This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Save the Planet--Eat Less Meat

When human societies become better off economically, one of the consequences has been a rise in the demand for meat in the diet. We humans are omnivores, of course, not carnivores, so we don't really need a lot of meat, but it is seen somehow as a luxury good that confirms to ourselves that we are better off than we used to be. The Guardian, however, reports on a new study showing that growing animals for slaughter may be worse for the environment than driving a car. 
Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to a new report. But governments and green campaigners are doing nothing to tackle the issue due to fears of a consumer backlash, warns the analysis from the thinktank Chatham House.

The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming.

“Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little,” said Rob Bailey, the report’s lead author. “A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.”
This does not mean that everyone has to become vegetarian, just as curbing emissions from cars does not mean that everyone has to stop driving. But the problem is that meat consumption is going up, when environmentally it should not be. The graph below shows the biggest meat consuming regions of the world. Not surprisingly, China is first on the list, with the Euro zone and the U.S. next on the list. We need to do something about this, and if you think that you just couldn't stand a world without meat, I recommend that you have dinner at Candle 79 in NYC (Lexington at 79th). Try it, you'll like it.


  1. I had spuds and zuchini for lunch ... so that ought to help.

    But as a remark concerning attitudes about meat. I had an old friendfrom Britain, a veteran of the Second World War, who would look at a dinner plate and say ... "There's nothing worse than a third-world bit of beef!!". So yes, the perception exists that high-quality meat goes hand in hand with advanced civilization. HAHAHA!!!!

    Pete, Redondo Beach

  2. Yes, that is too bad. We need to realize that spuds and zucchini cooked expertly will give us a high-quality meal more worthy of advanced civilization than slaughtering innocent animals who are ruining the environment through no fault of their own.