I am delighted that EPA has finally moved to abate the disastrous impacts of climate change by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But, given the adverse reaction from the coal industry, the agency should have issued parallel regulations on emissions from meat industry operations. Each state could than determine its own optimal strategy for curbing greenhouse gases.
A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat production accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that the contribution may be closer to 50 percent. The meat industry generates carbon dioxide by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport, and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.
In the meantime, each of us can reduce the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of plant-based lunch meats, hot dogs, veggie burgers and dairy product alternatives, as well as ample selection of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes and transition tips are readily available online.