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Not Just Environmental Activists

Scores of environmental groups from around the world are here at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen urging governments to curb global greenhouse gas emissions. They may be the most numerous, but environmentalists are not the only type of activists here.

For instance, this group of church women also want action on climate change:

Meanwhile, participants entering the climate change meeting in Copenhagen must pass a dedicated group of activists who have stood outside in the cold for the last three days promoting a singular solution:

These vegetarians, associated with spiritual leader Supreme Master Ching Hai, are passing out a bag filled with their literature. They are promoting a change in diet as a way to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from livestock operations.

Many people inside the conference center are sporting those bags. They perhaps are a brief fashion trend here in Copenhagen:

The vegetarians may have a tough time selling their idea in Denmark, a major producer of pork.

Inside the convention center where the negotiations are taking place, there’s little evidence that the message on the bags is having an effect. Cafes scattered through this enormous complex are doing a booming business selling open-face roast beef sandwiches and roast pork entrees to hungry participants.


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  • Dec 9th 200914:12
    by Kenneth Moore

    I ran into the Supreme Master Vegetarians a couple times here in DC–I have that bag, too! I’m almost moslty vegetarian, but not for CO2 reasons. Just less calories that way, but for people looking for ways to cut back, it’s a good one. Celia wrote about it in C&EN a while back.

  • Dec 10th 200915:12
    by Lauren Wolf

    Hi Cheryl! I’ve actually heard that factory farming is THE largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S., but it is never discussed because the agricultural lobby is so strong. Do you have a take on this?

  • Dec 11th 200915:12
    by jeff johnson

    Lauren…not really–at least according to my reading of epa figures. The agency says that in 2007 the U.S. generated 7,150 million metrictons of CO2 equivalents. Of that, 183 MMtons CO2eq came from both ends of a cow vs. 5,735 MMtons from fossil energy and 2,397 from electricity generation. These number do not include sinks.

  • Dec 17th 200910:12
    by Kenneth Moore

    I don’t know how this is added up, but there are definitely more than just cows being farmed–growing corn, for example, uses a lot of fossil-fuel based products/services as well. Farming is, at least, a big contributor–the Marian Koshland Science Museum in Chinatown has a graph next to Bessie (well, the front half of Bessie, she doesn’t have a behind) that shows where CO2 is coming from (but it’s from 1997). They have it on their website, too.

    One might imagine, however, that decreasing industry CO2 emissions would have the greatest impact–cows and such are a concern, but not really to the level of energy production and stuff. Farming’s emissions (from fertilizer production, antibiotics, fuel use for machinery, etc) would all be reduced if their suppliers reduced their CO2 emissions and “cleaner” alternatives existed and were cost effective. That’s the hope, eh?

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