counting the post ice age mammals such as mammoths and great sloths.

    This area is nauturally depopulating now and is a lower human density since around the 1840s. Nicholas Callenbach and the Popper’s wrote a number of books on bring back the buffalo. Sustainable deep rooted grasslands instean of annual wheat and corn farming with intensive cow management. Big enough area could sustain free roaming herds. It is an interesting idea and the tourist draw could rival the plains of the serenghiti. Smaller areas are being put together now in North Dakota and similar de populated small towns in the high plans.

    Interesting place to put our resources. Gather data, let the models stop predicting so far into the unknown future and fix what is in front of us.
    Scott

    • Buffalo are farmed commercially on rockly land that cannot support cows; cows are dumb and hurt themselves in falls or placing their limbs in holes in the ground, buffalo are much smarter and don’t tend to hurt themselves.
      Guy I work with has a herd and his wife milks them.

  33. Let’s just eliminate everyone who thinks it is ok to eat meat and drink Big Gulps.

    Maybe that would make the alarmists shutup and go find something else to complain about.

    • timg56,
      surely there is a middle ground between PETA and the big gulp fanatical nazis and the anti factory farms with livestock knee deep in feces and shot up with antibiotics? I enjoy free range meats but would like to see a return in some level to tall grass prairies and return to wild critters roaming the pains. We can frack for oil, put up windmills and solar arrays where appropriate and still build the pipeline from Canada.

      Lots of priorities can be accomplished with freedom, markets and innovations.
      Scott

    • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

      timg56, eat all the meat you want. If it weren’t for voracious meat-eaters like yourself, flexitarians like me would have no one to feel morally superior to.

    • I liked the moral superiority line Max.

      Tonight it is sashimi for my birthday.

  34. pokerguy, ” I’m a proud member of the PETA lunatic fringe.”

    I remember you know. You were the guy I saw on the safari scolding that pride of lions for muscle molesting those wildebeests.

  35. There seems to be a lot of strange assumptions in this article, it suggest some difference between wilderness and pasture, presumably animals don’t live in wilderness.It implies managed land represents environmental degradation, in fact it usually involves increasing the productivity of that land and it totally ignores the role of wildlife. Presumably if we stopped keeping cattle we would also need to prevent wildlife taking over that environment, otherwise it wouldn’t have any effect.This is much more to do with assuaging the guilt of many in the environmental movement for human existence, though not of course their own. The only reason people can remain healthy on a meat free diet is because we have transplanted so many species to different environments and can transport the rest. Then by selective breeding have managed to reduced so many of the plant worlds chemical weapons used against their predators, they don’t like getting eaten either. We have also increased their nutritional value the human digestive system not being very good at extracting nutrients from plants. It seems a bit pointless to do such a partial review, it simply supports the arrogant view of humans being the controlling force in life on earth and that nature shares human motives and judgements.

    • David Springer

      That was monumentally ignorant. Nature doesn’t care about complete nutrition. If you live long enough to reproduce she’s happy. Your first mistake is thinking about how to live 70+ years. We evolved to live about 30 years. We’re ominvores. We didn’t alter our teeth and digestive tracts to suit agriculture. Legumes and grains grow all around the world and have complete compliment of amino acids. Westerners consume far more protein than they need. We don’t have claws because we don’t naturally hunt. We’re scavengers who can eat anything including insects and virtually anything from the ocean, rivers, ponds, etc. Our meat was generally already dead before we became tool users unless it was stuff that was very easy to capture and kill.

      FAIL

    • Didn’t Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, live to ripe old age of 175?

    • Legumes and grains grow all around the world and have complete compliment of amino acids.

      Between them. Neither has a full complement by themselves.

      We don’t have claws because we don’t naturally hunt.

      Chimpanzees don’t have claws, and they not only“naturally hunt”, they seem to be hunting red colubus monkeys to death.

    • Geordie:

      This is much more to do with assuaging the guilt of many in the environmental movement for human existence, though not of course their own.

      Absolutely. Yet another crock to try and make humanity guilty for it’s very existence and perhaps an excuse for yet more factory farming. Not obsessive here, but we do have a responsibility not to mistreat animals in our care. I like to see them out in the field where they belong. The idea of more and more factory farming of animals is not something I want to see. Just the opposite in fact…

    • Mr. Springer, it is your criticism that fails on the facts, if not the premise. The average lifespan up to about 1000 AD was 21. Thirty-year olds were grandparents and usually surplus to requirements, as they found to their surprise when times got tough.

      As for our diet, it is more efficient to get our calories from meat–or fish, actually. (I wonder if the Aquatic Ape Theory will ever make a comeback–I do hope so. That was a far more enjoyable controversy than climate change, although the champion is still the isolationist vs. diffusionist deathmatch regarding Pre-Columbian Contact.) Those hunter gatherers loved their meet–it allowed the men to get out of the camp and have fun while the women did the hard work of gathering nuts and the rest of the forage that provided most of the caloric intake for the tribe.

    • “Didn’t Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, live to ripe old age of 175?”

      As far as your scientific knowledge is concerned, yes.

  36. David Springer

    If you believe that you believe the earth is only 10,000 years old so we’re probably not going to have much common ground for further discussion about human evolution.

