Livestock Industry Contributes Very Little to Greenhouse Gasses
By Patrick Cavanaugh
Sarah Klopatek is passionate about the cattle industry and her academic research, particularly working with greenhouse gasses, air emissions, water quality, water quantity, and how we can turn that into a lifecycle assessment.
Klopatek understands that agriculture is an unknown science to many, so she seeks to convey this message of sustainable practices in the cattle industry to the public. “I want to talk to our consumers and say, ‘Yes, we are living in a sustainable industry.’”
“With only one percent of Americans in agriculture,” said Klopatek, “and 99 percent of them not in agriculture, it’s not their fault that they don’t know what’s going on. Plus, consumers are continuously bombarded with negativity about our industry, so it is our role as scientists to communicate the science of agriculture to both the producers and consumers. That is the only way the sustainability of our industry will continue.”
Klopatek explained, “When I discuss greenhouse gasses, I’m discussing the cow/calf in the beef sector, feedlots in the beef sector, as well as, cattle in the dairy sector. But, notably, when it comes to greenhouse gas production, the dairy and beef industries are far down the list.”
“Look at our nations transportation sector—which contributes 27 percent of greenhouse gasses and our energy sector—which is 32 percent of greenhouse gasses. By comparison, is the beef cattle industry—which is 2.2 percent, a problem? Well, I would have to say that we can always improve, and that we always improve.”
“In addition, we have already made vast, vast improvements. Today, we are able to produce more beef with fewer animals, while releasing fewer greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of beef. Likewise, we produce more milk with fewer animals, while releasing fewer greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of milk,” noted Klopatek.
“We want to always go back to the primitive beautiful red barn scenario, but we are going to have close to 10 billion people in 2050. We cannot have that [sustain our growing population] with two cows per small plot of land. So, we must convey to the world that it is going to be difficult to feed all of these people, and it’s going to be difficult to feed them with fewer and fewer resources. So that’s my goal,” she said.