Gerry's World

A glimpse into my life

Walking is worse than driving

October 16, 2019

cow

How?!

I recently stumbled upon this article that purports that walking has a higher carbon cost than driving… with the caviot that you eat an all-beef diet. Well it’s a bit unlikely that a diet would consist solely of beef, but actually the article states that the carbon cost of walking is actually double that of driving! So really only half your calories have to come from beef to make walking worse.

For reference, roughly half the calories in a typical cheeseburger come from beef :)

Ingredient Calories %
Beef 198 49.3
Bun 131 32.6
Cheese 50 12.5
Tomato 3.6 0.9
Onion 5 1.2
Lettuce 5 1.2
Ketchup 9 2.2
Total 401.6 100.0

Sources: combination of calorie control council and USDA

Also relevant,

1 kg of meat from produces kg CO2e (relative to beef)
beef 34.6 1
lamb 17.4 ~1/2
pork 6.35 ~1/5.5
chicken 4.57 ~1/7

Source: Environmental Impacts on Food Production and Consumption.

Also, Cow farts account for a staggering 7% of greenhouse gas emissions!

That means 1 out of every 14 breaths of manmade greenhouse gas emissions you take is a cow fart (not literally).

Sources: NPR says methane from livestock accounts for 39% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says “agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total greenhouse gas emissions world-wide.

*Disclaimer - I picked and chose different sources to boost the 7% number and also omitted the NPR fact that only 55% of livestock emissions are from beef. A more realistic number for what percentage of manmade greenhouse gas emissions are caused by cow farts is probably more like 1% or lower.