You may have noticed a drop in the number of journal article being discussed on this upwithclimate blog. This is due in part to the fact that we have decided to try and publish our comment on journal articles as official responses. The first of these responses has just been published – in Science! Since these responses are sometimes overlooked by readers, we are reproducing it here:
Taking a Bite Out of Biodiversity
Substituting meat with soy protein could reduce total human biomass appropriation in 2050 by 94% below 2000 baseline levels (5) and greatly reduce other environmental impacts related to use of water, fertilizer, fossil fuel, and biocides. Soy protein production for global livestock markets is the second leading cause of Amazonian deforestation after pasture creation. Eliminating livestock and instead growing crops, including soy protein, only for direct human consumption could negate future agricultural land expansion, while increasing the number of calories available for human consumption by as much as 70% (6)—enough to feed an additional 4 billion people, exceeding the projected global population growth of 2 to 3 billion (6). This savings in land and calories is due to eliminating the loss of ∼90% of the energy available in plants during the conversion to livestock (7). We argue that reducing and maintaining animal products to even 10% of the global human diet would enable the future global population to be fed on just the current area of agricultural lands. Without a global decrease in per capita meat consumption by humans, the loss of natural habitats, large carnivores, and biodiversity is certain to continue.