Coal, cattle are most damaging to the environment, study says

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A United Nations-backed report released Monday says coal-fired power generation in Asia and cattle ranching in South America are the most damaging businesses for the environment, with hidden costs of those activities that exceed the value of their production.

The report, “Natural Capital at Risk – The Top 100 Externalities of Business,” says global output of basic goods – from cement and steel processing to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and oil and gas exploration – caused damage totaling $7.3 trillion a year if pollution, water, greenhouse gases and waste were priced to reflect long-term impacts. The study was conducted by a business coalition for the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). The coalition’s backers include the United Nations, World Bank, businesses and conservation groups.

Earth “The numbers in this report underline the urgency but also the opportunities for all economies in transitioning to a green economy,” Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, said in a statement.

Coal-fired power generation in Asia, led by China, had estimated revenues of $443 billion per year but caused $452 billion in damage to nature, largely because greenhouse gases caused climate change and pollution harmed people’s health.

Cattle ranching in South America, especially in cleared parts of the Amazon forest, ranked second with damage estimated at $353 billion, largely because of stress on water supplies and deforestation that far exceeded revenues of $16.6 billion.

The report assessed more than 100 environmental impacts using the Trucost environmental model which condenses them into six environmental key performance indicators (eKPI) to cover the major categories of natural capital consumption: water use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste, air pollution, water and land pollution, and land use.

“Forward-looking companies are already recognizing that the key to competitiveness in an increasingly resource-constrained world will hinge in large part on escalating natural resource efficiencies and cutting pollution footprints,” says the U.N.’s Steiner.

The TEEB for Business Coalition, launched in November 2012, is a global, multi-stakeholder platform formed to develop and support the uptake of natural capital accounting in business decision-making. The vision of the TEEB for Business coalition is to support a transformative shift in corporate behavior to preserve and enhance natural capital.



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Brian    
VA  |  April, 16, 2013 at 09:09 AM

A news story on a worthless report by a bunch of nobodies that says nothing. This is a formula for real danger. It attacks affordable power in China and cost-effective beef from South America and does not even attempt to provide an economic alternative because there is none. Most of the so-called damages are greenhouse gases that cause climate change and pollution? Do they have any scientific data to suggest that man caused greenhouse gases are causing climate change? The clowns end up with just some wistful reference to a "green economy" as the solution for everything. Greg, how did that "green economy" work out for Spain?

    
April, 16, 2013 at 10:26 AM

The UN, World Bank, and the TEEB are a bunch of nobodies? Really? and your somebody? This study was only done to better understand how we can be more progressive as humans. There is a lot of opportunities to improve our livelihoods, and business efficiency. To do this we need to understand our weaknesses. Or maybe you would rather stay stuck in a rut. I am sorry to share the planet with short sighted humans like your self.

Cyn    
Illinois  |  April, 16, 2013 at 01:08 PM

Funny enough, they were blaming wild horses in North America-seeing how there are less than 75000 of them overall throughout the states, and the cattle industry is booming and we have more cattle than South America I am guessing the REAL issue with methane gas, trampled food sources, and species health hazards increasing that the cow had taken the lead! There you go, Protect the Harvest, you all really don't think that because they decided this in South America its not the same in North America? I love it! Horse people at least compost manure, clean up after their stock daily, and groom and clean the facilities, its cattle that have all the restrictions. In fact that's why we don't eat horses-cause its the overwhelming cattle populations that are killing the air quality and destroying land! LOLololol, laughing my freaking butt off!

tony newbill    
powell butte ore  |  April, 16, 2013 at 02:21 PM

You know I find the Cost estimate on environmental damage quite amusing given the fact that Money is a man made substance and the idea that Money IS NOT being used to promote through profit incentive in developing and innovating safe sound and secure methods that curb or zero out the pollution that damages the eco system . Its a zero sum game that if you have a cost for damage that innovation that stops it should be considered a convertible expense investment that turns into a profit by sustaining the end result with is Life Giving resource supply .