  37. David Springer

    Man The Scavenger

    Some 2 million years ago, man’s supposed ancestors were meat-eaters. But were they noble hunters with dominion over other life forms? Probably not! The analysis of tool marks on ancient animal bones tells us that human tool marks predominate in regions of the bones where there was little meat, as if ancient humans were dismembering the animals for skins and other products. On the meat-bearing portions of the bones, the tooth marks of non-human carnivores predominate. Where the tool marks overlap the tooth marks of other carnivores, the tool marks are mostly on top of the tooth marks. The gist of the tool-mark analysis is that humans got to the animals second — after the non-human carnivores. In other words, ancient humans were probably meat scavengers — opportunists rather than the noble hunters often portrayed. As a matter of fact, one characteristic of a scavenger species is its ability to cover wide areas with little expenditure of energy, like the vultures. Now, human bipedalism is pitifully poor for running down game but great for searching far and wide with minimum physical effort. Tooth-wear studies of ancient human skulls indicate that humans were vegetarians first and meat-eaters second. This situation was suddenly reversed when Homo erectus came along. Then, according to toothwear patterns, there was a shift to a mainly meat diet. This was also the time when human territory expanded greatly geographically. The reason for these changes is unknown.

    (Lewin, Roger; “Man the Scavenger,” Science, 224:861, 1984.)

    • blueice2hotsea

      Were early humans driving vultures off lion kills or driving off the lions?

    • David Springer

      Whatever works but the article says that tool marks were usually on top of teeth marks.

    • blueice2hotsea

      I have read that T-Rex was a scavenger. But not exactly the cowardly, ignoble, opportunistic vulture type of scavenger that the author envisions of humans. More the leave now while you can type of scavenger.

      A pack of hyenas will confiscate cheetahs’ kill. And a pride of lions will steal from hyenas. I believe proto-humans probably did same to lions.

  38. The solution to this problem is quite simple:

    A METHANE TAX

    Every ruminant on this planet should be equipped with a gas-o-meter, which records and integrates its monthly methane emissions.

    The owners could then be invoiced monthly for the cumulative methane tax.

    Ruminants in the wild or public domain would be excluded from the tax.

    Revenues would be redistributed to worthy recipients, as determined by the agency charged with its administration.

    Using clever accounting manipulations, the tax could be so constructed to appear “revenue neutral”, in order to more easily convince the public that this is a good idea.

    The tax would have to be global and the logical, most trusted international agency to handle its administration, collection and distribution could be the United Nations.

    Enforcing could be outsourced to a well-known Sicilian organization, known for its superior enforcing knowhow.

    Whaddaya think?

    • Max,
      That is an innovative idea. We should vote, or at least skeptics should, as to which climate scientists should be nominated to put the gas meters on the tailpipes to accomplish the revenue collections.
      Scott

  39. Willis Eschenbach

    I wrote to ask for their results. We’ll see what happens …

    w.

    • Real Climate ran a model of grazers ‘n’ grass in an Excel spreadsheet. It is robust and definitive. If you don’t believe it, just ask them and they’ll quote the peer reviewers.

  40. Alan Savory’s presentation about reversing desertification and re-greening ruined grasslands by using *more* livestock, is pretty amazing to watch. The big ‘climate-change benefits’ that would come from following his theory are relevant to this thread, although not the main event and imo tangential to the main and stunning benefit. After believing for years orthodox theory about livestock denuding land, and having killed 40,000 elephants to save land in Africa, only to find things got much worse, Savory decided to figure out what was *really* going on. I know nothing about land management so I can’t comment on the answer he found, but he appears to have startling results that speak for themselves. See it here:

    • Savory broke from the Leftist herd… the Left still persists in its old way of thinking that humanity is some kind of horrible mistake.

    • Savory’s ideas were discussed extensively, both pro and con, at
      RealClimate

    • Curious George

      While I take Savory’s claims with a grain of salt, he at least did an experiment. The RealClimate article does not argue for more experiments; instead they are trying to kill the idea proclaiming e.g. “Recall that annual uptake of carbon is about two orders of magnitude smaller than the total carbon amount stored in vegetation.”

      Does grass really need 100 years to grow? How about dead vegetation? Do these people really hate coal so much that they don’t even consider it a carbon store?

  41. I am absolutely dumbfounded by the totally absurd and stupid things said every day by people who are purportedly scientists that make absolutely no sense whatsoever… [W]hat they’re doing in the U.S. is using CO2 to impose all kinds of restrictions to push a socialist government… CO2 by itself is incapable of causing significant climate change. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 39/1,000ths of one percent. It’s nothing. Ninety-five percent of the greenhouse effect is water vapor, and water vapor is not changing.

    (Don Easterbrook Predicts 20 More Years of Global Cooling)

  42. North American irrigation responsible for Arctic Amplification??

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2009/2009_Sacks_etal_1.pdf

    • We have the, UHI (Urban Heat Island) effect and the RCP (Rural Cool Pasture) effect.

    • Checkout Figure 4. North American Arctic region warms from irrigation, esp in winter. Of course, this is based on climate models and not on any direct measurements.

    • Human impacts on ground cover not only show up in UHI but also when monoculture like corn or wheat replace forests or the tall grass prairie. Again, hat tip Pielke Sr in Human Impacts on Climate and Weather where he shows that the direct and indirect of rural land cover changes modify the weather above. Still lots of controversy in the settled science.
      Scott

  43. Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

    Why I don’t eat chicken.

  44. Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

    Steven, thanks. I thought that video was funny.

