Thursday, July 12, 2007

The great carbon cover up, part 1

In Denmark we are proud to have committed to the Kyoto goals of reducing our emissions. It’s still very much doubtful that we will in fact hit the target, but at least we feel we are doing something.
However, you never hear any discussion of the impacts of our agricultural industry on the greenhouse effect.
There are 5 mio. People living in Denmark, but at any time there is also about 13.5 mio. Pigs. Annually, about 25 mio. Pigs are slaughtered in Denmark.
The Average Danish person emits around 10 tons of carbon dioxide annually. According to The Economist, ”every year the average sow and her piglets produce 9.2 tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent through the methane emissions from their effluent”.
In that case, it seems that the true Danish carbon emissions are about 3 times the official figure.

Apart from the damaging effect of all the methane that these pigs produce, it also takes considerable energy to raise those 25 mio. Pigs annually.
Obviously, you lose a lot of calories when you raise meat, somewhere between a factor 5 to 10, as far as I have been able to research.
Pigs are slaughtered at the age of 4-5 months, when they have reached a weight of about 100 kilo.
Even though Denmark is a wonderfully fertile country we cannot produce enough to feed those pigs, so a considerable part of this is shipped in from Brazil, Argentina and other soy producers. It takes a lot of energy to grow that soy, for fertilizers, machinery and transportation. Fertilizer is produced from natural gas and transportation fuel is almost all fossil as well.
(To make matters worse, the land used for producing soy in Brazil and Argentina is partly forests that have been cleared – and thus no longer help to stabilize the climate.)
Finally, 80% of the meat is exported, adding more transportation and more emissions.

Oh, did I forget cows? Denmark is a big dairy producer. We have 650.000 cows – and cows fart too.

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