Livestock and trees: A more perfect union

Illustration by Remy Charlip via Pinterest: Cover of Four Fur Feet, written by Margaret Wise Brown.

Livestock provide ecological services too great to warrant their complete removal from the landscape.

‘. . . Sequestering carbon has become a topic essential to the broader conversation about how our planet might survive the escalating effects of climate change. Livestock are frequently demonized as the enemy of this process. That’s partly because raising animals for meat and dairy accounts for 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions; unsurprisingly, study after study—including the United Nations’ most recent, bleak climate report—affirms that humans need to reduce consumption of animal-based products in order to fend off planetary disaster. This has led to the advent of a booming industry centered on plant-based “meats” and “milks,” buoyed by a rallying cry from some quarters to abolish meat and cheese and butter and eggs from our diets wholesale. . . .

‘And yet, research also confirms that livestock provide ecological services too great to warrant their complete removal from the landscape.

‘Properly managed under the right confluence of conditions, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, and chickens can help mitigate degraded soils and restore healthy ecosystems, which helps lock carbon deep in the ground. About 40 percent of ice-free land on earth is considered grazing land, which sequesters about 30 percent of our planet’s carbon pool.