I am writing in response to letters about wind farms and the impact of cattle on global warming.
Your correspondent ‘MS S10’ states that wind farms are ‘hopelessly inefficient’ and described the issue of methane from cattle as an ‘urban myth’.
Various numbers have been cited in support of the arguments, but with no indication where they came from.
A quick look at the established evidence refutes the arguments put forward by MS.
A recent study by the Institute for Public Policy Research with the energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan showed that wind power can significantly reduce carbon emissions, is reliable and capable of providing a significant proportion of the UK’s electricity.
The report showed that every megawatt-hour of electricity produced by wind power led to carbon savings of at least 350kg.
Although wind does not blow at a constant rate, the fact that turbines are all around Britain means that even when some areas are calm, others are likely to be windy.
More than 75 countries are pursuing major wind power strategies, not least China, which is aiming to have 100GW in place by 2015. Does MS really think that this would be the case if wind turbines didn’t work?
Now for the question of cattle and global warming. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases released worldwide (more than the whole transport sector).
Cattle-breeding is a major factor. Livestock now use 30% of the earth’s land surface, mostly as pasture but this also includes the arable land used to produce feed for livestock.
Clearance of forests to create new pastures is still a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America.
A senior author of a recent report on this issue said that “livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation”.
Many people in the UK eat meat at least once a day, if not at nearly every meal. This is far more than their bodies need and contributes to many of the biggest disease killers in the Western world.
I’m not suggesting a tax on cows, or even that everyone becomes vegetarian. However, we’d all be a lot healthier if we rejected the food marketing messages and ate a mainly plant-based diet, with high quality, ethically-reared meat as an occasional treat.
Chris Buck, Millhouses S7