Unpicking Fassler’s myths – Three: beef

Chris Smaje, author of Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future, continues to unpick the truth behind Joe Fassler’s five climate myths

Myth 3: Eating beef isn’t a problem in the USA

IN A sense, this is a reprise of the previous myths so I won’t say too much more about it. Fassler cites a study that found beef production contributed 3.3% of the USA’s overall climate footprint. That overall climate footprint is pretty big: Fassler’s argument is that 3.3% of a big thing is still a big thing.

Well, that’s true. There are ways to question the 3.3% figure and suggest it’s too high, but I think the main points to reiterate here are the ones I’ve already made about the derived nature of agricultural emissions in respect of fossil energy and the short-termism of the methane issue.

One other issue is the whataboutery that plagues this whole debate. It cuts both ways. Critics of livestock agriculture can rightly say that 3.3% of a big environmental bad is still a big environmental bad and block their ears against any defence of livestock on the grounds that really we should be focusing on the bigger bads. Fair enough. It’s right that every economic sector should look to cut its emissions. All the same, we should focusing on the bigger bads – especially because they make possible most of the smaller bads of the livestock sector.

Read the series introduction

Read Smaje’s response to Myth one: fossil fuels

Read Smaje’s response to Myth two: methane

Read Smaje’s response to Myth four: cattle

Read Smaje’s response to Myth five: future tech

Read Fassler’s article


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