Climate and Meat Consumption: Australia

Vegans please forgive…i did not write this. An interesting look at the
interrelationships between climate, ecosystems, industry, & food
sovereignty. I feel similar things could happen on this continent: do away w/ cattle
& pigs, restore the prairies-w/ the elk, buffalo, antelope, deer herds…then get
amerikans to reduce their meat consumption as well as replace it w/ native species
(much healthier fare) & have the herds run mostly wild w/ some mgmt shared between
tribes, ranchers, range/wildlife scientists…


—————————- Original Message —————————- Subject:
Meat and the climate: eat kangaroo?
From:    “Lance Olsen” <>
Date:    Fri, August 22, 2008 1:17 pm
To:      “cmcr-outreach” <>


Kangaroo Meat Could Help Australia Cut Gas Emissions
Dave Hansford in Wellington, New Zealand for National Geographic News August 22, 2008

Replacing much of Australia’s beef and veal with
kangaroo meat could significantly cut the
continent’s greenhouse gas emissions and save its
native terrain, according to a new proposal.

A recent study suggests phasing out some 7
million cattle and 36 million sheep from
Australian rangelands-semiarid land that doesn’t
naturally produce the grass that grazing animals
require-and replacing them with kangaroos.

Because of their unique gut microbes, kangaroos
emit much less methane than sheep and cattle,
said lead author George Wilson, of Canberra
consultancy Australian Wildlife Services.

“Methane is a very dangerous greenhouse gas-much
more potent than carbon dioxide,” he said.

Sheep and cattle are responsible for about 11
percent of Australian agricultural emissions,
according to a government survey. Each cow
produces 1.84 metric tons of greenhouse gas
equivalents a year, and each sheep gives off more
than 300 pounds (140 kilograms).

Kangaroos, meanwhile, emit less than seven pounds
(three kilograms) of greenhouse gases. Under the
study’s proposal, that could translate into
savings of 16 million tons of greenhouse gases
annually-or 3 percent of Australia’s total

The findings were published online last month in
the journal Conservation Letters.

Profitable Pests?

Wilson estimated some 30 million kangaroos
(including red kangaroos) already roam
Australia’s rangelands, where farmers typically
regard them as pests. His proposal calls for the
rangelands to be filled with five or six times
that number.

The animals would become an asset to farmers, he
said, if Australia includes agriculture-the
sector that emits the most methane and nitrous
oxide-in its Emissions Trading Scheme, a system
the government is devising to impose charges on
greenhouse polluters.

The government hopes to implement the scheme by
2010 but says it will not include agricultural
emissions for another five years at least because
of the difficulty in measuring them.

Wilson said the emissions saved by raising
kangaroos could be worth about $650 million
Australian (U.S. $570 million), based on current
European carbon prices.

The impact would be strongest if livestock owners
were required to purchase carbon permits to keep
raising cattle and sheep, although such a scheme
is far from being determined.

“If we let the kangaroo population rise to 175
million by 2020, farmers could be earning the
same amount of money as they would be from cattle
without that charge,” he said.

“Completely Different Farming”

Peter Ampt, of the University of New South Wales,
said Wilson’s proposal “would require a
completely different farming model.”

Ampt, who is not involved with the study but is
aligned with the cause, said: “Kangaroos are
highly mobile and they don’t herd very easily, so
if you tried to apply a conventional farming
model to kangaroos, there are a few obstacles.”

The proposal would require farmers to “manage”
kangaroos under a quota system as a wild
resource, he said.

“It’s a good model for conservation on private
land,” he added, because kangaroos would become
valued instead of being regarded as pests.

“It costs an awful lot to run sheep and cattle on
rangelands,” he added. “You’ve got to maintain
fences, stock water, you’ve got to bring them all
in regularly and drench and vaccinate them. You
don’t have to do any of that with kangaroos.”

Ampt also said conventional grazing has been
“responsible for the loss a whole raft of small
animals-bilbies and betongs and all those little
creatures, which were incredibly important
ecosystem engineers.”

But How’s It Taste?

The Australian government says kangaroo meat is increasingly popular.

Already available in Australian supermarkets, the
meat could also be at grocer near you. The
industry estimates that it exports to more than
55 countries and is looking for growth in the
U.S. and Asian markets.

Ampt said the meat is “not unlike venison.”

According to a government fact sheet, the meat’s
“growing appeal stems from its well-flavoured,
slightly gamey taste.”

Industry groups have posted free recipes online,
and Ampt offered a little advice of his own.

“The way to cook it on a barbie,” Ampt said,
referring to a barbeque grill, “is you role it in
some olive oil with a bit of garlic and a few
herbs, and then you sear it on the barbie
lightly, then let it sit for a while. It’s really

© 1996-2008 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.


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