Glatzle    
Paraguay  |  April, 16, 2013 at 08:39 PM

Brian, you are absolutely right. Somebody who finds externality costs caused by so called greenhouse gas emissions in the order of trillions of dollars, takes unrealistic assumptions for reality, closes his eyes from the fact, that he is blaming as a contaminant the most important nutrient for all life, CO2, purposely overlooks the copious yield increases in corps, forests and pastures due the industrial CO2-fertilization, and denies the following obvious facts: 1) The world has become greener in the past 30 years, because of human CO2 emissions. 2) There was a considerable number of eras warmer than today since the end of the last ice age (12.000 years ago) in spite of pre-industrial CO2-emissions. 3) There was no rise in mean global temperature during the past 15 years, contrary to all the IPCC model projections and in spite of steadily increasing CO2-levels. 4) Between 1990 and 2007 the world cattle and buffalo population rose by >125 million head, but the growth rate of methane in the atmosphere fell to cero in the same period. 5) There is no coincidence whatsoever between domestic animal density and global distribution of methane concentrations as measured by ENVISAT. 6) Clearly, there is a lot of environmental alarmism and economic interest in “green” economy, but scientific competence in this matter is extremely low in the UN, the World Bank, TEEB, and even among the IPCC-officials (very easy to be shown). The only point why we have to take serious these kinds of reports is the fact that people do believe the most abstruse nonsense, even if it is against their own wellbeing.

Marion    
Wyoming  |  April, 17, 2013 at 05:22 AM

They neglected to mention the "short term" effect of a lack of food and a lack of energy. Take them away and we won't live long enough to see the benefits. There is way too much money available for "studies" of everything under the sun. What those researchers need is a good job actually producing something necessary for life.

Bill Stanley    
Texas  |  April, 17, 2013 at 07:54 AM

One of Czar Obama's goals is to bankrupt coal companies. The EPA is trying to help him by reducing the amount of coal burned in the U.S. Some of the coal mined in Montana is sold for $10.55 a ton and then shipped 6000 miles to Asia where it is sold for $60. When burned, this coal will probably result in more pollution than if it were burned in the U.S. newsandopinions dot net

TX_Tumbleweed    
Texas  |  April, 17, 2013 at 10:29 AM

This "program" is nothing more than rabid Leftist propaganda. Decades back, when the mentally defective Chicken Little greenies were failing to make much progress in the U.S. they went global, branching out with their do-gooder ideas of how humanity could exist on the earth without leaving any evidence we had been here. Their benefactors, the Ford Foundation et al devised a plan for them to get ahead of the curve of agricultural industrialization in the third world, where they had access to an unsophisticated population that was starving (literally) for innovation. They entered the communities in So America with multiple warm fuzzy ideas meant to help the indigenous pop. Through their initial programs they were able to identify community leaders, whom they gently schooled to turn against local landowners, planting the idea that the "green" agenda was their only hope of survival. Over a decade or so, they were able to convince locals that prosperity is evil, that a collective tribal society is superior to capitalism practiced under individual liberty et.c. Most of their work there has been fairly low key although they were able to incite local officials to organize their followers to protest jungle deforestation. The UN is their perfect vehicle to take the next much larger step, since hardly anyone pays attention to their screed. Of course, we in the field of agriculture understand their ultimate goal is to mortally cripple the beef/pork industry. Some branches of agriculture are embracing the green agenda as if they have Stockholm Syndrome. I implore beef producers to actively resist. You may be the last, best hope for the survival of American capitalism.

Graywolf12    
Texas  |  April, 17, 2013 at 11:44 AM

You are correct in what the UN wants. look at Agenda21, now renamed to "Resilience" ONCE TOO MANY OF THE POPULATION CAUGHT ON TO THE SCAM. Sustainability is a wonderful concept for Ag producers as that is what farmers have done for thousands of years, but what we think it means is not what the left want it to mean. Those of us that are aware of the scam must educate all we possibly can. Go to ICLEI.com and see if your town, city,or county has signed on to agenda21.

eric    
Wyoming  |  April, 17, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Marion, I agree with you totally. It is high time that people realize that food comes from the earth. Plants utilize CO2 in the air for their energy. It is a balancing act. Earth day is EVERY DAY for people in production ag. Other people in non-related ag. jobs claim they do their part a few days per year sometimes. Well ag producers need to be more vocal but we can't because we are putting our ideas of helping produce food and energy in place. Generally the people who have time to complain about agriculture, don't know much about what it takes to put food on people's plates. That is the bottom line to all of this. If you want to go to bed hungry keep complaining, but otherwise help the ag sector in being a positive balance to nature. It is amazing that cattle have been on some of these western lands for over 100 years now and the land is in as good or better shape than it was prior to cattle being introduced. We even have pictures of our ranch that show that. There are more trees and vegetation, along with a healthier population of wildlife, due to correct management by private ranchers trying to make the land better every year. If we don't take care of our deeded land or the forest service or BLM grounds, we are shooting ourselves and our livelihood's in the foot. thanks for your time.

