I applaud letter writer Dick Stokes for advocating personal measures to mitigate climate change. However, his June 27 letter, “Climate and diet,” suggests that livestock and their byproducts are responsible for 51 percent of all greenhouse gases, which is a considerable exaggeration.
Whether you look at global sources of greenhouse gases, or the United States alone, agriculture is responsible for 9 percent to 24 percent of emissions. Even accounting for the increased warming potential of methane versus carbon dioxide would not rescue the number.
If one discounts agricultural emissions by removing carbon dioxide from deforestation and the offset of carbon sequestration in biomass and soils, then even the numbers I provide are exaggerated. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations suggests that global livestock operations represent 14.5 percent of all emissions.
Stokes, however, is certainly correct that if we each eat a little less animal protein — or none — the livestock contribution to atmospheric warming will decrease, which is a good step in the right direction.
Eldredge Bermingham, Miami Beach