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Carbon Foodprints


We recently listened to a radio programme featuring Professor Sarah Bridle, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Manchester.


Interestingly, Sarah has diversified from cosmology into agriculture and food research, motivated by the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and is currently applying the same skills, techniques, data and statistical analysis that she used to study black matter and dark energy to quantify the carbon costs of different foods.


And she gave out this staggering statistic.


One kilogram of beef produced in the UK sends 40 kgs of greenhouse gas emissions up into the atmosphere.


One kilogram of an alternative protein, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas or other pulses, sends up less than 1kg of greenhouse gas emissions.


Yes, that's right. Beef produces 40 times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that pulses produce.



Let's chew on that for a while.

There was lots more of interest in the programme. Do you consider how food is imported into this country? Importing by boat causes a tiny fraction of the climate impact of flying goods in?


Can you imagine a world - as Professor Bridle can - where all food labels would show their carbon cost?



If you would like to know more, go to BBC Sounds and search for "The Life Scientific", first broadcast on 2nd March 2021.

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