Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States-- Environmental Science and Technology

Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States-- Environmental Science and Technology

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Unformatted text preview: Environmental Science & Technology is published by the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street N.W., Washington, DC 20036 Policy Analysis Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States Christopher L. Weber, and H. Scott Matthews Environ. Sci. Technol. , 2008 , 42 (10), 3508-3513 DOI: 10.1021/es702969f Publication Date (Web): 16 April 2008 Downloaded from http://pubs.acs.org on February 3, 2009 More About This Article Additional resources and features associated with this article are available within the HTML version: Supporting Information Links to the 1 articles that cite this article, as of the time of this article download Access to high resolution figures Links to articles and content related to this article Copyright permission to reproduce figures and/or text from this article Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States C H R I S T O P H E R L . W E B E R * A N D H . S C O T T M A T T H E W S Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213 Received November 28, 2007. Revised manuscript received March 4, 2008. Accepted March 14, 2008. Despite significant recent public concern and media attention to the environmental impacts of food, few studies in the United States have systematically compared the life-cycle greenhousegas(GHG)emissionsassociatedwithfoodproduction against long-distance distribution, aka food-miles. We find that although food is transported long distances in general (1640 km delivery and 6760 km life-cycle supply chain on average) the GHG emissions associated with food are dominated by the production phase, contributing 83% of the average U.S. households 8.1 t CO 2 e/yr footprint for food consumption. Transportation as a whole represents only 11% of life-cycle GHG emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4%. Different food groups exhibit a large range inGHG-intensity;onaverage,redmeatisaround150%moreGHG- intensive than chicken or fish. Thus, we suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average households food-related climate footprint than buying local. Shifting less than one day per weeks worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food. Introduction With growing public concern over climate change, informa- tion and opportunities for consumers to lower their carbon footprint, a measure of the total consumer responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions, have become increasingly available.Thegrowingfieldofsustainableconsumption( 1- 3 ) has offered information to consumers on the climate and environmental impacts of their consumptive choices. In general,muchofthisresearchhasconcludedthatfood,home energy, and transportation together form a large share of...
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Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States-- Environmental Science and Technology

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