eric    
Wyoming  |  April, 17, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Marion, I agree with you totally. It is high time that people realize that food comes from the earth. Plants utilize CO2 in the air for their energy. It is a balancing act. Earth day is EVERY DAY for people in production ag. Other people in non-related ag. jobs claim they do their part a few days per year sometimes. Well ag producers need to be more vocal but we can't because we are putting our ideas of helping produce food and energy in place. Generally the people who have time to complain about agriculture, don't know much about what it takes to put food on people's plates. That is the bottom line to all of this. If you want to go to bed hungry keep complaining, but otherwise help the ag sector in being a positive balance to nature. It is amazing that cattle have been on some of these western lands for over 100 years now and the land is in as good or better shape than it was prior to cattle being introduced. We even have pictures of our ranch that show that. There are more trees and vegetation, along with a healthier population of wildlife, due to correct management by private ranchers trying to make the land better every year. If we don't take care of our deeded land or the forest service or BLM grounds, we are shooting ourselves and our livelihood's in the foot. thanks for your time.

Tom    
84106  |  April, 17, 2013 at 06:42 PM

This is just some more lies from the people who want everything. They have about as much proof of what they are saying as they do of global warming. The more they can screw up our economy the sooner they can take over. Have any of you heard the story of the game warden in South Africa who thought elephants were damaging the ecology. Forty thousand elephants were slaughtered. The land began to become desert at a faster rate. Now he believes that grazing of animals is the best thing for the land. And if coal is so damaging why are we still alive. When I was a child the skies were black with coal soot most of the winter. More are dying today.

tony newbill    
powell butte ore  |  April, 18, 2013 at 08:22 AM

Greg Why Didn't We hear or see these Organizations Identify and consider what Allan Savory has to say here in this TED Video ???? How to fight desertification and reverse climate change http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

tony newbill    
powell butte ore  |  April, 18, 2013 at 08:22 AM

Greg Why Didn't We hear or see these Organizations Identify and consider what Allan Savory has to say here in this TED Video ???? How to fight desertification and reverse climate change http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

tony newbill    
powell butte ore  |  April, 18, 2013 at 08:23 AM

sorry for the double post

tony newbill    
powell butte ore  |  April, 18, 2013 at 08:49 AM

After Listening to the above scientific Learning that Allan Savory has Uncovered how can TEEB , UN and the World Bank make the kind of statements that will not CAUSE massive Volatility and effect supply consistency in a World like how Mr. Savory says is reaching a Level of Population demand that cannot maintain civility while we teach the world society about what the relationship that population size and Finite earth are a Limited resource supply that needs to be considered when we are planning our families ? http://www.teebweb.org/multi-trillion-dollar-natural-capital-risk-underlining-urgency-of-green-economy-transition/ I think with the Greater Understanding of this Learning people will self regulate themselves because Survival Instincts are Sharpened with a Greater level of Understanding . Forcing People to Conform to something with Oppressive means without Educating the reason will never end with peaceful results , we have seen this play out in past historic events that were Supply Shortage driven like the decades before the past 2 world wars which were born out of supply shortages due to populations exceeding supply . What did those faction take over and secure once they took over a nation , their resources , and this time we are seeing evolve is no different .

William Tracey    
Congress, Arizona  |  April, 20, 2013 at 04:37 AM

How can cattle be involved in this mix? Every part of a cow, including its waste is either consumed or recycled back into the earth. My dad had a large dairy farm when I was a kid and we had one of the best gardens around for our personal use and some of the largest and most robust corn fields in the area. All natural fertilizer from those cows. Of course that was long before the EPA, etc., got their nose into things. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help". What BS.

daniel    
montana  |  April, 22, 2013 at 01:22 AM

Cattle equalls methane which contimates the air. Higher quantity herds r harder to clean up after. Harsher chemicals, pestocides, higher volume of manure to compost worsea air quality, and is bad for gardens. Parts used in pet foods dangerous to pets. Farms have more widespread illness that spread.qiickly contaminating soils. Number of dead animals bad for environment. And cattle destroy the areas they graze and it takes years to regrow properly to allow the plants resupply oxygen to the atmosphere. Thats not global warming. Thats good old fashioned greed. Kill cattle. Kill the environment. Kill the consumer ! Beef at its finest. Just read usda reports. Ag gag away it just proves your covering lies up! I eat meat but 6 months ago only homegrown local butchering i can see or nothing. Your losing customer faith.

Ron    
April, 22, 2013 at 07:45 PM

Undoughtedly, you've drank the coolaid and would prefer to be camping on the Konza in a teepee burning buffalo chips for fuel!! This is a dynamic planet and can handle anything man can throw at it. We've made great strides in environmental protection and most of the past problems were due to the technology or lack there of at the time. The UN has no vallidity in my book if it can have a nation that advocates human slavery on the human rights committee!!!!


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