In his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” America’s biggest farmland owner and Microsoft Billionaire Bill Gates says that all wealthy countries need to stop eating beef. He says that making the switch to 100% synthetic beef and beef-alternatives will help stop the ongoing problem of global warming. (1)
Bill Gates Says We Need to Stop Eating Beef
Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is known for speaking out about climate change. He released his new book about what he thinks needs to be done to stop and reverse global warming earlier this week, and in it, he says that rich nations like the United States need to stop eating beef. (2)
In the book, he talks about the amount of methane gas, a greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, that cattle produce. The thing is, he’s not wrong. Cows produce a large amount of methane throughout their digestive process – the most out of all livestock. (3)
The methane is produced by bacteria in the cows’ digestive tract from the break down the fibrous foods they eat. Throughout their day, they release much of that gas through burping and flatulence. (3)
A single cow produces 220 pounds of methane each year. (3) With 1.4 billion cattle on the planet, they are the largest agricultural source of greenhouse gases. (2, 3) Some experiments are being done with things like giving cows lemongrass or feeding them seaweed to reduce the amount of methane they produce. However, Gates says this is not enough. (4)
He says that all rich countries should switch to 100% synthetic beef. (3)
“You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time,” he says. “Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.” (3)
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Why Should Just the Wealthy Countries Stop Eating Beef?
Gates says that alternatives are currently not feasible for the world’s 80 poorest countries. He says for them, the focus should be increasing yield per pound of methane emissions. (5)
“For Africa and other poor countries, we’ll have to use animal genetics to dramatically raise the amount of beef per emissions for them. Weirdly, the US livestock, because they’re so productive, the emissions per pound of beef are dramatically less than emissions per pound in Africa,” he says. (5)
Gates told the MIT Technology Review that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is already working to improve African livestock to survive in the heat and produce more product (beef and milk) per pound of gas produced. (5)
Since the release, the public has roasted Gates on Twitter about his suggestion. Many were quick to point out Gates’ own shortcomings in his personal contributions to climate change. This includes his private jet that uses 486 gallons of fuel per hour it flies and his 66,000 square-foot mansion. (4)
In the book, he admits to not being the perfect messenger about climate change. He also says he knows not having cows anymore is also a hard pill for many to swallow. He, himself, loves a good hamburger. (4)
What do you think? Would you stop eating beef to save the planet?
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- “Rich countries should only eat synthetic beef, says Bill Gates.” New Sky. February 16, 2021
- “Bill Gates says rich countries should only eat beef which is synthetic.” Independent. Louise Boyle. February 2021.
- “Cows and Climate Change.” UC Davis. Amy Quinton. June 27, 2019.
- “Bill Gates roasted for saying rich countries should eat ‘100% synthetic beef’.” Market Watch. Nicole Lyn Pesce. February 17, 2021.
- “Bill Gates: Rich nations should shift entirely to synthetic beef.” Technology Review. James Temple. February 14, 2021