New Paper “Increasing World Consumption Of Beef As A Driver Of Regional And Global Change: A Call For Policy Action Based On Evidence From Queensland (Australia), Colombia and Brazil” By McAlpine et al. 2009

Climate Science has urged a broader perspective on the role of humans within environment. There is a new paper which supports this view. It is

McAlpine, C.A., A. Etter, P.M. Fearnside, L. Seabrook, and W.F. Laurance, 2009: Increasing world consumption of beef as a driver of regional and global change: A call for policy action based on Evidence from Queensland (Australia), Colombia and Brazil, Global Environmental Change,19, issue 1, 21 – 33.

The abstract reads

“While the global community is seeking to reduce fossil fuel consumption, a parallel but equally important issue is the environmental impacts of increased world consumption of beef. We provide a comparative analysis and synthesis of the expansion of beef cattle production and its regional and global environmental impacts for Queensland (Australia), Colombia and Brazil. Evidence assembled indicates that rising beef consumption is a major driver of regional and global change, and warrants greater policy attention. We propose four policy imperatives to help mitigate escalating environmental impacts of beef: stop subsidising beef production and promoting beef consumption; control future expansion of soybeans and extensive grazing; protect and restore regrowth forests in grazing lands; and allocate resources to less environmentally damaging alternative land uses.”

The article includes the text

While the world is becoming increasingly carbon-conscious (Stern, 2006; IPCC, 2007a,b), a parallel but equally important issue is the impact on the biosphere of extensive land-use and landcover changes (LULCC) due to population growth and increased per-capita consumption levels (Pielke, 2005).


 Tighter controls over the expansion of the beef industry and livestock fodder crops such as soybeans represent a priority global and regional strategy to halt tropical deforestation. This would make a major contribution to reducing carbon emissions and to biodiversity conservation, maintaining ecosystem services and relatively cooler, moister climates in the deforested and adjacent regions (Betts, 2008). Policy makers have been slow to recognise this two-way link between the biosphere and the climate system (Foley et al., 2003a; Pielke et al., 2007). Avoiding future deforestation through reducing the consumption of beef therefore represents a win–win scenario for carbon sequestration, protecting biodiversity and maintaining regional hydrological cycles and a wide array of other ecosystem services. Controls on deforestation need to be accompanied by tighter controls over the introduction and spread of exotic grasses by the beef industry as a priority for reducing the regional environmental impacts of cattle.

Climate Science applauds the McAlpine et al paper which recommends a multi-dimensional assessment of an environmental issue, rather than  a narrow focus on carbon emissions as promoted by the IPCC reports.

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