Yet again the pundits, the media and even scientists who should know better, continue to headline and promote a completely incorrect argument about global warming and eating meat. As I explained in previous mail-outs, this is because methane behaves very differently from carbon in the atmosphere. But this nonsense is making me so cross I will repeat the arguments again.
When carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere it will remain there unchanged for thousands of years unless it is taken up by plants or plankton. Methane, on the other hand, degrades quite quickly so it's potency disappears (in about 8 years) to produce carbon dioxide. So, in the case of ruminant methane the carbon which was taken up by plants consumed by the animals is simply recycled back into plant growth – there is no net gain of atmospheric carbon.
The methane produced by ruminants produces just 4 percent of global warming. Where livestock numbers and methods of husbandry remain unchanged then we can continue to eat their meat without causing any increase in global warming. The carbon in methane produced by ruminants is soon recycled by the plants the animals eat. This is very different from the methane arising from the oil industry which is releasing new carbon mined from the stored deposits of ancient carbon in oil.
Throughout Britain and Europe meat eating has always been an accepted part of a good diet and the beautiful livestock which produce this meat have been a continual feature of country life. Millions of acres which cannot be cultivated are grazed and managed through livestock husbandry. It is complete nonsense to say that by continuing to eat meat we Europeans are adding to global warming. Of course if we cut down forest and expand ruminant numbers in other parts of the world this will add to global warming. But this does not apply to Britain and Europe.