From University of Washington's Conservation Magazine.
After the United States, Brazil takes the silver medal for beef production. More than 200 million cattle graze on more than 494 million acres of Brazilian pasture, an area that is roughly equal to one quarter of the continental United States. And with cows comes the double-whammy of greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.
Normally, forests are capable of capturing some of the greenhouse gas output of human industry, at least partially preventing the emissions from contributing to climate change. But as more forests are cleared to make way for more beef, not only do greenhouse gas emission increase, but those forests’ ability to suck up those emissions also becomes severely impaired.
As economies grow in the developing world – including in Brazil – more people will be able to afford more meat, even further growing the beef industry. Brazil already has had the largest overall loss of forest of any country over the last two decades, 1990-2010. As ranchers need more pasture for cattle, forests become destroyed. (Though it should be noted that there are other factors also responsible for deforestation, like mining and logging, too.) The current methods of cattle farming are simply unsustainable in a world already becoming too hot.
A group of researchers led by Avery S. Cohn of Tufts University wondered whether changes in Brazilian cattle ranching policies could mitigate the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions while also preventing further deforestation. To find out, they used an economic model to explore the possible consequences of two policies. The first is a tax on ranchers who use the current, less sustainable practice for cattle farming, and the second is a subsidy for ranchers who adopted a “semi-intensive alternative cattle ranching production system.”
See full article here: http://conservationmagazine.org/2014/05/cattle-ranching-and-conservation-are-not-mutually-exclusive/
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