    Back on the farm, we raised chickens free-range for our own consumptions. As the video demonstrates, the birds aren’t easy to catch.

    Back-yard flock are increasing in popularity. Chickens fascinate children and the eggs are fresh.

    • David Springer

      Probably more feral chickens here than cooped. I had 3-5 bantams that were good brown egg layers around growing up. More like pets that paid for their corn with fresh brown eggs. Children and domestic animals should all have jobs of some sort.

  45. Rud Istvan CSIRO lost it around 1980. It used to be quite a phenomenal scientific organization until then. It an absolute basket case these days. I think all their journals/publications don’t even exist anymore

  46. http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/02/06/woolly-mammoths-and-rhinos-ate-flowers/?intcmp=features

    What we assume about the past ice age may not be correct according to this. I know from experience that cattle prefer wild sunflowers once they figure out how good they taste. A quick Google confirms they are forbs.

    • The other tonyb

      I have been writing srticles on climate change for many years and regularly blog under the name tonyb. Do you think might be less confusing to people if you used another name on climate blogs?

      I think we fundamentally disagree on certain aspects of climate change and we are sending people mixed messages. Thanks for your cooperation

      Tonyb

    • David Springer

      Forbs. A new word today. A good one. Thanks!

  47. John Vonderlin

    Since this thread has developed so many iterations I may as well add one. Having spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the details of the evolution of man’s diet towards more meat consumption I’d like to expose you to the concept of “Natural Tools.” or “Naturools.” My theory is that some proto-humanoid was injured by falling on a skree slope, suffering a deep slice from a rock shard. It gave them the “Eureka” moment that sharp stones can cut flesh.
    Soon they realized it wasn’t necessary to drive hyenas or lions away from a carcass to enjoy its protein, but merely to have a minute to cut a chunk of meat off with a naturally sharp rock, then run to safety. Needless to say, the first adopter of this technique greatly improved their dating life, as well as the survival of their offspring. Tool-making and all its refinements came much later. Cutting edge (ow!) primate research has recently shown this process still occurs amongst groups of chimpanzees, in regards to the cultural dispersion of newly acquired tool-using techniques. One for the ladies in this case, as it was a female chimp joining a new tribe that spread the knowledge. Here’s what a “Naturool,” might look like: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnvonderlin/11022532335/in/set-72157637146829373
    Enjoy.

    • … earliest stone tool-making: >2.6 million years ago?

    • You can see Chimps use a hammer and anvil to crack nuts. Stick our ancestors with the same technology near an estuary and they can use the same method to open protein rich shell fish. Shell fish are also full of the fatty acids we need for brain development. So we have ‘Estuary Ape’. Wading in water, initially collecting shell fish and then hunting for fish develops group hunting behaviour. The Apes lose much of their fur, have sub-dermal fat pads, have bodies that float (unlike other great apes) and live alongside coastlines and rivers.

    • Wagathon,

      Primitive man used about 8 MJ/day (food only). Technological man consumes about 1000 MJ/day (everything including food).

      Anyone who thinks and argues humans are going to reduce their per capita energy consumption, is …

  48. The popularity of global warming alarmism is in part due to the modern religion of what Nigel Lawson called eco-fundamentalism that according to Lawson, presents a danger to humanity on many levels–e.g., “governments of Europe, fired in many cases by anti- Americanism [fueled in part by George Bush’s principled stand against the global warming movement]… may get so carried away by their rhetoric as to impose measures which do serious harm to their economies. That is a particular danger at the present time in this country. No doubt, when the people come to suffer the results they will insist on a change of policy, or else vote the offending government out of office. But it would be better to avoid the damage in the first place… [and a] more fundamental, danger is that the global salvationist movement is profoundly hostile to capitalism and the market economy. There are already increasing calls for green protectionism – for the imposition of trade restrictions.”

  49. Modern Agricultural systems aside, the ecological success of the most common type of phytoplankton, diatoms, is directly related to the availability of silicic acid, of which the primary source is excrement from grazing animals (fermented grass) which washes into the streams, rivers, and the ocean.
    Therefore, natural grazing systems play a key role in sustaining the aquatic food web (just in case your a fan of fish).

    • For eco-whacko-global warming alarmists too much acid may be the problem.

    • If one ignores habitat destruction, over use of fertilizers and run off, land deterioration associated with over grazing, etc…it’s quite reasonable to argue more grazing animals (if developed in a sustainable fashion) could actually enhance ocean co2 sequestration via silicic acid fertilization, as has been the case during the last 8 million years of global cooling where silicon rich grasses have come to dominate the landscape. Cows cause global cooling in climate with high sensitivity? lol

  50. Wasting water?
    EPA says what about:
    Activities such as taking a bath requires up to 70 gallons of water. A five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons.
    A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day.
    Over 713 gallons of water go into the production of one cotton T-shirt.
    The average faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute.
    The New York City water supply system leaks 36 million gallons per day.
    It takes 39,090 gallons of water to manufacture a new car.
    At 1 drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons per year.

    • Sorry to say but growing cotton and feed in the desert of the southern california great valley uses most of the water in california. Around 85% although there is a lot in almonds and grapes as well, (to be fair) Big issue is the subsidized cost of 44/acre foot vs $40+ to pay for energy to pump it down south. San Diego at Carlsbad is starting up their desalination plant. Haven’t seen those costs but at least they don’t kill salmon in drying up rivers. Got to realistically price water from the bay delta and drip irrigate appropriate crops with costs equivalent to desalination. Plus don’t kill salmon, trout and smelt in the delta.

