According to the results of a new study, it would appear that the amount of milk poured down kitchen sinks in the United Kingdom is responsible for the release of 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide in equivalent greenhouse gases.
Statistics indicate that nearly 360,000 tons of milk are wasted in the country every single year. University of Edinburgh investigators, who conducted the study, say that the amount of pollution this habit costs is equivalent to that released by 20,000 cars annually.
Dumping milk down the drain does not produce carbon dioxide directly, scientists say. However, the practice does lead to the release of specific greenhouse gases, which have the same effect on the atmosphere and the environment as dumping 100,000 tons of CO2 into the air annually.
The simplest way to address this issue is for people to buy, serve and throw away less food. In the developed world, a huge percentage of everything bought in a household is thrown to waste. In the United States, 40 percent of all purchased food is thrown away.
The conclusions of the new research also indicate that the food industry could improve its fertilizer use patterns, so that the substances become more effective. Combined, these two approaches would lessen the severe impact that agriculture and food industries have on the environment.
Chickens, for example, are an important source of nitrous oxide, an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Scientists say that curbing chicken consumption in the UK from current levels to those being recorded in Japan would have the same beneficial effect on the atmosphere as taking 10 million cars off the road.
At this point, UK citizens consume around 26 kilograms (57.3 pounds) of chicken meat annually, whereas people living in Japan only eat 12 kilograms (26.5 pounds). By 2020, the University of Edinburgh team explains, NO levels from chicken consumption could drop below current levels.
Details of the new study – which was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the University of Aberdeen, and other partner institutions in Europe and the US – appear in the latest issue of the top scientific journal Nature Climate Change.
Over the next few decades, as the world's population continues to increase, demands for food are expected to increase considerably, making food security an even more pervasive problem. Even now, there are more than 7 billion people living on the planet, e! Science News
“Eating less meat and wasting less food can play a big part in helping to keep a lid on greenhouse gas emissions as the world's population increases,” concludes University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences professor, Dr. David Reay, who also led the new investigation.