While carbon dioxide and methane are gases that largely add to the effect of global warming, it is nitrous oxide and its increasing levels that scientists are concerned about. Scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center say the population of the world will have to cut down on their meat consumption by a good 50 percent, if they want to cut down nitrous oxide emissions by the same amount by 2050. That will lead to a more stable global climate and will keep the effects of global warming under control. But why do we need to cut down on meat to stop nitrous oxide emissions?
Research has shown that nitrous oxide is predominantly released due to the use of fertilizers and extensive use in this regard is hard to control as the world already has many hungry mouths to feed. But the problem lies in growing feed crops for animals that we later consume as meat. This generally results in far greater production of nitrous oxide when compared to crops that we consume directly. So, instead of growing feed crops for animals, scientists suggest that we cut down on meat and spend more of our resources in growing crops that we can actually consume and use far less nitrous oxide fertilizers.
Unlike carbon and methane emissions, cutting out nitrous oxide is far more difficult as current agricultural process uses it widely. While scientists are advocating on new practices that involve less fertilizers and enrichment of soil using natural methods, somehow the technology is still not reaching the farmers at grass root level due to both economic and political constraints. Of course, the research only suggests a cutting down on meat intake and the idea is not to convert everyone into a vegetarian.
If we did turn everyone vegetarian, we would be placing an incredible amount of pressure on agriculture that might just not be practically viable. The best way forward at this point, according to Dr. Eric Davidson who revealed the study results, is to reduce beef and pork consumption and substitute it with more chicken and fish.