      Scott

    • It takes about 130 gallons of water to grow and 5 gallons of water
      to distill a single gallon of maize ethanol, that is, if only 15% of the
      crop is irrigated, likely more.

      In comparison, it takes 3 gallons of water to extract and 2 gallons
      to refine a gallon of gasoline.

    • Water in food dominates all of our uses of it. Domestic is quite a small part of the overall total.

  51. $4 is the subsidized cost per acre foot, not 44.. No wonder we are short water when it is cheaper to waste it than to conserve. Water industry feels a lot of water in river is wasted, when in fact it is the life blood of the ecosystem. Need nuclear fusion to be successful in the mid to long term.
    Scott

    • I did some work on irrigation in Queensland some years ago. On average farmers paid about 23% of the cost of supply, encouraging water-intensive practices. In addition, water rights were given away or sold for a pittance. The value of those rights to cheap water became built into the value of the land, making rationalisation of water rights, farm sites and practices more difficult. No wonder I’m in favour of good policy in the broader public interest rather than bad, ill-informed policy which favours vested interests.

      I recall perhaps 20-odd years ago the head of the Queensland grain growers organisation arguing that grain growing in SW Queensland was viable, it was only ten years of drought that made it appear non-viable, if only government would subsidise farmers for another ten years, it would be fine. I’d say “Talk about denying reality!”, except that the reality is that governments have tended to support non-viable farms rather than encourage rationalisation. Currently the leading rural politician, a Coalition Minister, is arguing that our debt-laden government should take on $A7 billion of rural debt to bail out farmers – mainly in, yes, drought-stricken Queensland.

  52. Nearly all of the comments above are looking at animals and their use by humans and role in Nature from a purely wealthy urbanised western viewpoint with a nice admixture from some commenters of a suppressed guilt complex about animal usage and mis-usage,

    As a retired farmer I personally have always deplored and hated to see any mistreatment and cruelty to any creature but the harsh reality is that humanity has domesticated animals and now quite deliberately uses animals both as a source of power and a source of nutrients that we as humans can process internally.

    For many hundreds of millions of humanity who live in dry or harsh environments unsuited to agriculture and thats a hell of a lot of the land surface of this planet, animals are the only way of converting indigestible low nutrient value natural vegetation into a form of protein that is after cooking, becomes easily digestible by humans.

    There is a theory kicking around that the development of the cooking of meat which creates a far more easily digested level of available protein to be made useable to the human digestive system which, it is proposed, led to the consequent development of brain size and complexity and so to humanity.

    • True, using our paleo instead of urban brains us early humans were last on the scene and by then we scavengers had little to pick over but bones, which we put on a fire and smashed open with stone tools to get at the marrow, hence our love to this very day for large mammals.

    • Smashing marrow bones with a stone axe, those were the good old days. Then came those new fangled fire-starters and screwed everything up.

    • I crossed over the Bering Strait just get out of the rat race and made my way down the coast to southern Cal where it took just a relative few minutes out of every day to satisfy all my earthly Indian wants and needs. Then, the white man came and everything was different–i.e., what’s with this cockamamie idea of having to work for a living.

    • I use animals in research; mostly I grow human cancers in mice that have mutations in their immune system that does not allow hem to reject the foreign tissue.
      I don’t like doing animal work, but I find moral justification in the fact I am attempting to cure lethal human disease.
      I weigh human life much higher than animal life. People who don’t issue death threats and break into labs and ‘liberate’ the animals. The fact that the animals could never survive in the wild escapes them.

  53. Can someone explain why putting nitrogen in the soil is bad?

    Seems like that is the first (and biggest) number on a bag of fertilizer…

    • It is the excess that overflows into the rivers and causes eutrophication and oxygen dificiency. Excess on land kill the fish and flora in the water and grows green ych.
      Scott

  54. Sara Stein describes paradise, 50 million years ago, on Eocene-Earth as a lot warmer than today. “The world,” according to Stein, “that all the little brown furry things [mammals] inherited from the dinosaurs was paradise. The climate was so mild that redwoods, unable now to live much further north than California’s pleasant coast, grew in Alaska, Greenland, Sweden, and Siberia. There was no ice in the Arctic. Palm trees grew as far north as 50 degrees latitude, roughly the boundary between the United States and Canada. Below that subtropical zone—that was similar to Florida’s landscape today—was a broad band of tropical rain forest.”[Sara Stein, The Evolution Book. New York: Workman Publishing, 1986, pp. 245-246]8888888

  55. The Left indulges itself in the best society has to offer while imagining peasant girls dancing on grapes with bare feet to make wine and conjuring up fanciful notions about idyllic rural happiness. All the while these pampered and hypocritical urban climate alarmists probably have never even grown a tomato plant. Does this energy-hating new climatocracy ever stop to consider the life of toil actually involved in the manual threshing of fields for those without energy? Will the climatocracy be ready to go to the farms when their liberal Utopia crashes down under the weight of collective ignorance?

