Kangaroo on the move

Reducing methane emissions

Could changing our diet to kangaroo steaks or insects help?

In 2008 George Wilson of the Australian Wildlife Services suggested that Australians switch from beef to kangaroo steaks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ruminant livestock like cattle and pigs are big producers of methane – they account for 35–40 per cent of human-related methane emissions. Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas, contributing around 20 per cent of the greenhouse effect; 70 per cent of methane emissions relate to human activities.

Overall, the animal agriculture sector is responsible for 18 per cent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions – more than the transportation sector. Even more alarmingly, livestock numbers are expected to double by 2050 as populations in emerging economies pick up the meat-eating habit.

Eating kangaroos instead might help a bit, but there is a problem: climate change is predicted to eliminate much of the kangaroo’s natural habitat.

In the end, Wilson’s fellow Australians were hesitant to take him up on his suggestion: cultural reasons and concerns about hygiene mean Australians are still reluctant to eat one of their national mascots.

Meanwhile, the food industry is looking at ways to make the consumption of insects – a highly sustainable source of lean protein – more palatable to the average consumer.

Lead image:

Chris Samuel/Flickr CC BY

References

Further reading

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Health and Climate Change’ in January 2009 and reviewed and updated in September 2014.

Topics:
Ecology and environment, Health, infection and disease
Issue:
Health and Climate Change
Education levels:
14–16, 16–19, Continuing professional development