A new Guardian investigation reveals the U.N.'s farming wing downplayed livestock emissions after pressure from the meat, feed and dairy industries.
The main thrust here seems to be that FAO and USDA estimates for the size of agriculture’s GHG generation are way off — but this completely misses the fact that ALL of the estimates people use for GHG impacts are likely to be way off.
Here’s a study that used in-field measurements of methane leaking from US fertilizer manufacturing plants that showed that EPA estimates of methane impact from the fertilizer manufacturing industry were off by a factor of 100 — meaning that the fertilizer industry generates more methane each year than EPA estimates for all US manufacturing combined. See https://ens-newswire.com/us-fertilizer-plants-emit-100-times-the-methane-reported/.
The concrete industry is widely reported to be the source of 6 percent of GHG generation worldwide — but I have had conversations with industry insiders who say that they know of individual concrete manufacturers who account for 6 percent of worldwide GHG production by themselves.
Final point: While cows and other ruminant livestock may account for more than 10% of global GHG production, the US industrial ag results look quite different, coming in under 4% of US GHG production. Some of that is due to the efficiency of the US production system; some of it is due to the US having so many other sources of GHG production. But you can’t just wish away food production — you have to replace it with something else for people to eat that meets their needs. When you account for the climate impact of producing that replacement food, you get a net climate impact of beef production in the US of around 2%. That is worth paying attention to — but if Newsweek says it only gets coverage in 7% of the news stories (presumably US news), I have to ask if that’s truly out of whack. Maybe it’s really over-represented by more than three-fold, and we instead should be paying more attention to the large companies which are generating so much GHGs instead.