Raising Livestock Does Not Have to be Bad for Climate

Food which is produced as a result of traditional grazing on this peninsula in particular, represents the very antithesis of that planet- wrecking scenario. In fact, meat and dairy products that are the result of very carefully managed grazing systems can lower carbon in the atmosphere.

Anyone gazing at the green hills of the Westcountry must wonder what all the fuss is about. Why are people saying agriculture is messing up the planet – this peninsula looks like an earthly version of heaven? Why accuse innocent animals like cows and sheep of contributing to climate change – they've been here for centuries and we haven't overheated yet?

The disturbing fact, however, is that the latest scientific thinking suggests Europe's natural environment is only capable of mopping up a pathetic two per cent of the carbon we create by burning fossil fuels.


It should be more. The forests and untouched grasslands could offset around 19 per cent of the emissions caused by fossil fuel burning. But scientists now believe that agricultural and drained peat lands are emitting their own vast quantities of CO2, which cancels part of this sink.

As a by-product of our heavy management of the landscape, other powerful greenhouse gases are released – including methane from ruminants and nitrous oxide from fertilisers. Maybe the vociferous section of the climate-change lobby which is calling for a reduction in animal-based farming is right to do so?

Well, yes – and no.

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