View Full Version : Walking may cause global warming

08-13-2007, 08:27 PM
Walking to the shops ‘damages planet more than going by car’

From The Times
August 4, 2007

Dominic Kennedy

Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated.

Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby.

The sums were done by Chris Goodall, campaigning author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, based on the greenhouse gases created by intensive beef production. “Driving a typical UK car for 3 miles [4.8km] adds about 0.9 kg [2lb] of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said, a calculation based on the Government’s official fuel emission figures. “If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You’d need about 100g of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6kg of emissions, or four times as much as driving.

“The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better.”

Mr Goodall, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, is the latest serious thinker to turn popular myths about the environment on their head.

Catching a diesel train is now twice as polluting as travelling by car for an average family, the Rail Safety and Standards Board admitted recently. Paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic because of the extra energy needed to manufacture and transport them, the Government says.

Fresh research published in New Scientistlast month suggested that 1kg of meat cost the Earth 36kg in global warming gases. The figure was based on Japanese methods of industrial beef production but Mr Goodall says that farming techniques are similar throughout the West.

What if, instead of beef, the walker drank a glass of milk? The average person would need to drink 420ml – three quarters of a pint – to recover the calories used in the walk. Modern dairy farming emits the equivalent of 1.2kg of CO2 to produce the milk, still more pollution than the car journey.

Cattle farming is notorious for its perceived damage to the environment, based on what scientists politely call “methane production” from cows. The gas, released during the digestive process, is 21 times more harmful than CO2 . Organic beef is the most damaging because organic cattle emit more methane.

Michael O’Leary, boss of the budget airline Ryanair, has been widely derided after he was reported to have said that global warming could be solved by massacring the world’s cattle. “The way he is running around telling people they should shoot cows,” Lawrence Hunt, head of Silverjet, another budget airline, told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee. “I do not think you can really have debates with somebody with that mentality.”

But according to Mr Goodall, Mr O’Leary may have a point. “Food is more important [to Britain’s greenhouse emissions] than aircraft but there is no publicity,” he said. “Associated British Foods isn’t being questioned by MPs about energy.

“We need to become accustomed to the idea that our food production systems are equally damaging. As the man from Ryanair says, cows generate more emissions than aircraft. Unfortunately, perhaps, he is right. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should always choose to use air or car travel instead of walking. It means we need urgently to work out how to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of our foodstuffs.”

Simply cutting out beef, or even meat, however, would be too modest a change. The food industry is estimated to be responsible for a sixth of an individual’s carbon emissions, and Britain may be the worst culprit.

“This is not just about flying your beans from Kenya in the winter,” Mr Goodall said. “The whole system is stuffed with energy and nitrous oxide emissions. The UK is probably the worst country in the world for this.

“We have industrialised our food production. We use an enormous amount of processed food, like ready meals, compared to most countries. Three quarters of supermarkets’ energy is to refrigerate and freeze food prepared elsewhere.

A chilled ready meal is a perfect example of where the energy is wasted. You make the meal, then use an enormous amount of energy to chill it and keep it chilled through warehousing and storage.”

The ideal diet would consist of cereals and pulses. “This is a route which virtually nobody, apart from a vegan, is going to follow,” Mr Goodall said. But there are other ways to reduce the carbon footprint. “Don’t buy anything from the supermarket,” Mr Goodall said, “or anything that’s travelled too far.”


08-13-2007, 09:47 PM

08-13-2007, 09:52 PM
Some of these nuts take this global warming thing just a little bit too far.

I think they should just come out and say "living anyway but miserably causes global warming."

Mr Luzcious
08-13-2007, 10:22 PM
"living causes global warming."


Ultra Peanut
08-13-2007, 11:15 PM
Oh, I get it. That's clever.

08-14-2007, 06:35 AM


08-14-2007, 06:44 AM
Butler, Samuel Butler but I am just using the name.

08-14-2007, 06:50 AM
There is a Scientific American article that has merit that neolithic human agricultural practices have contributed to the longevity of present interglacial period. That Greenhouse gases have been sustaining the moderate temperatures and arise from human agricultural practices started in prehistoric times.

08-14-2007, 02:18 PM
There is a Scientific American article that has merit that neolithic human agricultural practices have contributed to the longevity of present interglacial period. That Greenhouse gases have been sustaining the moderate temperatures and arise from human agricultural practices started in prehistoric times.

I'm not sure I understand. Are they saying that these gasses have staved off another ice age?

08-14-2007, 02:50 PM
The cultivation practices of domesticated plantings added methane in particular to the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide added little. And yes the methane addition, is argued, it is not a slam dunk or anything, to contribute to the present 12,000 year long interglacial period. This is in part because of the intensity of growth and the quickening of disposal of waste material in an agricultural practice.

It is long compared to most interglacial periods of the present ice age. There is one other interglacial period within the last 500,000 years that was twice as long. And there is evidence that that incident was propelled as well, IN PART, by Greenhouse gassing this time volcanoes. (Think Yellowstone size caldera).

I am not arguing one way or another for that ancient time. I only bring it up because we are discussing agricultural practices and their effect.

08-14-2007, 02:55 PM
I looked for that Mr. Show clip where he has people walking on the blades of their feet to minimize the impact on the Earth, but I couldn't find it.

08-14-2007, 03:29 PM

Ultra Peanut
08-14-2007, 04:28 PM
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