Unsupported Claims About Livestock and Climate Change in the Media

As a public health doctoral student, I have been taught the importance of communicating scientific information to the public, journalists, and policy makers in a careful manner, especially when dealing with complex issues.  Scientific research almost never provides clear answers, but as a scientist you should never make statements that overstep the conclusions of your work, even if it would make your life easier by simplifying the message you are trying to get across.  Describing questions that remain unanswered and limitations of studies is important.  While reading a news release last week regarding research on food animal production and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, I was suspicious that this “rule” was not being followed.

An air quality scientist at UC Davis, Professor Frank Mitloehner, has been in the press talking about implications of his research on livestock production and GHGs (here, here, and here).  He has been quoted as saying it is  “scientifically inaccurate” and a “distraction” to encourage a reduction in meat consumption as part of an effort to combat climate change.  Those are very strong statements, so I did a little digging to see if his research supports these claims. Read More >