THE acceleration of climate change depends on how much greenhouse gases (GHGs) have been released into the atmosphere through human activities.
One of the leading GHG besides carbon dioxide is methane, generated by ruminating livestock and fossil fuel burning.
Depending on standpoints and ideologies, it is methane generated from livestock which is most talked about as compared to methane generated from fossil fuel burning.
This is a cause for concern as main polluting actors have invested in too much publicity, discrediting livestock-generated methane while trying to divert attention from emission intensive fossil fuel-generated methane.
They have also suggested doing away with livestock-based meat-related products in favour of synthetic meats, but how feasible is it?
The main GHGs that have continued to impact on the atmosphere, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is carbon dioxide generated from fossil fuels at 57%.
This includes carbon dioxide generated from deforestation, decay of biomass, among others at 17%, methane generated from livestock, fossil fuels, wetlands and waste at 14%, nitrous oxide at 8%, among others.
There are emission intensive human activities responsible for releasing huge amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere such as agriculture, electricity generation, industry, transport and construction.
- Livestock generated methane vis-a-vis fossil fuel methane
- Climate and environmental justice as human rights tools
GHGs are substances in the atmosphere that trap heat by letting sunlight pass through the atmosphere while preventing heat brought by sunlight from leaving the atmosphere, causing it to be warm in the process. These gases are carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases.
Methane is topical because it is generated from both natural processes and human activities such as agriculture, farming and mining fossil fuels.
Although methane is generated from both ends, it is not much concentrated in the atmosphere as carbon generated from human activities such as fossil fuel burning, among others.
Furthermore, methane has a shorter lifespan, about 12 years, in the atmosphere as compared to carbon which is ever present.
Methane has its own share of human-driven activities such as industry, agriculture and waste management activities.
Wetlands are also a major source of methane production where it is emitted from micro-organisms that decompose organic matter in the absence of oxygen.
Methane is also generated from mining, rice growing and landfills, among others while huge amounts of carbon are generated from fossil fuel combustion, land use changes, cement production, among others.
These increase carbon’s negative footprints and presence in the atmosphere, while posing a danger if there is too much concentration than the few benefits gained when it acts as a vital life supporting gas.
The main bone of contention in this discussion is the fate of livestock, the human being’s critical, vital, precious and essential possession with cultural implications.
Livestock is also a major source of protein, a fundamental human livelihood option and a critical value-chain.
Now livestock risk elimination for participating in a natural process of breathing out a harmful gas called methane while fossil fuel burning is supposed to go on unchecked.
Guess what the solution to livestock-generated methane is. Natural meat is supposed to be replaced by synthetic meat, manufactured in the laboratory and industries.
Africa, without any laboratories and industries of note, is likely to suffer or perish because of lack of vital sources of protein and pride.
In this part of the world, one is nothing without livestock, which is part of the people’s heritage, culture and humanhood.
This is not to undermine scientific innovations and breakthroughs, but when these innovations become absurd and far-fetched then very soon human beings will be replaced by machines and robots.
Furthermore, how much impact does livestock-produced methane have on the environment as compared to clouds of choking smoke realised from non-stop fossil fuel burning.
Can we, therefore, do away with one and only source of food and livelihood option because a certain filthy rich individual, obsessed with money has said so?
How much are people, especially in the Global South, ready to embrace synthetic meats and at what cost? Why are the main polluting actors not prepared to abandon fossil fuel mining and go green.
In this part of the world, without viable manufacturing concerns, people are being advised to go for machine-generated meat, with artificial blood and artificial taste.
Then what would happen in the event of erratic power supplies that we experience on daily basis taking their toll on us.
People would wait for days for meat to be manufactured so that they can feed their families.
Synthetic meat has been hailed as the future food because, allegedly because it is deemed clean, green and less costly yet it requires advanced machinery to be manufactured.
Sadly, Africa is keeping quiet or maybe is it ignoring. Furthermore, nothing much is known about its possible side effects and its impacts on the environment, including opportunities for reducing emissions. Is the truth not being manipulated and sacrificed through money and influence?
Currently there are no clear statistics of livestock-related casualties in order to warrant the introduction of synthetic meats but the impacts of fossil fuel-generated carbon are being felt everyday.
These include frequent droughts, reduced amounts of rainfall, increased floods, water scarcity, extreme heat and cold, among others.
How much would synthetic meats stop these climatic concerns from unfolding.
It is also important to take note of the ideologies and standpoints involved including the point of view of the omniscient narrator of this nauseating narrative.
Can corporate business interests supplant reality on the ground in this manner.
Why are fossil fuel-generating industries being by-passed yet the world has become toxic and sick because of related emissions.
Furthermore, how can coal be smuggled out of the emissions discourse and matrix while ignoring its impacts on the environment and climate change.
This is quite enormous hide and seek, but dangerous emission games from the main polluting actors while not succeeding in fooling everyone at the same time.
Methane produced by fossil fuel mining remains responsible for the environmental situations the Global South is in.
For centuries, livestock has been a critical component of food security, food sovereignty and livelihood value-chains, stability, heritage and income generation, especially in the Global South.
It also raises suspicions why livestock methane production is over reported while fossil fuel methane generation is backgrounded.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: [email protected].