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Meteorologist: Letitia James’s Lawsuit About Beef And Greenhouse Gases Is Bogus

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A story from The Associated Press (AP) reports that New York’s Attorney General Letitia James [pictured] has filed a lawsuit alleging that a meat-producing company, JBS USA, was being misleading when it claimed it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

According to the lawsuit, “beef has the highest total greenhouse gas emissions of any major food commodity and beef production is linked to large-scale deforestation.” [emphasis, links added]

This claim by James is false, and real-world data proves this to be so.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own data shows beef in particular and farm production, in general, are not significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Most climate alarmists immediately cite methane from beef production as a major factor, but the data shows it isn’t a problem at all. From Climate at a Glance: Livestock and Methane we learn:

Climate activists often claim that ranchers, livestock, and meat production are a leading cause of rising greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has compiled information on greenhouse gas emissions by source. According to EPA, beef production accounts for 2 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, while livestock production accounts for less than 4 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

By contrast, U.S. agricultural crop production emits more greenhouse gases than total livestock production.

The figure below, which looks at all greenhouse gas emissions by sector in the United States, notes that beef production is less than half of the entire livestock sector, at just two percent.

The data comes from the EPA publication Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990-2022.

Figure 1 – Greenhouse gas emissions by sector in the United States. Note that beef production is less than half of the entire livestock sector, at just 2 percent. Source: Data from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Graphic by Anthony Watts.

Further, virtually every other category compiled by the EPA has emissions far greater than that of livestock production. The lawsuit also claims deforestation is a major factor in beef production.

The lawsuit apparently does not look at the actual trend in data, which is actually slightly decreasing for beef cows in the United States, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as seen in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2 – USDA cattle and cow inventories 1970-2023. Note beef cows are represented by the dark green portion of the graph, and show a slightly decreasing trend.

So with fewer beef cows requiring less grazing acreage, there’s no possibility for increased deforestation in the United States.

In fact, the trend is the opposite, according to the USDA, as research has found that over the past 20 years, U.S. forests have grown increasingly dense across most of the nation.

Also, the World Economic Forum reports that the United States is aiming to plant one billion trees over the next 10 years. So even if national beef production was causing deforestation, it would be mitigated.

But James, like many people who don’t have firsthand knowledge of farming or ranching, misses this inconvenient data. Even more inconvenient is the fact that methane emissions in the United States are actually slightly down since 1990 according to this EPA data in Figure 3:

Figure 3 – Methane emission estimates from the EPA report: Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2021. Graph source: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases

The bottom line is that the lawsuit by James does not have a leg to stand on when it comes to looking at data related to the claims.

Beef production has little impact on the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and the issues of methane and deforestation are complete non-starters for such a lawsuit because the actual data is contrary to the claims.

It appears this lawsuit is nothing more than a climate activist looking to create yet another bogus show trial for the benefit of those who think climate change is a crisis and removing beef from the American diet is one of the ways to prevent future catastrophe.

Top image via YouTube screencap

Read more at Climate Realism

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