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Hangry September 23, 2019 Avocados and Fracking

“Who would want to take away your hamburgers and eliminate cows?

“Well, Pat Brown does, and pronto. A sixty-five-year-old emeritus professor of biochemistry at Stanford University, Brown is the founder and C.E.O. of Impossible Foods. By developing plant-based beef, chicken, pork, lamb, dairy, and fish, he intends to wipe out all animal agriculture and deep-sea fishing by 2035.”

At a sustainable food conference in Stockholm, Impossible Burger’s Pat Brown said, “the canonical poor farmer with his goat, or whatever, would get to keep it. But he would also get the benefits of averting catastrophic climate change and of our eliminating the biggest drain on his freshwater sources and his land—which is his neighbors raising cows.”

Later, “Pat Brown had breakfast with Solina Chau, an energetic Hong Konger who is the co-founder of Horizons Ventures. The firm, underwritten by one of Asia’s richest men, Li Ka-shing, has led two rounds of investment in Impossible. Over coffee and avocado toast at the Grand Hotel, Chau was trying to revise Brown’s plan for introducing his [Impossible] burgers into China.”


“In 2016, the expansion of agricultural frontiers accounted for 98 percent of deforestation in Mexico. While the booming production of avocado (often referred to as Mexico’s “green-gold”) has contributed to the country’s economic growth, it has also caused deforestation and degradation in central and southern Mexican forests.”


The avocado toast is one of many ironies. The science in the New Yorker article is iffy. It states: “Meat is essentially a huge check written against the depleted funds of our environment. Agriculture consumes more freshwater than any other human activity, and nearly a third of that water is devoted to raising livestock. One-third of the world’s arable land is used to grow feed for livestock, which are responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Razing forests to graze cattle—an area larger than South America has been cleared in the past quarter century—turns a carbon sink into a carbon spigot.”

Not so fast, says the Diet Doctor website. “Is eating meat bad for the planet? Is that ground chuck on your plate the biggest cause of our escalating climate crisis? Not compared to the burning of fossil fuels for cars, planes, industry, and energy says a provocative new commentary by journalist Paul John Scott [….] Scott charges that the growing focus on reducing meat as a way to realistically address climate change is putting the attention on the wrong issues — to our collective peril. ‘The vegetarian appropriation of the climate crisis is reckless.’

He picks apart the stats: “When you stick to the knowable, direct emissions, the climate burden of cattle fall away. The EPA estimates that 9% of all direct emissions in the U.S. are due to agriculture, compared with 20% from industry, 28% from electricity and 28% from transportation. Just 3.9% are due to livestock. That’s half the CO2 attributable to concrete.”

“What about methane? He takes that apart, too, noting that natural gas leaks created in the process of fracking alone release 13 teragrams of methane a year into the atmosphere — which is double the amount released by cattle. Add to that the methane released by other man-made sources — landfills, air conditioners, agricultural rice paddies — and cows’ methane contribution pales in comparison.”


Maybe he should have taken a solar sailboat instead of flying to the conference.



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