The tree and the cow: what doesn't stop climate change and what stops it and people don't believe it?



There are two inconvenient climate truths about beef consumption and planting trees.

Many people tend to believe that planting trees can save us from rising temperatures, but climate science states something different. It is a myth that photosynthesis dramatically controls the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. A massive reforestation is not a solution because trees also breathe and burn oxygen and release carbon dioxide back into the air. What is more, reforestation programs need to be carefully designed. For example, planting adequate trees in the tropics would lead to some kind of cooling, but in colder regions, particularly wrong species in boreal areas, could lead to more warming.

On the other side, beef consumption negatively affects climate disruption. It is bad because overpopulation of cows release more tons of methane (CH4), which is a greenhouse effect gas, and it is bad because meat has to be transported (realeasing CO2) in refrigerated trucks (realeasing fluorinated gases) from farms to slaughterhouses and then to processing centers and to local supermarkets.
Industrial cow meat is one of the least climate-friendly foods in terms of greenhouse gases and it is possible to do a lot for the planet simply by giving up beef.

Picture: cows and eucalyptus in Riotuerto (Cantabria, Spain).