Meat tax will protect the environment says pressure group

US - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) targeted most of the presidential candidates' major events last month. It's message was "Stop Global Warming: Tax Meat."
calendar icon 6 February 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Ashley Byrne, a coordinator for PETA's campaign said that every time someone sits down to a steak dinner, they're basically doing the equivalent environmental damage of taking a very long journey in a Hummer. "One pound of meat is equivalent to driving about 40 miles in a big SUV," he said.

PETA believes a 10-cent tax on each pound of meat could curb the massive expansion predicted in world meat and dairy production during the next few decades - a trend that would have considerable benefit to the global environment and its protection.

"One pound of meat is equivalent to driving about 40 miles in a big SUV."

Ashley Byrne, PETA Campaign Co-ordinator.

According to Stratton Lawrence writing in the Charleston City Paper, this is surprising, but true.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation found that in 2006 livestock production generated 18 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide — more than the entire transportation sector of cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined. Cows constantly belch methane from their four stomachs, and lagoons of pig effluent release the gas into the air. And as much of the world's beef comes from deforested areas (70 percent of former Amazon rain forest is now used for cattle grazing), it's a one-two punch from the loss of carbon dioxide-absorbing trees and the addition of more animals.

Chicken is less of a global warming culprit than beef, which produces eight pounds of CO2 per pound of flesh, but meat tax advocates favour a flat charge across all varieties, citing heightened health risks (and subsequent costs) from consuming any factory-raised animals.

PETA compares the idea to "sin taxes" like those placed on tobacco, alcohol, and gasoline for their costly effect on the environment and public health. The revenue generated, they propose, would be used for education.

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