  56. The CSIRO report is through but uses the IPCC ‘greenhouse gas’ without question. It should never be forgotten that the ‘greenhouse gas’ theory is just an analogy and not a scientific proof of its assertions. The theory includes the notion that continuous differential equation style models can adequately explain climate change in the 20th and 21st centuries, when quite clearly they failed to do so between 1940 and 1970. when global temperature actually fell, and 1997 to the present when it has been nearly constant

    In fact it is more accurate to describe global warming as an on/off phenomenon, or as piecewise linear systems. See my theoretical model underlined above

  57. grass needs the cow, as much as cow needs grass – methane is not a greenhouse gas: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/methane-ch4/

  58. soils enriched with nitrogen, phosphorous is improved soil, it’s healthy soil – those articles must be writhen by Vegan people

  59. Choice of words can say a lot. Caustic is an inflammatory word to describe the weakly alkaline ammonia at the concentrations and pH values in soils. It is redolent of the, frankly pathetic, IPCC description of the weakly acidic CO2/H20 product as “highly reactive”.

    Their combined product, ammonium bicarbonate, is traditionally also known as “smelling salts”, as might be used to revive swooning young ladies in Jane Austen novels.

  60. Willis, this paper is not worth getting the data from. FAO has everything by country. Anyone can access. There are cointry specific cross checks, like lefumes in India, which say data are generally OK. See a few graphs pulled without using R in Gaia’s Limits.
    As for the meat/grain issue, is much more complicated than the paper or the Economist indicates, as the rancher indicated in Judith’s original post.. Grazing versus grain, species (goat is really grazing efficient), region (dry grassy plains would be otherwise agriculturally barren), feedstock (distillers grain is an efficient use of US maize (corn) after ethanol fermentation on my dairy farm…).
    Food is a wicked problem, not to be oversimplified. Just like climate. The Economist muffed it. As do most vegetarians.

  61. Maybe a little off topic but…

    From the Science is Settled Department “A study published years ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the average normal temperature for adults to be 98.2°, not 98.6°, and replaced the 100.4° fever mark with fever thresholds based on the time of day.”

    Harvard Health: Normal Body Temperature : Rethinking the normal human body temperature

  62. It is not possible to know what the losses in full-time employment would have been — due to the implementation of global warming alarmist policies — if Al Gore had been elected president or if Obama had managed to bring about these Leftist policies. But we do know that is what the Left wished to do, even though such policies had to mean a lot of people would never find employment and many others would not find full time jobs.

  63. We are warned of the build-up of nitrogen from livestock farming, producing too much ammonia (which is caustic).

    At the same time we hear horror stories of acidification from CO2.

    Go figure.

  64. The population is not increasing rapidly. It’s headed for a Pause — yes, another one — and peak at about 8bn in 2045, declining thereafter as far as the eye can see.

    If the cows weren’t belching methane, the vegans would be.

  65. Generalissimo Skippy

    ‘We estimated that in 2007, total emissions amounted to 45.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e) and total sequestration was 28.5 Mt CO2-e. Thus, the net carbon emissions were 17.4 Mt CO2-e. This figure does not include any change in soil carbon and does not include the full effects of the land clearing legislation and hence there is potential for a positive effect on current net emissions estimates. Assuming a continuation of the existing downward trend in land clearing due to regulatory controls, the net carbon position is estimated to be 1.2 Mt CO2-e.

    In addition, a significant amount of carbon is stored in soil, vegetation and livestock. How these stocks are managed will determine the loss of carbon from those stocks (emissions) and capture of carbon (sequestration). An estimated 22,720 Mt CO2-e are being managed by the pastoral beef enterprises in Queensland. There are large uncertainties regarding estimates of soil carbon and further research is required to understand the stability and fractions of soil carbon in grazing land and the impacts of different management options…

    While the report excludes current contribution of soil carbon to the ‘net’ position due to insufficient data sets, it does indicate the significant potential gains that could be achieved through improvements in land condition and soil carbon levels and their further impact on the net position of the industry. For example, this report outlines that moving half of the current C (poor) condition land in Queensland to B (reasonable) condition over a 25-year-period could sequester an additional 190 Mt CO2-e or 7.6 Mt CO2-e per annum. There are also multiple benefits of improving land condition, including higher livestock productivity.’ http://www.futurebeef.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Net-carbon-beef-industry.pdf

    Grazing is here to stay as is meat eating – and there is a potential to change management systems to make it a net sink for CO2. However – there are a number of issues surrounding savannah and open woodland management in Australia and elsewhere. Reduced grazing pressure – and reduced clearing – results in conversion of open woodland to woody weeds reducing biodiversity, increasing the intensity of wildfires – and therefore C flux to the atmosphere and increasing erosion following fire – and reducing rainwater infiltration to groundwater stores. Reduction of grazing per se results in increases in feral and native grazers – especially where water points remain open.

    The point is to improve integrated Earth systems science – erosion reduction, biodiversity maintenance, improved water quality downstream – but perhaps more importantly improved management systems on a farm scale that take into account broad economic and environmental considerations. The major funding source for this is farm productivity and profitability.

    Ammonia binds to soil until rapidly oxidized to nitrite and nitrate. N0x is mobile in soils and high concentrations are found beneath intensive livestock facilities. Phosphorous is immobile in soils above the saturated zone where it is reduced to the soluble PO4 form.

