Livestock is one of the mostcarbon-intensive industries, accompanied by emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, stimulating global temperature change. So that once we don’t have to choose between a suitable planet for life and a juicy hamburger, scientists are trying to establish the production of so-called artificial "test-tube meat". One of its advantages is the reduction of the carbon footprint, that is, the volume of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere as a result of one or another activity. However, a new study by experts from the University of Oxford says that a complete failure on the production of real meat and the transition to artificial, grown in the laboratory, can cause much more harm to the environment.
The work was published in the journal Frontiers inSustainable Food Systems. Its authors, John Lynch and Raymond Pierumber, report that, based on the three available assessment options, a more thorough comparative analysis of the carbon footprint derived from traditional beef production as well as in the production of artificial meat was conducted. The researchers note that these estimates are very different from each other, but in general they show that the production of artificial meat, primarily a beef substitute, will indeed be less carbon-intensive than the production of natural meat.
The researchers used a climate model,simulating different properties of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which differ, for example, by the duration of their presence in the atmosphere. This made it possible to estimate the difference in potential (change) in global temperature between the two types of meat production over the next thousand years.
"Continuously high artificial consumptionmeat first gives less global warming. However, over time, this gap decreases. In some scenarios, the model showed a smaller temperature increase in the case of the production of natural meat. This is explained by the fact that methane emissions, in contrast to carbon dioxide emissions, do not accumulate in the atmosphere - methane, unlike carbon dioxide, is delayed only 12 years, ”the study notes.
Scientists say they also conducted a simulationreduction in consumption of natural meat, which showed that, although peak emissions from livestock are higher, the rates then decrease and stabilize. Carbon dioxide from the production of artificial meat, in turn, is stored in the atmosphere and accumulates.
“Thus, the production of laboratory meat in terms of climatic influences can be even worse than animal husbandry,” the scientists conclude.
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