What is it about?

Our dietary choices have a big impact on the environment. This is partly because of the different farming methods used to produce our food. This project worked out the environmental impact of different farming methods. The scientists used a tool called “life cycle assessment”, which means looking at how each and every stage of a process affects the environment, from beginning to end. The scientists developed a way to match different farming methods to individual dietary choices. This means they can help people understand the environmental impact of their own personal diet. They explained the level of environmental impact for different diets by comparing it to emissions of carbon dioxide. They did this because carbon emissions are widely talked about. People are beginning to understand different levels of carbon emissions. Comparing the impact of each diet to carbon dioxide emissions was therefore a good way of explaining it in a way people could understand.

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Why is it important?

This project found that the average American person’s diet generates the equivalent of 4.7kg of carbon dioxide, every day. [This is similar to taking a 2hr flight once a month.] Meat, dairy and drinks create the highest energy demand and therefore have the biggest impact on the environment. KEY TAKEAWAY: To persuade people to change their diet, we need to be able to explain how their current diet is affecting the environment. We need to be able to do this in a way people understand.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Greenhouse gas emissions and energy use associated with production of individual self-selected US diets, Environmental Research Letters, March 2018, Institute of Physics Publishing, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aab0ac.
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