Podcast Episode 143: The Truth About Greenhouse Gasses & Agriculture – Dr. Frank Mitloehner

Mar 11, 2020

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TThis episode is not sponsored, however, I attended a sponsored conference in January where I saw Dr. Frank Mitloehner present on this topic.

Can we really eat our way out of climate change?

We hear in the media that what we eat is a main contributor to a changing climate, that consumption of animal foods leads to increasing global temperatures, but the truth is that fossil fuel consumption produces 80% of all GHGs compared to all livestock, which is 3.9%”

Tune in to this episode to learn about:

  • The global warming potential of methane vs fossil fuels
  • How does agriculture impact global methane emissions?
  • Why should methane be treated differently than “long-lived” greenhouse gasses?
  • What is: carbon sequestering, methane “sinks”, the biogenic carbon cycle and global “cooling”?
  • The carbon footprint of plants compared to animals
  • Some of the problems and concerns with the EAT Lancet report
  • The carbon footprint of food today compared to the past
  • Are plant-based proteins better for the environment?
  • Using manure to generate electricity

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, but it is short-lived – it has a lifespan of approximately 10 years – and it’s not just produced, it’s also destroyed by a process called oxidation. The production and destruction of methane are almost in balance and unfortunately, the latter is always left out of the discussion and that is why beef and dairy look so bad in the media day in and day out.

The problem is that this sends us on the wrong path to solutions – it suggests to people that what we have to worry about is what we eat and relax about everything else. That is irresponsible and incorrect.”

Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D.

Dr. Frank MitloehnerFrank Mitloehner, Ph.D., is a professor and air quality specialist in cooperative extension in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. As such, he shares his knowledge and research with students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with members of the scientific community and with those who work with and for the critically important agricultural industry, domestically and abroad. He also director of the CLEAR Center, a brand new center at UC Davis focused on research and science communication at the nexus of animal agriculture and human and planet health.

Mitloehner is frequently sought after for his expertise and ability to bring stakeholders together to address issues regarding air quality, and agricultural efficiencies and sustainability. His work in this regard has included serving as chairman of a global United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) partnership project to benchmark the environmental footprint of livestock production. He was a workgroup member on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) under President Barack Obama, and a member of the National Academies of Science Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee on “A Framework for Assessing the Health, Environmental, and Social Effects of the Food System.”

He received a master of science degree in animal science and agricultural engineering from the University of Leipzig, Germany, and a doctoral degree in animal science from Texas Tech University. Soon after completing his doctorate, Mitloehner was recruited in 2002 to UC Davis, to fill its first-ever position focusing on the relationship between livestock and air quality.


Frank Mitloehner: Clear Center Website | Blog | Twitter

It’s time to stop comparing meat emissions to flying – blog post

Related Episodes:

Cow Gas, Upcycling & Beef Sustainability – Sound Bites Podcast episode #104 with Dr. Sara Place – CLICK HERE TO EARN 1 FREE CEU

The Future of Food: Science, Policy & Values – Sound Bites Podcast episode #132 with Jack Bobo

Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle: Connecting the Dots between Healthy People and a Healthy Planet – blog post co-authored with Dr. Keith Ayoob

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Music by Dave Birk

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