    Nutrients are mobilized through erosion, organic material export, urban runoff and in sewage effluent. Urban runoff and sewage can be treated to high quality and in the latter case irrigated. The major contribution to waterway eutrophication is in organic export and erosion from forest and agricultural soils. Phosphorous is bound to soil particles and quickly settles – especially as it mixes with deionizing salt water. Nitrogen is lost with organisms settling to the bottom of aquatic environments where NOx is formed in the oxic layer and potentially denitrified to NO and NO2 in the anoxic zone.

    Sediments are oxic to about the top centimeter and anoxic below that. Phosphorous accumulates in sediment in soluble form below the oxic zone – along with other metals and metalloids. Anoxic zones – in both freshwater and marine systems – form when sufficient organic material falls to the bottom to deoxygenate the surface centimeter resulting in a pulse of soluble phosphorous entering the water column. Nitrogen fixing organisms multiply and decay oxertaxing the oxygenation processes in the water column.

    The situation can be improved but it is a long game.

  66. When I was a kid there was a bumper sticker that read: We eat Montana beef not LBJ Baloney! We used to deer hunt at the ranch of the electorial college vote guy. He had to vote for tricky dicky even tough hee hated him (too liberal). Anyway, the best steak I ever eat was the range feed beef from his ranch near Cascade Mt.

    • Before the introduction of corn-fed beef, Americans vastly preferred eating pork. That is how bad grass-fed meat tastes to average American consumers. To compete with pork then, they butchered calves. So the meat would not be as nasty.

      Corn made beef king in the USA. It started in the early 1900’s, rocketed to dominance in the 1950’s when scientists started agreeing with pioneering producers.

      This came up this morning on one of network morning shows. The network host trashed grass-fed beef. People who have never tasted game meat think purely grass-fed steaks taste bad.

      The politician who created that bumper sticker lost. The beef producers had to distance themselves from it. The very last thing they wanted in the 1960’s was for a purely grass-fed steak to show up in a grocery store or a steakhouse.

  67. I was under the impression the developed countries are already flatlining or declining in population. The birthrate in the developing world is decreasing as well. We probably hit peak human population in our lifetime. The best thing we could do for the environment is cleanup up our urban and suburban blight and get rid of ethanol. Remove the unused dams, especially in the United States and Europe (which restore the fisheries), replant our oyster populations in the estuaries to improve water quality. Embrace the fact that humans help balance the ecosystem as a top predator.

  68. What if…
    What if, a significant part of the Earth’s land surface, it’s grasslands, really aren’t capable of feeding a human population -except by animal raising, mimicking nature, in large but compact herds. Sounds counter-intuitive but…

    This concept from a TED talk by Allen Savory:

    This is what Mr. Savory has to say on the subject from minute 18:30:

    We have now in the violent horn of Africa, pastoralists, mimicking nature and openly saying that it is the only way to save to save their families and save their culture. Ninety-five percent of that land can only feed people from animals. I remind you that we are talking about most of the world’s land here that controls our fate, including the most violent region of the world, where only animals can feed people from 95% of the land. What we are doing globally [in regards to land use and live stock] is causing climate change as much, I believe, as fossil fuels, and maybe more, but worse than that it is causing: hunger, poverty, violence, social breakdown, and war. And, as I am talking to you MILLIONS, of men, women and children are suffering and dying, and if this continues we are unlikely to stop the climate changing even after we have eliminated the use of fossil fuels.

    In my opinion, in addition to Allan Savory’s points about “holistic herding”, what you have to get under your belts is that everything that everyone [scientific biologists] has been telling you for the last forty years about livestock management has been completely wrong. Ok, they were wrong now we have to get with what actually works – and then feed the people. If a pastoral economy is what works, then so be it , let them eat meat – letting the people starve is not an option.

    If you happen to be a vegetarian yourself, fine, but after watching this presentation you may have to relax your position about vegetarianism globally, that is if you care about the lives and well being of people who’s skin color may well be a deeper shade of brown than your own.

    I don’t know, perhaps Mr. Savory’s successes are coincidental other climatic changes, but it looks real enough to give it serious study.

    W^3

    • I’ve chosen not to eat meat, but I have no interest in seeking to lecture or persuade others on this, no position to relax, there are obviously places where meat-eating is necessary or very helpful. If Savory’s ideas help people to be better fed and more prosperous, go for it. If they also restore damaged habitat, even better.

    • Alan Savory may be a typical convert-type and something of a self-promoter (he does TED, right?) but I wouldn’t discount the bulk of what he says. Damascus Road zealots and TED have their place.

      What Savory is saying, however, is hardly new. In most Hollywood movies where farmsteaders are at odds with open range cattlemen the bad guys are the latter, though sometimes praised for their guts and resilience. But in one old movie, The Westerner of 1940, the real case for open range is briefly introduced to the script. While the fence-cutting cattlemen still turn out to be the bad guys overall, it’s briefly stated by Gary Cooper’s character that free moving cattle are best for range/prairie country, since other means of farming disturb the balance.

      That was a first for Hollywood. Also a last, I’d say.

    • I don’t know. Really, I’m not an expert, I was fetched up to the notion of cattlemen overgrazing the range lands are the problem so you have to keep cutting their herds down till everything is ok again. Well, maybe that’s not the best way to do it. This represents a real shift in position for me.

      Pastoralism is ancient, ancient. Our protohuman ancestors, man the hunted, were in the business long ago, trailing along after ungulate herds flipping over cow pies to get the beetles underneath. You can watch baboons doing the same thing today.

