If you were on social media this last week (which I hope a lot of you weren’t because it seriously takes up way too much time in a day) there was a post going around about the Biden climate change plans and the “requirements” that were going to be implemented for red meat consumption.
The posts said his plans to curb climate change included cutting 90% of red meat from the diet, which equates to one burger per month or around 4 pounds of meat in a year.
(Editor’s Note: Several sources debunked the claims about Biden’s climate plan. He did not announce plans to limit meat consumption. Newsweek reported the claims appear to have originated from a British article presenting hypothetical ways the U.S. couple meet Biden’s emission targets.)
On Google, the post could be found from multiple sources. We will tear the “requirement” apart in a bit, but I wanted to write down more thoughts on this.
It got a lot of individuals fired up. There are times that I will reshare posts like this because I think it is important for producers to not become complacent. Forbes had a great article out several years ago called “5 Danger Signs that Complacency will Derail Your Career.” One of the five, and personally my favorite is the No. 2 suggestion: You are not staying up to date in your field and industry.
How many of you check out emotionally driven websites like PETA or HSUS? If you haven’t, I highly encourage it. How about NGO websites? Or the EPA? USDA? I also will check out websites or social media sites of other ag organizations that may be conflicting on certain topics with those that I’m involved in.
A lot of time those sites will use emotion to drive a message – whether it be anger, happiness, disbelief, shock, etc. Why do I check these out? It seems lately that our country has been driven more and more on emotion then sometimes sound science. There is a time and place for emotion, absolutely.
So, let’s look at the “requirements.” Biden came out this last week with plans to cut U.S. carbon dioxide output between 50 and 52% by 2030. Is there anything in the plan that specifically talks about a massive red meat consumption decrease? No there is not.
So, where did the claim come from? The University of Michigan has a Center for Sustainable Systems which has done a variety of research projects that have focused on sustainability. In the handful of research projects that I’ve read from the center, they have been very harsh on agriculture in terms of greenhouse emissions, water usage, and also choosing traditional meat products over synthetic products. It is what it is.
In a recent study though called “Implications of Future U.S. Diet Scenarios on Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” it was noted that if people would cut 90% of red meat from their diet, the country could reach the greenhouse emission goals that the Biden administration wants to achieve. So, is the claim from social media false? Not really. Is it misleading? Yeah, somewhat. But it depends on how it is used.
If a liberal news media source gets ahold of it, it can represent a vegan synthetic meat agenda push to make Earth a better place by showing that if we severely decrease red meat consumption we will reach the emissions goals without having to worry about factory outputs, transportation pollution, or thinking about things like recycling or water consumption. If a conservative news media outlet gets ahold of it, it can represent a push against those that may have a different agenda. Either way the intent is clear and that is to get whatever area you follow or represent fired up.
So, then what happens when you share something like that on social media? Well, it depends on what side of the topic you are on. There are those that think that the climate plan included recommendations on red meat. There are those that are so heck bent on just arguing, that you are pretty sure they didn’t even know what post they were reading. There are those that will make sure and support or degrade the current administration to ends of the Earth. And then there are those that just get upset with the person that posted it because heaven forbid you shared something that is being spread around in the media, even if you have pulled back the layers to understand the context.
I will admit, there are times I feel that we need to get the masses fired up so we don’t become complacent. Whether we want to admit it or not, emotion has seriously affected the direction the country has headed the last couple years.
It is also OK to pull off of personal experiences that may not be found in Google. If I’m talking to ag businesses or professionals on a daily basis and hearing what they have to say about the current state of things, I’m probably going to listen to them before seeing what Google has to say about it. Otherwise I may chalk some of the articles up to genius reporting, because if the intent was to get people fired up it did just that.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at email@example.com. This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.