Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Eating, and talking about, the environment

There are three new interesting articles on climate change out recently:
  1. A group of researchers have found that reducing our meat consumption would decrease the cost of reducing emissions by $20 trillion. A quote from the paper: "A global transition to a low meat-diet as recommended for health reasons would reduce the mitigation costs to achieve a 450 ppm CO2-eq. stabilisation target by about 50% in 2050 compared to the reference case." New Scientist discusses the results here. The paper can be found here. I'm not sure about the model used, but there is evidence, which I will discuss later, that the level of greenhouse gases from animals raised for food is much higher than we think.
  2. The words used to describe the likely effects and causes of climate change by researchers may be misleading the public, according to recent psychological work. The work suggests the public may think researchers are less sure about the effects than they are because researchers try to be clear and consistent. My opinion on this is that, when quoting probabilities to a public that thinks child abduction is very likely and death from smoking is not, we need a responsible press to clarify the numbers.
  3. Sadly, we do not have a responsible media on this issue, according to a new paper by Eric Pooley, discussed over at Environmental Economics. The media, rather than going through the numbers to present an understandable debate to the public, have instead done a poor job of conveying the long-run costs of doing nothing.

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