      Savory’s point, as best I understand it, is get modern herds to function ecologically in their environment in the same way as they evolved. Other forms of intensive livestock rearing may work well, but for poor people especially, and ones who are not so completely constrained by fences and development. Savory’s method may feed the most people with the least ecological harm.

      W^3

    • mosomoso

      Yeah. The farmers with their fences were the bane for the cattlemen in the old western movies.

      But even worse were the sheepherders. “Git them sheep outa here – this here’s cattle country!”

      Max

    • Generalissimo Skippy

      Intensive rotational grazing is mainstream agriculture. It is not necessarily about no fenced paddocks but typically about more paddocks and frequent movement of stock between paddocks.

      e.g. http://archive.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/past/lpi607intensiverotationalgrazing1.pdf

      It is discussed briefly here – http://judithcurry.com/2013/06/07/soil-carbon-permanent-pasture-as-an-approach-to-co2-sequestration/

  69. Limiting population growth is the 3rd rail and our only salvation. It is a very simple model that works. Who will touch it first?

    • Demonstrate how you’d see it being implemented. Start with your own family.

    • On Tyneside’s local railway system and the London Underground, I was always told: “Don’t touch the third rail!”

      That’s still good advice. Population will sort itself out. No salvation in anti-humanism.

    • Yeah, the way I figure, there’s just enough of me and way too many of you. (Apologies to PJ)

    • Philbert

      Looks like the “population explosion” is taking care of itself.

      We already see a significant slowdown from the 1.7% compounded annual growth rate seen between 1970 and 2000.

      The UN plus US Census Bureau project world population to grow from today’s 7 billion to a bit more than 10 billion by 2100, or a CAGR of a bit more than 0.4% per year.

      China’s “one child” policy may have been partly instrumental in this, but it is also projected that as nations develop their economies and increase the standard of living of their populations, their population growth rates slow down.

      Per capita GDP and carbon footprint are both much higher in the industrially developed nations than in the others – at the same time, population growth rates are lower.

      IOW there seems to be an inverse correlation between per capita carbon footprint of a nation and its population growth rate. And a direct correlation between affluence (per capita GDP) and per capita carbon footprint.

      So the answer to the “population explosion” would seem to be to make sure that underdeveloped nations gain access to a reliable source of low-cost energy to pull themselves out of poverty (as we did hundred years ago and as China/India are doing today). At the present time, this would seem to most logically be based on fossil fuels (plus some nuclear, where there are no proliferation concerns).

      And this would mean that the per capita carbon footprint of these nations would have to increase.

      Max

  70. PL – Implementation complete. We are in our 60’s with 2 wonderful children.

    • That’s not depopulation. Depopulation is all of you committing suicide.

      However, if you are trying to imply that you think you are helping to depopulate the world by stopping at two children, and want to force everyone else to adopt your beliefs, or want governments to force depopulation by law, then that is repugnant.

      the way to achieve depopulation is to spread wealth throughout the world as fast as we reasonably can. We do that by facilitating free trade, globalisation, deregulation, and making energy as cheap as possible for everyone. Therefore, the policies advocated by most activist climate scientist, greenies, and government representatives at the UN climate conferences for the past 20 years are exactly the opposite of the policies that can succeed.

      Given that the only viable alternative to fossil fuel is effectively blocked by greenie activists spreading BS, the peoples if the world need to burn as much fossil fuel as they need to make them rich. tht will continue until the greenies recognise the errors of their ways and reverse their opposition to nuclear power.

    • Peter Lang

      Looks like we are on the same track.

      Max

    • Peter Lang | February 8, 2014 at 2:36 am |

      “That’s not depopulation. Depopulation is all of you committing suicide.”

      That’s a bit rude.

      “However, if you are trying to imply that you think you are helping to depopulate the world by stopping at two children, and want to force everyone else to adopt your beliefs, or want governments to force depopulation by law, then that is repugnant.”

      Evidence shows that no coercion is required. Give people a better standard of living and the number of children rapidly drops towards 2 per couple.

      Worldwide.

    • If one looks at our (my wife and I) parents’ generation one finds:

      1. they lived in fabulous modern homes
      2. they were avid consumers of consumer goods: cars, clothing, furniture, boats, jewelry, electronics, etc.
      3. they went to college and graduate school
      4. they were members of multiple social clubs
      5. they gave large amounts of money and time to their churches.

      One set had 9 kids and the other 5. Their children: 4 have no children; 1 has 3 children; the rest have two children. Only two can be said to be as well off as their parents.

      You need a new theory. Try stagnation of wages and compensating mechanisms. Might be something to it. I don’t know. I’m in the oil business, and I’ll go to war against anybody who tries to force me to give cheap energy to people who can’t pay high prices for it. High baby, high. Through the freakin’ roof.

    • JCH | February 8, 2014 at 6:09 am |

      “I’m in the oil business, and I’ll go to war against anybody who tries to force me to give cheap energy to people who can’t pay high prices for it. High baby, high. Through the freakin’ roof.”

      As China has found, a seller requires a buyer who can afford what they sell, at the price they want to sell it at.

      China has not yet figured out how to be the World’s largest seller, in the same way as the USA has not yet figured out how to be the World’s largest buyer. :-)

  71. “The End of Snow”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-snow.html?emc=edit_tnt_20140207&tntemail0=y&_r=2

    Forget the Greenland ice sheet, or Antarctica.

