Home Climate Change Eat Meat, Not Plant Forests, To Beat Climate Change

Eat Meat, Not Plant Forests, To Beat Climate Change

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It’s fun how things derided for so long turn around to become true in the fullness of time. One of which has been – and for the life of me, the Alzheimer’s is catching up, I cannot now remember the name of the famed scientists who made this point (I keep wanting to say Buckminster Fuller but it’s not him and I have spent decades confusing the two names) – that carbon retention in the soil is an obvious and sensible manner of beating climate change. But, importantly, it’s not in forests, rather it’s in pastures.

Which is what this latest research is now telling us:

The study, published in the journal Nature, analysed more than 100 experiments from across the world in which soils, plants and trees were exposed to higher CO2 levels than in today’s atmosphere. The biomass growing in forests rose by 23% in experiments where the CO2 level used was double pre-industrial atmospheric levels. It is 50% higher today. But the forest soils did not store any more organic carbon at all.

It was thought that biomass and soil carbon would increase in tandem, as more plant biomass falls to the ground and turns into organic matter. But increased plant and tree growth requires more nutrients from the soil, which may explain the new finding, the scientists said. Extracting the extra nutrients requires the plants to increase the symbiotic microbial activity in their roots, which then releases CO2 to the atmosphere that might otherwise have remained locked in the soil.

So, from forests, we gain a bolus of carbon sequestration but not an ever increasing amount of it. However, soils under pasture?

The researchers found that in grasslands, elevated CO2 led to 9% plant growth – less than forests – but soil carbon rose by 8%.

That continues over time. As, logically, we would expect as under pasture soils continue to get thicker and thicker in a manner that they don’t in forests.

So, want to beat climate change? Have lots of pastures. How do we have lots of pastures? We raise animals on them. Which means we all go eat meat to beat climate change.

Which is nice, isn’t it?

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Tim. If I felt guilty about eating a nice thick juicy steak I’d now feel better.

    But of course I’ve never felt guilty.

  2. Cows eat grass. Bugs in their several stomachs produce methane. If the cows didn’t eat the grass, bugs in the soil would be there when the grass dies and eat it, producing methane.

    Incidentally, methane breaks down in the atmosphere anyway, it wouldn’t be a problem, if there was any sort of problem at all. Which there isn’t. The fantasy of climate change is a stalking horse to achieve the agenda of whoever is pushing it. In this case vegans. In the case of cars, or power or building, luddites. It should always be challenged at that level, not on the basis of ‘if what you say is true, we could do this’.

  3. We can discontinue freaking out when a sliver of the Amazon forest is converted then? First to (poor) farmland and ultimately left to pasture.

  4. As an approximation a tree is a storage system for a vertical column of water. At least I think over half of a living tree is H2O. Sea levels are going to keep rising, but we do want them to rise slowly if possible by storing more water on land.

  5. Most cattle are raised indoors and fed grain. The image of pasture-fed cows is simply not relevant to the modern world. (Waitrose beef spends more time outdoors than most, if you care for that sort of thing.)

    • That’s the bunny. For some reason I always confuse the two. I mean I know they’re very different and all that. But the two names try not to coexist in my head for some reason, if I can name one I can’t the other.

      • Dyson suggested Dyson Spheres, Buckminster designed Buckminster spheres. A Dyson sphere could be built as a Buckminster sphere, and a Buckminster sphere could be seen as a small terrestial Dyson sphere.

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