Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Danger of Catchy Soundbites

...is that sometimes probably more like usually they're wrong. At TreeHugger:

Almost every time we post something on the meat debate we get a slew of emotional comments from readers that sit on either side. The vegan side was backed up by sustainable food icon Michael Pollan who, at Pop!Tech 09, memorably quipped, "A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius."

Not to toot my own horn, but when I first heard this, my gut told me that Pollan was a bit off. And, thanks to science, my gut has been proven right.

Way back in 2005, Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin from the Department of the Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago published a paper that compared the carbon footprint of both a meat-based and a plant-based diet. As Reuters reported:

They found that the difference between an heavy meat-eating diet and a vegan diet was about 2 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per person per year. The difference between a Prius and an SUV (they used a Suburban, which gets about the same mileage as a Hummer) was 4.76 tons per year.
And Beefeater Gin might just be the foulest swill on the planet this side of grappa. What does that have to do with anything? Nuttin'. I'm just sayin'.