    “I was floored by how much snow had already disappeared from the planet, not to mention how much was predicted to melt in my lifetime.”

    Not surprisingly, the “research” on which this scintillating piece of “journalism” was based was funded by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    Maybe the New York Times should have queried the London Times about predictions of the end of snow.

    (And this comment is definitely on topic – on a thread about bovine excrement.)

  72. Prof debunks flatulence as major cause of global warming-

    In 2006, the United Nations concluded that the livestock industry was a big contributor to climate change.

    In its report “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” the U.N. concluded that livestock were contributing 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases — allegedly more than the entire world’s transpiration.

    Mitloehner convinced the U.N. to recant its claim in 2010.

    The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used the report to forecast that Himalayan glaciers might vanish within 25 years.

    http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/prof-debunks-flatulence-as-major-cause-of-global-warming/article_1c6c9c5e-2dbb-11e2-9e51-0019bb2963f4.html

    . . .
    The CSIRO gave up the “S” long ago when it advocated consensus-
    Carbon tax hit small: CSIRO

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/carbon-tax-hit-small-csiro-20111112-1ncvq.html

  73. PL – Please consider drinking decaffeinated coffee.

  74. I would highly recommend reading The Locavore’s Dilemma. http://www.globavore.org/

  75. J Calvert NUK

    Are global warmists losing their own plot here?
    The original story was that prior the Industrial Revolution, the Carbon Cycle was in ‘equilibrium’ – including methane.
    The industrial age upset the equilibrium by:
    a) large-scale injection of fossil carbon back into the Carbon Cycle – as atmospheric CO2;
    b) large-scale permanent felling of forests – which act as large carbon reservoirs – causing a surge of CO2 into the Carbon Cycle from that source (and also somewhat reducing the biosphere’s power to reclaim carbon from the atmosphere).
    I can’t see cow farts having much of an impact on this bigger picture. That part of the Carbon Cycle is still in equilibrium.

  76. Extreme environmentalism has a precedent:

    Cui bono?

  77. Now why would greens go to the trouble of presenting a “…unique, biologically consistent, spatially disaggregated global livestock dataset containing information on biomass use, production, feed efficiency, excretion, and greenhouse gas emissions for 28 regions … etc.” ? Because they don’t like the greenhouse gases in their gaseous effusions. If it wasn’t for that you would never see an article like this. Their hatred of greenhouse gases is based on the misconception that carbon dioxide has been warming up the world. Nothing is further from the truth. If you take a look at alleged greenhouse warming in the twentieth century you will find that there was none. Hansen and others allott a total of 0.8 degrees warming to the entire century. This warming was not steady but happened in two warming incidents. The first one started in 1910, raised global temperature by half a degree, and stopped in 1940. The second one started in 1999, raised global temperature by a third of a degree in only three years, and then stopped. Together they account for all of the 0.8 degrees of the warming during the entire twentieth century. If you now want to call either one of these warmings greenhouse warming you must demonstrate that there was an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide at the same time when the warming started. Radiation laws of physics require this because the absorbency of the gas is a property of its molecules and cannot be changed. We know extremely well what carbon dioxide was doing from the Keeling curve and its extension by Law Dome ice cores. There is not a wrinkle in the atmospheric carbon dioxide curve either in 1910 or in 1999. This proves that carbon dioxide caused no warming in the twentieth century. And as is well known, there is no warming in the twenty-first century either. From which the conclusion is inevitable: there is no such thing as greenhouse warming, allegedly produced by atmospheric carbon dioxide.
    The greenhouse theory that IPCC has been pushing for the last twenty five years is simply dead. It is almost comical that during two thirds of their existence there was no observed global warming and yet they kept believing in the redemption of their greenhouse theory. As a scientist I can only explain this in a limited way. It could be extreme stupidity but I think not. It could be lieing and it could be self-deception. I think a combination of the last two most likely explains it, along with the desire for funding and political rewards. As to the demise of the greenhouse theory, it deserves it because it is wrong. Just pseudo-science. It applies to carbon dioxide alone and ignores the fact that in the real atmosphere we have a mixture of greenhouse gases simultaneously absorbing in the IR. Only Miskolczi theory of greenhouse gases is capable of handling this general case. According to him, if more than one greenhouse gas simultaneously absorb there exists an optimum absorption window which they jointly maintain. For earth atmosphere the gases that count are carbon dioxide and water vapor. The optical thickness of their joint absorption window in the IR is 1.87. It corresponds to a transmittance of 15 percent or absorbance of 85 percent. If you now add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere it will start to absorb as the Arrhenius theory predicts. But this will increase the optical thickness and as soon as this happens water vapor will start to decrease, rain out, and the optimum optical thickness is restored. In 2010 he tested this concept using NOAA weather balloon database that goes back to 1948 by measuring IR absorption by the atmosphere as a function of time. And discovered that the absorption was constant for 61 years while carbon dioxide at the same time increased by 21.6 percent. Contrary to Arrhenius theory, the addition of this substantial amount of carbon dioxide to air had no influence on the absorption of IR by the atmosphere. This explains the senenteen year hiatus-pause-cessation-of-warming of today. But if you think about it, isn’t it strange that it started suddenly only 17 years ago? The answer is that it did not start 17 years ago. Older warming designated as greenhouse is nothing more than natural warming, misidentified by over-eager pseudo-scientists as greenhouse warming. I will take up fake warming that I discovered later.
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